V-Team Success: 7 Steps for Building High-Performing V-Teams with Skill



“The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side.” — Margaret Carty

A lot of the work in today’s world is done through virtual teams (V-Teams.)

As a project leader, it’s unlikely that you can always have everyone report to you.

And as an individual contributor, it’s a common scenario that to get things done, you have to influence other people.

Knowing how to V-Team with skill helps you make things happen.  It’s also one of the best ways to scale your impact.  When you partner and pair with other people, you can bite off more than you can chew alone.

With a V-Team, you have a team of capabilities versus a team of one.

Here is a seven step process for building effective V-Teams from one of my mentors with a proven track record …

7 Steps for Building a Successful V-Team

Here is a recipe for getting things done with v-Teams:

  1. Identify what you want to accomplish. (your goal)
  2. Build agreement around common goals.
  3. Identify who owns what.  (Stakeholder Map)
  4. Gain visibility and ownership. (who will do the work)
  5. Identify the plan. (how and when will the work get done)
  6. Report the status.
  7. Arrive at the goal.

Ways to Improve Your Success

Here are some additional ways to improve your success as a V-Team Maestro:

  • Set visibility and context first.  Why are you are doing what you are doing?  Examples – you see integration points, shared problems, or ways to achieve shared wins.
  • Get clarity on stakeholders and who owns what.  If they own, but don’t care, then figure out who are the right folks to get acting on this.
  • Use status and tracking as your friend.  Progress builds momentum.  Know who’s signed up for what, and know what’s on the line. (Don’t wait until people drop the ball.)
  • Report status in a meaningful way.  Map status back to what stakeholders care about.
  • Get agreement.  You can’t hold people responsible if they did not agree.
  • Use email when it’s efficient, but stop when it’s not effective. Go until it fails.  If it’s not working, change the technique.  Some things have to happen face-to-face or a phone call.
  • Maximize your joint pool of resources.  Find ways to get synergy and exponential results or eliminate inefficiencies.
  • Get sponsorship and support.  There are always setbacks, but an angel or two can help you over the humps.
  • Evaluate your approach based on the situation.  Be intellectually aware — it’s people, not a task force.  Focus on the intent, and find better ways to arrive at the goal.


  1. Right now, i am in the process of building a business team with a shared goal. This is my first time so far and I badly need to improve the quality lifestyle of my homeplace (Tawi-Tawi, Philippines)but with all the help of your post esp. your book Getting Results The Agile Way. I printed all the useful articles in this site & bind them, including unuseful stuff b/c i believe you so greatly. I think i’m starting becoming a great person like you are. Please any articles you can suggest that can help me, i’m willing to receive a coaching or any opportunities awaits from you there. For me Mr. JD, you are the GREATEST HERO of the WORLD!

  2. Creating a unified plan and making people responsable for their own results is both empowering, motivating and the most efficient way to work.

    If you have to micromanage as a manager you won’t get as much done and the teams results will be lacking.

    By setting up systems that let people know what values to follow, what needs to be done and what results are expected you create a stable team with stable results.

  3. This is fantastic advice. For me, the biggest points are consistent and complete communication (don’t keep people on a need to know basis, get them involved in the whole picture and they’ll make decisions from that perspective, which is much more valuable), give them the WHY (communicate what the actual goal is, not just the tasks, so that when adjustments need to be made, team members can make decisions that serve the actual purpose), and getting agreement (people are much more creative and productive when they’re doings something they actually want to do. Plus the empowerment of being asked instead of told to do something is huge.)

    Well done JD (again)!


  4. @ Rich — Thank you.

    Let’s try this … using my contact form, send me your three top questions on things holding you back from the lifestyle you want, and I’ll see what I can share. We can dive deep.

    Meanwhile, be sure to readYou 2.0. It will give you a very firm foundation for everything you do, by identifying your vision, mission, values, strengths, and personal success patterns.

    @ Daniel — A unified plan is almost like the Super Friends coming together … everybody bringing their unique skills to the table for the greater good.

    Micromanaging sets up the team for failure and the manager. It ties the teams’ hands and the manager won’t get the results they need. My favorite one-liner is “set the goals and get out of the way”, but I think that needs to be balanced with motivation and direction, the Situational Leadership way.

    @ Melody — Really good points and I like that you explicitly called out — “don’t keep people on a need to know basis.” I’ve been on the receiving end of those scenarios way too many times. In fact, that’s why I make it a point to co-create the vision with the team, and make sure people sign up for the work vs. get assigned to the work. Buy-in makes all the difference.

    Whenever I get a request coming my way, and I suspect it’s part of a bigger problem, I know to ask, “What problem are you trying to solve?” … or “What’s driving this?” Otherwise, I’m just getting their conclusion and not understanding the problem behind it.

  5. hi jd… i have been a long time follower of your blog. the insights have always been great. like rich, i am in a the process of building a team/restructuring an organization.

    as much as i have tried to implement what i know it has been an uphill climb and i would appreciate it very much if you can give your two cents worth on how to keep this thing going.

    the potential of what we are doing is great but the challenges are also huge. i initially thought that if i get a few things out of the way we can clear the path towards success. i feel there are expectations that are not managed and this adds stress to the equation.

    currently feeling burnt out… i wish i could just answer what’s the best thing i could do now but i am feeling overwhelmed at this point


  6. @ Riza — I’ll share a few things you can try that might hit the mark.

    Let’s try three things:

    1. Make sure your mission is a simple one-liner and compelling. Here are examples: Google – “organize the world’s info,” Starbucks – “world’s best coffee”, ITunes – “World’s best music store,” etc. Connect it to values (excellence, growth, freedom, etc.). This is how you light fires, including your own.
    2. Find a way to visualize the work and show progress. My favorite approach is a Kanban. I’m a fan of using stickies and paper on a wall, but I also use AgileZen. Harvard Business Review had a great article on how “progress” is the number one way to improve employee engagement and satisfaction.
    3. Build an exciting backlog of the team’s work (scope) using compelling user stories. My favorite approach is to use persona-based scenarios with goals: As a business decision maker, I need a simple dashboard of status, as an artist, I need a way to go from idea to done, etc.

    On #3, I get the stories directly from the customer so this keeps it real and I’m guaranteed to flow value (value is in the eye of the beholder)

    The trick here is to focus on engaging work. Make it meaningful, make it magic, and make it happen.

    A little momentum goes a long way, even small wins get the thunder rolling.

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