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F17 Daphne home

Page history last edited by heather.lnash@... 2 years, 6 months ago

Introduction

 

From the beginning until the end of a project, several meetings are facilitated in order to keep the team members engaged and motivated about the project. In a virtual environment, team leaders use the meetings as an avenue to maintain enthusiasm within the team as well as keep team members involved with project related activities (Malhotra, and Arvind et al. 64). There are different opinions amongst team leaders about how to achieve a high level of activeness and productivity amongst the virtual team members during the meetings. Virtual team meetings should not be considered a waste of time since it can be more effective than a face-to-face meeting (Ferrazzi, Keith, 2015). However, there are several challenges that team leaders face while managing virtual meetings. One of the challenges is the level of team engagement and adherence during the meetings. Throughout the year's different tools, tips, and techniques are introduced to enhance the level of commitment among team members. The first section of this wiki is going to be about techniques that can improve team cohesion and build team identity and cohesiveness. The second section will introduce three techniques that can be used to improve the team involvement throughout virtual meetings.  

 

 

Challenge One 

 

"By working together over a period of time, team members are able to develop a sense of trust and shared identity that increases their ability to share and learn from each other" (Kimble, 2011). It is imperative that techniques be utilized to build a solid team foundation. 

 

 

The Importance of Communication

 

As, "Team members are less willing to contribute and cooperate if there is a lack of trust" (Henttonen, K, & Blomqvist, K 2005), Managers need to find ways to implement trust within a team that most likely will have no face to face interactions. Communication seems to be the most obvious way to create and nurture team identity and collaboration, as well as a way of sharing knowledge. Promoting small talks and communication outside of meetings can help build team identity and trust among collaborators. Literature emphasizes the need for conversation even outside of meetings. Cooperation is facilitated when you know the person you're supposed to cooperate with. A way to encourage people to communicate outside of meetings could be to open new channels of communication like slack or google hangouts, something not obviously related to work, so the team members could get to know each other.

 

There is potential for many different factors to detour team cohesion. An important factor in building team cooperation and trust is communication. The team leader can set the team culture from the beginning by demonstrating the characteristics that the team should value in order to work well together. The team leader should set the mood and help others to understand how to deal with team dynamics. Team exercises can be employed to help facilitate knowledge sharing whether personal or professional. “Using leadership to increase effective communication among virtual team members can be achieved through team leader efforts to create a climate for information sharing” (Ferrell, Herb, 2012). Another team building communication method incorporates technology on an individual basis. When a new virtual team is formed and team members have not worked together before, it can be difficult to get communication flowing. It is even more difficult when different time zones, languages, and protocols are in play. Besides the team leader setting the tone for how the team should interact, another helpful process can involve team member updates. Team members would send one another short videos on a weekly basis that are about 1 minute or less in length. Each video would be about something that non-work related but that might be interesting to share with the other team members. An example might be a large snow storm or a favorite team winning a game. The goal is to keep it light but personal enough for the other team members to learn a small amount about that person. “Something personal really adds a sense of connection back to the group” (Morgan,  2012).

 

You need to build a solid basis for collaboration in the team. What you can do ranges from showing the way, as a team leader, of collaborative behavior to be a model for the collaborators. You can also base your employee training on the special set of skills that help collaboration, such as conflict solving or purposeful conversation. One way to build trust is through communication and the use of different communication channels, which leads us to the second technique, Technology.

 

 

Understanding the use of Technology to Build Cooperation

 

Social interactions are described in virtual teams literature as a "Vital part of team experience" (Schlenkrich, L, & Upfold, C 2009). Current managerial models for virtual teams include general managerial guidelines, but that is not enough. It is crucial that the team has a good understanding of technology, as the virtual team will most likely have really little to no face to face interactions. For this reason, communication technology and its understanding are essential in building cooperation and team identity. Aldea, C. C. et al. have been researching the connection between the use of Information and Communication technologies and trust building in virtual teams. Their results show the implementation of a Virtual Collaboration setting that has proven abilities in building trust and team cohesiveness in virtual teams. In her research on identification in virtual teams, Anu Sivunen even emphasizes the role of technology in team identification, explaining that all the technological tools provided to the virtual team allow them “to have a place to meet”. Traditional literature about teamwork underlines the importance to be able to put a face to a name. A Virtual team is no exception. In order to be able to work efficiently with your teammates, you need to get to know them, which technology can assist with.

