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Managing/Leading Virtual Team
A Virtual Team is known as a Geographically Dispersed Team (GDT) – is a group of individuals who
work across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of
communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose,
have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves
mutually accountable. Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best
people regardless of location. A virtual team does not always mean Tele-workers. Tele-workers are
defined as individuals who work from home. Many virtual teams in today’s organizations consist of
employees both working at home and small groups in the office but in different geographic locations or
during different shits/time.
Factors Driving Virtual Organizations
o Organizational structure changing to meet the demands of the fast-paced, dynamic global economy
o Many organizations are moving from a systems-based organizational model to a collaborative,
networked organizational model.
o The virtuality of virtual organizations has been described as having two key features:
_ Creation of a common value chain between distinct entities and distributed
_ Information technology (IT) supported business processes (Seiber and Griese, 1997).

Communications in Virtual Organizations
Information technology is a primary mechanism for providing support and control to virtual forms.
Communication within virtual organizational forms is increasingly supported by information

Organizational Types
o Permanent Virtual Organizations
o Virtual Teams
o Virtual Projects
o Temporary Virtual Organizations

Types of Teams
o Traditional - Face-to-Face
o Virtual

Virtual Teams
Virtual teams are teams of people who primarily interact electronically and who may meet face-to-face
occasionally. Examples of virtual teams include a team of people working at different geographic sites
and a project team whose members telecommute. Members are physically separated (by time and/or
space) and that virtual team members primarily interact electronically.
Why a virtual team?
o Team members may not be physically collocated.
o It may not be practical to travel to meet face-to-face.
o Team members may work different shifts.
o Organization-wide project not in the same location.
o Alliances with organizations.

Different kinds of Virtual Development
o Large teams in relatively few locations
o Each location develops a subsystem
o The leaders of each location meet often

o Designers at one location send specifications to production unit at another location 􀃆

o A team spread over relatively many locations, with relatively few people, per location

Virtual Teams
Technology Supporting Virtual Teams
o Telephones, PCs, modems, Video Conference, communication links, hubs, network
(telephone system) and local area networks

o Electronic mail, meeting facilitation software, and group time management systems

Benefits of virtual teams
o People can work from anywhere at anytime.
o People can be recruited for their competencies, not just physical location.
o Many physical handicaps are not a problem.
o Expenses associated with travel, lodging, parking, and leasing or owning a building
may be reduced and sometimes eliminated. o Apply most appropriate resources (from anywhere) to job
o Can schedule to follow-the-sun/around-the-clock
o Can build ongoing relationships/networks across business
o Cost reduction

Downside of virtual teams
o Time zones
o “You can’t see me” attitude
o No constant direction
o Keeping that motivation and commitment
o How do you celebrate a success?

Characterizations of virtual teams (Henery and Hartzler,1998)
o Members are mutually accountable for team results.
o Members are dispersed geographically (nationally or internationally).
o Members work apart more than in the same location.
o The team solves problems and makes decisions jointly.

A successful virtual team
o A unified commitment by all team members
o Defined and agreed roles and responsibilities
o Clear concise deliverables
o Strict meeting schedules
o Effective lines of communication
o Committed, enthusiastic leadership - ALWAYS!

Setting Up Virtual Teams
o Establish communication norms – procedures to reconcile differences in
communication practices
o Develop templates for using technology -- e.g., store documents on web pages,
expert directories
o Set procedures, responsibilities
o Establish leadership that provides procedural justice
o Hold an initial face-to-face startup meeting
o Have periodic face-to-face meetings, especially to resolve conflict and to maintain
team cohesiveness
o Establish a clear code of conduct and protocols for behavior
o Recognize and reward performance
o Use visuals in communications
o Recognize that most communications will be non-verbal – use caution in tone and

Success Factors in Virtual Teams
o High levels of trust among team members
o Effective use of technology
o Clear implementation of team concept
o Effective individual performance

o Effective teamwork depends on trust
o In a virtual environment, trust is more ability/task based than interpersonal relationship
o Level of member performance over time results in building or denial of trust
Like in case of other team, trust is even more essential in the effectiveness of virtual team.

Building Trust Virtually: Establish trust through performance consistency
o Rapid response to team members (return emails, task completion)
o Set strong norms around communication
o Team leader role in reinforcing interactions

Virtual Team Member Competencies:
o Self-disciplined?
o Strong communicator?
o Good collaborator?
o Organized?
• Document your work well?

Implementation of Virtual Teams:
o Must set out a clear business reason for the team
o Team must understand its mission/purpose
o Team members must develop a sense of interdependence
o Must have accountability and rewards for team members

Challenges to Virtual Team Success:
o Building trust within virtual teams
o Maximizing process gains & minimizing process losses on virtual teams
o Overcoming feelings of isolation & detachment associated with virtual teamwork
o Balancing technical & interpersonal skills among virtual team members
o Assessment & recognition of virtual team performance

Virtual Team Competencies
o The right technology
o Shared work space & processes
o Established ground rules
o Acceptance of cultural, style & preference differences
o Effective group dynamics
o Clear identity
o Teamwork skills
o Leadership
o True trust

Virtual Leadership
Virtual leadership is about how to pull the people on a worldwide assignment together into one
cohesive partnership. Leadership is about making things happen and getting things done. It just takes
more work in a virtual environment.
Key in Leading a Virtual Team
o Build trust
o Reward and recognize
o Communication
o Motivation
o Commitment

Virtual Team Leadership Competencies
o Make the invisible, visible
o Make the intangible, tangible
o Create & foster a climate of trust
o Establish & constantly model standards of accountability
o Communicate clearly, constantly & effectively within each receiver’s realm
o Delegate responsibilities

Virtual Leadership Key Traits
o Everyone gets core information at the same time.
o Everyone has equal input.
o Everyone's ideas are weighed against the alignment tool, not out of preference.
o Everyone's ideas are never judged or rejected at the onset.
o Everyone has equal opportunity to shine.
o Everyone is rewarded or publicly recognized for contributions to the project.
o The leader socializes equally with people near and far.
o Even appearances or suggestions of favoritism break trust.

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