Virtual Teams : Creating the Foundations for Success
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Virtual Teams : Creating the Foundations for Success

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This was a training report created for a hypothetical company implementing a virtual team. Authors include: Steven Vogel, Laura Kolb, Heather Korbe, Brittany Habben, Joel Cohen

This was a training report created for a hypothetical company implementing a virtual team. Authors include: Steven Vogel, Laura Kolb, Heather Korbe, Brittany Habben, Joel Cohen

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  • 1. Virtual Teams: Creating the Foundation for Success Eminence Inc. Training November 10, 2009
    Virtual Teams: Creating the Foundation for Success
    Eminence Inc. Training Session
    Prepared for
    Dr. Jackie Hartman
    Prepared by
    Joel Cohen, T&D Senior Associate
    Brittany Habben, T&D Senior Associate
    Laura Kolb, T&D Director
    Heather Korbe, T&D Senior Manager
    Steven Vogel, VP-Training & Development
    November 10, 2009
    Mr. Steven Vogel
    V.P.-Training & Development
    851 Constitution Ave K97
    Fort Collins, CO 80521
    November 10, 2009
    Dr. Jackie Hartman Colorado State University
    College of Business
    226 Rockwell HallFort Collins, CO 80524
    Dear Dr. Hartman:
    Upon your request, we are submitting our Leadership Communication Team Project. This project will highlight the principles for effective virtual teamwork and include an overview of a training session for our company, Eminence Inc. In this session, we will also highlight the three Microsoft programs that will be utilized by this virtual team for all communication and collaboration, and they will include Outlook, Live Meeting, and SharePoint. The purpose of the report is to inform and train our Eminence Inc. employees who have been chosen to take part in a virtual team that will develop a more affordable and innovative laptop.
    This training session has been created by the Training and Development Department at Eminence Inc.: Joel Cohen, Brittany Habben, Laura Kolb, Heather Korbe, and Steven Vogel. Thank you for the opportunity to teach the necessary principles and tools of effective virtual communication to our selected employees, so they can enhance their leadership capabilities and communication skills while reaching individual and organizational goals. If you have any questions after the training session, please contact me at (720) 690-5885 or
    Best Regards,
    Steven Vogel
    V.P.-Training & Development
    Table of Contents TOC o " 1-3" h z u WELCOME PAGEREF _Toc245523391 h 1INTRODUCTION PAGEREF _Toc245523392 h 1BACKGROUND PAGEREF _Toc245523393 h 2Advantages PAGEREF _Toc245523394 h 2Disadvantages PAGEREF _Toc245523395 h 3Remedies PAGEREF _Toc245523396 h 4TEAM TRAINING PAGEREF _Toc245523397 h 5Outlook PAGEREF _Toc245523398 h 6Live Meeting PAGEREF _Toc245523399 h 7SharePoint PAGEREF _Toc245523400 h 8LOOKING FORWARD PAGEREF _Toc245523401 h 9Works Cited PAGEREF _Toc245523402 h 11Appendix A PAGEREF _Toc245523403 h 12Appendix B PAGEREF _Toc245523404 h 13TRAINING SESSION TEST QUESTIONS PAGEREF _Toc245523405 h 14True and False PAGEREF _Toc245523406 h 14Multiple Choice PAGEREF _Toc245523407 h 14
    Congratulations! Each of you has been selected to take part in a cross-functional, geographically dispersed virtual team. The purpose of this team is to develop a more affordable laptop computer that includes touch technology and various customization options that separate us from our competitors and further our innovative reputation in computer design and manufacturing. Since this task requires highly knowledgeable and experienced individuals, Eminence Inc. hopes to break through geographical barriers in order to utilize all available expertise and create the proper context for our product’s success. Before you begin your work as a team, we will train you on the proper etiquette and essential technology needed in order to reach these goals and enhance communication and collaboration. Please reference Appendix A to find the slides for the November 17 training session.
