Sunday, May 9, 2010

Leading Virtual teams is a new expanded challenge

It is becoming increasingly more likely that you will be called on to lead a virtual team (if you haven't already). The question on most peoples' mind when this comes up "Is this different to how I lead my team today?". the answer is yes!

 Leading virtual teams is quite a new challenge that builds further on you team leading skills. Many of the subtle things you do today tomaintai and lead you team are not available to you when your team is virtual. For example, you cant catch-up and the water fountain and ask someone how their day is going and a casual update on the project. Furthermore you cannot get any of the body language of your members - where we would typically be able to tell when someone is upset or not committed to an idea.

Firstly you need to develop some close personal  association so that you can talk about other aspects apart from the team's job, this way when you speak to them on the phone  you will be better able to judge their mood and acceptance of the ideas flowing.

Secondly  when you meet ( usually phone conference or email) take extra care to make sure every person has an opportunity to express their opinion - for better or worse. Work out a strategy to keep the conversation on track and be careful of those people who try to dominate the conversation.

Thirdly, while it is good practice to follow an agenda  it is crucial you stick to it and that as each item is closed, you have appointed someone to take the relevant action and you have defined the time for updates and completion. At the completion  of the meeting have each member go through the list of items that they will be working on and how much will be completed by the next meeting.

Note: If your virtual team is to be working together for some time, you should look for an opportunity to get the team together, this may cost a bit to do, however the result will bond you team in a much tighter way. If this is totally out of the question, try for a teleconference so at the very least everyone gets to put a face to the name.

As the team leaders of today we need to look at how we can expand our capabilities to lead virtual teams to achieve the companies goals.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris, would you mind giving me your definition of a 'virtual team'?