Building High Performance Virtual Teams

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Information about Building High Performance Virtual Teams

Published on March 11, 2008

Author: Charlo


Building High Performing Virtual Teams:  Presented by: Ian Beeson The Performance Through Development Group Melbourne, Australia April, 2006 Building High Performing Virtual Teams About this Presentation:  About this Presentation Slides are very busy to allow for: Easier understanding for those whose primary language is not English; Use as a “prompter” or “reminder” booklet Clearer communication than simply by phone Material drawn from many sources: Acknowledged in credits at end Primary source is Ken Blanchard® resources Agenda:  Agenda To Begin – Some Definitions Warming Up – Setting Up for Success The Saga Continues – Managing the Journey Shutting Down – Wrapping it Up Some Thoughts and Tools Discussion & Questions Credits & References To Begin – Some Definitions:  To Begin – Some Definitions What is a “Virtual Team”? Range of definitions, depending on the writer Lipnack & Stamps suggest that any team which operates outside a 50 foot (15.25m) radius will demonstrate some of the characteristics of a virtual team. To me, its any team where regular face-to-face contact is difficult or impossible, due to: Time zones, shifts or schedules Geography Thinking About Virtual Teams:  Thinking About Virtual Teams Why? What are the Benefits? Cost reduction Perform work in most cost-effective location Reduce travel & accommodation expenses (NOT ELIMINATE!) Reduce consulting through access to skilled internal personnel Lower real estate costs Productivity & Effectiveness Apply most appropriate resources (from anywhere) to job Can schedule to follow-the-sun/around-the-clock Reduced susceptibility to disaster (multiple locations) Management Buy-In Involvement tends to foster support May allow staff to operate closer to customers Improved Staff Satisfaction Opportunity to participate in projects they may not otherwise Can build ongoing relationships/networks across business Warming Up – Setting Up for Success:  Warming Up – Setting Up for Success Common Themes with ALL Project Management Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail! Select resources appropriate to goal Ensure Standards & Protocols are understood All Regular Team Leadership Rules Apply Some Additional Considerations Some additional leadership & management issues Some additional communication issues Some additional risks Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail:  Fail to Plan = Plan to Fail Leader needs to have COMPELLING vision: It needs to be at a level higher than the local view It needs to imply local benefit It needs to be clear enough to enable empowerment It needs to be continually restated to maintain alignment Beware the Budget! Do NOT allow travel costs to be eliminated Ensure your risk contingency is appropriate Schedules Need to identify INDIVIDUAL deliverables and deadlines Need to include teleconferences, meetings, etc. for planning Selecting Your Resources:  Selecting Your Resources Task competence becomes MORE critical: Individuals may have less support available locally Estimates for completion may be less accurate Concern over performance may lead to withdrawal Communication competence becomes critical: Individuals must be able to manage communications Individuals must be able to communicate Progress & task-related questions Issues, concerns, problems Information relevant to other team members Standards and Protocols:  Standards and Protocols Team Members come from diverse backgrounds: Provide clear standards for all work, available to everyone (e.g. website, eRoom, etc) Refer back to these standards, and allow them to continue growing and developing Include a range of things: logos, templates, samples of finished work, checklists, anything that helps! How do you address one another? Ian, Beeson-san, Mr. Beeson? Oba? Gung? What are your calendars? Website? Outlook? Public holidays Religious requirements Standards and Protocols:  Standards and Protocols Ensure behavioural norms are documented and understood: Date & Time references GST? AEDT? 24h or am/pm? dd/mm/yy or mm/dd/yy or yymmdd? When is “close of business, Friday”? How long to return phone calls and emails? What are the team’s working hours, when can you call? To whom do you copy which emails? What does “finished” mean? Draft? Final? Handed over? Who does peer reviews for whom? When? How? Team Leadership Applies!:  Team Leadership Applies! Proven model can be useful I have found the Situational Leadership® II model accessible & useful: Suited to both individuals and teams Well supported by books and training Good coverage of issues (but NOT “silver bullet”) Tried and tested over many years