Virtual Team Management & Success

Chapter Three
Virtual Team Launch Kit
“A lot of organizations create virtual teams with
almost no understanding of the unique implications
of that decision.”
-Margaret A. Neale, professor,
Stanford Graduate School of Business1
Each year an increasing number of organizations are launching
new teams whose members must collaborate and work together
from a distance. While many of these teams are successful,
others never accomplish their objectives. Why? Because some
organizations that decide to use virtual teams do not invest the
resources necessary to ensure their productivity and survival.

As a result, we frequently hear stories about missed deadlines,
unhappy customers, failed product launches, and other serious
costs (both monetary and non-monetary) associated with failed
or failing virtual teams.

Why are some organizations and virtual teams more successful
than others? The answer is actually quite simple: Organizations
with high-performing virtual teams understand that those teams
are unique-and thus take the appropriate actions to help them
to be successful.

Test Your Virtual Team Launch IQ

Before we discuss the guidelines for effectively launching new

virtual teams, let’s assess your current knowledge. The case study

below outlines a situation related to launching a new virtual
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Chapter Four
What D1fferent1ates Great Virtual
Teams-HoW to RAMP Up Your

Team s Performance
“Globally linked virtual teams will transform every
government and company in the world. Any of our
peers who don’t do it won’t survive.”
-]ohn Chambers, CEO, Ciscol
What Differentiates Top Virtual Teams?

lf you’ve spent any time looking for information about virtual
teams, it’s likely you haven’t come up empty-handed. Still, while
there are numerous articles presenting tips and best practices
for virtual teams, there’s little information out there on what
makes top-performing virtual teams so successful. For example,
you probably won’t find much information on what practices
differentiate high-performing virtual teams from those that are
less effective.

The dearth of information on this topic led OnPoint to
conduct a global research study. As part of our research, which
included forty-eight virtual teams of varying levels of effec-
tiveness, we identified five practices and characteristics that
differentiate the highest and lowest performing virtual teams.
These differentiators-commitment and engagement, shared
processes for decision making, information flow, trust, and
collaboration-are the most important components of optimal
virtual team performance.

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Chapter F ive
How to Lead Virtual Teams-T1ps,
Techniques, and Best Practices
for High Performance
“Out of sight, foremost in mind. How do you
manage people whom you don’t see regularly?”
-Charles Handyl
We’ve already established that quality leadership is essential for a
virtual team’s success. And that it’s not an easy job. Virtual team
leaders face challenges similar to those of leaders of co-located
teams. However, for the former, many of those challenges are
exacerbated by distance and time zone differences.

As Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar, vice president of talent man-
agement at Gap, lnc., suggests, “The things that are good for
virtual teams are the same as with traditional teams, but they
become even more important in virtual teams.”

However, virtual team leaders also face some challenges all
their own.

Challenges Virtual Team Leaders Face
ln OnPoint’s study, we asked l5O virtual team leaders to identify
the top challenges they face when leading from a distance. They
pinpointed the following challenges as the greatest barriers to
their performance: infrequent face-to~face contact, lack of resources,
clifficulties in building a collaborative atmosphere virtually, lack of
time to focus on leading the team, shifting team and organizational
priorities, and clifficulties in managing poor performers. Let’s explore
them further.
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Chapter Six
What Factors Really Accelerate
Virtual Team Performance-The
Four Top Performance Boosters
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together
is progress. Working together is success.”
-Henry Ford
‘‘It’s easy to get good players. Getting them to play
together, that’s the hard part.”
-Casey Stengel
ls your virtual team performing effectively? lf your answer is no,
take heart. There are steps you can take to improve performance.
ln the previous chapter we focused on the factors that separate
the best virtual team leaders from the rest of the pack. Now we’ll
explore what team leaders can do to help their teams overcome
performance challenges.

Our study found that there are four main practices that virtual
team leaders can use to boost their teams’ performance levels:
provide coaching and support, gain the commitment of team
members, recognize the contributions of team members, and
hold team members accountable. Read on to learn more about
each one.

Taking Virtual Team Performance to the Next Level

Performance Booster 1: Provide Coaching and Support

To ensure each team member maximizes his or her contributions,

virtual team leaders need to consistently monitor progress and

provide frequent feedback and coaching. Doing so helps team
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Chapter Seven
How to Facilitate High-Impact
Virtual Meetings -Techniques
That Really Work
“The art of communication is the language of
James Humes
We frequently encounter virtual team leaders who think they are
effective. However, when it’s time to bring everyone together and
really “get stuff done” they struggle to effectively communicate
with and engage their team members. That’s right. One of the
biggest trouble spots for leaders is the virtual team meeting.

We hear stories all the time about marathon v-meet-
ings-some even lasting all day-that quickly lose focus and
end up being a waste of everyone’s time. We also often hear
about regularly scheduled v-meetings that are conducted without
clear objectives and agendas, but that continue simply because
they are on everyone’s calendar.

As we’ve touched on in earlier chapters, virtual team members
are time-crunched and often spread quite thin between their day-
today responsibilities and their virtual team responsibilities.
Poorly run meetings not only waste their already scarce time, but
they can also jeopardize the team’s ability to meet its deadlines.

These factors are why many of the executives we interviewed
reinforced the importance of knowing how to effectively manage
virtual meetings. For example, Theresa Zeller of Merck stated,
“Managing work/life balance is a huge challenge. You need to be
flexible but also do not want to reinforce working 24/7, as you
want to be respectful of setting virtual boundaries. Therefore, it
is important to have much better practices in terms of meeting

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Conclusion: Six Lessons

for Successful Virtual Teams
As you’ve gone through each chapter, we hope you’ve learned
some tactics you can put into practice today and in the future.
Now we’d like to ask you to step back and take a broader look at
some “big picture” principles.

The survey results that inspired this book point to six general
lessons for successful virtual teams. These broader themes relate
(sometimes directly and other times indirectly) to the topics that
we’ve covered. They are summarized below.

Lesson 1: Focus on People Issues

Essentially, successful teaming depends largely on the effective
interaction of team members. And because an inherent lack of
human contact comes with the territory with virtual teams, they
must compensate by finding ways to support team spirit, trust,
and productivity.

As we’ve observed in earlier chapters, approaches to virtual
teamwork are different from those used for conventional teams,
and such matters of communication and culture-the so-called
“people issues”-take on a heightened relevance to the success
of these teams.

What are the warning signs that your virtual teams people
issues need more attention? Do team members work indepen-
dently and fail to collaborate or effectively interact with other
members of the team? Or have you noticed that an “us versus
them” mentality has developed between locations or subgroups?

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Term paper on Virtual Team Management & Success that covers all the sections covered in the class. Your paper must be in depth and address the main areas of class objectives that include;
•    Building High performance Virtual teams
o    Profiles of Virtual team success
o    Differentiators of great teams (RAMP model)
o    Virtual team launch kit
•    Leading virtual teams
o    How to lead virtual team
o    Team accelerating factors
o    Facilitating high impact Virtual team meetings
•    Conclusion
o    Six lessons for successful Virtual teams

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