 

It is essential to utilize technology in virtual meetings. Another option to help eliminate miscommunication and lost time during a meeting is to have a technology training course. This can be done simply by distributing material about the technology through the agreed upon communication channels. It also can be done as a brief video and meeting if enough team members indicate they would be interested. The purpose of the materials and video is to give a brief synopsis of the technology uses, and how it will be used for the upcoming meeting. Additional items that should be outlined include technology requirements to use the new technology, shortcuts, and options for any issues encountered. It is beneficial to provide some training options because technical difficulties are bound to happen. By taking some extra steps to decrease technical issues, the meeting can move forward quicker and keep team engagement high. Once the meeting is up and going, another useful tool that can be used company-wide are shared templates. This allows for easier information sharing and input, especially during virtual meetings in which all participants are not able to attend.

 

 

 

Compose an Agenda and Charter

 

In order to build team cohesion, literature emphasizes the help of creating team agreements and communication guidelines. The team needs a defined set of norms to know what to expect regarding their role and responsibilities during meetings. Communication rules need to be explicitly specified. Answers should be provided for questions such as: which communication media will the team use, is there a required response time, and how do we prioritize the issues. All these norms and rules not only apply to virtual meetings but can help set a habit for the team to communicate informally too.

 

“Creating high-quality team charters is another method virtual team leaders could employ to improve communication among team members” (Ferrell, Herb, 2012). The charter allows for team members to come together and agree on common practices for meetings. It also brings a collaborative spirit to the team. The charter should include the mission, roles, and boundaries. It also helps to establish communication methods to ensure knowledge is received by all team members. The charter can be discussed prior to the first meeting and done informally or formally. Once the team has met and agreed upon the goals and methods, it is ideal to have the points of the charter outlined and distributed for future reference.

 

Once the charter has been put together and discussed to ensure that all roles and tasks are understood by the team, the agenda can be put together.  An agenda is created to make sure that the team is on the same page for upcoming meetings.  “Send agenda, draft of team’s charter, potential schedule, review schedule, and other relevant information to all participants and team members at least one week before the meeting” (Duarte, Snyder, 1999). Composing an agenda prior to the virtual meeting allows for team members to prepare their contributions to the meeting. It is key for the agenda to be sent prior to the meeting so that participants and team members can have an idea of how much they are expected to participate. It also allows for time to prepare their work contributions and other materials that could be used for the meeting. The agenda can decrease the overall time of a meeting by keeping the topic focused and answering some questions prior to the meeting. The schedule within the agenda gives everyone involved an idea of how long they have to contribute to the meeting and when they can expect to be done. It also allows for the meeting to stay on task and for team members to be active participants. A virtual meeting is most effective by developing an effective agenda. “The resulting clarity will facilitate smooth collaboration across organizational boundaries in the future” (Duarte, Snyder, 1999). 

 

 

Challenge Two  

 

"To ensure that virtual teams work effectively, you need to address both the people issues and the technology, rather than look for the answer in one or the other" (Kimball, 2011).  Participants of virtual meetings need to be engaged from the beginning. Engaging virtual participants should begin prior to the actual meeting. 