Ensure that the team is kicked off appropriately! Assemble the team at the start Use session for chartering, training, planning & relationship building Research shows this is a CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTOR! Challenges: Leadership:  Challenges: Leadership About the Previous Table:  About the Previous Table From Dubé & Paré – Montréal Takes their observations on key team leadership factors and enables a profile to be drawn so that: Risks can be identified and managed Training needs can be identified and addressed Tools and technology can be procured and implemented Very useful as a thinking guide! Challenges: Communication:  Challenges: Communication Consider the existing tool set: Is it appropriate to the task at hand? Is it available to all members of the team? Is it reliable? Communications vary widely across countries Do the team members understand its use? Consider language: Avoid “local terms” – select a team language Avoid emotional terms – they can be misconstrued Use “active skills” in verbal communication Ensure proper respect is maintained for all team members See checklist in “tools” for additional ideas Challenges: Communication:  Challenges: Communication Consider “Pushed” vs. “Pulled” communication: Examples of “Pushed” Face to face meetings Pagers Outbound telephone calls to team members Unprioritised (or broadcast) email messages Unprioritised voice mail messages Examples of “Pulled” communication eBulletin Boards (eRooms, Notes DBs, etc) Intranet sites Personal/team/task web pages Source and document control systems As the team matures, the proportion of “Pushed” communication decreases to around 10% of total consumption by team members Empower the team – enable the tools! Additional Risks:  Additional Risks Consider: Team member focus being pulled to local tasks Team member inaccuracy in estimating completion Inconsistency in quality of delivered outcomes Failure in communication/delivery infrastructure Additional time required to: Develop skills for team members, where required Review and coach team members Conduct meetings Maintain stakeholder participation The Saga Continues: Managing the Journey:  The Saga Continues: Managing the Journey So, what could possibly go wrong? Consider this 2002 German study quoted by Dustdar … The Saga Continues: Managing the Journey:  The Saga Continues: Managing the Journey Common Themes: Trust Getting it and maintaining it Encouraging the team to build relationships Communication Keeping it open and relevant Having processes that work and are used Attentiveness Keeping the priorities clear, and consistent Maintaining contribution to the goal Managing The Stakeholders Let’s Talk About Trust:  Let’s Talk About Trust Can’t be assumed – must be earned Leader can encourage the development of trust: Needs to happen AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE Needs constant maintenance Beware “amplifying processes” Low trust  tighter scrutiny  detection of minor transgression  lowered trust  more scrutiny … Increases transaction costs, lowers morale BUT need to find “middle ground” Building Trust:  Building Trust Basis of trust in virtual teams: Common vision, purpose, values (charter) Clear, practical processes Valuing contributions and capabilities of colleagues Building trust between members Keep the vision, purpose and values “front of mind” Use kick-off meeting for experiential learning games Create key delivery dates (mini-milestones) Ensure processes are executed and deal effectively with delivery failures Publicly recognise and reinforce compliance with processes Share praise and recognition amongst team as appropriate Team culture that everyone keeps their commitments Lack of Trust:  Lack of Trust Lack of trust can be indicated by: Unwillingness to share information Withdrawal of effort or just doing the minimum Discounting others’ contributions Remember that the BEST virtual team is STILL a “weak matrix” organisation! People will be influenced by those who pay them! Local management can support/decay trust Keep them on board, and involved! Let’s Talk about Communication:  Let’s Talk about Communication So, you’ve planned it well – now what? Maintain the flow Meetings One-on-Ones Repositories Keep it clear Clarity Respect Maintaining the Flow:  Maintaining the Flow Meetings (teleconferences, etc) Create a schedule and stick to it Be sensitive to time zones Ensure that the “early” and “late” sessions are shared Allow for visits in the plan Mix visits to remote sites with visits from remote sites Facilitate meetings to ensure all voices are heard Follow up all meetings with confirming minutes Key decisions taken Actions and deadlines Maintaining the Flow:  Maintaining the Flow One-On-Ones Contact team members regularly to avoid isolation As