Starting Up A Virtual Team

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Virtual Team Resource Guide
1
Virtual Team Resource Guide
Introduction ............................................................................................... 2
Definitions of Virtual Teams ......................................................................... 3
Critical Success Factors for Virtual Teams ..................................................... 7
Roles and Competencies ........................................................................... 18
Starting-Up a Virtual Team ........................................................................ 28
Building Trust in a Virtual Environment ....................................................... 57
Facilitating Virtual Team Collaboration ........................................................ 70
Working Internationally ............................................................................. 87
Appendix ................................................................................................. 92
A Working Bibliography ............................................................................. 93
Virtual Team Resource Guide
Virtual teams are rapidly becoming the new way to do work. They represent a
flexible answer to the globalization of organizations and the geographic
separation of individual specialists. Virtual teams can be formed rapidly, pulling
in the most talented resources regardless of where they reside; can get up to
speed quickly, in many cases without costly and time consuming travel; and can
be rapidly disbanded, often with minimum disruption to ongoing work. The use
of virtual teams as a way to perform work is being facilitated by advances in
computer and communications technology, the growth of the Internet and
corporate intranets, and a proliferation of specialized software called groupware.
While the growth of virtual teams is usually attributed to advances in technology,
actual team success is more frequently a function of team member knowledge
and skill than the availability of technology. Working without daily face-to-face
contact presents unique challenges both for the team leader and team members.
Issues of team formation and orientation, team communication and dynamics,
and differences in organization and national culture - issues present on all teams
- are amplified on virtual teams. Fortunately, much is being learned and written
about the functioning of virtual teams including what makes them operate more
effectively.
The Virtual Team Resources Guide (referred to as the Guide) has been prepared
to provide practical knowledge and tools for J&J virtual teams. The Guide
integrates information from a number of sources including J&J Learning Services
team and meeting literature, material from consultants and other companies,
and worksheets from books on virtual teams.
The Guide provides practical, hands-on information to be used at each stage in
the of the virtual team lifecycle. The Guide provides assistance to virtual teams
in a start-up mode addressing such issues as team chartering, role setting and
technology selection. For ongoing teams, issues of team dynamics such as trust
building, working internationally and facilitating team meetings and work are
addressed. The Guide is also useful in assessing organization readiness for
virtual teams including competencies required for team leaders and members. It
is designed as a stand-alone self-paced learning guide for intact teams or
individual leaders, members and sponsors.
A companion document, the Virtual Team Resource Guide Workbook (referred to
as the Workbook) has the same scope as the Guide but with a greater emphasis
on hands-on worksheets and exercises and less emphasis on descriptive and
background information.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Definitions of Virtual Teams
Overview
This section highlights the types of virtual teams. It differentiates virtual teams
and describes why they are more complex than traditional teams.
Objectives




To
To
To
To
highlight similarities and differences between traditional and virtual teams.
identify the different types of virtual teams.
examine how being virtual adds complexity.
identify the nature of your virtual team’s type and its complexity.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Definitions of Virtual Teams
What is a Virtual Team?
One working definition of a virtual team is:
More than two people who come together for a period of time to work toward a common goal
or to produce a product. Members are separated by time, distance and culture, and come from
diverse functional backgrounds. Today, in Johnson & Johnson, due to job demands, even
teams with people in the same geographic area or in the same location are often considered
virtual.
Types of Virtual Teams
Virtual teams can be organized into seven categories. Check the categories that apply to your
team using the following worksheet.
Type of Virtual
Team
Network
Description
Work or
Production
Team members transition on and off the team as needed. Team
lacks clear boundaries with the organization. Often team members
may not even be aware of all the individuals, work teams or
organizations in the team’s network.
Team has clear boundaries. Team is tasked on a short-term basis
with developing a recommendation for an improvement in a process
or system. Virtual parallel teams are becoming a fairly common way
for multi-national and global companies to make recommendations
about worldwide processes and systems that take into account a
global perspective. Parallel teams are also used domestically when
expertise does not reside in one location or in one organization
Team has clear boundaries and a defined customer, technical
requirement(s) and output(s). Team task is non-routine. The
difference between a project/product and parallel team is that a
project/product team usually exists for a longer time period and has
the charter to make decisions, not just recommendations.
Performs regular and ongoing work. Team is usually in one
function. Sales and marketing teams often operate this way.
Service
Support ongoing customer or information systems network activity.
Parallel
Project or
Product
Development
Your Virtual
Team
_____________
_____________
_____________
_____________
_____________
Management
Action
Teams work on a regular basis to lead corporate activities. Virtual
management teams are becoming common in multi-national and
global organizations.
Deal with immediate action, usually in an emergency situation.
_____________
_____________
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies That Succeed,
Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 5-7
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Definitions of Virtual Teams
How Being Virtual Adds Complexity
The two primary categories of variables that make virtual teams more complex are:
1.
2.
They cross boundaries related to organization, time, distance and national culture; and
They communicate (share information) and collaborate (work together to produce a
product) using communications or computer based technologies.
As members from different organizations join the team, integration of work methods,
organizational culture, technology and goals make communication and collaboration more
difficult.
As distance and geography between team members increase, so do time zone differences. This
makes communication and collaboration at the same time more problematic. Team
membership that spans national boundaries adds additional complexity. Clearly, working across
national boundaries complicates the situation as language, culture, and access to the same level
of technology interferes with effective communication and collaboration.
Finally, the number of different varieties of team interaction increases complexity. Interactions
fall into four categories:




Same time, same place, such as face-to-face
Same time, different place, such as an audio conference or a video conference;
Different time, same place such as chat room or using a shared file on a network; and
Different time, different place, such as exchange of e-mail or voice mail.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Definitions of Virtual Teams
How Being Virtual Adds Complexity
Determine how complex your virtual team is by selecting as many categories as apply.
My Team…..
Check as many as
apply...
1. Has members from more than one J&J company
2. Has members from more than one functional area
3. Has members from outside J&J
4. Has members who transition on and off the team
5. Is geographically dispersed over more than three
contiguous time zones
6. Is geographically dispersed where some team members are
8-12 hours apart
7. Has members from more than 2 national cultures
8. Has members whose native language is different from the
majority of other team members
9. Has members who do not have equal access to electronic
communication and collaboration technology
Total number of categories checked.
1-3 = some complexity
2-5 = moderate complex
> 6 = high complexity
Source: Stephen Rayner, Virtual Teams 1.1 ©March 1997. Pg. 5-7.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Overview
This section describes the critical success factors for virtual teams. It provides
team leaders and sponsors with an overview of the elements necessary for
success. It also presents a readiness assessment and a force field analysis
worksheet that can be used to plan to address results of the readiness
assessment.
Objectives



To identify critical success factors for virtual teams.
To assess your organization’s readiness for virtual teams in critical success
factor areas.
To begin to plan to address deficiencies in readiness.
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies
That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 8
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Critical Success Factors
There are seven factors that impact the probability of a virtual team’s success.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Human resource policies.
Training and on-the-job education and development.
Standard organizational and team processes.
Effective use of electronic collaboration and communication technology.
Organizational culture.
Leadership support of virtual teams.
Team leader and member competencies.
Human Resource Policies
Career Development Systems
Virtual team members should receive comparable career opportunities and assignments to
teams working in traditional settings. The application of promotion and career development
policies and actions fairly to people who work in virtual as well as in traditional settings will help
reinforce the perception that working virtually is an accepted career option.
Reward Cross-Boundary Work and Results
Organizational reward and recognition systems often favor individual and functional work.
Virtual team members, however, frequently operate in a cross-functional and/or crossorganization team-based environment In a traditional office environment where people are seen
putting in effort every day, it is relatively easy to at least partially reward people for effort as
well as results. In a virtual environment, effort is more difficult to discern. Reevaluate the way
you reward and recognize people in a virtual environment. Develop performance objectives for
your team members that include working across boundaries and sharing information to support
virtual teamwork. In addition, overhaul performance measures on your team to reward results.
Provide Resources and Support for Working Virtually
Create and reinforce policies that provide your team with technical support for working virtually.
All team members should have equal and immediate access to electronic communication and
collaboration technology, training and technical support.
Training and On-the-Job Education and Development
Learning how to use the technology is not enough to guarantee success. Make certain that
people receive the training and support they need to be adept at facilitating meetings using
both technical and traditional methods. For team leaders (and team members) facilitation skills
training should be an integral part of a training and development curriculum. Cross-cultural
training is also critical for virtual teams with global membership.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Standard Organizational and Team Processes
The use of standard team processes reduces time for team start-up and may eliminate the need
for unnecessary reinvention of operating practices each time a virtual team is chartered.
Practices need to be flexible, however, to facilitate tailoring to the individual virtual team’s
situation. Common standard technical processes include:








Requirements.
Cost estimating.
Procurement.
Team chartering.
Project planning.
Documentation.
Reporting.
Communications.
It is also important to agree upon team processes in “soft” areas such as setting team norms,
conflict resolution and communication.
Electronic Collaboration and Communication Technology
Introducing the electronic communication and collaboration technology needed for virtual
teamwork, such as desktop videoconferencing or Groupware, necessitates that three primary
organizational conditions be in place:
1. The organization has a well-funded, respected and established information systems staff
experienced in installing and supporting electronic collaboration technologies in many
different locations.
2. Commitment by the organization to keep personal computer systems as up-to-date as
possible, regardless of the person’s title or duties.
3. The organization must have a well-maintained corporate network that has room to expand
to meet the needs of more complex systems and users.
If your organization is lacking in any of these three areas, you might consider adopting a less
complex suite of technology for your virtual teams. In either case, it is important to select a
reasonable set of standards for your team. Technology standards should meet the business
needs of the team and match its mission and strategy. For communication this includes touchtone phones, audio conferencing, voice-mail, fax capability and access to a common e-mail
system that allows messaging and exchanging files. Video conferencing, scheduling, real-time
data conferencing, electronic meeting systems, collaborative writing tools, and whiteboards can
also be added if the team’s strategy calls for intensive collaborative work and if sufficient
information systems resources exist to make the technology work reliably. Make certain that
external partners and suppliers have access to compatible communication and collaboration
technologies if they are to be considered a real part of the team.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Organizational Culture
Help create organizational norms and values that foster collaboration, respecting and working
with people from all cultures, keeping criticism constructive and sharing of information. The
organization’s culture sets the standard for how virtual team members work together once they
are on a team. An adaptive, technologically advanced and non-hierarchical organization is more
likely to succeed than a highly structured, control oriented one.
If the organization is multi-national or global, effective norms honor different ways of doing
business. Create policies on how to do business in different cultures. Legal issues such as who
owns copyrights to final designs of products can become murky when working across national
boundaries.
Leadership
Virtual teams succeed in environments where leaders have established an organizational culture
that values teamwork, communication, learning and leveraging differences. The key to
establishing a culture that promotes virtual teamwork is whether managers and virtual team
leaders at all levels are open to change and support virtual teamwork. Richard Karl Goeltz, Vice
Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of American Express, notes that “It’s important to have a
multi-functional team of (senior) managers promoting and supporting a virtual office initiative
right from the start.”
There are four categories of leadership behaviors that encourage virtual team performance.
Each are outlined in the table below.
Communication




Communication
about the business
necessity of virtual
teaming.
Ongoing
communication that
virtual teams are a
respected way to
work.
Discussions about
the value of diversity
and leveraging skills.
Engagement in twoway communication
forums about issues
associated with
working in virtual
teams.
Expectations




Setting explicit and
reasonable goals
and outcomes for
virtual teams.
Setting high
standards for virtual
team performance.
Setting expectations
for customers and
other important
stakeholders about
the use of virtual
teams.
Clear expectations
between teams and
sponsor.
Resource Allocation




Time and money spent on
training for virtual team
leaders and members in areas
such as cross-cultural work,
project management and
technology.
Time and money allocated for
travel for team leaders for
face-to-face meetings when
necessary.
Resources dedicated to
acquiring information
technology for communication
and collaboration.
Engagement in two-way
communication forums about
issues associated with working
in virtual teams.
Modeling
Behaviors





Aligning of crossfunctional and
regional goals and
objectives.
Working together as
a management team
across time, culture
and distance.
Flexibility to change
with team input and
as business
conditions dictate.
Trust in team leaders
and team members’
judgement.
Giving up control in
decisions related to
team expertise.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Team Leader and Team Member Competencies
The challenges that virtual team leaders face are immense. Many report that they feel as if
they are the glue that holds the team together. They have to establish trust in an environment
with little or no face-to-face contact or feedback. These challenges necessitate development of
an additional set of competencies that complement skills for leading traditional teams:




Coaching and managing performance without traditional forms of feedback.
Selection and appropriate use of electronic communication and collaboration technology.
Working across culture and language boundaries.
Networking across levels, organizational and national boundaries.
Team members also need additional competencies that include:






Working across national boundaries.
Networking across the organization.
Skill in using electronic communication and collaboration technology.
Project management skills.
Self-management skills to work without traditional direction, feedback and supervision.
Interpersonal awareness of how they are perceived in a virtual and sometimes global
environment.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Organizational Readiness Assessment
Purpose

To help an organization take a snapshot of the current state with regard to critical success
factors for virtual teams.
Uses

Can be used by a virtual team or by a leadership team to gauge the level of effectiveness
needed for virtual teaming. The Assessment will highlight gaps or deficiencies and help the
leadership or team members focus on actions that are needed to support virtual teaming.
Timing