 

 

 

Plan to Win

 

Planning is a technique that can be used to develop organized and robust meetings. Planning is a vital part that has to be taken into consideration by team leaders leading a virtual team. An interview respondent indicates that poor meeting planning for a co-located team might work, but for a virtual team a plan is necessary in order to get the work done properly (Malhotra, and Arvind et al. 64). Planning incorporates a variety of components from organizing the tasks to be discussed in the meetings (agenda), to the establishment of technology framework used during the meetings. It is necessary to have a compact agenda for the meetings in order to elevate the level of engagement among the team members. To achieve that a team leader can use communication tools to ask the team members to send the tasks that they want to discuss during the gathering. As a team leader, it is essential to have the ability to organize the tasks and generate an agenda.  Meeting facilitators should make sure that each team member received a clear copy of the agenda to boost the engagement level among the team members (Malhotra, and Arvind et al. 64).

 

In addition, the team leader should make the team members aware of the technologies used at the meetings, and have an alternative to one utilized. Some countries might ban the typical application used in the meetings, as a result, the alternative technologies will replace the original ones. It is a requirement to check the technologies before the meetings to ensure that they function as expected. Any issues with technology during the meeting can discourage the level of engagement among the team members. Julia Yong suggests that 15 minutes before the meeting starts is a decent time to test the technology in order to reduce wasted time (Young. 2009). To summarize, it is important to plan a compact and concise agenda prior to the meetings. Send an announcement to the team members about the technologies used and test them before meetings to reduce the chance of disturbance during the meetings. These are two of few techniques that can be used to enhance the level of commitment among team members during meetings.

 

 

Use Video-conferencing 

 

Seeing someone while talking to them completely changes the nature of the conversation, whether it is a business or personal discussion. With the use of video, you get to see the other participants, see their body language, read each other’s reactions and moods, and decrease multitasking. Sometimes people multitask when they are in a meeting by doing things such as monitoring and replying to emails. This can be prevented with the use of video conferencing. People may feel uncomfortable when facing the camera but by getting to know the team, that can help ease the discomfort. With video conferencing, it is key to look professional at least from the waist up. Using video helps the participants to see everyone is dedicated and providing useful feedback. After the meeting, it can be beneficial to ask participants how they felt the meeting went and what can be improved. The use of video provides an opportunity for feedback. The growing trend of video calls has also led to the use of video in virtual meetings as people are becoming used to corresponding with an actual person whether via video or face to face. Due to these trends, interviews have also begun to take the virtual route to account for candidates that are not able to be on site as well as convenience. Through virtual reality, virtual meetings can be taken even further. By wearing a VR headset, which combines both virtual and augmented reality into one experience, meeting participants can all sit in the same room together, no matter where they are physically located. This is accomplished via holograms that can be viewed through the headset. Use of video can also be great for brainstorming a problem. If an employee is located on-site and he wants to show his work, and respond to questions, then the use of video is a great option. Growing virtual technology trends are enabling organizations to have a global footprint. As technology continues to evolve, it is important to also incorporate good communication skills. The next technique discusses how communication can foster team collaboration.

 

 

Ask Engaging Questions

 

There are many roles the team leader must play in order to encourage a healthy team atmosphere. Another technique involves the team leader working to include team members in the discussions by asking engaging questions. Team leaders should ask interesting questions that require people to think and search for answers, rather than being able to answer instantly without thinking. Leave things out and leave gaps in your presentation to allow for people to provide their input. If there is a leader assigned, then maybe he/she can randomly call out people, asking them questions and encouraging them to participate. If the meeting gets off-topic then, intervene with a casual but clear comment that we have drifted from the topic and even though this topic is interesting, we should move on. Find out information about the people that comprise your group and ask questions that people can relate to and may be of personal interest. The team leader should ask specifically for input from people and also have people call on the next person after them. If everyone needs to participate, have each person pick who they want to share next. If a leader is not getting the desired level of participation from virtual meetings, then the leader should make sure to clearly discuss all expectations at the start of the meeting. Another option is to ask participants to share challenges or opportunities and record them on a whiteboard. About halfway through the meeting, the leader can pause and check-in with participants about the meeting process. The check-in consists of asking the participants what is going well and what needs to change and then incorporating the feedback into the second half of the meeting. It is important to engage participants again at the end of the meeting and apply this feedback to future meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

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References

 

