What happens when a key point of contact or link within your virtual team quits? Managing virtual project teams in stressful times is comparatively more challenging than leading an onsite team. Being geographically scattered means there is no face time to informally catch up and build relationships. Cultural differences amongst the virtual team members could add to the chaos. The latest AIM Strategies® eNews discusses ways and means to REFRESH and RECHARGE your virtual team.
Managing Virtual Project Teams is essential in the following scenarios:
- SITUATION: Perhaps a replacement to the key virtual team member (who just quit) is yet to be found or has just been appointed but is a lateral hire and completely unfamiliar with the existing Team Code. How does the change in the virtual team composition impact existing Context Communication roles and responsibilities?
SUGGESTION: Besides assigning a ‘buddy’ to the new team members, other virtual team members can regularly check-in to bring him up to speed. Remember that out of sight should not lead to out of mind. If roles and responsibilities are changing, all virtual team members need to be updated regarding business shifts and changes and not just the individuals involved.
- SITUATION: A few virtual team members may have had no client contact throughout the process. Maybe it’s because the client changed previous timelines and several virtual team members had little collaboration. It could be that the client’s position or priorities have shifted or the client has new team members in place that wants different deliverables. How do you keep the client updated and your team members engaged and connected?
SUGGESTION: Broadcast (either a newsletter or a video) regular updates about the progress of the project frequently to all team members. Acknowledge the contributions of otherwise Silent Riders. Consider setting a virtual meeting to take a status check before moving forward and utilize technology mediums such as online chat rooms for communicating between sub teams.
- SITUATION: How can an organization implement new technologies or business policies across a globally dispersed workforce?
SUGGESTION: Undertake virtual team training by way of videos. Set up a transition portal page with FAQs and possibly a helpline to assist in the implementation.
- SITUATION: Sometimes changes may not be as monumental. The virtual team project could be a long series of implementation steps, and virtual team members may be in their own areas working along a predetermined path. How do you make certain that the team members do not get mired in their own individual work products and lose sight of the ultimate goal?
SUGGESTION: At periodic intervals, virtual team members should be invited to present about their contributions in virtual video conferences and via telecommunication forums.
- SITUATION: At the end of a project how do you disband on a good note? How do you ensure that lessons learned from ‘departing members’ are passed on?
SUGGESTION: It is important to record and discuss the insights in a virtual team meeting and then record it in an accessible place for the next virtual team project.
During key changes or even just along the way, the virtual team manager should take stock of the situation and make sure that all the virtual project team members are on the same page, get the new big picture, understand their role and maintain cohesiveness. Not taking the time to refuel your virtual teams may lead to entrenchment of existing disagreements and an adverse impact on the output of the team. While it is easy to talk about collaboration and more effective virtual teams, it is crucial to think about and engage in practical virtual team building strategies from time to time.
The latest AIM Strategies® eNews discusses ways to refresh your virtual team. Check it out!