About 15 minutes to administer.
About 20 minutes to score
About 30 minutes for debriefing to reach consensus regarding the force field analysis, next
steps and action planning to improve and enable virtual teams.
Steps
1.
2.
3.
4.
Hand out assessment.
Have individuals take assessment.
Combine scores.
Conduct force field analysis.
Tips



The assessment should be used in the early stages of setting up virtual teams. It can also
be used later to see if the organization is making progress in its support of virtual teams.
Don’t spend too much time debating which factor is more important.
What is important is to come up with some specific measurable steps which can be
attainable for the team or leadership group.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Organization Readiness Assessment
Check the response that best matches your organization on each item.
Human Resource Policies:
1.
2.
3.
4.
6.
7.
8.
Disagree
1
2
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
Career development systems
address the needs of virtual
team members.
Reward systems
reward/recognize working
across boundaries and
working virtually.
Results are what are
rewarded here.
Non-traditional work
arrangements such as
telecommuting are actively
supported.
Training & Development
5.
Strongly
Disagree
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
There is good access to
technical training in this
organization.
There is access to training in
working across cultures in
this organization.
There are methods for
continual and just-in-time
learning available, such as
web-based training.
There are mechanisms such
as lessons learned databases
for sharing across
boundaries.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Standard
Organizational
Processes:
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
9.
There are standard and
agreed-upon technical
team processes used
throughout the
organization and with its
partners.
10. 1There are standard and
0agreed-upon “soft” team
processes used throughout
the organization and with
its partners.
11. Adaptation of processes is
encouraged when
necessary.
12. There is a culture that
supports shared ways of
doing business across teams
and partners.
Electronic Communication
and Collaboration
Technology:
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
13. There are consistent
standards for electronic
communication and
collaboration tools across the
organization.
14. There are ample resources to
buy and support state-of-theart electronic communication
and collaboration technology.
15. People from all functional
areas have equal access to,
and are skilled in, using
electronic communication and
collaboration technology.
16. People from all geographic
areas have equal access to,
and are skilled in, using
electronic communication and
collaboration technology.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Organizational Culture:
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
17. The culture in this
organization could be
described as “high trust”.
18. There is high trust between
this organization and its
suppliers and partners.
19. Teamwork and collaboration
are the norm.
20. People from different cultures
are valued here.
Leadership:
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
21. Leaders set high expectations
for virtual team performance.
22. Leaders help gain the support
of customers and
stakeholders.
23. Leaders allocate resources for
the training and technology
associated with virtual teams.
24. Leaders model behaviors
such as working across
boundaries and using
technology effectively.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Competency:
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
1
2
Neither
Agree
nor
Disagree
3
Agree
Strongly
Agree
4
5
25. Team leaders in this
organization are experienced
in working in virtual
environments.
26. Team members in this
organization are experienced
in working in virtual
environments.
27. Team leaders in this
organization are experienced
in working across
organizational and cultural
boundaries.
28. Team members in this
organization are experienced
in working across
organizational and cultural
boundaries.
Analyzing your Results:
Average your scores in each of the seven areas
Critical Success Category
Average Score in this category (add
total in category and divide by four)
Human Resource Policies
Training and Development
Standard Organizational Processes
Electronic Communication & Collaboration
Technology
Organizational Culture
Leadership
Competency
Overall average: Total divided by 7
An overall score of 4.0 – 5.0 in any one category and as an average over all categories is
excellent. Moderate scores are in the 2.5 – 3.99 range and low scores fall between 0 – 2.49.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Critical Success Factors For Virtual Teams
Force-Field Readiness Analysis
Identify the areas that you scored low in the readiness assessment. Examine the forces
supporting (driving) virtual teaming and the forces (restraining) or holding virtual teaming back
in each of the lowest scoring areas.
Force Field Analysis for Human Resource Policies
Driving Forces
(supporting virtual teams)
Restraining Forces
(holding us back from virtual teaming)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Roles and Competencies
Overview
This section lays out the roles and competencies of the three major players on
virtual teams: the team’s sponsor, the team leader and team members. It can
be used as a starting point to come to agreement on these roles on any team
and to begin to develop competency.
Objectives:




To
To
To
To
provide
provide
provide
provide
a
a
a
a
framework for sponsor roles.
framework for team leader roles and competencies.
framework for team member roles and competencies.
competency assessment tool for team leaders.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Roles and Competencies
Sponsor Role
The Sponsor is person or persons to whom the team is accountable. The role of the sponsor is
actually more important in a virtual team because a strong sponsor is able to link the team and
its objectives over time and distance boundaries. The following worksheet provides a checklist
for the virtual team sponsor.
Role
Set Team Direction
Activities





Empowerment
Support and Guidance






















Present a clear understanding of management’s
vision.
Fully brief team on background conditions and
history.
Define team mission and goals to align with business
objectives.
Define deliverables, timeframes and success
measures.
Communicate expectations and performance
standards.
Clarify constraints, boundaries, and limitations.
Solicit input and negotiate to finalize team charter.
Agree on team member selection.
Contract with team to follow agreed upon roadmap.
Clearly define authority and empowerment levels.
Help organize the team to succeed.
Accept the need for team approach (vs. taskforce).
Allow room and time for team development.
Provide adequate tools, training and resources.
Don’t impose unrealistic time constraints.
Negotiate with the team, don’t demand or direct.
Don’t be threatened; enhance team’s authority.
Maintain team commitment no matter what the
perceived cost.
Understand and honor team needs and wants.
Be open to changes in the team charter as needed.
Contract with the team for support.
Invest your own time in helping the team succeed.
Authorize amble team member work time or
overtime.
Work through the team leader or team facilitator as
much as possible (don’t intimidate them).
Willingly receive “bad news” without negative
repercussions.
Be willing to take risks.
Negotiate changes when the team feels necessary.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Roles and Competencies
Role
Champions the Team
Activities








Follows-Through









Remove barriers and obstacles for success.
Secure commitment from team member’s immediate
bosses.
Serve as the team’s PR representative with the rest
of leadership.
Provide ample recognition even for small steps at
first.
Acknowledge success and publicize successes
broadly.
Provide team rewards commensurate with
accomplishments.
Get information from cross-functional managers for
team.
Advocate team solutions until implemented by top
management.
Attend team meetings when invited or scheduled.
Routinely read team minutes and meet with team
leader.
Hold regular one-on-one meetings with team leader.
Review contracts with team leader.
Hold the team accountable.
Regularly measure team development and progress.
Lead by example.
Respond to team questions and problems in a timely
manner.
Give the team an explanation if delays in
implementation arise.
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies
That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 19-27.
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Virtual Team Resource Guide
Roles and Competencies
Team Leader Roles
Being the leader of a virtual team requires taking an active role in the team’s formation and its
ongoing development. This is particularly critical during the team start-up phase, when it is the
leader who is responsible for forming the team, establishing its communication protocol and
presenting its success criteria. Throughout the lifecycle of a virtual team, the leader plays many
important roles. Below are listed some of the ways the leader role shifts as the team moves
through its development plans.
1. Start-up: Focus on definitional role







Provides definition and direction.
Emphasis on providing clarity and focus
Solicits input from the team.
Shares information.
Ensures networks are strong across time and distance boundaries.
Defines team measures.
Defines how teams will operate across time and distance.
2. Development:







Provides process recommendations: helps the team define the ways to accomplish its
tasks that assure full team involvement.
Emphasis on developing team capability in remote decision making, problem solving and
effectiveness.
Provides a direct linkage to information sources.
Provides a direct linkage to sources of power and resources in the organization.
Provides a direct linkage to expertise.
Sets logistics and team meeting agendas.
Provides training for team members.
3. Performance:






Focus on challenge and ongoing information exchange and resources
Provides resources the team needs to further its performance.
Emphasis on challenging the team to stretch itself.
Seeks breakthroughs.
Receives and acts on information from the team.
4. Conclusion:

Focus on development of team skills and adequate resources
Focus on constructive resolution
Provides a review and celebration of achievements.
Transitions team members as appropriate.
Emphasis on what the team learned from the experience.
Seeks to share learning with other teams.

Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 1 p. 11.
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Roles and Competencies
Team Leader Competencies
There are seven team leader competencies that are critical to a virtual team’s success in
addition to traditional team leader competencies:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Performance management and coaching.
Appropriate use of technology.
Cross-cultural management.
Career coaching and transition of team members.
Building trust in a virtual environment.
Networking.
Creating and adapting team processes.
A short self-assessment on these competencies is offered on the following pages.
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Team Leader Competencies
Instructions: Select the level in each competency area that best characterizes the current
skill and experience of the target virtual team leader (or your own skill and experience if this is
a self-assessment).
Competency
Area
Performance
Management
& Coaching
Skills



Appropriate
Use of
Technology


Cross Cultural
Management



Is able to develop strategy
and set performance
objectives.
Can establish measures
for team effectiveness.
Is able to give and receive
informal and formal
performance feedback.
Can plan for the use of
technology given the
team’s task, team type,
background of team
members and the
sophistication of the
organization.
Is skilled at planning
agendas and facilitating
virtual work meetings.
Is able to constructively
discuss dimensions of
cultural differences.
Is able to craft ways of
working that not only
accommodate but
optimize differences.
Is able to plan major team
activities such as
planning, communication,
reviews, team meetings
taking into account
culture.
Rate Skill
Level
1 = Low
2=Medium
3 = High
Experience

Has led and
managed a number
of virtual teams.

Has experience
using a number of
different electronic
communication and
collaborative
technologies.
Has planned and
facilitated a
number of virtual
team meetings.
Has worked on
teams with crosscultural members.


Rate Experience
Level
1 = Low
2=Medium
3 = High
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Team Leader Competencies (Continued)
Competency
Area
Skills
Career
Development
& Transition
of Team
Members

Building Trust





Networking

Rate Skill
Level
1 = Low
2=Medium
3 = High
Is able to work with team
members to plan careers
and transition processes.
Is able to act as an
advocate for team
member’s careers and
transitions to new
assignments.
Keeps commitments.
Can state personal values.
Can portray the team’s
work to management.
Is able to build personal
relationships in short time
periods.
Can identify important
stakeholders.
Experience

Has acted as a
transition and
career coach for
team members.

Has worked on a
virtual team or in a
virtual team
environment.

Has worked with a
number of different
locations and
functions in the
organization.
Has worked with
external partners
such as vendors
and suppliers.
Worked with major
organizational
processes.
Created and/or
adapted team
processes for other
virtual teams.

Developing
and Adapting
Team
Processes



TOTAL

Is able to identify the
types of standard team
processes appropriate for
their team’s task.
Is able to identify
standard processes that
link to team performance.
Is able to adapt team
process to the task, the
culture of the team
members and functional
differences.

Total # of
3’s:
____
Total # of
2’s:
_____
Total # of
1’s:
_____
Total:
Rate Experience
Level
1 = Low
2=Medium
3 = High
Total # of 3’s: ___
Total # of 2’s:
____
Total # of 1’s:
____
Total:
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Team Leader Competencies (Continued)
Scoring:
Total the numbers in the skill and experience boxes for each leader. (For example, circling “3”s
in all skill areas would give you a total score of 21 for skill. Circling all “3s” in experience would
give a total score of 21 in experience). Interpret the numbers as follows:
Skills
7 or less: You are probably just getting started in leading a virtual team setting. Your
challenge is to gain skill in competency areas where you scored 2 or below. This can be
accomplished through training, reading, working with a mentor or working on multiple virtual
teams with experienced leadership.
8 – 15: You have a solid understanding of the requirements of virtual team leadership. Your
main challenge is to refine your skill for application in a number of different situations. This can
be best accomplished through leading more than one virtual team under the mentorship of
experienced leaders.
More than 15: You have excellent virtual team leadership skills. You may want to work on
skill areas where you scored 2 or less and to help others acquire skill in this area. This can best
be accomplished through working as a mentor/coach or leading multiple virtual teams.
Experience
7 or less: You have probably not had the chance to practice team leadership in a virtual
setting. Your main challenge is to gain experience. This can be accomplished through working
with a mentor or beginning to lead virtual teams under the guidance of experienced leadership.
8-15: You have solid experience in leading a virtual team setting. Your main challenge is to
broaden experience over a number of different situations. This can best be accomplished
through working with a mentor or leading multiple virtual teams.
More than 15: You have the exceptional experience in leading virtual teams. You may want
to expand your experience in any areas where you scored 2 or less.
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Roles and Competencies
Team Member Roles
Team members on virtual teams need to balance collaboration and autonomy. A virtual
environment, more than a traditional environment, necessitates the need to act alone with
initiative but also coordinate and collaborate with other team members.
Collaboration and coordination roles for virtual team members include:
1. Acting as ambassadors for the team by keeping local managers and stakeholders informed
of the team's work.
2. Acting as conveyers of information in order to keep the team informed of the concerns,
interests and reactions of their functional areas, local stakeholders and management.
3. Coordinating and communicating with other team members to ensure that all are aware of
their activities and have access to important documents and other information.
4. Building and maintaining trust with other team members by demonstrating reliable
performance, integrity and concern for others.
5. Sharing learnings from their experiences with other team members and with their local
organizations.
Autonomy roles for virtual team members include:
1. Acting as self-managing team members by assuming accountability and leadership in their
areas of expertise and delivering quality products on time.
2. Taking responsibility for identifying and reconciling team needs and priorities with the
priorities of other teams on which they serve on and with local needs.
3. Clarifying ambiguous tasks with the team leader and with other team members.
4. Addressing conflicting loyalties between the team and other groups.
There are also seven competencies needed for being a successful virtual team member that go
beyond traditional team member competencies. Those competencies are:
1. Project management practices: developing schedules, milestones and managing work as
mini-projects.
2. Networking: locating and working with a variety of experts from all levels across time,
organizational and distance boundaries.
3. Use of technology: able to use electronic communication and collaboration technology
effectively.
4. Self-management: ability to manage work priorities, work life balance and self-development
activities.
5. Boundary management: managing their work across national, functional and organizational
boundaries.
6. Interpersonal awareness: ability to understand what is appropriate behavior in different
situations, especially in remote team meetings, over the telephone and in videoconferences.
7. Ability to manage self in cross-cultural situations.
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Starting Up A Virtual Team
Overview
This section provides a framework for helping the team leader and team
members start up a virtual team effectively and efficiently.
Objectives
By the end of this section, you should be able to answer the following questions:





How do you get a virtual team started?
What do you do before the first meeting?
How do you create a team charter?
What should the first meeting look like?
What should be the outcomes from the first meeting?
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques,
and Strategies That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 28-29.
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Overview of the Start-Up Process
There are five steps in the virtual team start-up process:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Identify the team sponsor(s), stakeholders and champions.
Develop a team charter.
Select and contact team members.
Conduct the first team meeting.