ALDEA, C. C., et al. "Information and Communication Technologies Support for Building Trust in Virtual Teams." Managerial Challenges of the Contemporary Society, no. 3, Jan. 2012, pp. 13-17

 

Berry, Gregory R. "Enhancing Effectiveness on Virtual Teams." Journal of Business Communication, vol. 48, no. 2, Apr. 2011, pp. 186-206

 

Duarte, Deborah L, and Nancy T. Snyder. Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques That Succeed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999, pp 99- 159

 

Evans, Jennell. (April, 2011) “8 Tips for Effective Virtual Teams.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/smartwork/201104/8-tips-effective-virtual-teams

 

Ferrell, Jared Z. and Herb, Kelsey C. “Improving Communication in Virtual Teams” https://www.siop.org/WhitePapers/Visibility/VirtualTeams.pdf

 

Ferrazzi, Keith. “How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting.” Harvard Business Review, 27 Sept. 2017, hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-run-a-great-virtual-meeting.

 

Ferrazzi, Keith. “Five Ways to Run Great Virtual Meetings” Business Review, 03 May. 2012,

https://hbr.org/2012/05/the-right-way-to-run-a-virtual

 

Ferrazzi, Keith. Leading Virtual Meetings. Ferrazzi Greenlight, 2015.

 

Henttonen, Kaisa and Kirsimarja Blomqvist. "Managing Distance in a Global Virtual Team: The Evolution of Trust through Technology-Mediated Relational Communication." Strategic Change, vol. 14, no. 2, Mar/Apr2005, pp. 107-119

 

Kimble, C. "Building Effective Virtual Teams: How to Overcome the Problems of Trust and Identity in Virtual Teams." Global Business and Organizational Excellence. 30.2 (2011): 6-15. Print.

 

Malhotra, Arvind, Ann Majchrzak, and Benson Rosen. "Leading virtual teams." The Academy of Management Perspectives 21.1 (2007): 60-70.

 

Morgan, Nick. “How to fix what’s wrong with virtual meetings” https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2012/10/10/how-to-fix-whats-wrong-with-virtual-meetings/#381990b220b9

 

Parker, Glenn, and Robert Hoffman. Meeting Excellence: 33 Tools to Lead Meetings That Get Results. Jossey-Bass, 2006.

 

Perlman, Ken. “How to Run The Best Virtual Meeting Ever” https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2014/03/19/how-to-run-the-best-virtual-meeting-ever/#7e7975abf1e7

 

Pullan, Penny. "Chapter 5 - Leading Virtual Meetings". Virtual Leadership: Practical Strategies for Getting the Best Out of Virtual Work and Virtual Teams. Kogan Page, © 2016.

 

Schlenkrich, Lara and Christopher Upfold. "A Guideline for Virtual Team Managers: The Key to Effective Social Interaction and Communication." Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation, vol. 12, no. 1, Apr. 2009, pp. 109-118.

 

Schuman, Sandy. The IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation: Best Practices from the Leading Organization in Facilitation. Jossey-Bass, 2005.

 

Sivunen, Anu. "Strengthening Identification with the Team in Virtual Teams: The Leaders' Perspective." Group Decision & Negotiation, vol. 15, no. 4, July 2006, pp. 345-366

 

Speagle, Ashley. “How to Use Visuals to Engage Virtual Participants” PGi {Collaborative Advantage},https://www.pgi.com/resources/articles/using-visuals-to-engage-virtual-meeting-participants/

 

Young, J. "Six critical success factors for running a successful virtual meeting." Read in http://www. facilitate. com (2009)

  

 

 

Team Members

Redar Ismail

Kartik Kingar

Heather Nash

Lea Truchot

 

 

 

Comments (1)

Danny Mittleman said

at 12:43 pm on Oct 13, 2017

communication: good specific intervention (1 minute videos)
tech for cooperation: also good
agenda and charter: charter is one time thing and agendas vary by meeting. But I get the point that both are good.

This work product is excellent.

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