appropriate, use their preferred names to help establish rapport Strongly reinforce desired behaviour Use diagnosis skills to identify where coaching or redirection might be required, and deliver it If necessary, supplement with local mentor/coach Keep notes of meeting and share with member Keep Communication Clear:  Keep Communication Clear Clarity Send important messages via several media Check for understanding (esp. in voice comms) Followup concerns individually Respect Ensure all opinions are heard Do not take offence when asked for rationale Invite members to offer opinions Be aware of language capabilities of members Can cause embarrassment – all members need patience Can cause confusion – check meaning by restating Maintaining the Flow:  Maintaining the Flow Repositories Use intuitive structures to make things easy to find Ensure technology supports the team (e.g. response) Consider giving each team member a web site Their contact details, time zones, etc Allow them to personalise it (photos, hobbies, etc) Deliverables, schedules, etc. Ensure information in repositories is current Have a “one thing – one place” policy Attentiveness/Participation:  Attentiveness/Participation What does this mean? Individual Dynamics Embracing and resolving conflict Effective decision making Equality of access and recognition Individual Dynamics:  Individual Dynamics Think about members’ preferred work styles: Phone vs. email vs. instant messaging Scheduled vs. ad-hoc communication Written vs. verbal communication Long vs. short lead times Think about members’ personality types Information from kick-off session: Introvert/extrovert? Creator/producer? Auditory/kinesthetic/visual learner Individual Dynamics:  Individual Dynamics Perception of time What does a schedule mean? When shouldn’t I schedule meetings? Perception of power Is it OK to challenge/ask questions? Is it more important to act as an individual or team member? Perception of priority Should I give priority to the task or my colleagues? Perception of conflict Is conflict a constructive or destructive force? Conflict:  Conflict Results from: Goal Incongruence What are we doing? Why is it important? Inconsistent direction: local vs. remote management Trust Am I contributing more than X? Why does X get the rewards? You don’t know what you’re talking about! Culture We don’t do it that way here! I can’t say that! Conflict:  Conflict Consider Blanchard’s Team Development Stages: Orientation: Politeness, enthusiasm, low conflict Leader needs to encourage discussion of “why” Dissatisfaction: Power struggles, high conflict, awareness of incompetence Leader needs to maintain focus on goal and provide tools to constructively resolve conflict Integration: Facilitation, desire for “peace”, low conflict Leader needs to encourage conflict to ensure flow of ideas and contribution of team members to goal Production: Constructive conflict, managed between peers, high performance Conflict is understood as healthy and necessary to success of team Conflict:  Conflict Worth a whole program on its own! Things you can do … Embrace it and encourage it! Fosters generation of new ideas, approaches and solutions Enriches knowledge through sharing from others Enables participation Clears emotional or other blockages Focus on the outcome or deliverable (not the person) Reinforce constructive, useful comments Redirect people away from emotive terms & language Use tools to support resolution and participation: Thomas-Kilman Conflict Approach de Bono’s Six Hats Decision Making:  Decision Making Establish processes during chartering Consensus? Majority? Remember Situational Leadership®II You may have different rules for different situations e.g. Don’t expect lots of contributions for a brand new goal! Recognise that (generally) teams make better decisions than individuals Remember to focus on the process of decision making as well as the outcome Ensure that the team is satisfied that the rationale is rational! Document the decision and its rationale! Equality of Access & Recognition:  Equality of Access & Recognition Keep in mind: Its more tempting to talk with those you are collocated with, than those on the other end of a phone – but its isolating for those at the other end! Often the leader of a virtual team is at the centre, or headquarters, and so gets the recognition for the job – ensure the credit gets distributed evenly Company newspapers are a great way to do this! Ensure you respond to all team members’ ideas and correspondence! Managing the Stakeholders:  Managing the Stakeholders As always – we LOVE our stakeholders! Even when we don’t like them very much! Remote management is a key stakeholder Influences work load on team members Has input to members’ performance appraisals Leader’s job is to keep them