    Virtual teams can be defined as groups of individuals that transcend geographic and organizational barriers by communicating via information technology across widely dispersed areas CITATION Com07 l 1033 (Combs, 2007). Due to the ever increasing trend towards globalization, virtual teams are becoming essential to enhancing a company’s competitive advantage. With the shift towards more decentralized organizational structures, companies are beginning to utilize the vast availability of individuals with high specialization and experience. This helps companies not only attain organizational goals and expand their financial success, but creates more opportunities for employees to advance their personal careers and also transform the future of any type of business.
    Although virtual teams provide opportunities for long-term success, organizations still face challenges utilizing virtual teams. This can be attributed to the unfamiliarity of various available technologies as well as the difficulties managers face in regards to training and leading these teams when compared to traditional face-to-face teams CITATION Jay09 l 1033 (Nunamaker Jr., 2009). This training session will help identify essential principles necessary for effective virtual teamwork to improve trust, enhance communication, attain individual and organizational goals, and develop an innovative product.
    With geographical borders becoming less relevant, it is becoming increasingly important to manage. While virtual teams have several advantages that must be leveraged in specific situations, there are also several issues that may arise, which can be either avoidable or inevitable. Communication methods used within a virtual team context become critical, and if misused, can lead to an ineffective and unsuccessful outcome. In the following section, advantages of a virtual team will be outlined.
    One of the main benefits that organizations continually experience from virtual teams is the ability to overcome limitations of space and time (Piccoli, 2004). Companies today are increasingly leaning towards international markets to compete, which lead to various operations and departments being scattered across the globe. Because of the dispersion of personnel across countries and time zones, face-to-face meetings are extremely expensive and difficult to coordinate. As a result, the use of technologies such as e-mail, webcams, and other channels that facilitate a virtual environment are becoming prevalent. Another primary benefit of virtual teams is diversity of perspectives and ideas (Piccoli). Since team members are dispersed in different locales, viewpoints should be leveraged in the most effective way possible within an international context. However, if this diversity is not managed correctly, it can result in various communication barriers, which will cause the team to fail and not meet its goals. See slide 4 on page 13 for a full list of advantages. While there are various benefits that can be experienced in virtual teams, there are several disadvantages that need to be considered before engaging in this type of team.
    One disadvantage of a virtual team stems from the improper use of communication channels and mediums (Piccoli, 2004). When using e-mail, chat, and other similar technologies, the richness of communication suffers because nonverbal communication is lost, making the development of a team much more difficult. This problem is magnified when dealing with individuals from multiple cultural backgrounds, which can create communication barriers and fault lines that impede the development of interpersonal relationships. Another disadvantage of virtual teams is their reliance on technology. Any type of malfunction with the technology being used will inhibit the team’s ability to interact, making it almost impossible to complete any task at that time. Additionally, communication lags are inevitable and unavoidable, further preventing the team from performing efficiently because information sharing becomes tedious (Piccoli). Because of the many complexities involved in virtual teams, managing communication and differences becomes key to the success or failure of the team (See page 13, page 5).
    For virtual teams to be successful there are four major actions leaders must take early on in the team’s life to combat conflict. First of all, leaders must facilitate the creation of a team charter (Combs, 2007). This charter will become the lifeblood of the team for the duration of their time together. The charter should include the mission of the team, a definition of the problems and objectives they are seeking to satisfy, a definition of members’ roles, acknowledgment of cultural and language differences and the conflicts they may cause, and a list of “blackout periods,” so all members are aware of differences in time zones and observed holidays for each member. Second, leaders need to help establish norms for the team. Ground rules for communication etiquette, membership input, and rewards for positive behavior should be outlined (Combs). These norms will help to clarify the expectations of individual members and specify appropriate behavior, especially with regards to the timeliness of communication.
