Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It’s not a technology play


It’s a geographically dispersed team that thinks and acts like they are in one place. The assumption is the individuals know how to use the communication tools. If you are lucky enough for this to be true but your virtual team is still struggling, think again.

The challenge for leadership to excel leading geographically dispersed teams is more difficult than most people accept. Virtual teams have many of their own peculiar traits that, if left unmanaged, destroy the potential effectiveness of the team. The book “Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time and Organizations With Technology” by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps, and their related website, hits the point that many leaders miss. “Success is 90% the people and 10% technology.” Knowing how to use the tools is a basic element of the virtual game. All your leadership efforts must be exaggerated. You have to try twice as hard.

What are some of your best “people-oriented” virtual leadership techniques?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Distractions such as background noise, sidebar conversations, or an inaudible speaker can be true culprits to a successful meeting. Promoting and upholding "virtual meeting expectations and etiquette" will enhance the effectiveness of your virtual meetings. And remember…the mute button is your friend.

J Wong said...

One of the best “people-oriented” virtual leadership techniques I can think of (since I am on many virtual teams) is the feeling of inclusion for everyone on the phone, not just the people who may be sitting in a room together during the meeting. Simple things like asking for their inputs, asking if everyone agrees with what is being presented or asking for their involvement in a project. It is also helpful when people state their name before they talk, that way you know who is speaking. It is hard to visualize what is happening on the other end of the phone, the non verbal facial expressions or gestures. Just be aware of these things when you have virtual team members and do your best to keep everyone engaged and contributing so they feel a part of the team.

I would have to agree with your statement about “You have to try twice as hard” when you are leading a virtual team. That is something you have always excelled in and is not something I come across often.

John Erste said...

Companies that want to work "virtually" should invest in quality equipment and train people on how to use it so that meetings can be quickly started and efficiently run. Also, whenever possible, team members should be given an opportunity to meet face-to-face. This will increase the understanding of each other when meeting in the virtual world.

brianhodgson said...

With the various technology options (e-mail, IM, wiki, etc.) one area that too often gets ignored is the old fashioned phone. Picking it up and talking live to remote people helps build the relationships & trust that are required.

Anonymous said...

Including everyone in on the conversations and recognizing people for their contributions. People need to feel heard and thanking someone goes a long way.

Try managing a virtual team you don't actually manage...

timengel said...

We build the C-17 Transport in Long Beach. We have a rep from St Louis who is outstanding. He recently went 'partly virtual' - commuting to Long Beach from TX every other week...the opposite weeks supporting via telecon/etc.

Being a good liaison he takes advantage of the technology that's available and hasn't lost a step. We still love him!

Seems that going the extra mile helps to mitigate any of the issues of not actually standing in your office!

Add to Technorati Favorites