involved and informed Recognise contribution of their people and its importance Demonstrate (where possible) value of their contribution Establish good governance processes: To support collaboration: “win-win” To avoid opportunism/gold-plating/scope creep for local benefit With participation from all key stakeholders (local & remote) Shutting Down – Wrapping it Up:  Shutting Down – Wrapping it Up Remember that normal issues of Termination Stage apply: If team members have been exclusively assigned, they need to be clear about their next role Input to their performance appraisals must be completed and transmitted Need to ensure all remote management receives copy of completion report, to allow them to: See that their contribution was valued Which will make them more willing next time The project is seen by the executive as successful Which they can claim some credit for (success by association!) Need to ensure appropriate recognition event for team members: Don’t miss this opportunity (often cut from budget – wrongly!) Try to get all team members together, like an “anti-kick-off” Some Thoughts and Tools:  Some Thoughts and Tools Some thoughts: If you haven’t done this before, seek help: Experienced colleagues Experienced consultants (e.g. PTD, Blanchards) Not all of the tools or models apply all the time: Need to have them “in your toolkit” – use when appropriate Do your homework Know what you’re trying to achieve and why its virtual Take care when selecting your resources and tools Perform good project planning Some Thoughts & Tools:  Some Thoughts & Tools Some Tools: Do’s & Don’ts Do Do devote time to building and maintaining relationships with those they lead over distance Communication face to face at the beginning of the relationship Have periodic planned and spontaneous visits to remote sites Provide opportunities for representatives of remote sites to visit HQ periodically Engage in small talk with distanced individuals in face to face settings and computer mediated exchanges Regularly distribute company-dies information to remote employees (e.g. newsletter, real or virtual) Notify long distance employees of news that impacts them at the same time you tell local employees Match the appropriate communications technology to the desired leadership objectives Be specific and detailed with directions given over email Initiate follow-up phone calls to important email messages Forward email messages only to relevant parties Delete unnecessary parts of emails before forwarding or replying Beware “reply” – are you replying to an individual or a list From Connaughton Some Thoughts & Tools:  Some Thoughts & Tools Some Tools: Do’s & Don’ts Don’t Deliver bad news via email Use local colloquialisms with foreigners especially in email Use email to discuss emotionally charged issues (e.g. disagreements) Assume that one an email is sent, it will be read an understood Relate information only at one time and in one way Always travel to remote sites or expect remote individuals to always travel to you – mix it up Disclose pertinent information to local individuals before distanced individuals Assume meanings are shared Allow email to completely replace phones and teleconferences From Connaughton Discussion & Questions:  Discussion & Questions If you would like to contact us, we are: In Australia: The PTD Group Melbourne: 0419 007 076 Sydney: 02 9858 2822 In the USA: The Ken Blanchard Companies Toll-Free: 800 728-6000 In the UK: London: +44 (0) 20 8540 5404 In Canada Mississauga: 905 568-2678 Credits & References:  Credits & References Carmela Sperlazza Southers, Eunice Parisi-Carew, Don Carew: “Virtual Teams Handbook”, The Ken Blanchard Companies, Escondido, Ca. USA “Managing Virtual Teams” – Martha Haywood, Mgt Strategies, inc, Boston, ISBN 0-89006-913-1 Credits & References:  Credits & References Jessica Lipnack & Jeffrey Stamps, “Virtual Teams”, Wiley, NY, ISBN: 0-471-16553-0 Managing Virtual Teams - Text of speech given by Lisa Kimball for Team Strategies Conference sponsored by Federated Press, Toronto, Canada, 1997. Lisa Kimball ais the Executive Producer of Group Jazz ( Velda Stohr & Stevie Peterson, “Virtual Teams Toolkit”, University of St.Thomas in St.Paul, Minnesota, USA ( “Virtual Teams – Projects, Protocols and Processes”, The Idea Group 2004 (ISBN: 1-59140-166-6 [hardcover]) Chapter 1: Line Dubé, Guy Paré – HEC, Montréal Chapter 2 - Walter Fernandez, University of Queensland, Australia Chapter 5 - Connaughton (Rutgers University) & Daly (University of Texas in Austin Chapter 6 – Dustdar, Vienna University of Technology, Austria Dustdar quotes “Akademie für Führungskräfte” 2002 report “Probleme bei der Teamarbeit” – Germany Chapter 7 – Staples, Wong & Cameron, Queen’s University, Canada

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