Working from home or remotely from anywhere in the world has become the norm since the pandemic began in March 2020. Everything has changed in the last two years, and that very much includes the way companies do business, recruit talent, and grow their profit margins.
However, remote work has been around for a long time. Peter Ivanov built a career for himself by developing virtual teams for businesses over the last 20 years. Notably, he is also an international keynote speaker and bestselling author.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the benefits of remote work and how going virtual can impact your company to the greatest possible degree.
Virtual Power Teams
Through our conversation, I learned Peter’s resume includes having managed international projects, established global shared services, and led project delivery management units in Europe. He also shared that he was the head of IT services in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Essentially, Peter led teams across different countries, time zones, and cultures.
It is how Peter developed a method called “Virtual Power Teams”, which he defines as a way to help you retain the “gravity” of a team, and get the best out of everyone in their jobs.
Peter: “Why gravity? I always compare the virtual team to the atom, where you have a nucleus and then you have various particles that help retain gravity. Despite the distance, gravity is created between the individual team members, who are the particles drawn towards the nucleus. The nucleus is not the manager, the founder or the project manager. The nucleus is the purpose [of the team].
Within a Virtual Power Team we put a lot of emphasis on a goal. Uniting global talents is my motto, and I work with various companies to make their global teams more productive, deliver projects faster, and reduce costs.”
The 10 Big Rocks
Knowing how popularised remote-based work cultures have become with small businesses and even large corporations, I asked Peter if there were any pro tips he could share to help business leaders who might be struggling to get the best out of their virtual teams.
That’s when Peter walked me through what he calls the 10 Big Rocks, an analogy for what’s important when managing remote teams. The following are some of the main ones to consider, but he ran through all 10 on the Interviews With Experts Podcast.
Peter: “The 10 Big Rocks are the success factors that retain gravity and unleash power in virtual teams. The first is to focus on personality. Managers might not see the value in forming a deeper relationship with people they never meet in person, but from my perspective, that kind of thinking is a big mistake.
There are so many questions you can ask that can help people resonate with each other on a heart-to-heart level. With every workshop I’ve been involved in, it’s amazing how quickly it unfolds if you let it happen.
Focus number two is strength metrics in teams. People [in remote teams] can feel anonymous, just like a resource, so with this element we are discovering their natural strengths and talents. All of a sudden, they start feeling like heroes, and everybody sees what the others bring to the table. A new feeling emerges. It makes us believe this mix of skills on a team could help us achieve any goal that we set for ourselves.
The third one is interdependent goals. We break the main objective into many sub-tasks, which gives everyone on the leadership team their own goal and the full decision-making freedom to deliver on that goal. We are aiming for clarity in terms of who is on the team, what each person’s goal is and what the overall goal of the team is.
It is why online meetings then become important since they maintain communication. Meetings should be structured in such a way to let everyone contribute and shine, not so a manager can finger-point and dominate discussions.
This brings us to one of the most important rocks: recognition. The number one reason for people leaving a company is because of a lack of recognition from their boss. There are many ways to give recognition, even when you’re working remotely.”
Power Teams Beyond Borders
In Peter’s first book, Virtual Power Teams: How to Deliver Products Faster, Reduce Costs, and Develop Your Organization for the Future!, his main focus was to enable business performance.
But in his second book, Power Teams Beyond Borders: How to Work Remotely and Build Powerful Virtual Teams, Peter talks about how companies can (and will need to) take a more integrated approach in the future.
Peter: “The new business models require more integration, and not just within your own employees and teams but also with key partners. So, we explore the principles of always integrating and uniting beyond organisational boundaries, and not just for business results, but also to tackle the toughest challenges of humanity, like climate change.
The book has a story about an entrepreneur who begins to work with renewable energy. I’m a firm believer that if we get together and unite our talents, we can tackle the toughest challenges of humanity. There are multiple ways you can do this, from running events like hackathons to cooperating with NGOs and other businesses, as well as utilising the competition element that comes from cooperation.
For example, look at the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine development. There are biotechs which could share their work in the R&D space, and once they have a product, they could compete on the market and not only be very profitable businesses, but also tackle some of the toughest challenges humanity faces. When organisations take this approach, the traditional borders between them start to lose their importance and integration and cooperation becomes the new name of the game.”
What I love most about Peter’s book is that it takes remote work outside of the bubble we all know and links it to some of the bigger issues facing humanity. After all, virtual teams allow for a more diverse group of talented people to work together more conveniently than ever. I also love how Peter alludes to the fact these problems can only be solved when this happens.
But Peter has many other stories and case studies to back up his perspective on the power of a virtual team. He also has a strong online presence and runs master classes. If you want to ask Peter your own questions about virtual teams and remote work, you can reach him on LinkedIn.
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