    Additionally, leaders should help facilitate in establishing trust among members, which will create the foundation of the team CITATION Maz00 l 1033 (Maznevski, 2000). One way to facilitate trust between team members is to have an initial face-to-face meeting or a videoconference call between team members to help everyone become familiar with one another and start building relationships. The last issue that leaders must address is the choice of technology that will be used. As tasks become more complex and important, so should the technology being used. For more complex decisions and tasks that require extensive information sharing and group interaction, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, and a collaborative team workspace should be used. For routine information and personal interactions between weekly meetings, e-mail and phone calls are the better channels to use (Maznevski). Evidence shows issues are bound to arise in such a complex environment; however, when managed properly from the start, virtual teams are able to adapt and be flexible, resulting in greater productivity and success.
    There are a wide variety of tools available for virtual teams to utilize. Some of them have been around for years; others have only come about recently as a result of the advances in technology. Eminence, Inc. has programs to use to facilitate this virtual team, which include these three Microsoft products:
    In addition to these mediums, phone calls and conference calls will be utilized as well. Telephoning will be used to check in with each individual to ascertain the progress of each member, and help create more personal relationships. Conference calls will be made when necessary to share vital information immediately. However, the bulk of the communication will be done using the above programs. These programs will be how meetings are both scheduled and conducted, and will allow for constant communication, organization of information, and more detailed and organized collaboration.
    Microsoft Outlook is one of the most popular, and widely accepted, e-mail software programs available because it is easy to learn and use. Outlook offers a variety of services to help members coordinate and effectively carry out the requirements of the virtual team, so they can be successful. These services include, but are not limited to, the ability to “centralize project information and task management,” and the ability to generate a detailed calendar CITATION Mic09 l 1033 (Microsoft Corporation, 2009).
    With regards to centralizing information and tasks, Outlook allows for a variety of options. Users can customize the information that they track, such as e-mails and attachments, phone calls, and meetings/appointments, and then share this information with others who are part of their secure network. Users can also assign tasks to others and monitor the progress of the team CITATION Mic09 l 1033 (Microsoft Corporation, 2009). When tasks are assigned, notifications show up in the users To-Do Bar, so they are aware of the changes.
    One of the best features of Outlook is its ability to create an updatable calendar. This calendar can track deadlines, meeting times, appointments, and all other scheduled events that the user has added. Along with this, meetings can be scheduled and added to all connected users’ calendars through the sharing calendar tool. This is especially useful in informing team members of meeting times, conference calls, etc. without confusion, stress, or wasting of time. With this tool, managing tasks of virtual teams is more productive and efficient and is a necessary, routine function for successful teams (See page 13, slide 6).
    Live Meeting
    Microsoft’s Live Meeting allows teams to conduct meetings over the web with ease and efficiency. The software connects employees via audio and video with data sharing capabilities. Before you enter a Live Meeting session, you will receive an e-mail from Eminence Inc. inviting you to your first Live Meeting. From there, you can download the software and get started. Once you access the meeting, everyone will be given video and audio access.
    Any team member can schedule a meeting through Microsoft Outlook. This allows you to select the date and time of the meeting, the participants, and who will present and attend the meeting (Agnvall, 2009). Next, the invitation is sent out to participants through e-mail. Once the meeting has begun, attendees are given the option to have audio through the speakers on their computer or through the telephone by dialing the 800 number given in the invitation.
    Once the meeting is in progress, employees have the option to share resources, chat with members, share meeting notes, and give feedback. Live Meeting “enables you to share files (not just prepared slides), use digital whiteboards—even save the presentation so people who couldn't attend the meeting can watch it later” CITATION Mic092 l 1033 (Microsoft Corporation, 2009). Resources can be shared using the uploading tool in the menu bar. Chatting with members, asking questions, and sharing meeting notes can all be opened in a separate window. Giving feedback is based on a “seat color” that team members designate to themselves. Each color represents a status such as “have a question” or “cannot hear audio” (Agnvall, 2009). Live Meeting will be used to conduct all meetings among employees in this virtual team (See page 14, slide 7). You will all be equipped with the appropriate technology, including cameras and audio devices.
