I have been managing virtual teams for over 10 years and have been a full-time home-worker for more than three years. I’ve seen a number of definitions of virtual teams, but the best is “A group of individuals, brought together for a common purpose, who are from different geographic locations & rely on communication technology to collaborate.” This concept started with NASA back in 1972 and continues to grow today.
So when it comes to Creating a Culture of Success with your team, what’s the difference between a co-located team and virtual team? Well, in theory not a lot. But in practice, take every communication concept I’ve discussed and amplify it by 10x.
- Over-communicate project status and issues with stakeholders to they’re never surprised by something that may be going on
- Make your project goal front & center in every meeting you attend with stakeholders and team members
- Establish a team communication strategy (scheduled meetings, ad hoc meetings, meeting formats, facilitation, email protocols, instant messaging, etc)
- Being present and touching base with those you can’t see frequently
- Trying to budget travel for face-to-face when you can
- Conflict resolution needs immediate attention and resolution
- Guard your team from distractions, because you cannot physically see the distractions coming
- Beware of jargon when interacting with global team members
Managing a project is hard, but managing a virtual team can be truly taxing at times.
I started this series of blog posts two months ago and during that time, have presented Culture of Success twice at PMI events. I’d like to thanks everyone who’s read these, commented, and liked them. I hope you’ve found them informative. To the person who first asked “If you project managers are so damn good, why do projects keep failing?”, thanks for challenging me.