Lessons Learned in Leading and Managing Virtual Teams ETM5110/MSIS5600Managing Virtual Project Teams Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D. Nicholas-Romano@mstm.okstate.eduPaul E. Rossler, Ph.D., P.E. email@example.com
Overview • What has the collective knowledge to date uncovered about leading and managing virtual teams?
“A meeting is a gathering where people speak up, say nothing, and then all disagree.” (Source: T.A. Kayser, Mining Group Gold. El Sequendo, CA: Serif, 1990)
The new converging conference room walls helped make meetings short and to the point.
Why people meet Make Decisions Monitor Project Progress Surface Perspectives Review Allocate Resources Share the Vision Synergy Share Information Avoid Decisions Prioritize Tasks Share Work Solve Problems Build Consensus Build Trust Socialize Develop Project Plans (Source: Romano)
Collaboration is difficult Waiting to speak Domination Fear of speaking Misunderstanding Inattention Lack of focus Inadequate criteria Premature decisions Missing information Distractions Digressions Wrong people Groupthink Poor grasp of problem Ignored alternatives Lack of consensus Poor planning Hidden agendas Conflict Inadequate resources Poorly defined goals Collaboration Source: Nunamaker, J.F., R.O. Briggs, and D.D. Mittleman, Electronic meeting systems: Ten years of lessons learned, in Groupware: Technology and applications, D. Coleman and R. Khanna, Editors. 1995, Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ. p. 149-193.
Meeting purposes: Almost 2/3 involve complex group processes (Monge, P. R., McSween, C., & Wyer, J. 1989)
Key lessons for outstanding participation • Anonymity increases the amount of key comments contributed • Parallel nature of interaction increases participation • With good process, adding participants (almost) always improves the outcomes • Good ideas are a function of the quantity of ideas generated (Source: Nunamaker, J.F., R.O. Briggs, and D.D. Mittleman)
When participants anonymously criticize ideas, performance improves • It keeps the group searching for better answers • Any idea may inspire a completely new idea which would not have otherwise occurred • Develop activities that encourage frequent generation of new ideas
Provide feedback to groups to let them know how each activity they take maps to the entire agenda • Groups stay better focused if they understand how what they are doing ties into the big picture • In face-to-face groups, peer pressure keeps people moving. • Distributed groups tend to lose momentum
Key lessons about leadership in “virtual” teaming • Technology does not replace leadership • Technology can support any leadership style • Some people resist electronic meeting systems • The game has changed, oral/verbal skills and ramming an agenda through are not as important (Source: Nunamaker, J.F., R.O. Briggs, and D.D. Mittleman)
Loss of engagement for distributed teams • Lack of visual and nonverbal cues and low accountability appears to reduce involvement • Change of emotional engagement for face-to-face teams • More exciting for some, mundane for others
Hi Idea Generation Idea Organization Prioritizing Policy Development Satisfaction Lo 1 1 1/2 1/2 1 - 2 Time Satisfaction as a Function of Task
Need to develop group incentives • Willingness to accept criticism of you and organization • Make sure there is an individual incentive to contribute to the group effort
Lessons about electronic voting • Voting clarifies communication, focuses discussion, reveals patterns of consensus, and stimulates thinking • Anonymous polling can surface issues that remain buried during direct conversation (Source: Nunamaker, J.F., R.O. Briggs, and D.D. Mittleman)
Voting can demonstrate areas of agreement • Allowing the group to close off discussion in those areas and focus only on areas of disagreement • Electronic polling can facilitate decisions that are too painful to face using traditional methods • Care must be taken to ensure that voting criteria are clearly established and defined
Key lessons from facilitators and session leaders • Preplanning is critical • Find a fast, clean way to do idea organization – people hate it, and you lose them if you take to long • The group must always see where they are headed and how each activity advances them toward the goal (Source: Nunamaker, J.F., R.O. Briggs, and D.D. Mittleman)
Be cognizant of nonverbal interactions; Even small nonverbal cues can tell a facilitator a lot • Expect that ideas generated will change the plan and the agenda • Group dynamics can be affected by the selection of technology interfaces
Summary • Collaboration in virtual team meetings is more likely if process losses are addressed • Technology doesn’t replace leadership or the need for facilitation in virtual teams • Anonymity eliminates power intimidation • Virtual teams, like face-to-face teams, must always see where they are headed