Managing any organization takes a great deal of work, but managing a virtual organization adds a whole new element to managing. Most organizational leaders have the ability to talk to their employees face-to-face. They can read their body language, their facial expressions, and see their work style. Those managing virtual employees and virtual teams don't have the ability to do those things, so they need to rely on other indicators and means of managing their teams efficiently.
Kevin L. McMahan wrote a paper entitled, "Effective Communication and Information Sharing in Virtual Teams". In that paper he gave 17 pointers for managing virtual teams. I am sharing them here...
- Engage the team in setting expectations about behavior and performance. Record the team's decisions and commitments to each other.
- Clearly define member responsibilities.
- Use rigorous project management disciplines to ensure clarity.
- Consider servant leadership exposure and training for potential team leaders.
- Determine, as a team, how conflict will be addressed and resolved.
- "Proactive behavior, empathetic task communication, positive tone, rotating leadership, task goal clarity, role division, time management, and frequent interaction with acknowledged and detailed responses to prior messages."
- Strive for a good faith effort in complying with the team norms and commitments, be honest in team negotiations, and don't take advantage of others or of the situation.
- Encourage social communication that accompanies task completion at the outset and be enthusiastic in e-mail dialog; look for predictable, substantial, and timely responses to members.
- Provide more formal communication than in traditional same time/same place teams.
- Keep communications in a shared database for use in new member orientation.
- Focus knowledge management attention on the tacit as well as the explicit knowledge.
- Document the tacit and embed the process into the organizational structure.
- Record and share the "context" when sharing information, preferably with a view toward future audiences.
- Match desired activities with performance evaluation factors; reward the desired performance.
- Build information sharing (knowledge management initiatives) into the organization's strategic plan.
- For a team crosscutting an organization's departmental boundaries, develop an information system to help translate terms in the subject disciplines.
- Encourage and provide feedback on all team activities; listen to it!
- Design and integrate tools that fit the team environment; don't force the team to adapt its behavior to the "latest" software.
I had several other links (in the blog that is floating who-knows-where), but through the blogs of several of my other classmates that information has already been shared. So...I will spare you all from reading the same information twice. Thanks for a great class my fellow students and I look forward to seeing everyone's presentations.