    Microsoft SharePoint is a software program that helps to organize information, enhance collaboration, and leverage business insight in order to make better organizational decisions (Dwyer, 2009). By using this software, you will be able to efficiently collaborate with your virtual team as well as others across the corporation. You can also access important resources and information and manage content in a proficient and easy manner (Langfeld, Noel, & Spence, 2004). SharePoint helps combine all the necessary tools needed for efficient and effective collaboration in one place, allowing your virtual team to save time and increase organization and productivity (Microsoft Corporation, 2009). Although SharePoint has numerous features and tools, your virtual team will primarily utilize the personalized team site and its document management functions.
    Following Microsoft’s SharePoint instructions, the Eminence Inc. IT department has created a SharePoint site, specifically for the members of this virtual team. The link will be provided for you in an e-mail to access this site, and since you have been granted access by IT, there will never be a need to input your employee id or password. This site is more than a website that holds information. It is your virtual team’s collaborative workspace, which offers various tools that allow you to update calendars, track projects, post blogs, share links and contacts, and create document libraries (Langfeld, Noel, & Spence, 2004). The basic template for your website includes these features: shared documents library list, linking your Outlook calendar to the SharePoint calendar, announcements, links, tasks list, and team blogging/discussion list (Dwyer, 2009). Please utilize these features as often as possible to help you and your team become as efficient possible and boost productivity.
    One of the most important features of SharePoint is the ability to create and edit documents collaboratively. Your team site has a Shared Documents library link where you can see all documents that were uploaded. This is where you or any person on your virtual team can open and read any document, or if you desire to edit one, you can “check-out” the document and edit it. When you have a document checked out, no other team member can edit it at that time until you complete your edits, save it, and check it back in. This feature helps prevent multiple people changing a document at once as well as preventing the tedious task of constantly sending attachments to one another of an updated document. Also, only your virtual team has access to update these documents (Microsoft Corporation, 2009). Everyone else within the organization can visit your site if they desire, but they can only view available content and cannot change or contribute to any part of your site without administrator access approval. Overall, SharePoint will be essential to your team’s communication outside meetings, especially when collaborating on documents or other tasks necessary for this project’s success (See page 14, slide 8).
    Effective use of these three programs and background knowledge of virtual teams will help each of you increase communication, collaboration, and develop this new product successfully. A weekly team conference call will be held every Wednesday morning at 10am in order to update the team on current accomplishments and plans for the upcoming week. Also, checking e-mails, engaging in Live Meetings, and collaborating on documents via SharePoint will help enhance productivity and lead to greater success. As previously mentioned, it is essential for us to establish trust and cohesion among members in order to form interpersonal relationships, maintain constant communication, and approach all discussions with an open mind.
    This training manual has given you the basics on virtual teams as well as the technology to be utilized for this task. On Tuesday, November 17, 2009, we will be conducting hands-on training session. This training will help everyone better understand the technology and become proficient users of these three Microsoft programs. Also, an Eminence Inc. IT technician will meet with each of you after this training to help you set up your Microsoft Outlook account. You will receive an e-mail through this account on Monday, November 16, 2009, inviting you to Live Meeting. You will need to accept this invitation in order to proceed and download the necessary software. Please remember, your SharePoint team site has already been set up, and the link to the site will be e-mailed to you through Outlook once it is set up. During the meeting on Tuesday, we will instruct you how to use Outlook, Live Meeting, and SharePoint and answer any questions that arise. If you have any urgent questions before this meeting, please feel free to contact the Eminence Inc. Training & Development team via our Vice President-Training & Development, Steven Vogel at (720) 690-5885 or by sending an email to EminenceT& (See page 14, slide 9).