Orientation to the task
Roles
Technology and communication planning
Team building
5. Develop team “sunset” guidelines.
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Step One: Identifying Sponsors, Stakeholders and Champions
The virtual team’s success is linked to the level of support and commitment from the
organization. It is critical for the team leader to secure the strong support of sponsors,
stakeholders and champions. After the sponsor has been identified, the team leader and team
should work together to identify stakeholders and champions for their team.
Stakeholders are individuals whose organizations are impacted by the success and outcomes of
the team. Stakeholders may include individuals from different functional areas, regions of the
world, levels of management and partner organizations.
Champions are others in the organization that may be able to find resources, promote the
team’s activities or remove barriers. They are frequently people who identify with the team’s
goals and objectives or they feel the organization can benefit from the product or services the
team provides.
Stakeholder Identification and Commitment Tools: Instructions and Steps
1. Identify the stakeholders to be charted. These are individuals who supply resources, who
own a key work process, who shape critical thinking, must approve certain aspects of the
team’s work or can make or break a team’s success. Limit the list to 12-15 people.
2. List each stakeholder along the left side of the chart and discuss where each is with regard
to how they view the team’s purpose. Use objective evidence as much as possible to do
this, not rumor or hearsay. It may be useful to rate each stakeholder individually and then
discuss differences as a team.
3. When agreement is reached about where a stakeholder currently stands with regard to
team goals, decide as a team where they need to be. Some may need to be shifted from
“strongly against” to “neutral” while others may need to move to “strongly agree”.
4. Use a legend to mark needed shifts. In the example, a small solid “dot” signifies where
each stakeholder stands currently, a large solid “dot” signifies where they need to be, and a
hollow circle signifies where they need to move if they are not currently is the desired
commitment zone.
5. Identify those on the list that may be used to obtain the support of others that are less
enthusiastic.
6. OPTION: Some teams have used this method to gauge the “Buy In” of individual team
members. This is sometime dangerous at early stages of the team but can be a powerful
team building activity for a mature team.
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Stakeholder Analysis Tool
Tool:
Names
Uses:
Timing:
Stakeholder Analysis - This tool helps the team answer the question, “Who are the stakeholders?”
“Where do they currently stand on the issues associated with this change initiative?” and, “Where do
we need them to be in terms of their level of support?”. This tool assumes that, 1) the sponsor has been
identified and is willing and able to carry out the role; 2) some stakeholders can be moved to a higher
level of support; and, 3) some may only need to be “neutral” for the change to have a chance.
Strongly
Against
Moderately
Against
Neutral
Moderately
Supportive
Strongly
Supportive
This tool helps teams develop a detailed sense of who the key stakeholders are, how they currently feel
about the teams task and purpose, and the level of support they need to exhibit for the team to have a good
chance for success. It also helps the team begin to discover influence relationships and strategies that will
be effective for each key stakeholder.
When the team is ready and able to handle a discussion of specific individuals and how these stakeholders
currently view the team. It can also be used throughout the process to strategize about how to “bring on
board” a new stakeholder who has just emerged.
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Example: Stakeholder Analysis
Strongly
Against
Moderately
Against
Neutral
Moderately
Supportive
Strongly
Supportive
Hazem

Tom


Bob

Mike

Ziad

ED&C sales
Henry C.


Henry S.

Jeddac sales

Sesco sales

Farooq
Farid
Shakeel


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Step Two: Develop a Draft of the Team Charter
The team charter provides direction for the team. It should be the roadmap and a framework
for how the team operates. For virtual teams, lack of physical contact may erode the link
between the charter and resulting work. For this reason, preparation of the charter should be
carefully planned and reinforced. Details about developing charters and templates can be
found The Learning Services Team Charter Module.
Team Charter Worksheet
“Must Have Information”:
Purpose:
Ground rules/Norms:
(Defines how your team will deliver a product, provide a service,
or implement an improvement idea. It’s the main reason for
being together as a team.)
(Describes the guidelines under which your team will operate.
Defines acceptable behavior within the team.)
Task:
(Describes the specific tasks or outputs for which your team will
be accountable.)
Boundaries:
(Describes the authority your team has in making decisions and
completing its work. Defining your boundaries clarifies how much
your team can do on its own and how much other people must be
involved.)
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Meetings:
(Describes the time, frequency, and location of meetings. Your
team will need to set and follow a meeting schedule. By agreeing
up front when you will meet, you help members organize their
work.)
Measures of Team
Success:
(Describes how your team will track its progress. This tracking
can provide your team with a feeling of accomplishment and show
others that you’ve successfully fulfilled your team’s purpose.
Team success measures can include members’ satisfaction with
the team, quality measures, and customer satisfaction.)
Completion Dates:
(Describes when your team will complete its tasks or assignments.
This section also clarifies the length or your team’s assignment.)
Recommended (but optional) Team Charter Sections:
Budget:
(Describes how your team will spend the money available to it.
Examples of team costs include: training, celebration, labor for
overtime, temporary or administrative help, engineering time, and
capital expenditures for equipment.)
Reporting Status:
(Explains how your team will document its progress and
communicate it to others whose buy-in, commitment, or approval
is needed.)
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Step Three: Selecting and Contacting Team Members
Selecting Team Members
The following are general considerations for selecting appropriate team members:











Representation from areas of the organization that are impacted by the initiative or project.
Representation of experts in the topic area of discipline.
Representation by those that must be involved in the design or support of the initiative or
project.
Balance of leaders and managers (thinkers & doers).
Representation from different levels in the organization if appropriate.
Individuals whom others respect.
Inclusion of union members where applicable.
Inclusion of customers where appropriate.
Spectrum of process and technical skills.
Selection of people who can commit to time required.
Diversity of perspectives and styles.
Team Member Competency Worksheet
Use
Use to determine if the team has the right team member competencies. It is useful in forming
the team and can help the team leader determine who should be on team. It is useful if the
team is already in place and is struggling due to lack of capability.
Steps:
1. List the names of the current or potential team members in the columns.
2. List the major competencies needed along the left hand rows. Don’t get caught up in the
proper definition of a competency. These are loosely defined as the knowledge, skills,
experience/exposure and attitudes necessary for performance.
3. Have each team member fill in their perceived level of competency in their column. A level
of “expert” should be defined if the person has played a major role in more than one project
or initiative.
4. Look for redundancies and gaps. Identify how to fill gaps and how those who don’t meet
requirements may “gracefully” exit.
Timing
Use before starting an initiative and/or anytime during an initiative or a project when the team
seems to be struggling.
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies
That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 35-42.
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Level of each Competency (in each cell under team member name)
Team member Names
Competencies Needed
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
KEY
Expert
Medium
Low
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Contacting Team Members
The first contact the team leader has with each member should be carefully planned. The
leader should make sure that team members clearly understand the team’s task. The leader
should facilitate interaction before the work actually begins and work to ensure all members feel
they are part of the team. This can be tricky when you have members from different
backgrounds and cultures. The team leader should be aware of cultural considerations and
understand that people from different cultures or backgrounds may prefer different levels of
interaction.
Tips:



The leader should make sure each team member has at least one personal interaction with
him or her before the team begins its work.
The leader should personally welcome each member and discuss the member’s background
and expertise.
The leader should be aware of cultural considerations and understand that some cultures
need/want more individual interaction than others. Other best practices for contacting team
members, prior to the team’s first formal meeting include:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Call or visit each team member personally.
Provide some mechanism for team members to find out about one another.
Facilitate interaction in a non-threatening way.
Send all team members information about the team including the charter.
Make certain a forum exists for answering team member’s questions.
Find out if there are hardware or software availability or compatibility issues.
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Step Four: Planning and Leading the Team Orientation Session
The ideal orientation is a face-to-face meeting with all team members present. No technology
can replace the camaraderie and the shared understanding that develops during a well-planned
face-to-face meeting. Virtual teams should lobby hard for resources and time for a face-to-face
meeting.
The first meeting should include the following:

An overview of the team’s charter including mission, purpose, goals, initial timeline and
deliverables. The purpose is to ensure that team members understand each element of the
charter and have an opportunity to ask questions.

An opportunity for team members to react and offer suggestions about the elements in the
team’s charter. Team members are often in a good position to comment on and add to the
elements of the charter. They can also identify barriers to success that may be unique
between specific functions, locations or to their organization.

Review or development of each team member’s expertise and accountabilities. The
outcome of this part of the agenda is for every team member to develop a clear
understanding of their task accountabilities and those of other team members. Definition of
the roles and accountabilities of external partners is critical here. Clarity facilitates smooth
collaboration in the future over organizational boundaries. This is the time to define who
has authority to change other people’s work and to approve final products.

Development of team norms, technology and communication plans. These activities should
include acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the team. The team should also work
through how the team will interact during and outside the meeting. They should also
decide how the team will communicate and share information.

The team building should start before the first meeting. However, it is critical in the first
meeting for the team to allow time for members to interact and start the process of getting
to know each other.

