Advances in technology have meant that companies have been able to adopt more global approaches to management in the last decade. Watkins (2013) identifies more and more teams will consist of staff spread across multiple locations in the future. Understanding how individuals within team structures will cope and communicate is important in planning and adopting procedures for virtualisation.
- lack of understanding of objectives or tasks within the team
- failure to identify cultural clashes/differences in employees
- failure to arrange teams according to their strengths
- lack of face-to-face contact
- disparities between technological support and access in different locations (e.g. offices in one location may not have access to the same level of technical assistance/tools as another location etc)
- leaders failing to take note of social requirements of team members, and not encouraging sharing, networking etc
- lack of trust between team members.
- organising at least one face to face discussion/round table early in the project. If this absolutely isn’t possible, organise a meeting that includes audio visual (such as skype etc) so that all team members have the opportunity to physically see each other.
- adopt a communication charter that outlines all expectations and standards for communicating. This can be used to enforce a schedule of team meetings, updates and protocols around sharing information
- clarification of all project systems, including tasks, processes and policies.
- encourage a specific schedule or routine of project systems and communication
- encourage team members to take on responsibility for tasks, or share project responsibilities amongst multiple team members to encourage empowerment and motivation
- create a knowledge management system for team members to share experiences, education etc.
- create explicit timeframes and milestones that team members must commit to.
Outcomes for virtual team management improvement: what to expect
Discussion Question: Many of these challenges have a common theme of ‘communication’. Why do you think communication is so important for global or virtual teams?
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Watkins, M. (2013, June 27). Making virtual teams work: ten basic principles. Retrieved from the Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/watkins/2013/06/making_virtual_teams_work_ten.html
Zhong, X., Huang, Q., Davison, R.M., Yang, X. & Chen, H. (2011). Empowering teams through social network ties. International Journal of Management 32(2012), 209-220. doi: 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2011.11.001