    Works Cited BIBLIOGRAPHY Agnvall, E. (2009). Meetings Go Virtual. HR Magazine , 74-77.Combs, W. &. (2007). Leading Virtual Teams. T+D , 27-28.Dwyer, M. (2009). The Microsoft SharePoint. Infonomics; 2009 AIIM Guide to ECM , 55-56.Langfeld, L., Noel, M., & Spence, C. (2004). Understanding Organizational Uses of SharePoint Technologies. informIT , 1-15.Maznevski, M. L. (2000). Bridging Space Over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness. Organization Science , 473-492.Microsoft Corporation. (2009). Microsoft Office Live Meeting. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Microsoft Corporation Web site: Corporation. (2009). Microsoft Office Outlook with Business Contact Manager. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Microsoft Corporation Web site: Corporation. (2009). Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007. Retrieved October 21, 2009, from Microsoft Corporation Web site: Jr., J. F. (2009). Principles for Effective Virtual Teamwork. Communications of the ACM , 113-116.Piccoli, G. P. (2004). Virtual Teams: Team Control Structure, Work Processes, and Team Effectiveness. Information Technology and People , 359-379.
    Appendix A
    Appendix B
    True and False
    • Familiarity, training and leading are the reasons organizations find virtual teams challenging to utilize. – True
    • 4. This is a true statement because managers face obstacles such as unfamiliarity with technology, training and leading issues because most is done through face to face interactions.
    • 5. Viewpoints should be leveraged within an international context. –True
    • 6. This is another true statement because members of a virtual team are dispersed in different locations and it would be more effective if all members leveraged their viewpoints.
    • 7. Communication barriers and fault lines that impede the development of interpersonal relationships between team members are dissolved when using e-mail, chat and other efficient communication strategies within a virtual team. –False
    • 8. This statement is false because e-mail and other forms of technological communication cause the richness of communication to suffer because of a nonverbal communication loss.
    • 9. Anyone in the virtual team can edit and manage information shared within the group using SharePoint. –False
    • 10. Only people within the team that are granted access as a contributor are allowed to edit and manage information within SharePoint.
    • 11. Between team meetings, team members should use personal phone calls and e-mails to communicate routine information. - True
    • 12. Members of the team should stay in contact with one another regularly when an all member meeting is not necessary.
    Multiple Choice
    • The team charter is a contract or agreement among members of the group. The team charter should include:
    • 13. Mission of the team
    • 14. Definitions of problems and objectives
    • 15. Definitions of members’ roles
    • 16. All of the above
    • 17. None of the above
    • 18. The charter’s purpose is to establish norms, expectations, and roles of the team as a whole. It is crucial that the overall mission of the team, definitions of problems and objectives, and definitions of roles are clearly stated before the team begins their work.
    • 19. Which is not a reason companies are shifting towards using virtual teams?
    • 20. Increased globalization
    • 21. decentralized organizational structure
    • 22. “Traditional Teams” are increasingly becoming less effective
    • 23. Utilize expertise across the entire organization
    • 24. In some instances, traditional teams are more effective than virtual teams. Some projects require face-to-face interaction and large amounts of trust, and it is important that these teams work traditionally.
    • 25. How do you update a document on SharePoint?
    • 26. Download, Edit, Send to site administrator
    • 27. “Check it out”, Edit, Save, “Check in”
    • 28. “Check it out”, Edit, Save, Re-upload
    • 29. Download, Edit, Save, E-mail to all members
    • 30. “Checking out” a document on SharePoint allows a team member to notify other people that they are working on the data. From there, they edit the data and save it, then check it in the file share for team members to see. It is not necessary for the teammate to re-upload the document or e-mail it to other members.
    • 31. What are the main disadvantages of virtual teams?
    • 32. Improper use of communication channels
    • 33. Reliance on technology
    • 34. Lack of collaboration tools
    • 35. A and B
    • 36. None of the above
    • 37. It has been proven that some teams improperly use communication channels and rely on technology too much. However, there are numerous software programs that allow for team collaboration, such as SharePoint and Live Meeting.
    • 38. The main method to give feedback during Live Meeting session is:
    • 39. Changing your “Seat Color”
    • 40. Asking a question of your facilitator
    • 41. Use the digital whiteboard
    • 42. Change the status on the menu bar
    • 43. Changing seat colors during Live Meeting allows attendees to communicate feedback to the administrator. Examples of different “seat colors” include “can’t hear audio” and “has a question.”