Building High PerformingVirtual Teams: Presented by: Ian Beeson
The Performance Through Development Group
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?
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)
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
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?
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?
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
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)
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
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:
Getting it and maintaining it
Encouraging the team to build relationships
Keeping it open and relevant
Having processes that work and are used
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
Keep it clear
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
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?
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:
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:
What are we doing? Why is it important?
Inconsistent direction: local vs. remote management
Am I contributing more than X? Why does X get the rewards?
You don’t know what you’re talking about!
We don’t do it that way here!
I can’t say that! Conflict: Conflict Consider Blanchard’s Team Development Stages:
Politeness, enthusiasm, low conflict
Leader needs to encourage discussion of “why”
Power struggles, high conflict, awareness of incompetence
Leader needs to maintain focus on goal and provide tools to constructively resolve conflict
Facilitation, desire for “peace”, low conflict
Leader needs to encourage conflict to ensure flow of ideas and contribution of team members to goal
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
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
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 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 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
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
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 (www.groupjazz.com).
Velda Stohr & Stevie Peterson, “Virtual Teams Toolkit”, University of St.Thomas in St.Paul, Minnesota, USA (http://www.managementhelp.org/grp_skll/virtual/virtual.htm)
“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