The team should make decisions around when and how to update team status and
progress, how documentation is done, and what deliverables are reviewed by others outside
the team.
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The Team's First Meeting: Agenda Worksheet
Typical Agenda Topics
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Team members understand charter, mission, and scope of
team.
Team develops norms for team behavior and team
processes.
 How to schedule meetings: who has authority to
schedule others, use of electronic scheduling or
calendar systems.
 How often voicemail and Email are to be answered.
 Etiquette for face to face, audio and videoconferences.
 How agendas for team meetings will be developed.
 How minutes will be distributed: timing and method.
 Who will facilitate meetings.
Team members understand their accountabilities
and those of other team members.
 Accountabilities of all team members are reviewed and
agreed on.
Team develops plan for use of technology including:
 Agree on major type of work: e.g., parallel individual
work, sequential, or pooled from a central database and
implications for technology use.
 Technology needed given the type of work.
 How to exchange information/documents; hardware and
software needs of team members; Email/fax/phone, etc.
 How information and documents will be stored: team
Web site, shared files or other.
 When to mark Email and other documents “urgent”,
“important”, etc. When to use “urgent” “important” etc.
 New technology acquisition: GroupWare, Electronic
Meeting Systems, etc.
 Training and orientation for team members in
technology.
 Review of compatibility issues: MAC, PC, word
processing applications, and Internet providers.
Team develops external communication plan:
 Which stakeholders, partners, champions and others will
get what information and when?
 Which team members will coordinate with these
individuals and answer questions?
Team develops how they will review progress:
 Frequency of team meetings.
 Preliminary agenda for review sessions.
 Who will be required to attend.
 How meetings will be held: audio, video, face to face,
etc.
Team building activities and reviewing of team norms.
Team Agenda Items
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
____________________________________
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Team Norms Template
Instructions: Use this worksheet to document your virtual team norms. Make certain that all
team members agree
to each norm and have all team members sign the document. You may choose to post this on
a team web site and
develop an icon that represents the norms that is present on all team web sites and other
documents, forms, etc.
TeamName:
_________________________________________________________________
Category
Norms
Keeping In Touch
Meeting Management
Problem Solving and Decision Making
Conflict Management
Working Together to Review Documents
Others
Team Members Signatures
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Example: Team Norms
Keep in Touch with other Team Members
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Check voicemail everyday and return calls within 24 hours.
Check email everyday and return emails within 24 hours.
Exchange documents using Application X.1.
Attend all mandatory meetings.
If we are going to be out of the office we let other people know and leave a message on
our voicemail —“out of office alert”.
6. Email messages are used for updates and exchanging information only. There are no
surprises over email about problems. Interpersonal issues are not resolved using email—
use the telephone or face to face.
7. Communicate with those outside the team using our established communication plan.
Meeting Management
1. We are on time for video, audio conferences and other meetings and attend the entire
meeting.
2. We rotate time zones for meeting to keep it equal and fair.
3. We link time and date to North America, Eastern Standard Time.
4. On video or audio conferences we keep our mute button on if we are not speaking.
5. We take breaks every one to one and one half hours on audio conferences.
6. We do not interrupt each other in any meeting.
7. We respect the facilitator’s attempts to foster participation from all team members. We
respect the agenda.
8. An agenda is sent out via email 48 hours in advance of every meeting and minutes are sent
out via email48 hours after each meeting. We rotate taking minutes.
9. If there are people in the meeting or on the audio or videoconference whose native
language is different from the language the meeting is being conducted, we give them time
to think and time to speak. We provide “think breaks” so people can gather their thoughts.
10. At the end of each meeting we evaluate how we performed in terms of abiding by our team
norms.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
1. We strive for consensus but realize that consensus takes time and is not always necessary.
If we cannot reach consensus we go with our expert team member’s opinion.
2. We use the XYZ approach to problem solving and decision making.
3. We keep the interests and goals of the team in the forefront of all decisions.
4. We balance the local interests of team members with those of the entire team.
5. If we need advice, we first call the team member who is considered an expert before we go
outside the team.
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Example: Team Norms (continued)
Conflict Management
1. We resolve differences in ways of doing business using the company code of conduct.
2. We do not settle differences over email. We call and speak directly to the person. We go
to the person first, not the team leader or another team member.
3. We use an established conflict management process.
4. We realize that conflict is a normal part of the team’s lifecycle and that conflict focused on
the task and not each other is healthy and productive.
5. We recognize that unproductive conflict is more difficult to detect in a virtual setting so we
take the pulse of the team frequently to ensure that conflict produces positive tension. We
don’t let tensions build.
Working Together to Produce or Review Documents
1. We do not review details of long documents on group audio conferences, we send them to
the team leader or another person designated as the integrator.
2. When we work in an “assembly line” fashion, we move the document through the system in
a timely manner. We give each other feedback when promised.
3. We keep confidential documents within the team and do not allow external individuals to
access them.
4. We will review the team’s progress for one hour via audio conference every Monday
morning. All team members will attend, no exceptions! We will all send our agenda items
and updates to the facilitator by Thursday at 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time (North
America).
5. The team leader is the only one with authority to release the documents to the client.
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Roles and Accountabilities
An important aspect of team orientation is to ensure that team members have a collective
understanding of roles and accountabilities in the decision making process. The following tool
provides a template for planning for assignment of roles and accountabilities for decision
making
Team Responsibility Grid
Team members can use the responsibility grid to sort out what the team will do and how
decisions will be made.
Timing:
This is best accomplished at the beginning of the team’s lifecycle.
Steps:
1. Team members decide how to modify the grid to meet their purposes.
2. List major decisions and team members as a group.
3. Team members individually complete the grid, in draft form. List the team decisions along
the rows, the responsible person along the column and the decision- making accountability
in the middle.
4. Team discusses the grid, differences in ratings and makes decisions that best suits the team
and avoid win/lose. Team adjusts and agrees upon results.
5. Team communicates the results to other teams, management and stakeholders. The team
may want to include stakeholders in this process when the team’s work involves them
extensively.
6. Team discusses what the patterns in the matrix reveal about the overall decision-making
authority of the team. Does it have the authority it needs to move the project along?
OPTION: This may be used with a more rigorous traditional project planning process (PERT,
Critical Path, State Program Management, etc.) for the overall project plan to avoid conflict or
confusion over decision making.
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Team Start-Up - Responsibility Grid
Used For:
Responsible Person
Identifying and agreeing on how
project-related decisions will be
made, within the team and in
terms of key stakeholders.
1 = should be the only one to make decision
2 = should have veto power over decision
3 = should be one of those who decides
4 = should be consulted before decision is made
5 = should be told about decision after it’s made
6 = have no need to be involved in decision
Decision
Helps the team “buy-in” by developing
decision-making protocol
Ref: GE Change Acceleration Process Tool-Kit
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Tool: Responsibility Grid
Tool:
Responsibility Grid - A useful tool to help the team sort out “who will do what” in terms of decision making.
Based on the theory that not all constituents have the same vested interest in the decisions the team will
make, it can help the team identify areas where they need to be “politically” sensitive to the needs and desires
of various groups and individuals as they relate to activities, decisions and milestones of the project.
Responsible Person
Decision
1 = should be only one to make decision
2 = should have veto power over decision
3 = should be one of those who votes
4 = should be consulted before decision made
5 = should be told about decision after made
6 = have no need to be involved in decision
Uses:
Teams who have used this tool have found it very useful in sorting out who will do what with respect to overall
action plans for the project, rather than in the more traditional way of identifying who needs to be “in the loop”
with regard to decision making. However, it is still an option when the team needs to sort out who must be
included in key decisions regarding the project.
Timing:
Probably most useful when the team has done enough work on need, vision and influencing stakeholders to
yield a detailed action plan. Also, obviously useful when the team has arrived at a major decision point.
Ref: GE Change Acceleration Process T ool-Kit
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Communication Technology Planning Process and Worksheets
(A five step process with three worksheets)
An important aspect of team start up is planning how to use information technology for
communication. Since electronic technology is the major link for team communication on a
virtual team, attention to planning its use is critical during the start up period.
1. The first step in the process is to determine what information linkages exist within the team.
Each team member should answer the following questions about their existing technology:
Team Member Name: ___________________________________
Travel and time for face to face meetings?

Yes

No
Fax? #:

Yes

No
Email? Address:

Yes

No
Software applications (PowerPoint, excel, work
Version #): Please list

Yes

No
Groupware? Type

Yes

No
Video conferencing?

Yes

No
Voicemail? : Number

Yes

No
How often checked?
How often checked?
Other?
__________________________________________
__________________________________________
__________________________________________
__________________________________________
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 1 pp. 43-47
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Communication Technology Planning Process and Worksheets (continued)
2. Give the results of what is possible given the answers to “1”, use the following format to
plan how often the entire team will interact and the purpose of interaction.
Frequency:
F= Frequently or more than two times a month.
O= Often or about once a month.
R= Rarely or about once every several months.
N= Never.
Purpose:
I= Information sharing
D= Decision making
P= Problem solving
C= Collaborative work
Type of Team Interaction
How Often?
Purpose of Interaction?
Real Time
Real time face to face with full
team
Real time face to face with subteam
Video conference
Audio conference
On line chat
Groupware
Other:
Delay Time
Email
Voicemail
Fax
3. Given the responses to the matrix, what will be the primary mode of the team’s interaction
(i.e. face to face, telephone, etc.)? What will be the frequency?
4. What will be the primary mode of interaction among team members outside of formal team
meetings? What will be the primary purpose? How often?
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 1 pp. 43-47
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Communication Technology Planning Process and Worksheets (continued)
It is also important for the team to plan communications activities for interacting with other
groups and stakeholders.
5. Fill in the communication matrix. List the groups you will be communicating with, the key
messages, delivery method and timing. Also list the point person for who will deliver the
message.
Target Group
or
Stakeholder
Key Message
Timing
Delivery
Method *
Point Person
Delivery methods include:
 In person
 Email update or file
 Memo
 Phone call
 Voice mail
 Conference call
 Video
 Brochure
 Report
 Minutes of team meeting
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Team Dynamics and Team Building
Attention to building healthy team dynamics is essential on a virtual team. The following model
is used through out J&J as the template for team development. More information about this
model can be found in the Learning Services Team Model Overview Module.
THE DREXLER-SIBBET TEAM PERFORMANCE MODEL:
A Reliable Map for Virtual Teams
The Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model portrays seven sets of issues that work teams
must master to reach high performance. The issues apply in both work situations: where team
members work closely together and have a lot of opportunities for face to face meetings, and
where members are separated by geography and time zones. Virtual teams may need a map
more because they are to some extent in uncharted territory. Here are some of the ways the
issues in the Model may play out differently for virtual teams:

Orientation: Through careful chartering and initial skills inventorying, virtual teams can
readily get the clarity of purpose they need and enable members to envision the
contributions they will make. It tends to be more difficult for virtual team members to
sustain a sense of connection and belonging to the team in the absence of frequent
contacts. To maintain a sense of identity, virtual teams may need to rely more on semiformal rituals and concrete symbols to support their sense of shared identity.

Trust Building: Virtual teams have to work harder to build and maintain trust, because
trust flows from knowledge and team members have less immediate knowledge when
they’re separated in space and time. The demand for trust is heightened because virtual
team members have less means to protect themselves or constantly reassure themselves
that things are going right. They have to let go. To manage these difficulties, they need as
much face to face time as feasible, and maximum information exchange in the meantime.

Goal and Role Clarification: Goal clarification tends to be a manageable issue for virtual
teams, and its importance is enhanced because, in the absence of other kinds of links, team
members tend to be united around and held together by the results they have to produce
collectively. Role clarification is no more difficult for virtual teams than traditional ones, but
again its importance is heightened because team members have less on-going opportunity
to observe that they have different understandings of what their respective roles and
responsibilities are. Up-front clarification of roles and testing of assumptions is essential for
virtual teams.

Commitment: Because they operate day to day in virtual space, it is essential that the
commitment of virtual team members initially be as concrete and explicit as possible: that
resource issues be settled, decision making processes clear, and vision distinctly drawn.
Otherwise, members will be adrift in cyberspace.
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
Implementation: Separation in space and time puts greater stress on all Implementation
issues. They aren’t more or less important on virtual teams, but they are more difficult to
manage. If there is one place where virtual teams have to spend more time and use every
available technology, it is here.

High Performance: This is the one place that the map ought to show as a harder to get
to place for virtual teams. The major features of high performance, such as synergy,
intuitive communications, and flexibility, are all tested by the separations of virtual team
members, because they imply an intimate knowledge, intuitive reactions, and easy give and
take. High performance is not out of reach for virtual teams, but may take some experience
and comfort in virtual work, and full use of the technologies.

