Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course In. Managing a Virtual Team

Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course In. Managing a Virtual Team

Article excerpt

The days when your people worked alongside the same colleagues all week are history: most spend much of their time collaborating with those in other cities or countries. But it's not always a successful arrangement. Is there a better way to organise these virtual teams?

Say hello. 'The most successful virtual teams spend time during their formation period face-to-face, getting to know each other,' says Neil Middleton of change management specialists Contour Consulting. It's worth investing in an initial face-to-face meeting, possibly with a facilitator, to foster a social relationship between members and to establish how you'll work together and communicate, he advises.

Build trust. Trust is the cement that holds a virtual team together: you can depend on other team members and feel comfortable in opening up to them. 'Research has found that virtual teams that contained high trust spent half of their early communications in the first weeks of the team's existence on topics such as their families, hobbies and weekend social activities,' adds Middleton.

Recruit with care. 'Our research has shown that people who can communicate in the right way at the right time are more likely to be successful in virtual teams,' says Stuart Duff, of business psychologists Pearn Kandola. 'In a manager, having the understanding and awareness of other people's communications preferences is vital.'

Don't rely on e-mail. The default communication channel for virtual teams has its shortcomings, says Duff. …

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