Essential facilitation skills for managing virtual teams
Studies show that managing team in cyber space do require a different set of skills in a manager. As virtual teams become a norm in many organizations, a manager would be more effecient when using a faciApply The Essential Facilitation Skills For Managing Virtual Teams
Essential facilitation skills for managing virtual teams
Essential Facilitation Skills For
Managing Virtual Teams
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A virtual team is becoming more common as technological advancements provide
more communication devices to be used by “geographically dispersed team,
distributed team, or remote team” (Nevogt,2013). Lipnack (2000) defined
virtual teams as “a group of individuals who work across time, space and
organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication
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Foundation of facilitating a virtual team does not differ much from
traditional face-to-face teamwork. More importantly is the role and
responsibility of the manager who deals with various dynamics of virtual
teamwork. Assessment Systems International. (n.d.). Managers skilled in
facilitation uses its process to foster efficient work environment because
members are encouraged to solve issues through “safe communication of
difficult and complex issues within team” ( Assessment Systems International,
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Geographically dispersed virtual team members are separated by
distance. Therefore, they usually depend on on communication and
information technologies to facilitate interaction. As such, virtual
work coordination differ from teams in ordinary physical environment.
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Virtual team dynamics are managed through “a series of interaction incidents” ( M.
L., & Chudoba, K. M. (2000,p.483). This means a medium helps to integrate each
incident with a set of decision processes within a specific virtual structure
characteristics with limits of time. Hence, managers should consider virtual
interactions which may be intense at one point while some other times observe lesser
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According to Assessment Systems International(n.d.),several benefits of teamwork
facilitation to the company are related to virtual teams in the following areas:
● Open sharing of opinions by every member to find solutions,even for difficult
and complex tasks,
● Independent and unbiased facilitator improves teamwork through mutual
understanding in the group, and
● Resolution of difficult tasks saves time and cost.
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Similar to other team interactions, facilitation efforts appear in the
form of meeting. Managers acting as facilitators in a virtual team can
engage participants by delivering a blended on-site conversations with
asynchronous online collaboration. However, technological advancements
have enable virtual teams to operate with Web 2.0 tools in teamwork ,
thus, making online facilitation a reality to increase productivity while
minimizing costs in various fronts like distance and time.
Faciliation of virtual team is mainly aimed at
developing personal relationships amongst team members
to enhance teamwork. Pauleen and Yoong (2001) cited
effective working relationships as a crucial focus in
“co‐located and virtual teams. However, little has been
written on how to build these online relationships
among virtual team members.” Thus, virtual team
facilitators in the form of managers running the daily
activities have to strategically consider the role of
Internet‐based and conventional electronic
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Managers using facilitation techniques have to be
trained in the scope decribed by Assessment Systems
International(n.d.)as conducting meetings without
interfering with the content of discussion while
ensuring smooth process with focus on all team members
in getting a fair chance to influence the results.
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9Essential Facilitation Skills for virtual teams
1. Use a positive tone during discussion.
2. Maintain a neutral position on related issues.
3. Assist the group to focus and track time.
4. Recommend relevant methods and procedures that
help the group to work better.
5. Support individual contribution.
6. Teach and inform about activities and steps
7. Avoid challenging any idea.
8. Attention on administrative items.
9. Record and supervise information before
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Successful facilitation enables team members to get along better with trust
and respect. These two essentials develop relationships at the workplace over
time.Thereafter, respect co-exist with professionalism in conducting the
business at hand.
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A positive outcome from facilitation
is an stronger accountability through
building trust with better definition
of work duties. Nowadays, only a
fraction of work scope is specified
by your job description and
responsibilities. Nearly double the
amount of time is used to help
colleagues , which also covers
virtual team environment as well.
Open communication atmosphere
produces true definition of virtual
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Effective facilitation of virtual team
requires managers to prescribe common
operating ground rules listed by Axner, M.
(n.d.) as :
● One person speaks at a time
● Raise your hand if you have something to
● Listen to what other people are saying
● No mocking or attacking other people's
● Be on time coming back from breaks (if
it's a long meeting)
● Respect each other
By following the rules developed by members
themselves, it builds a sense of powerful
participation to invest into the facilitation
process to achieve outcomes of the meeting.
Assessment Systems International. (n.d.). Facilitation | Assessment Systems. Retrieved from http:
Axner, M. (n.d.). Chapter 16. Group Facilitation and Problem-Solving | Section 2. Developing
Facilitation Skills | Main Section | Community Tool Box. Retrieved from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-
David J. Pauleen, Pak Yoong, (2001) "Facilitating virtual team relationships via Internet and
conventional communication channels", Internet Research, Vol. 11 Iss: 3, pp.190 - 202
Gibson, C. B., & Cohen, S. G. (2003, March 21). Virtual teams that work: Creating conditions for
virtual team effectiveness (C. B. Gibson & S. G. Cohen). John Wiley & Sons.
Lipnack, J. (2000). Virtual Teams: People Working Across Boundaries with Technology. John Wiley &
Sons. p. 352. ISBN 0471388254.
Maznevski, M. L., & Chudoba, K. M. (2000). Bridging space over time: Global virtual team dynamics and
effectiveness. Organization science, 11(5), 473-492.
Nevogt, D. (2013) "No Excuses: The Definitive Guide to Building a Remote Team: Table of Contents".
Hubstaff. Retrieved 21 December 2014.