Staying On Track With Virtual Teams- Web Version 092010


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This session explores the promise and challenge of virtual teaming. Using a simulation to demonstrate the real-world challenges, participants gain insight into the issues that commonly trip up virtual team members - and identify strategies for overcoming these challenges.

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  • KRISTEN – Per our meeting, I think you are creating labels with team names on them. You’ll then be at registration table to ensure that each attendee gets a label on his/her badge. Perhaps Shelby could help you with this task – you could do labels and she could do dots??? In addition, can we use colored dots to identify remote members of a team? This way we wouldn’t have to kill time during the session by having team members try to decide who is going to be remote. Teams: Andretti Green Racing Penski Racing Rahal Letterman Racing AJ Foyt Enterprises Chip Ganassi Racing Petty Enterprises Cheever Racing Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
  • Introduce team members to group. (Team – in the interest of time Leanne and I agreed it you can be off the hook for introducing yourselves – unless you really want to.) Explain that BLP’s expertise in virtual teamwork comes from living it every day for years…every team member works in a separate location, and we are all used to working with client teams who are also virtual. We’ve learned from experience what works…and what doesn’t.
  • Before we go further, we want to find out about you – our audience for today. Poll the group to find out how many people either currently function or have functioned in the past as a: Member of a work or volunteer team (no sports teams) Leader of a work or volunteer team. How many people work virtually at least part-time? How many have been on a team that has struggled – a lot? How many of you have been on a team that you would say was really successful as a team?
  • Somehow link this slide with what was learned from audience in polling as the purpose of the day is explained:. This session is designed to explore both the challenges and the possibilities of virtual teaming. During the session, people will actually experience virtual teaming. Because this session is an abbreviated version of a full-day workshop, we’ll abbreviate the debrief by prioritizing what you want to talk about in terms of lessons learned. Let’s get started by talking briefly about why virtual teamwork is such a hot topic.
  • Review key facts that make this a hot topic: More and more people/companies are working virtually! More and more people are telecommuting at least a day a week. 63% increase in the last year in telecommuting. Other people function on teams that are not in the same geographic location. Still others work in corporations that are so vast that even though they are on the same “campus,” people are not really together. Best Buy and IBM are going virtual in a big way and reporting huge productivity and profitability gains as a result. Hype and promise key points: Technology makes all this possible. We have email, IM, web conferencing, application sharing, collaboration tools, cell phones, Blackberries – woo –hoo it’s a cornucopia of tools! The problem is that we can have the tools…but do we have the TECHNIQUE? Do the same techniques that work when we’re all together work when we are virtual? Do the problems that aggravate us when doing non-virtual teaming become huge barriers when we’re virtual?
  • Key points: This isn’t about being an effective telecommuter. For a team to exist, a task has to exist. No task means no team. This session focuses on people in different locations who are collaborating on a project that’s focused on completing a specific task – for us, that’s always completing an e-course, an ILT, a needs analysis, or a competency model.
  • Quite logically, two key competencies emerge as required for teams: People must be competent at DEMONSTRATING teamwork. People – especially team leaders – must be competent at FOSTERING teamwork. When I wrote the book Teamwork Training, I started by formulating and validating competency models associated with each one of these. I’m betting you can identify a lot of the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required to demonstrate or foster teamwork. What does good look like for each one – let’s start with demonstrating teamwork? What about fostering it? Where are the challenges? How do challenges get magnified or changed when the team is virtual?
  • Virtual teaming presents lots of the same challenges as teaming when people aren’t virtual. However, the difficulties arise for different reasons, and the solutions need to be different.. Examples: Communication IS a challenge for most of us, regardless of the type of team we have. In a virtual environment, the lack of F2F and the constant use of email and IM can cause problems because without the nonverbal cues (facial expression, body language), people can misinterpret. People also get lax about communicating – out of sight = out of mind or they over-use one mode and under-use another (email vs. phone, IM versus email, etc. Environment – how do you cultivate an environment for teamwork – when there IS no common environment? Everything is virtual. How does trust grow? How does the team leader create an environment that fosters teamwork when you don’t SEE your team-mates or their work environment? Environment becomes about attitude, technology, emotion, etc. Efficiency and collaboration – balancing efficiencies of home office (less distractions) against efficiencies of collaboration – getting group together to brainstorm ideas/designs/etc. We find we’re always better on creative tasks when we partner. Partnering in the right way is the challenge because bringing 5 people who work in separate geographic locations is much more expensive than doing a phone conference with the same 5 people – or just relying on one or two people. In virtual world, where getting together always requires thought, a team can opt to repeat a design, a technique, etc. because it’s most efficient. We can fail to challenge each other to come up with the more innovative, effective idea because we already have an efficient idea.