Renewal: The distinctive challenges to Renewal for virtual teams are sustaining their
sense of unity in the face of continuous separation, and managing the fatigue of constantly
having to overcome the obstacles presented by the separation of their members.
Recognition and celebration are clearly no less important for members of virtual teams, but
they may have to find different ways to keep the value of what they do in sight, and to
celebrate it fittingly.
The challenges are somewhat different, but the route to high performance is the same for
virtual and traditional teams: making the rounds of the seven stages of the Team Performance
Model. To make the journey successfully, virtual teams will have to use every means of
technology, timing, and human touch available to them.
Drexler/Sibbet
Resolved
• Recognition &
celebration
• Change mastery
• Staying power
TM
Resolved
• Purpose
• Team Identity
• Membership
1.
Orientation
WHY
am I here?
Unresolved
• Disorientation
• Uncertainty
• Fear
Unresolved
• Caution
• Mistrust
• Facade
Team Performance
Resolved
• Mutual regard
• Forthrightness
• Reliability
2.
Trust
Building
WHO
are you?
model
Resolved
• Explicit assumptions
• Clear, integrated
goals
• Shared vision
Unresolved
• Apathy
• Skepticism
• Irrelevant
competition
3.
Goal
Clarification
WHAT
are we doing??
Unresolved
• Dependence
• Resistance
Resolved
• Spontaneous interaction
• Synergy
• Surpassing results
2. Trust Building
Next, people want to know
WHO they will work with -their expectations, agendas
and competencies. Sharing
builds trust and a free
exchange among team
members.
Unresolved
• Boredom
• Burnout
Unresolved
• Overload
• Disharmony
5.
Implementation
WHO does WHAT,
4.
Commitment
HOW
will we do it?
CREATING
1. Orientation
When teams are forming
everybody wonders
WHY they are here,
what their potential fit is
and whether others will
accept them. People need
need some kind of answer
to continue.
6.
High
Performance
WOW!
Resolved
• Clear processes
• Alignment
• Disciplined
execution
Resolved
• Assigned roles
• Allocated
resources
• Decisions made
7.
Renewal
WHY
continue?
WHEN, WHERE? Unresolved
• Conflict/confusion
• Nonalignment
• Missed deadlines
SUSTAINING
3. Goal Clarification
The more concrete work
of the team begins with
clarity about team goals,
basic assumptions and
vision. Terms and
definitions come to the
fore. WHAT are the
priorities?
4. Commitment
At some point discussions
need to end and decisions
must be made about HOW
resources, time, staff--all
the bottom line constraints-will be managed. Agreed
roles are key.
5. Implementation
Teams turn the corner
when they begin to
sequence work and settle
on WHO does WHAT,
WHEN, and WHERE in
action. Timing and
scheduling dominate this
stage.
6. High Performance
When methods are mastered, a team can begin
to change its goals and
flexibly respond to the
environment. The team
can say, “WOW!” and
surpass expectations.
7. Renewal
Teams are dynamic.
People get tired; members
change. People wonder
“WHY continue?” It’s time
to harvest learning and
prepare for a new cycle
of action.
9.0 TPModel © 1999 Allan Drexler & David Sibbet
Not To Be Reproduced
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Team Dynamics and Team Building
If the team is meeting face to face, traditional team building activities can be performed. If the
team is remote, modifications to the team building process are in order. The following are
some suggestions for remote team building activities. More information about team building
can be found the Appendix of this document.
60 Second Radio Spot
Requirements: Conference call hook-up or videoconference hook-up (Real time)
Description: Team members attempt to “sell” themselves to the team by creating a 60 second
radio ad that describes: 1) who they are and a little about themselves; 2) in what ways they
can contribute to the team’s effectiveness; and 3) what they personally hope to get out of the
exercise. People are encouraged to have fun with it and utilize special effect sounds and music
as part of their ad. After everyone has presented their ad, a lot of human interest in each other
will have been generated. Take several minutes allowing people to talk with each other asking
questions and telling stories about their personal experiences.
Example: 60 Second Radio Spot
Anna: In my high school year book (I can’t believe I can remember this), I wrote that my
goal was to never dislike change. And although my high school boyfriend took this as a
foreshadowing of the day when I would break his heart, (computer noise of something
crashing) I had actually meant to adhere to this positive goals in other areas of my life. I
have certainly adhered to this on the large scale---(background noises representing each of
the following occupations increase in volume and confusion until the word “now”) just look at
the career choices I’ve made--concert pianist, professor, chef, and now---happily employed as
a writer and researcher for this corporation. But I haven’t given anything up along the way:
I still wake up early to put in some piano practice before work, I’ve become a creative (if not
skilled) cook (perplexed background voice says: “well, Anna, this food certainly
smells...interesting”), and I employ my writing skills and desire to learn every day. I can offer
this team an ability to compromise, to look at problems and issues from a variety of pints of
view, and to allow for flexibility in work processes and results. I am thrilled by the challenge
of creating across distance both a team and a successful new product. I know we’re all going
to have to be super involved, energetic and flexible in order to meet changing demands as we
work through this project.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 2 pp. 9-27.
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Personal Want Ads
Example: Personal Ad
Requirements: E-mail or fax linkage among all
team members (Delay time)
Description:
The personal ad exercise can be thought of as the e-mail version of the 60-second radio spot.
The idea is to create a personal ad like those in the Personals section of the newspaper. Team
members should describe: 1) who they are and a little about themselves; 2) in what ways they
can contribute to the team’s effectiveness; and 3) what they personally hope to get out of the
experience of being a member of the team. Encourage participants to have fun with the ad and
to use the kind of jargon and format common in the newspaper Personals. After everyone has
had a chance to review one another’s ad, follow it up with a conference call (if possible) so that
team members can have the opportunity to share more information with each other.
DEDICATED TEAM PLAYER seeks high performance team for new product development. I
am an avid net freak by day who writes well, pays attention to detail, asks probing questions,
puzzles out problems, and gets the job done on time. I am fun on weekends and like to play
the saxophone and hike with my family. If you can maintain a sense of humor when your
computer crashes because you’ve learned to save your work often, I want to be on your team!
Left-handed colleagues.
I WILL NEVER SEE YOU. Team player seeks intense long-distance fling with high
performing work team. Ability to discern problems and quickly develop solutions a must.
Need to maintain focus and make a commitment to our customers. I am impressed by fast
learners who know how to give out information and make their messages clear via e-mail. No
automatic reply pushers or subject teasers on this team! Though easy going in person, I get
down to the nitty-gritty and offer sharp decision-making and problem-solving support. If you
need a numbers cruncher, I’m your man!
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 2 pp. 9-27.
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Clip Art Collage
Requirements: Page readable software (such as Adobe Acrobat), clip art and/or royalty free
digital photographs; e-mail linkage; conference call (delay time review of the collages followed
by a real time conference call).
Descriptions: Each member of the team develops a collage using clip art and/or digital
photography. The collage is each person’s attempt to pictorially depict his/her interests,
aspirations, priorities---a kind graphical representation of who he/she is. Once the collage is
completed, it is distributed to every other member of the team via e-mail or Groupware. A
conference call is then scheduled where each team member takes five to ten minutes to
describe what the collage means. Through this process, team members learn a great deal
about their teammates.
Example: Clip Art Collage
The figure in the middle of this picture represents Sam---that’s me. I come from a big family, and
whenever the whole clan gets together, we have a huge soccer match. I’m usually goalie, so I’m often
using my head to deflect the ball. The restaurant symbol? One of my fanciful retirement dreams was to
open up a restaurant called “The Knife and Fork” but to serve only soup with wooden spoons. The
keyboard represents the many years I studied piano--not wasted, since I still enjoy to play.
The hammer, letter symbol, group of people and the tightrope relate to my role as a team member. The
tightrope represents my dedication to this team and the many trials I would undergo to uphold our
guiding principles. (Also, I was once in a circus: I was an acrobat, and I dove over fire.) So, here I am
crossing on a thin wire to reach my other team members. The envelope symbolizes the communication
pathways we’re going to have to utilize as a virtual team. I like to work and try to fix things, and the
hammer represents my dedication to that: I’m not going to let the wires and collective goals that
connect us as a team collapse or otherwise fail.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 2 pp. 9-27.
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Resume Sharing
Requirements: E-mail or fax linkage among all team members (Delay time).
Description: Each team member prepares a personal resume following a common template
that asks them to share the kind of information that is typically covered in traditional resumes
(previous work assignments, job skills and knowledge) as well as human interest information
(including such things a hobbies, interests, favorite movie, favorite book, proudest
accomplishment, favorite historical figure, most embarrassing moment). After the resumes are
shared, a conference call can be used as a follow-up.
Example: Resume Sharing
PERSONAL RÉSUMÉ
Anna M
My greatest strength as a member of this team is:
my ability to examine issues from many different points of view.
My favorite hobbies are:
playing the piano, backpacking and hiking, tennis, reading.
My favorite movie is:
My Life as a Dog
My favorite novel is:
The Idiot (Dostoevsky).
My proudest accomplishment is:
One year I actually kept all of my New Year’s resolutions: I kept up with my personal correspondence.
I flossed my teeth faithfully, and I wrote my entire master’s thesis without pulling an all-nighter.
My favorite historical figure (and why he/she is my favorite):
Clara Schumann--Women composers and pianists certainly existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries,
but few gained any recognition. Clara Schumann achieved a popularity during her lifetime and rivaled
that of her husband, Robert.
My most embarrassing moment (that I am willing to share) is:
There are many more embarrassing than this, but my mind is blocking them out. Here’s one I
remember: On my very first day of graduate school, a crow landed on my head. I felt something grab
my hair, but I was so preoccupied, I thought I had just brushed my head under a tree branch. I’m
sure people looked at me strangely, but nobody said --- “hey --- there’s a crow in her hair” -- so how
was I supposed to know? I kept walking. I was very startled when the crow pushed off my head, flew
over to a patch of grass, and continued to stare at me like the evil crow in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie
“The Birds”. I interpreted it as a bad omen for my graduate school years, but it never happened again.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 2 pp. 9-27.
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Chit Chat Session
Requirements: Telephone or real time e-mail linkage.
Description: A designated time is announced --- usually 30 minutes prior to an official
conference call or on-line meeting -- where interested team members engage in a formal
discussion of how they are doing. The conversations are conducted over the telephone or via
an electronic linkage through a chat room set-up. There is no pre-planned agenda or structure
to the meeting. Its sole purpose is to give anyone on the team who is interested in the
opportunity to informally interact with other team members in a setting where there are no
urgent agenda items or organizational matters to address.
The chit chat forum is often used prior to formal team conference calls or chat room
interactions since it approximates the informal comments and discussions that typically occur
before a face-to-face meeting.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 2 pp. 9-27.
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Sunset Guidelines Worksheet
To avoid bureaucratic proliferation, any newly formed team should have a clear set of sunset
guidelines to define: 1) the point at which the team’s work is complete and 2) what happens to
the team and its members after completing work. This is especially important on a virtual team
when time and distance sometime favor teams “fading away” rather than formally ending.
To develop “sunset guidelines”, answer the following:
1. At what point is the team’s work complete?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
What goals will be achieved?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
What measurements will be achieved?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
2. What is the timeframe for completion? Is there an end date for disbanding or reassessment of the
charter regardless of the team’s accomplishments? If yes, what is that date?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
3. Once the team’s mission is achieved, what happens next?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
Will the team be dissolved
Yes
No
If yes, what should team members be prepared to do?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
4. Is there the possibility of reassessment of team performance so that the team will stay together and
be re-chartered?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
5. Is it likely that the team will stay together in its current form?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
6. When the team ends, what are the plans for: 1) notifying team member’s management, 2)
documenting lessons learned, and 3) celebration of success?
_________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 1 pp. 53-54
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Building Trust In A Virtual Environment
Overview
This section focuses on building trust in a virtual environment. It provides the
reader with two assessment tools to assess trust actions in the team and to
assess behaviors that build and destroy trust. This section also covers the
concept of a trust radius.
Objectives




To
To
To
To
learn the three primary factors in building trust.
identify the trust radius that is effective for your virtual team.
understand how your actions build trust in others.
understand how well you trust others.
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques,
and Strategies That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 57-63.
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Trust Imperatives
The way virtual team members identify with one another, share power, communicate and build
trust, plays an important role in achieving results and in the subjective experience of working
on a team. On virtual teams, trust must be developed quickly, from the onset. The qualities of
the first interactions set the tone. Even one or two negative electronic messages from one
team member have the potential to create distrust.
The Three Imperatives for Building “Instant” Trust in a Virtual Environment
The factors that “instantly” impact trust fall into three categories (Shaw, 1997) and impact the
actions of the team leader and all team members. People trust others who:
1. Perform and are competent;
2. Act with integrity; and
3. Display a concern for the well-being of others.
1. Performance and Competence
Follow through: One of the most important areas contributing to the perception of
performance and competence is timely follow-through on commitments. Promising
information, a phone call, or an e-mail and then not delivering erodes trust. Follow-through
may be more important to virtual team members because they have fewer cues than
traditional teams to decide if team members are committed to the team’s performance.
Reputation for performance: When we travel, we trust that the pilot is competent and has
a history of performing take-offs and landings without incident. We select an airline, in
part, based on their safety history. We care more about past performance than other
attributes such as good service. If a team leader or team member appears to have little or
inappropriate experience, or a reputation for non-performance, it may erode the trust that
team members hold in the importance of the team, and in that it will perform.
Gaining Resources: The ability to obtain resources also feeds into the perception of
performance, especially for the virtual team leader. For all team members, promising what
we cannot deliver erodes trust.
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2. Acting With Integrity
Integrity, or the alignment of actions and stated values, creates a foundation for trust.
Virtual team members watch and listen to determine if others act in a manner that is
consistent with what they say they believe it. It is possible to trust that another person will
perform well, but not believe they have integrity. Integrity has to do in part with managing
perceptions of team performance. Speaking poorly in public forums about team
performance, about other team members or the quality of the team’s product can not only
destroy the team’s reputation but also signal a lack of judgement and integrity. In a virtual
environment, with the lack of other transitional cues about performance, it does not take
much negative information to ruin a team’s reputation. Integrity is also built into the
communication process by ensuring that all team members get critical information at the
same time. In a virtual environment it is difficult for team members to ascertain whether
they have been systematically excluded or just forgotten. In either case, trust can be
quickly eroded.
3. Concern for the Well-Being of Others
We trust people who are consistently responsive to our needs and to the needs of others in
the organization. Two important aspects of concern for the well being of others include
expressing concern for other team members and assessing the team’s impact on other
team, departments and groups.
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Trust Imperative Exercise
Instructions
The following steps and activities are suggested as an agenda for a one to two-hour session
with an intact virtual team to introduce the topic of trust. The exercise is intended to be used
in a face-to-face forum, if possible. (It is also recommended that a trained facilitator be used to
conduct the session or to consult with the leader before hand)
1. Introduce the topic of trust as an important element of leadership on the team and in the
organization.
2. Ask the team how trust promotes an effective work environment. (This will include
facilitation of risk-taking, learning, creativity and innovation.) Also discuss the
consequences of a low trust environment. Introduce the three imperatives of trust:
performance, integrity and concern for others. Provide some examples.
3. Break the team into three small groups. Ask each group to brainstorm what behaviors or
actions in the team would contribute to trust. Ask each group to process out their lists and
record these on flipcharts and discuss as a large group. If remote use a whiteboard to list
actions.
4. Hand out (or, if remote - introduce) the following three Trust Imperative Exercise checklists
and review the items in each trust category - performance, integrity and concern for others.
Link these back to the items presented in #3. Add items if appropriate in the second
column.
5. Split the team again into three small groups. Assign each group a trust category performance, integrity or concern. Have them work to assign items from the previous
brainstorm (#4) exercise to each of the elements in their category. This should take at
least 30 to 40 minutes.
6. Process this as a large group. Discuss which items might be implemented quickly in the
team and which will be more long-term. Assign time frames to actions and accountabilities.
7. Ask each person to work individually to select one item/action from each trust category that
they will commit to. Add these items to the third column of the checklist. Ask for
volunteers to discuss their actions.
8. Close session and follow up.
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Trust Imperative Exercise Part One: Performance
Factor
Keep commitments
and show results
Examples



Develop and display
competence




Keep everyone
informed about
progress




Practice good selfmanagement

My Actions
Keep a log of commitments and make
them visible to the team through e-mail
or another means; have a method to
ensure follow-through.
Keep promises even if circumstances
have changed.
Keep commitments in cost, schedule
and technical areas; inform team
members well in advance if you will be
late in any area.
Continue reading and learning new
ideas; post interesting ideas on the
network or in an e-mail and discuss as a
team.
Be open, even if you don’t agree with
the discussions.
Be able to say “I don’t know”.
Allow others to be experts—foster
expertise and sharing on the team; set
an agenda item for sharing learnings;
put up a project web page to share
learnings.
Focus on results.
Hold regular audio or videoconference
or other meetings once a week with
your team and have an agenda that
covers bad as well as good news.
Don’t forget remote people or extended
team members; post information or
decisions so everyone has access.
Ensure that everyone hears information
in a timely manner; use multiple,
synchronous, asynchronous and
redundant communication methods.
Be aware of your biases about
locations, cultures, etc. and how they
impact your expectations of other
people’s behavior.
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Trust Imperative Exercise Part Two: Integrity
Factor
Ensure actions are
consistent with
words
Examples




