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Interview with Peter Ivanov

Peter Ivanov specializes in new leadership that supports business and management in our global world where more teams are separated geographically. Peter is an expert on creating power teams and is an engaging and motivating speaker. Read his interview and learn more about his methods and approach to good virtual teams.

How did you develop your methods of virtual team building?

My method is purely based on my 25 years’ practice leading international teams – learning from my mistakes and victories. I had the chance to lead large international teams with 100+ people – spread across multiple continents, time zones and cultures. Initially, I managed projects, then departments spread in Europe, Middle East and Africa and in the last 5 years as a Coach supported companies from various industries and sizes. From all these experiences, I’ve learned and constantly updated my method. It comprises the 10 Big Rocks which are the 10 Success factors for retaining the gravity despite the distance and unleashing the team power. What makes me passionate about the method is that it works e.g. we delivered a 2 years project involving 20 countries in Europe , 3 months earlier and saved 250 000 EUR.

 

What is necessary in order for companies or teams to achieve top performance across locations?

My method “Virtual Power Teams” comprising the 10 Big Rocks highlights the critical factors which if neglected or ignored deteriorate significantly the team performance. A virtual team is like an atom where you have the nucleus and various particles flying around. In a virtual team we aim to retain the gravity despite the distance. The gravity between the individual team member i.e the particles to the nucleus, which is not the manager, but the purpose and the goal of the team. In poorly led virtual teams the team members get lost in space and this impacts negatively the results. My method consists of 3 main parts:

– Clarity – where we deep dive into the individual personalities and their strengths, defining who is the member of the team and what is the team’s goal

– Structured communication – often in poorly led virtual teams the manager calls the online conference only if a problem arises. On the contrary, we establish a regular structured communication where everyone has a time slot and everyone can contribute and shine. Knowledge management is linked to individual strengths and feedback is regularly institutionalized.

– Optimal culture – with lots of recognition and appealing prize we establish the optimal virtual culture based on the bouquet of nationalities existing in the team.

 

In global as well as local companies many people of different ages and cultural backgrounds work. How do companies manage to successfully promote and use this diversity?

Having team members from different cultures is a high risk, particularly if you can not manage the cultural conflicts that certainly arise, but a tremendous opportunity as well. It is proven by various research that diverse teams in terms of gender and culture deliver significantly better results. In my workshops, we consciously chose the Optimal team culture on 3 scales – Leading, Deciding and Disagreeing.

For example the leading scale distinguishes between – hierarchical and egalitarian cultures. In the former, there is a big distance between the boss and the team members; you ask for permission before acting, there is seating order etc. In the latter, you are expected to take initiative and act based on pre-agreed vision and objectives. The team consciously picks the optimal team position on the scale and each team member reflects and agree: what does it mean for me to actively support the chosen culture?

 

As globalization progresses, so does the importance of transnational work and team building. What role will virtual teams, in companies, play in the future?

According to Forrester research 81% of the teams globally are virtual i.e. have team members in different locations and 60% of them are in different time zones. I believe that working virtually will grow as a trend in the future. The underlying trends are: increased home office workers, growing use of flexible workforce and releasing office space in favour of working from home and meeting occasionally in co-working spaces. I think companies regardless of their size can gain significant benefits if then can unite their people despite the distance. They can work with the best experts in the world without having to relocate them, expand geographically and conquer new markets. It is my mission to unite people in different locations and from various cultures and I am honored to have the opportunity to work with various multinationals, SMEs, exponentially growing digital start ups and even NGOs. The ability to work with the best experts and achieve the same level of gravity as in local teams, will unlock tremendous opportunities for business, education and society.

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