  • Okay…you have some context. Now, let’s try being virtual teams. Team name is on sticker. These are the teams, which should each consist of 6-8 people. We should have a minimum of 4 teams and a maximum of 8 teams. We should end up with the same number of observers as we have teams. (i.e. if we create 4 teams, then we should assign 4 people to be simulation observers): Andretti Green Racing Penski Racing Rahal Letterman Racing AJ Foyt Enterprises Chip Ganassi Racing Petty Enterprises Cheever Racing Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Observers go directly to Indy Car table. (There should be one observer for every team we have. Observers are NOT associated with a particular team. Their job is to rotate among all teams to make observations. After the simulation, they will identify a team to sit with and provide their insights to the team.) Once people are at tables, give them 1 minute to select a leader. The leader will be the person who has the newest car. The tie-breaker will be the person with the sportiest car –as voted on by the team.?
  • SHARON and LEANNE : Take observers and leaders out of the room. Leanne preps observers; Sharon preps leaders. Before sending leaders back to teams, Sharon should encourage team leaders to gather cell phone #s from team members . Meanwhile…. GAYLE : Review slide info with participants. In addition, cover these points: Inform each team where the remote location is located for their team so they are ready to move as soon as their team leader enters the room. Emphasize that there is no “trick” to the task or the simulation. It’s not designed so people fail and it’s not designed to “force” people into certain behaviors (which exercises sometimes do to make a point). Emphasize that this isn’t a competition between teams. There’s no prize for finishing first. Encourage people to share cell phone #s.
  • Time clock should start as soon as team leaders arrive at their tables. Remote members should move along BEFORE task gets communicated. In the real world, people would be in remote locations when the task was assigned. BLP TEAM: Help me make sure this happens. We may want to instruct Gayle to make the remote team members move before the team leader can return to the team.
  • There’s LOTS you could talk about. This simulation brings out lots of issues related to project management as well as issues related to teamwork. Our focus today, though, is teamwork so our debrief will focus on that aspect of the simulation. Furthermore, because time is limited, we’ll do a vote on which areas you want to assess, discuss, and come up with strategies for handling. We’ll have you do a small group assessment and discussion of the entire group’s top 2 priorities. We’ll then allow you to share your teams’ top challenges and strategies in these areas, as well as share some of BLP strategies – but only on the two areas you identified as priorities. Have everyone vote one time. Then select the top two vote getters as the areas that teams will assess. Allow 15 minutes for teams to talk amongst themselves. Allow 10 minutes for sharing in a large group setting. At this point, BLP strategies should be biggest topic so people feel like they definitely walk away with solutions.
  • If I think I’m designing a Toyota and you think we’re designing a Mercedes, then we have a problem. We always start with the outcome – what does success look like – and work backward. If I think slipping the days is okay, and you think it’s catastrophe, then we do not have goal clarity. If I think coming in at budget is success and you define it as coming in UNDER budget, then we do not have goal clarity. If I think being innovative is a hallmark of success while you think innovation is the driver, then we do not have goal clarity. It’s really not enough to say WHAT the task is. You also have to spend time thinking about the how, and making sure everyone agrees.
  • TEAM – Please feel free to add strategies that you want to include in any of these debrief slides. Leanne and I brainstormed these, and we can think of examples to support them. Since this is a team presentation, you may want to add others. Also, I really like the idea of different BLP folks sharing examples for the bullet points on each slide – rather than just hearing me do all the talking. If you have an example you want to share – and you feel comfortable doing so – then let me know. I’ll mark my copy and defer to you if the audience chooses a priority in which you’ve marked an item.
  • Staying On Track With Virtual Teams- Web Version 092010

    1. 1. Staying on Track with Virtual Teams Presented by Bottom-Line Performance, Inc
    2. 2. Who We Are <ul><li>Here today: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharon  Leanne  Gayle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shelby  Kristen  Nancy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staying virtual: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kirk </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Who are you? <ul><li>Team members? </li></ul><ul><li>Team leaders? </li></ul><ul><li>People who work virtually at least part time? </li></ul><ul><li>People who have experienced the challenges and rewards of teamwork? </li></ul>
    4. 4. What Are We Going to Do Today? <ul><li>Explore the challenge and promise of virtual teams. </li></ul><ul><li>Simulate a virtual team experience – with all the challenges and promises. </li></ul><ul><li>Debrief: Assess portions of the experience and identify some of the lessons learned. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Virtual Teamwork <ul><li>Dramatic increase in virtual work environments – up 63% in past 2 years. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More and more people work from home – at least part-time. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What’s the hype and the promise? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology enables us to stay connected and work remotely. We can be faster, more efficient, and have better whole life balance.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual is AWESOME…or is it???? </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Virtual Work vs. Virtual Teamwork <ul><li>What’s the difference between telecommuting and virtual teaming? When IS it a team? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Competencies Required for Teams <ul><li>Demonstrating teamwork (members) </li></ul><ul><li>Fostering teamwork (leaders AND members) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s “ good ” look like for each competency? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s the challenge of doing this? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What gets added to these challenges when we make teamwork virtual? </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Does Your List Match Ours? <ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Clarity - task, role, etc. </li></ul>Virtual Teamwork Challenges Many challenges are the same, but they manifest themselves differently.
    9. 9. Let’s See Virtual Teaming in Action <ul><li>Organize into your teams. Signs indicate where your team should sit. </li></ul><ul><li>Select a leader. You get 60 seconds to do so.  </li></ul>Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines !
    10. 10. Team Members: Here’s What to Expect <ul><li>Your team leader will return with your task, which you must complete in 45 minutes or less. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll have $10,000 to spend. </li></ul><ul><li>Each team splits into headquarters and remote site; each location responsible for ½ of project. Those with dots on badges are “remote” members. </li></ul><ul><li>All teams/locations use centralized Equipment Store and Conference Call Center . </li></ul><ul><li>You are NOT competing against other teams. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Time Tracker <ul><li>Insert time clock here. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Debriefing <ul><li>As an entire group, we’ll prioritize which areas you assess and we discuss. Majority rules: </li></ul><ul><li>Goal Clarity = Item 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Communication = Items 3, 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Decision-making = 2, 11, 12 </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict mgmt = 4, 5, </li></ul><ul><li>Environment = 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 </li></ul>
    13. 13. Strategies for Goal/Task Clarity <ul><li>A clear project scope that is devised by asking: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What does success look like? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does failure look like? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How good, how fast, and at what cost? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A work plan broken down into phases, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The task, who’s doing it, and how much time (days/hours) they have. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The cost of the project and the cost of each person’s time. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Weekly status conversations via teleconference. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Strategies for Goal/Task Clarity <ul><li>Use online collaboration/project management tools: (For us, it’s web tool, Project Basecamp): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Messaging on Project Basecamp, as needed, when a threaded discussion would be helpful. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To Do lists, shared milestones and calendars for deadlines. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writeboards when we want to collaborate on figuring out what the goal/task is. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use examples and comparisons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I want to look like/act like this… </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Communication Strategies <ul><li>Blend IM, IM conferences, web conferences, email, phone, and F2F. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create and use Code of Conduct for email communication (really applies to all). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Default to F2F for kickoffs/start-ups. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use IM as a “door-knocking” technique as well as for the quick question. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift to phone if IM goes past 3 exchanges. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use emoticons and status descriptors in IM to indicate mood/disposition (replaces nonverbal cues in F2F). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use descriptors in emails to indicate tone/mood, etc. </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Decision-Making Strategies <ul><li>Clarify what the decision really is – and isn’t. </li></ul><ul><li>Use teleconferencing as a cheap option to allow V2V discussion. Provide good supporting documentation. </li></ul><ul><li>Use electronic tools to gather input from all key players, but be clear on how the input will be considered. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Writeboards/Messaging on Project Basecamp to document input. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create decision-making tools (decision grids, assessments, etc.) that allow objective evaluation of the issue. </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Decision-Making Strategies <ul><li>Verbally probe to compensate for not being able to see people’s body language. Explicitly ask for people’s attitudes, feelings. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate status and/or final decision. Depending on decision, use F2F or conference call. Be open to answering questions and explaining factors that led to decision. Focus on the “buy-in factor.” </li></ul>
    18. 18. Conflict Management Strategies <ul><li>“ Gut check” email. Test it for tone - if there’s any chance of misinterpretation, don’t send. </li></ul><ul><li>Deliberately insert into email what you automatically do in F2F conversations. Think ahead about how the recipient will react to an email or to “Track Changes,” or to any other type of electronic feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>Air the issues and make people own them. If they don’t get spoken, they won’t get resolved. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distinguish between a team issue and an individual one. </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Conflict Management Strategies <ul><li>Rely on F2F whenever possible to resolve conflict. If that isn’t possible, use the phone and pre-schedule talk (no surprises). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BAN email as a means of responding when tempers are stirred. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encourage open dialogue. No news is NOT necessarily good news. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify and educate team on different personality-types within the team. In virtual environment, this is critical to know. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have open dialogue on what works and doesn’t work for each style related to virtual communication. </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Environment Strategies <ul><li>Keep people in the loop and engaged in different ways : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Weekly staff calls. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Periodic F2F one-on-one’s via lunch or coffee. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IM emoticons, status messages, and photos. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team-wide email messages that share good news…or even bad news. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Posting best-practices on your Intranet or in a shared drive. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual discussions of pop culture– American Idol or Fantasy Congress, anyone??? </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Environment Strategies <ul><li>Consciously encourage relationship-building: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote periodic F2F get-togethers among individual team members (lunches, coffee, etc.). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenge each other to make the effort! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photos and visuals – either IM or email. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Partner people on non-production special projects. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make formal team-building and shared learning a routine part of the environment. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual shouldn’t mean never having F2F. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of things qualify as team-building endeavors – community service, continuing education, in-house learning sessions, or team-wide kick-offs. </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Environment Strategies <ul><li>Reward people for their successes and cultivate an atmosphere that celebrates success: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make a point of encouraging team members to share their own successes with each other – even small ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allow people charge over their own schedules via flex time. Maximize the benefits of virtual. Focus on results – not the clock. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide regular (but not routine) messages that motivate and celebrate individual and collective accomplishments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pass around each other’s good ideas. </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Conclusion <ul><li>Gaining skill and effectiveness in working as a virtual team takes effort, conscious awareness, and ongoing experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Technology can help…or hurt. </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s mini-session hopefully created awareness; next steps would be to diagnose and create strategy for building skill. </li></ul><ul><li>THANK YOU for having us.  </li></ul>