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David Kohrell: Effective Virtual Teams — Research Findings and Recommendations

Number of View: 4694

Working with virtual teams is a fact of life. A virtual team is a team where one or more members may be geographically dispersed (i.e. in different physical locations for at least part of the team duration), and you utilize or are dependent on communication technology (e.g. phone, e-mail, chat) for some or all of your communication with your team.

Over the course of the last year, Technology As Promised, LLC and St Louis University’s John Cook School of Business have delivered a series of workshops and conducted research on what makes the best virtual teams click. What are elements and characteristics of those teams? What are some pitfalls to be concerned about?

This article series will be arranged last last Fall’s discussion of Sarbanes Oxley. I’ll share the outline with a key take away in today’s article.

Underlying concepts that have been investigated include and will be shared with you:

* Structure of Virtual teams

* Swift Trust & Establishing Rapport

* Diverse Team Members

* Virtual team conflict — PRE-EMPT conflict

* Role clarity & reducing ambiguity

* Global Teams

Several tools will explored and applied to support those concepts:

* e-mail

* discussion forums

* chat and e-bulletin boards

* instant messaging

* wiki’s/blogs/journals/forums/shared glossaries

* project web site/portals/shared document repositories

* video conferencing

* teleconferencing / telephony.82

In this article I’ll share the Top 5 elements of virtual teams according our findings from several workshops held since August of 2005. (The sample size is 87 so far). The top five things that effective virtual teams do are:


1. Communicate (the team communicates well, does not hide information from each team members and keeps updates predictable)

2. Set a Common Goal / Objective (the team is able to forge a common goal regardless of where they are located)

3. Establish Trust (team members find they can rely on other team members to deliver)

4. Prepare (the team and team leader are prepared and send information out in advance)

tie) Leadership / management (the virtual team has effective or efficient leadership)

5. Clarify responsibilities & roles (team members are able to discern roles across a distance and time)

Future articles will provide tips and techniques on how you can help your virtual team achieve those Top 5 practices as well as what the marketplace is offering for support tools. You will also have an opportunity to provide your opinion and experiences to shape the ongoing research. A summary of the PMHub.net community will be available to you.

David Kohrell, MA, PMP, CISA – TAPUniversity

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