Setting up Virtual Teams for your project

by Francis on August 1, 2013

I often come across organ­isa­tions that have jumped into vir­tual team exe­cu­tion for their pro­ject and won­der why they get into prob­lems dur­ing exe­cu­tion.  Typ­ic­ally the prob­lems are things they have never encountered before and often they leave the organ­isa­tion emo­tion­ally and cor­por­ately scared from the experience.

I have heard com­ments like “They (the other office) are all liars”, “They just don’t get what we need”, “Their qual­ity is all wrong” and sim­ilar, with the res­ult being that the indi­vidu­als and the organ­isa­tions decide that it is all too dif­fi­cult and they will revert to single office exe­cu­tion with all of the issues that entails, on the belief that they at least under­stand these local issues.

The sort of com­ments I have quoted above, and they are all actual com­ments, though para­phrased here, reflect a fun­da­mental lack of plan­ning and under­stand­ing of what is actu­ally needed to make vir­tual teams work, but human nature being what it is tends to make us look external for a place to assign blame when prob­lems occur — it is always “someone else” fault.  But it does not have to be, with some real plan­ning and using draw­ing on the right exper­i­ence, plus the patience to learn on the run, vir­tual teams exe­cu­tion can be a pro­duct­ive, fruit­ful and, dare I say it, enjoy­able experience.

To start to get vir­tual team exe­cu­tion right you need to go back to basics and deal with some fun­da­mental, found­a­tion issues such as;

  • Why am I using a vir­tual team?
  • Is my organ­isa­tion set up to get the best from vir­tual teaming?
  • Does my organ­isa­tion sup­port vir­tual teams?
  • Do my per­son­nel believe in vir­tual teams?

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Coming back after a bit of a writing hiatus

by Francis on July 30, 2013

I have just real­ized it has been quite a while since I last pos­ted here… Two years ago now I star­ted on a part time PhD asso­ci­ated with vir­tual teams and com­mu­nic­a­tions between per­son­nel engaged in these teams, as you can maybe ima­gine, that has taken much of my avail­able time and con­sequently I have some­what neg­lected this blog. Hope­fully I am now at a point with my research that I can get back to writ­ing pieces here with a reas­on­able fre­quency again, the sub­ject mat­ter may vary a little from earlier posts but hope­fully you will still find them interesting.

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Managing marginalisation in virtual teams

23 October 2011

How­ever you con­fig­ure your vir­tual work teams you will always fin­ish up with groups with more and groups with less con­trol over the way the pro­ject is run, groups who get all of the mes­sages and groups who get only some, large groups who can oper­ate self suf­fi­ciently and small groups who can’t.  In amongst […]

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Merits of face to face meetings in a virtual teams project

21 August 2011

There are times in every vir­tual teams pro­ject when there is little real sub­sti­tute for a face to face meet­ing, get­ting every­one, or at least a major­ity of the project’s key play­ers into a single room for a series of meet­ings is peri­od­ic­ally essen­tial to keep the pro­ject on track. These times would typ­ic­ally include, […]

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Outsourcing of higher skilled work and its impact on the virtual team relationship

13 August 2011

For most of the time the vir­tual teams approach has been used in the mod­ern indus­trial world, which is really since the inter­net and com­puter tech­no­logy reached a point where it could sup­port multi centre work, one of the key aspects most heav­ily exploited has been to out­source the more labour intens­ive, less tech­no­logy or […]

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In at the deep end of international communications

9 August 2011

Some time ago I pos­ted a piece titled “Provid­ing ongo­ing assist­ance in the devel­op­ment of inter­na­tional com­mu­nic­a­tion skills” where I dis­cussed ways organ­isa­tions can sup­port their per­son­nel when they are work­ing in vir­tual team based pro­jects, how some ongo­ing sup­port can help the team to con­tinue to grow together and through that growth deliver a […]

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Turn right at the hot dog stand…

7 August 2011

I was hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with a col­league recently where we were dis­cuss­ing dir­ec­tions from an air­port arrivals gate to the city shuttle bus, which, in a little detail was to turn right at the hot dog stand then left a few meters later, exit through the glass doors and look for the shuttle bus. […]

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Do you need a communications coach?

28 May 2011

Quite some time ago I star­ted to think about how best to help senior and gen­er­ally very busy man­agers improve their com­mu­nic­a­tions abil­it­ies when run­ning or work­ing in vir­tual team envir­on­ments.  These people usu­ally come from a world where they are assumed to know everything and yet never have the time to learn new skills […]

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Making first contact across international projects

26 February 2011

Some­thing which comes up quite fre­quently in dis­cus­sions I have with col­leagues, par­tic­u­larly those new to work­ing in vir­tual teams, is whether there is a pro­tocol for estab­lish­ing con­tact at the start of par­ti­cip­a­tion in a new pro­ject. I have dis­cussed this with a num­ber of col­leagues and given it quite a bit of thought […]

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Overcoming communication silos in international projects

11 December 2010

Within com­mu­nic­a­tions in inter­na­tional pro­jects, one often over­looked facet which can be eas­ily addressed, requires com­plex and com­mit­ted effort and can cause sub­stan­tial dam­age if handled badly is the man­age­ment of bar­ri­ers affect­ing com­mu­nic­a­tions between the vari­ous inter­na­tional parties. One of the biggest influ­ences on a pro­jects abil­ity to develop and main­tain an effect­ive inter-office […]

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