MANAGING LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS
MANAGING/LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS
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
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.
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
o Permanent Virtual Organizations
o Virtual Teams
o Virtual Projects
o Temporary Virtual Organizations
Types of Teams
o Traditional - Face-to-Face
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
o It may not be practical to travel to
o Team members may work different
o Organization-wide project not in the
o Alliances with organizations.
Different kinds of Virtual Development
o Large teams in relatively few
o Each location develops a subsystem
o The leaders of each location meet
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
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
o People can be recruited for their
competencies, not just physical location.
o Many physical handicaps are not a
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
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
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
o The team solves problems and makes
A successful virtual team
o A unified commitment by all team
o Defined and agreed roles and
o Clear concise deliverables
o Strict meeting schedules
o Effective lines of communication
o Committed, enthusiastic leadership -
Setting Up Virtual Teams
o Establish communication norms –
procedures to reconcile differences in
o Develop templates for using
technology -- e.g., store documents on web pages,
o Set procedures, responsibilities
o Establish leadership that provides
o Hold an initial face-to-face startup
o Have periodic face-to-face meetings,
especially to resolve conflict and to maintain
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
o Effective use of technology
o Clear implementation of team concept
o Effective individual performance
o Effective teamwork depends on
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
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
Virtual Team Member Competencies:
o Strong communicator?
o Good collaborator?
• Document your work well?
Implementation of Virtual Teams:
o Must set out a clear business
reason for the team
o Team must understand its
o Team members must develop a sense of
o Must have accountability and rewards
for team members
Challenges to Virtual Team Success:
o Building trust within virtual
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
Virtual Team Competencies
o The right technology
o Shared work space & processes
o Established ground rules
o Acceptance of cultural, style &
o Effective group dynamics
o Clear identity
o Teamwork skills
o True trust
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
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
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.