Stand up for your
convictions; display
integrity





Support your team;
show both sides of
an issue


Stand behind the
team and its people



My Actions
Map your behaviors at meetings, during
reviews and other critical times to the
values and expectations you want to
promote within the team.
Have a team member(s) you trust
watch you and give you feedback on
consistency.
Conduct regular trust audits.
If your actions are not consistent,
explain why to your team.
Do the right thing – what is in the best
interest of the team or its people.
Be able to say “I don’t agree” to those
above you.
Speak up for what you believe in with
the team and with management.
Continue to do the right thing, even
when in crisis or fire-fighting mode.
Openly discuss, when appropriate,
convictions and values with team
members and with management; have
an agenda item about this in team
meetings.
Formally present both pros and cons to
issues; post them on a web site for the
team to read.
Create an environment and schedule
time for discussion and debate in team
sessions. Start a chat room or other
places for asynchronous discussions.
Keep up to date so you can catch
problems before you have to defend the
team or other team members.
Always investigate problems with the
team before commenting to others
about reasons for performance.
Never “bad-mouth” your team.
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Trust Imperative Exercise Part Three: Concern for Others
Factor
Stand behind the
team and its people
Examples


Help team
members with
transitions





Be aware of your
impact on others


Integrate team
needs with other
team and
department/
organization needs



My Actions
Keep up to date so you can catch
problems before you have to defend the
team or other team members.
Always investigate problems with the
team before commenting to others
about reasons for performance.
Never “bad-mouth” your team.
Have standard processes for selection,
rewards, assignments and sharing of
information that do not favor certain
people, cultures, organizations or
locations.
Rotate the “good” and “bad” team jobs.
Help team members with transitions off
the team or to new assignments.
Assign partners to new team members
for orientation.
Be confident that people are watching
what you do, especially when you are in
a team leader position. Take your role
seriously.
Ask someone you trust to describe how
you impact others on the team in
different situations (crisis, demanding
customer, etc.).
Map how decisions on the team will
impact other functional areas.
Ask others their opinions about how the
team’s behaviors impact functional
areas before implementing changes;
have team members explore this as a
team assignment.
Keep track of how decisions evolve and
how they impact others on the team.
Have team members report on how
their decisions may affect other team
members.
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Defining Your Team's Trust Radius
This exercise provides virtual team leaders and team members a platform to begin to discuss
how each team member’s experience and background impacts their trust radius. The idea is
not to develop a definitive statement about each team member’s radius, but to use what each
person develops as a starting point for a team discussion about trust. This exercise can be
used by the virtual team leader at the team planning session or at one of the follow up
sessions. It can be accomplished online if your team uses whiteboard or collaborative
Groupware with a graphics capability, or over an audio conference with team members faxing
their trust radius to each other in advance. It can also be performed in a face-to-face setting,
and is probably preferable in that mode if team members are just getting to know one another.
Trust Radius Explanation
Robert Shaw created the concept of a trust radius that works like the human eye taking in light.
When the human eye takes in light, the pupil expands. The more light that enters the eye, the
larger the pupil is in relation to the iris. People’s trust radius also increases as they take in
Trust of Immediate Colleagues
Immediate Team
Functional Group
Immediate Manager
Self
Trust in Those Outside
the Organization
Suppliers
Vendors
Consultants
Contract Employees
Trust of Otherss
Those from other locations
Those from other cultures
Those from other functions
Source: Robert Bruce Shaw, Trust in the Balance: Building Successful Organizations on Results, Integrity, and
Concern, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©1997.
team members, partners and sponsors from across traditional boundaries.
A large radius of trust means that people are willing to trust others outside their immediate
function, culture or organization. On a virtual team this is a requirement as team members find
themselves working with people from remote locations, functions, cultures and organizations.
The virtual team, at least initially, gets the trust radius that team members bring to the team.
Different people have varying trust thresholds and come from different circumstances.
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Instructions:
Have each team member draw three circles on the chart that best characterize the trust radius
of team membership on their last three project or work teams. Have them use a solid line to
represent their most recent team, a dotted line to represent the next most recent team, and a
line with arrows to represent the third most recent team.
Next, lead a team discussion about what the current team’s trust radius needs to look like.
After the team has reached agreement, draw that radius on each team member’s worksheet
using two double lines.
Have each team member compare his or her previous trust radii with the trust radius required
for the current team. Lead a team discussion with the following questions.
1. Is the current team’s trust radius requirement larger or smaller than your previous team’s
requirements?
2. If it is larger, who is included now who was not included in previous teams?
3. What are the implications for building trust on this team? Who do we need to network and
build bridges with?
4. What are the implications for getting to know more about one another?
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The Impact of Technology
Although there has not been extensive research on the topic, it is clear that technology
interacts with the three trust imperatives and the trust radius. First, technology can be used to
send subtle messages about who is considered a high performer and who is not. High
performers on teams tend to send more one-on-one electronic messages than low or moderate
performers. They also tend to send more one-on-one messages to other high performers than
to other lower performing team members. This formation of electronic “in-groups” can be used
to communicate who is perceived as competent and who is not. Being left out of one-on-one
communication patterns could indicate that a team member is being perceived as less
competent than others.
Second, technology can be used to help facilitate the integrity of team processes and decision
making. Integrity of team members’ opinions and ideas can be preserved using Groupware
with anonymity features, especially when discussing topics where there may be disagreement
or where one or two team members may be in the minority and feel uncomfortable about
expressing their opinions. It allows all opinions to be voiced without fear of recrimination.
Scheduling software and other features also facilitates matching actions to timely follow-up.
Electronic distribution lists make it easy to get the same information to everyone in a timely
manner.
Third, because virtual team members operate in a more isolated rather than social environment,
there is less of a need for social posturing than in traditional settings. This may also, however,
create a tendency to display less concern for others. It is not uncommon for team members to
ignore traditional social niceties and make blunt remarks that would never be uttered face-toface, or even on the telephone.
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Trust Activity: Taking Stock
Instructions:
The following surveys are designed to help you become more aware of how the actions or
words you use affect trust between you and others. The first survey helps you identify ways in
which you inspire others to trust you. The second survey will help you explore your trust in
others. No one but you will see your results, so respond candidly, not as you think you
SHOULD respond.
You can photocopy the two surveys and ask people you work with closely, such as team
members, other teams, peer leaders, your manager, vendors, or customers to respond to the
survey with YOUR trust behavior in mind. Some people might prefer to offer feedback
anonymously. The responses let you see your behavior through others’ eyes and provide you
with a fresh and valuable perspective.
Read each statement and check the box under “A” (almost always), “S” (sometimes), or “N”
(never), whichever is most applicable.
Survey #1: Inspiring Trust
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Key:
A
S
N
I follow through on the things I commit to do.
I say what I believe rather than what I think people want to hear.
Others can rely on me to keep confidences.
I share information – good and bad – with the people who need
to have it.
I listen to people and take time to ask for their opinions.
I acknowledge people’s accomplishments and make sure they get
credit for their ideas.
I give honest, constructive feedback rather than avoiding the truth
when it needs to be told.
I practice what I preach – what I say is what I do.
I show respect for others regardless of their positions or what
they can do for me.
I delegate sensibly and don’t abdicate responsibility.
I focus on solving problems rather than blaming them on
someone.
I make sure my personal goals and opinions don’t interfere with
team or organizational objectives.
I accept responsibility for my mistakes.
I behave consistently, regardless of the person or situation and
my level of stress.
I champion my team members when I talk with people outside the
team.
A = almost always
S = sometimes
N = never
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Survey #2: Trusting Others
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
Key:
A
S
N
I avoid looking over people’s shoulders while they do their jobs.
I check on facts before making assumptions or jumping to
conclusions.
I share information – good and bad – with the people who need
to have it.
I share decision-making authority and then support my group’s
decisions whenever appropriate.
I say what I think in a way that shows respect for others’
opinions.
I support the feasible ideas, decisions, and actions of others.
I ask for and accept feedback about my performance.
I support the organization’s vision, values and mission.
I consider mistakes to be opportunities for learning, and I admit
my mistakes or problems.
I promote innovative thinking and risk taking.
I provide opportunities for people to develop their talents.
I listen openly to people’s concerns, ideas, and feelings.
I address problems with the people directly involved and seek
solutions that benefit everyone.
I disclose my thoughts, feelings and rationale when appropriate.
I accept that there are ways besides my own to accomplish tasks
and achieve goals.
A = almost always
S = sometimes
N = never
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Analyzing the Surveys
The surveys just completed can help determine how strong the trust foundation is. Even if you
answered “sometimes” or “never” for as few as three or four statements, you probably could
strengthen your trust behavior. Analyzing the responses can help you pinpoint your areas of
strength and those that need improvement.
If you asked others to complete the surveys, compare their responses with each other’s and
with your own.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
What surprised you? Why?
Do others see you differently than you see yourself?
Do others think you behave differently with different people?
Does anything trouble you about their responses? Why?
What are some of the things you’d like to change about your behavior?
Where should you start?
Top 10 Trust Builders:
10
9
8
7
6
Discuss
Recognize
Support
Collaborate
Disclose
5
4
3
2
1
Value
Help
Acknowledge
Share
Ask
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques, and Strategies
That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 57-63.
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Facilitating Virtual Team Meetings
Overview
The ability to hold meetings in a virtual environment is a critical discipline for
virtual team leaders and members. The inherent limitations of electronic
communication increase the chances that messages are misinterpreted. The
logistics associated with virtual meetings are also more difficult to execute.
Without well run virtual meetings, the virtual team will have a difficult time
succeeding.
This section reviews the critical elements of virtual meetings, the importance of
meeting roles, the planning and facilitation of virtual meetings, as well as
provides tools for use in facilitating virtual meetings.
Objectives





To
To
To
To
To
understand the discipline behind running a virtual meeting.
understand and use the five elements of a virtual meeting.
use “action” minutes.
understand the importance of meeting roles.
be able to construct an agenda for virtual meetings.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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PATIO Planned Meetings
In a virtual team setting, as much as 80% of a meeting’s effectiveness is determined before the
meeting ever starts. The pre-work that goes into the meeting is critical in ensuring that issues
are addressed in an efficient manner.
PATIO is an acronym standing for purpose, agenda, time, information and outcomes. Prior to
the start of a virtual meeting, each of these five elements should be dearly defined.
1. Purpose
The meeting purpose answers a simple question: Why are we meeting?
Successful meetings begin with a dearly defined purpose. The meeting’s purpose influences the
choice of the meeting’s medium for communication (e.g. e-mail or conference call), what items
to include on the agenda and the desired outcomes for each, what time frames are appropriate
for agenda items, and what information needs to be conveyed to team members.
The purpose is described in a brief statement explaining why the meeting will take place.
Typically the person identifying the purpose will be the team’s designated Virtual Facilitator
(VF). When developing the purpose statement, the VF should consider:


Why are we meeting?
‘What results do we hope to achieve?
2. Agenda
The agenda lists all the topics that will be covered during the course of the meeting and the
steps that will be followed in addressing the topic. Two basic questions should be considered
when creating an agenda:

What topics do we need to cover in order to achieve the meeting’s purpose?
What steps should we follow in addressing each topic?

Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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3. Time
The time section of the meeting plan estimates how much time is needed to complete the
agenda and to accomplish the meeting’s purpose.
In the virtual team setting, the amount of time necessary to complete the agenda is going to
vary widely depending on the medium used in the meeting such as if you choose to conduct a
real time meeting via a conference call, video conference, or other “real time” electronic
linkage. Remember to keep the meeting under an hour or to take a break at the one hour
point— people have limited attention spans, and they can only listen to a speaker or focus on a
video screen for so long.
Delay time meetings, where information is relayed and discussed via e-mail, fax or Groupware,
can last several days. Electronic delay time meetings have an advantage over real time
conferences in that team members have time to collect their thoughts, give careful responses,
and revise what they are trying to say. However, the lengthy time frame also allows more
opportunity for the meeting to go astray. Even though the time frame of a delay time
discussion may seem loose and flexible, it must be more highly structured and detailed on the
PATIO plan so that all team members understand what they should be doing at each point,
when and how information transfer should occur, and when each agenda item will be
addressed.
The time section of the PATIO plan should include:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Date.
Start/stop times.
Location of members.
Initiator of the meeting.
Virtual Facilitator of the meeting.
Time allocations for each agenda item (especially important in delay time meetings).
When planning the time frames for a virtual meeting, remember that team members are remote
and may reside in different time zones. Clearly specify to what zone times refer. For a-ample:
Bob in Vancouver, Jennifer in Cleveland, and Gwen in London all need to know that in their
Wednesday conference call that James in New York arranged is scheduled for 11:00 AM Eastern
Standard Time (EST).
When planning a same time meeting. remember to:




Include some cushion time in case agenda items take longer than predicted.
Meet at a time that is convenient for all participants.
Meet it a time that does not conflict with peak productivity or working periods.
Keep track of how long meetings run so that you can better plan future time requirements.
Always start and stop on time.

Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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When planning a different time meeting, remember to:




Set a clear start and end date/time for each agenda item.
Plan the meeting during a period when critical team members can participate.
Keep track of how long the delay time meetings are actually running and adjust future
meetings accordingly.
Hold teammates accountable to meet the time commitments specified by the agenda.
4. Information
The information section of the PATIO meeting plan identifies what information team members
need to have for the meeting. For example, the information section may ask participants to fill
out a questionnaire before the meeting, or it may indicate what information sources are
included with the agenda. It may include minutes from a previous meeting, proposals that will
be discussed during the meeting, drafts that need to be reviewed, memos that need to be read
or decision templates that are going to be considered. It will also identify if anyone who is not
a regular team member will be linked into the meeting to share important information with the
team.
Necessary information should be attached to the agenda and sent out in advance of the
meeting. When preparing information, follow these guidelines:





Information should be simple and easy to understand.
Information should be current and accurate.
Always cite your information source.
If information can be conveyed via letter, fax, or e-mail plan less meeting time to discuss it.
When using Virtual Team templates, always have them fully prepared and filled out.
Since daily contact is limited in a virtual team setting, it is likely that much information must be
shared in advance in order to prepare members for a meeting. In addition to content
information. the team may also need to know technical information relating to the electronic
medium chosen for a meeting. For example, if a member is unable to connect to an on-line
conference, he/she needs to know who to contact or what to do.
The information section answers the following questions:


What information do team members need to review prior to the meeting?
Who should team members contact with questions or other problems if there is a technical
problem during the meeting?
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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5. Outcomes
Agenda items can be covered far more quickly if team members clearly understand each topic’s
desired outcome. In preparing the outcomes, spend time thinking through what the “it” is that
you want from the discussion of the agenda item. Is it a decision? Is it a request for feedback?
Does it solve a problem? Or does it simply share information?
Common outcomes for agenda items include:





Information sharing.
Decision-making.
Problem solving.
Feedback requested.
Education.
Planning.

Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Outcome and Agenda Template for PATIO Meetings
In a virtual team setting, as much as 80% of a meeting’s effectiveness is determined before the
meeting ever starts. The pre-work that goes into the meeting is critical in ensuring that issues
are addressed in an efficient manner.
PATIO is an acronym standing for purpose, agenda, time, information and outcomes. Prior to
the start of a virtual meeting, each of these five elements should be dearly defined.
Purpose_____________________________________________________________
Agenda
1.
Outcome
2.
Outcome
3.
Outcome
4.
Outcome
Time
Date: _________________________
Duration ____________________
Locations:
Initiated by:
Time Zone:_______________________
Information
Outcomes
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Action Minutes
As incredible as it seems, many teams spend much of their meeting time trying to recount what
was already decided at an earlier meeting. The tendency—what might be called “post meeting
memory loss”—is a particularly common ailment in conference call and videoconference
meetings when there is no one assigned to document the actions that are determined during
the meeting.
Action minutes contain five key components:
TOPIC/ISSUE
Describes the topic that was discussed by the team. Typically the topic/issue will be the same
as the ones listed on the agenda.
ACTION
Describes the action the team decided it wants to take.
WHO
Describes who is responsible for taking the action. While there may be multiple people who will
be involved in carrying out the action, only one person can have the primary responsibility for
coordinating the activities that will ensure the action occurs.
WHEN
Describes the date by which the action will be completed.
RESOURCES
Describes any resources that might be required (including such things as budget. equipment,
additional people) for the action to occur.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Action Minutes Template
Action minutes should be kept during each virtual team meeting either by the facilitator, team
leader or member. The minutes should be distributed immediately after the team meeting.
Further; the action minutes should be reviewed at the beginning of the next team meeting so
that the team can get a status report on each action item. Use the following template to record
Action Minutes
Action Minutes Template
Topic/Issue
Action
Who
When
Resources
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Meeting Roles
To have an effective virtual meeting, whether conducted in real time or delay time, requires a
number of key roles. Typically; the key preparation, facilitation and documentation roles—
preparation coordinator, leader, gatekeeper, scribe— are filled by the Virtual Facilitator. These
roles can be broken out, however, and filled by several team members. Each is described
below.
Prep Coordinator
A tremendous amount of preparation goes into effective meetings. The preparation coordinator
is responsible for ensuring that all the necessary pre-work has been completed prior to the
meeting. He/she can remove agenda items if the correct templates or supporting documents
have not been properly completed by the individual wanting to present the issue.
The specific tasks done by the prep coordinator include:





Establishing the meeting time and length.
Defining whether the meeting will be conducted in delay time or real time and the
technology to be used (e.g. conference call, video conferencing, e-mail).
Soliciting input for the agenda from team members.
Ensuring presenters have included all necessary documentation and/or have properly filled
out the appropriate virtual team templates for the agenda items they will be covering.
Sending out the PATIO meeting plan and all relevant documentation for the meeting.
Leader
The role of the leader is to keep the team focused on working through the agenda so that the
meeting purpose can be achieved in the time frame allotted, it is a highly task-oriented role. In
a conference call setting, this involves managing the agenda and intervening when team
members go off task. In an e-mail meeting this often means consolidating input and reviewing
the status of posted documents.
Specifically, the leader should:






Initiate the meeting.
Conduct a roll call.
Check the status on action items from previous meetings.
Review the PATIO meeting plan (purpose. agenda time, information and outcomes).
Manage the agenda.
Clarify relevant points, keep the meeting moving and on track.
Review any decisions that are made.

Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Gatekeeper
In contrast to the leader, the gatekeeper role is focused on group process. This involves
looking at the group dynamics that are unfolding and trying to encourage open participation
from all team members. When necessary, the gatekeeper points out when the team is not
operating in a manner consistent with its operating guidelines. He/she may also point out when
a team member is dominating a conversation (in the case of a conference call) or digressing
from the actual topic (in the case of e-mail correspondence).
Specifically the gatekeeper;




Observes how the team is operating.
Intervenes to help ensure the team is operating in a manner consistent with its guidelines.
Helps team to review how effective its meeting processes are.
Monitors meeting time.
Scribe
The scribe is responsible for creating the meeting’s action minutes and then distributing them to
all team members. Specifically, the scribe documents what actions will be taken, by whom, by
when and what resources will be required.
Meeting Participant
A 15 minute digression in a two hour face-to-face meeting is annoying, but its negative impact
will be limited. Key agenda items will still get discussed, even if it means the meeting has to
run over a few minutes. The same digression in a one hour conference call (the recommended
maximum length for conference calls) is disastrous and could easily render the whole meeting
ineffective. In a virtual setting there is far less room for error in meeting planning and
execution. For this reason, it is vitally important that team members recognize the crucial part
they play in helping to keep the meeting on track.
Part of being an effective meeting participant is recognizing how your role changes depending
on the outcome of the agenda item.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 6 pp. 3-23.
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Changing Team Member Roles
Desired Outcome
of Agenda Item
Team Member Role
Information sharing


Decision making


Problem Solving


Feedback requested

Listen to the content of what is.
Limit your response to asking questions to clarify points that aren’t clear to
you or possibly not clear to other team members.
Listen to first understand what core issue needs to be decided.
State any relevant information you have relating to the issue before stating
your preferred position.
 The general flow for the team should be:
 define what is to be decided;
 explore relevant information;
 discuss alternatives
 make a decision; and
 action plan.
Listen to first understand what the problem is.
Make sure the problem statement truly describes a problem and not a
symptom of the problem.
 Avoid the temptation to immediately jump to a solution before first discussing
probable root causes. If you have no insight into the problem or have not
been directly affected by it, listen carefully to those who have and help by
summarizing the key points that they are surfacing.
 The general flow for the team should be:
 clearly define the problem;
 identify the root cause;
 discuss alternatives;
 define a workable solution, and
 action plan.



Listen to first understand why the feedback is being solicited. If you have
relevant feedback, based on your own personal experience, provide it.
Try not to give feedback that is speculative or that describes how you believe
others feel unless such opinions are specifically requested. Rather, focus on
what you personally feel.
Provide both positive feedback (based on the things you observed that worked
well) and feedback for improvement (your ideas on how things could be
improved based on what you personally observed and felt.)
In a virtual team meeting where all team members will either hear (such as
during a conference call) or read (such as e-mail or fax) your feedback, avoid
giving feedback to correct a negative behavior. This is most effectively done in
a one-on-one setting ideally in a one-on-one, face-to-face meeting).
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Facilitating Virtual Team Meetings
Creating Documents Virtually: Suggestions for Virtual Facilitators
In a virtual team setting, there are a variety of different methods for working on documents. In
defining the process
for working on a document, first consider what technological capabilities are available. Do you
have e-mail access? Does your e-mail have attachment capability? Is your team running a
Groupware (such as Lotus Notes) program?
Example One: Limited Technology
VF
Technology:
Fax or an older e-mail system that does not allow attachments to be sent.
Virtual Facilitator Role:
Sends out a copy of the template to all team members (either via fax or e-mail) and
asks for each team member to respond by a specified date. The VF then takes all the
feedback from team members and summarizes it. The summary of the feedback is then
redistributed for team approval.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 3 pp. 5-7.
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Creating Documents Virtually: Suggestions for Virtual Facilitators (Continued)
Example Two: E-mail with Attachment Capability
VF
Technology:
E-mail with attachment capability, a common word processing software program.
Virtual Facilitator Role:
Sends, as an attachment via e-mail, a template contained in a common word processing
program to one member of the team. He/she fills in the template and then forwards it
to the next team member on the distribution list. This continues until all members of
the team have had a chance to add their inputs to the document. The VF is the last to
receive the document, cleans it up through light editing, and redistributes it to the entire
team for approval.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 3 pp. 5-7.
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Facilitating Virtual Team Meetings
Creating Documents Virtually: Suggestions for Virtual Facilitators (Continued)
Example Three: Groupware
VF
Technology:
Groupware (such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Network Exchange).
Virtual Facilitator Role:
Posts the template in a folder. Team members access the folder and enter their ideas
into the template. Each time a team member accesses the folder, he/she can see what
changes have been made. Once all the input has been received, the VF asks team
members for approval.
Source: Rayner & Associates, Inc., Virtual Team, Version 1.1, Module 3 pp. 3-7.
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Facilitating Virtual Team Meetings
Tips for Using Technology
The following are a set of tips for using different types of technology on the virtual team.
Voice Mail
1. State your name and telephone number at the beginning and end of the message.
2. Keep the message short and to the point; make your request clearly and limit it to one or
two items.
3. Be clear about what you need, when you need it, and how you want to receive it.
4. State whether the person should respond to you.
5. If you are sending a broadcast message, think carefully about who may receive it
accidentally.
Audio Conference
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Define a specific purpose and time.
Limit participation to no more than 7-9 active participants. More can listen in.
Send the agenda and any pre-work out and draw attention to important pages.
Gather opinions about more mundane items before the meeting so that people will not need
to rehash old ideas.
During the meeting, tell people who (the team leader or the virtual facilitator) will be in
charge of the process.
Ask who is on line at the beginning and ask everyone to introduce himself or herself.
Request that mute buttons be used when people are not speaking.
If someone has to leave, ask him or her to tell the group beforehand.
At the end, summarize the conversation and distribute the minutes within two days.
Videoconference
Use the guidelines for audio conferences. In addition:
1. Make certain that everyone has access to the equipment and test it beforehand.
2. Ensure that everyone has access to a database or hard copy of the meeting materials.
3. If you are using the Internet or desktop conferencing, consider whether bandwidth
problems are going to be too annoying. Sometimes an audio conference works just as well.
4. Note that people’s displays might be different. Try to reconcile this prior to the meeting.
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Chat Rooms
1. Be clear about the purpose of the chat room. Limit it to a few topics or questions.
2. Let participants know the level of output and detail that you want. Conversations can get
lengthy and off the point.
3. Let people know who will have access to the information.
4. Decide whether you want anonymous input.
5. Summarize the meeting (sort topics into themes) and send copies to the participants.
Scrolling through discussion items is difficult and time consuming.
E-mail
1. Be specific about what you want from people, a return e-mail, a phone call, review of a
document, etc.
2. Only send messages to people who need to be included. Don’t overload the system.
3. Use urgent and important tags only for those items that really are.
4. Ask for confirmation of receipt of messages and documents.
5. If possible, ask for confirmation receipt of the file on important items (some e-mail systems
have this).
6. Ask for confirmation that the person has actually read the information.
7. Note how you would like each participant to annotate a document (using underline, color,
etc.). Note annotation date and iteration.
8. Note who has what privileges to review or change a document.
9. Tell participants how to get the document back to you (by e-mail, fax, etc.).
10. Ask the IS department to set up a system that provides returned mail for “bad addresses,”
preferably with the correct addresses.
11. If you are using the system for workflow, get training and support for team members.
Electronic Meeting Systems
1. Ensure that the system works appropriately and is compatible with everyone’s equipment.
2. You may need to move applications as well as files to users prior to the meeting.
3. Make certain prior to the meeting that everyone can access the software as well as shared
files that may be needed.
4. Develop the agenda with a skilled facilitator, especially for the first few meetings.
5. Subdivide the agenda into parts and link each section to how you will use the technology
(e.g., voting, brainstorming).
6. Decide when input will be anonymous and when it will not be.
7. Rotate activities such as sorting information, voting, etc. to avoid boredom.
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Collaborative Authoring
1. Decide what type of authoring is best: a) sequential (output is passed from one person to
another); b) parallel (the work is divided so that collaborators work on different parts of the
document at the same time); or c) reciprocal (people work on the same document at the
same time, adjusting their activities to take into account one another’s input).
2. For sequential authoring, e-mail or other forms of document exchange can be used. For
parallel or reciprocal authoring, use collaborative writing tools. These, at this point in time,
will most likely require other modes of interaction in addition to the collaborative writing
tools.
3. When the writing task gets in the way of progress, assign people to a sub-team to work on
the document and let the rest of the group move forward.
4. Tell the participants not to spend time formatting the document; have them use the time to
focus on content.
5. Much of collaborative writing to date has been done using sequential methods or face-toface collaborative methods. Little is really known about collaborative writing in a
synchronous, distributed environment.
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Working Internationally
Overview
This section reviews some of the important aspects involved in leading an
international team. It cover the characteristics that define different cultures,
competencies for working internationally and tips that assist in leading virtual
teams with international members.
Objectives




To
To
To
To
highlight differences in cultural characteristics.
define competencies for working internationally.
review “tips” for working internationally.
outline training for international teams.
Source: Deborah Duarte and Nancy Tennant Snyder, Mastering Virtual Teams: Tools, Techniques,
and Strategies That Succeed, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA, ©March 1999. Pg. 54-70.
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Working Internationally
There are three categories of culture that can affect a virtual team: national, organizational and
functional. Each team member brings his or her culture, and, as the team evolves, the unique
blend of team members' national, functional, and organizational cultures create a unique team
culture.
National Culture
In 1967, Geert Hofstede began looking at employees of IBM Corporation worldwide to discern
patterns of national behavior. Hofstede studied responses to employee surveys from many
countries around the world. From this research he derived four dimensions of culture: 1) Power
Distance; 2) Uncertainty Avoidance; 3) Individualism—Collectivism; and 4)
Masculinity/Femininity (note we have elected to leave out this dimension—it dates the work).
Later, with the help of Michael Bond, Hofstede added a fifth dimension, Long-term-Short-term.
A sixth dimension is based on the work of Edward Hall, who presents a contextual dimension of
communications.
Power Distance. Power distance refers to the degree of inequity among people that the
population expects and accepts. Organizations in low-power-distance countries tend to be
more participative, with managers seeking input from their staff members. Different levels in
the organization freely challenge one another. In high-power-distance countries, employees
expect and accept that managers make decisions with little or no consultation with their staff
members. On a virtual team this may impact team members' expectations about leadership
style and role of the team leader.
Examples of high-power-distance countries include Latin countries and most Asian and African
countries. Examples of lower-power-distance countries are Great Britain, Northern Europe,
Austria, and the United States.
Uncertainty Avoidance. Uncertainty avoidance is the extent to which members of a culture
are comfortable with uncertainty. Individuals from cultures that have high uncertainty
avoidance seek details about plans, desire closure, and prefer more predictable routines.
People from such countries may exhibit more anxiety in ambiguous situations or when there are
no right or wrong answers. People from cultures that have low uncertainty avoidance tend to
be more comfortable with ambiguous situations and tend not to have as strong a need for
defined rules, procedures, or processes. Differences in uncertainty avoidance create differences
in team members’ preferences for detailed team plans, formalization of team members’ roles
and responsibilities, defined schedules, and review processes.
Countries that have higher uncertainty avoidance include Latin America, Latin Europe, Japan,
and South Korea. Countries that have lower uncertainty avoidance include Canada, the United
States, and India.
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Individualism/Collectivism. Individualism is the degree to which people prefer to act as
individuals rather than as members of groups. A culture with high individualism is one in which
there are loose ties between people, and individuals are expect to look after themselves.
People from countries with high individualism value personal time and the freedom to take
individual approaches to their jobs. Countries with high individualism include Australia, Great
Britain, Italy, France and Germany.
In a collective society, people integrate into strong cohesive groups that often remain for life.
People from countries with high collectivism value a strong identity with the group and tend to
put the needs of the group before their own. They prefer not to be singled out for praise or
reward. Countries with higher collectivism include most of Asia and Central America.
Implications for virtual teams include differences in team members’ expectations about team
unity, differences in closeness to other team members, and the way in which rewards and
recognition are handled. Members from collective cultures, for example, may prefer teambased rewards to individual recognition.
Long Term/Short Term. Long-term cultures value persistence and thrift. They are oriented
toward the future. Short-term cultures value more immediate physical and financial returns.
Asian countries score highest in long-term cultural behaviors; European countries occupy the
low-to-middle range, and the English-speaking countries have a shorter-term orientation. This
dimension has implications for what motivates virtual team members. Team members from
long-term cultures may be motivated by long-term success. Team members from short-term
cultures may be more impatient and need more immediate reinforcement.
Context. Context may be one of the more important cultural variables for virtual teams. It
refers to the how people perceive the importance of different cues in communication. People
from high-context cultures prefer more subjective information and personal opinions. Messages
have little meaning without an understanding of the surrounding context. This may include
information about the background of the people involved, previous decisions, and the history of
the relationship. People from low-context cultures prefer more objective and "fact-based”
information. The message itself is sufficient. This has a significant implication for the way in
which team members communicate. Members from high-context cultures may prefer
communications that are able to carry a great deal of contextual information. This implies that
information-rich technologies that convey a number of cues to meaning may be more suited to
a team with a number of members from high-context cultures. Over time, however, since high
context cultures gather more information about group members than low context cultures, less
information in ongoing communications may actually be needed since there is a large reserve of
data about the situation that may not be collectively understood in low context cultures.
High-context cultures include Japan, China, Greece, Mexico, and Spain. Moderate-context
cultures include Italy, France, French Canada, and Britain. Low-context cultures include English
Canada, the United States, Scandinavia, and Germany.
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Working Internationally
Global Team Competencies Checklist
In addition to the type of thinking and mindset that is essential for success in a global and
dynamic market environment such as flexibility and systems thinking, there are a number of
competencies needed for leading teams with international participation. Check your behaviors
against those covered below.
Competency
Understand your own
culture, values and
assumptions. These will
always impact your
behavior.
Accurately profiles the
national culture of other
team members.
Avoids cultural mistakes
and behaves in a manner
that demonstrates respect
for other cultures.
Behaviors
Reflects about the aspects of own culture and
how they impact work-related assumptions,
behaviors and judgments. For North Americans
this includes assumptions that:
 we can influence the future,
 hard work is rewarded (Puritan ethic),
 commitments should always be honored
(people will do what they say),
 competition stimulates high performance,
 the best qualified person should get the job,
 every person’s is expected to have an
opinion and it is valid, and
 a person is expected to do whatever is
necessary to get the job done.
 Researches cultural differences and does not
act on hearsay.
 Travels and exposes themselves to other
cultures.
 Asks people from other cultures about their
culture.
 Are open to seeing the world differently than
their own assumptions.
 Are open to trying new ways of working.
 Are open to trying “third” ways of working
that are not culture specific.
SelfAssessment
Check Off



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Working Internationally
Discussion Tips for Working Internationally
Use the following list as a basis for discussions during the formation of your global virtual team.
Cultural
Dimensions
Definition
Advice for Team Members
Power Distance
Extent to which the
less powerful
members expect
and accept that
power is distributed
equally.
For high-power-distance cultures, expect that team
members will want to make decisions and take
charge. Team members from low-power-distance
cultures will prefer more consultation. Set very clear
expectations about the leader’s management style
and what it implies for team members’ behaviors.
Uncertainty
Avoidance
Degree of structure
required for a task.
With members who require more structure, spend
more time detailing the task. With members who
require less structure, detailing the task will cause
them to feel micro-managed.
Individualism
/Collectivism
Preference to act as
individuals rather
than as members of
groups.
In collectivist cultures, tasks will be completed by
members together, bringing along slower members.
In individualist cultures, assign tasks to individuals
but make sure they realize that they are part of the
larger team and cannot work alone.
Long Term/
Short Term
Degree of
parsimony, family
orientation, virtuous
behavior, and
acquisition of skills
and knowledge.
With members from long-term (e.g., Asian) cultures,
providing opportunities to contribute to long-term
goals and to learn and acquire skills can be very
motivating.
High/Low
Context
Amount of
contextual
information needed
to make decisions
vs. “just the facts”
With members from high-context cultures, spend
more time reviewing the histories and backgrounds
of situations. Use more information-rich
technologies, at least at first. With members from
low-context cultures, encourage to use more
information in messages since language in these
cultures appears to be more precise and less
context driven.
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Team Training with International Team Members
Instructions
Use the following process to facilitate a training session within your global virtual team. The
exercise will be most effective in a face-to-face or video enabled session.
Instructor Notes
1. Present basic cultural dimensions, e.g., the work of Hofstede, Hall, or another researcher.
Make sure that it is based on research in the field. If possible, let subgroups of team
members from different cultures present these to one another.
2. Discuss how these dimensions might impact team interactions and performance. Let
members from each cultural group speak for their own cultures at this point.
3. Discuss business practices and ethics that might impact team performance and interactions,
including:







Differences in time zones
Holidays
Availability of technology
Work hours
How decisions are made (e.g., offline or in meetings)
Facilitation payments and bribes
Entertainment
4. Discuss when and how such differences will be discussed on an ongoing basis within the
team.
5. Discuss how these differences might impact team norms and practices, including the
exchange of information, decision-making, details of communications, etc.
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Appendix
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A Working Bibliography
Books
1. Bartlett, C.A., and Ghoshal, S, Managing Across Borders: Te Transnational
Solution. Boston: Harvard Business Schools Press. 1989.
2. Copeland, L., and Griggs, L., Going International: How to Make Friends and
Deal Effectively in the Global Market Place. New York, Random House. 1985
3. Dodge W. (ed.). Boundaries of Identity, Toronto, Lester Publishing’s 1992.
4. Goulet, D. The Uncertain Promis – Value Conflicts in Technology Transfer,
New York North America, Inc. 1977.
5. Hall, E.T. and Hall M.R. Understanding Cultural Differences: German, French
and Americans. Yarmouth, Maine. Intercultural Press. 1990.
6. Henry, H., Hartzler, H. Virtual Teams. ASQC Quality Press. March 1997.
7. Hirschhorn, L. Managing in the New Team Environment. Reading, MA
Addison-Wesley, 1991.
8. Hofsdtede, G. Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in WorkRelated Values Cross-Cultural Research and Methodology Series. Vol. 5
Newbury, Park, CA Saga 1984.
9. Hofstede, G. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. London.
McGraw-Hill. 1991.
10. Institute for the Future. Corporate Toolkit for the Nineties: Organizations,
the Workforce, and Technology. Corporate Associates Program. Vol.4, no2.
Menlo Park, CA Institute for the Future. 1993a.
11. Institute for the Future. Global Opportunities: Searching for Markets and
Working Across Borders. Corporate Associates Program. Vol. 4, no1. Menlo
Park, CA Institute for the Future. 1993b.
12. Johansen, R. Electronic Meetings: Technical Alternatives and Social Choices,
Reading MA Addison-Wesley, 1979
13. Johansen, R. and others. Leading Business Teams: How Teams Can Use
Technology and Group Process Tools to Enhance Performance. AddisonWesley Series on Organizational Development Reading, MA Addison-Wesley.
1991.
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A Working Bibliography
Books (continued)
14. Johnson-Lenz, P., and Johnson-Lenz, T. “GroupWare: The Process and Impacts of Design
Choices.” In E.B. Kerr and S.R. Hilts (eds.), Computer-Medicated Communication Systems:
Status and Evaluation. New York. Academic Press, 1982.
15. Kras, E. Management in Two Cultures: Bridging the Cap between US and Mexican
Managers. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press. 1989.
16. Lipnack, Jessica, and stamps, Jeffery. Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time and
Organization with Technology. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Inc. New Work. 1997
17. Mendenhall, Mark, Punnett, Betty Jane, Ricks, David. Global Management Blackwell Publishers,
Cambridge, MA 1995
18. Moran, Robert T., Harris, Philip R., and Stripp, William G. Developing the Global
Organization: Strategies for Human Resource Professionals. Gulf Publishing Co., Huston.
1993.
19. Odenwald, Sylvia B. Global Solutions for Teams: Moving from Collision to collaboration Irwin
Professional Publishing. Chicago 1996
20. O’Hare-Devereaux, Mary, Johnansen, Robert. Globalwork; Bridging Distance, Culture and
Time. Josey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco. 1994
21. Phillips, Nicola. Managing International Teams. Financial Times, Irwin Professional
Publishing. Burr Ridge, IL. 1994.
22. Samovar, LA and Porter, RE (eds.). Intercultural Communication: A Reader Sixth ed.
Belmont, CA. Wads Worth 1991.
23. Trompenaars, Fons. Riding the Waves of Cultures: Understanding Cultural Diversity in
Business. London: Economist Book. 1993.
24. Wilson, Meena S., Hoppe, Michael H., Sayles, Leonard R. Managing across Cultures: A
Learning Framework, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, NC 1996.
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A Working Bibliography
Articles
1. Armstrong, David J., Cole, Paul. “Managing Geographic, Temporal and Cultural Distances in
Distributed Work Groups.” A paper presented at the 102nd Annual Convention of the
American Psychological Assn. At Los Angles, CA. August 1994.
2. Bovet, Susan Fry. “Building an international team: how leading firms and networks stay on
track.” Public Relations Journal, August-Sept 1994 v50 n7 p26 (4).
3. “Company experiences with Global Teams” HR Executive Review. The Conference Board.
Volume 4, Number 2 1996.
4. Davison, Sue Canney. “Creating a High Performance International Team.” Journal of
Management Development, v13 n2. 1994 pgs 81-90.
5. Duffy, C.A. “Pondering GroupWare’s Future.” PC Week. October 26, 1992. Pg32.
6. Geber, Beverly, “Virtual Teams.” Training. April 1996
7. “Global Management Teams: A Perspective.” HR executive Review, The Conference Board.
1996.
8. Handy, Charles. “Trust and the Virtual Organization” Harvard Business Review. May-June,
1995. Pgs. 40 – 50.
9. Hatch Dric. “Cross Cultural Team Building and Training.” Journal for Quality and
Participation, v18. N2 March 1995. Pgs. 44-49
10. Hernandez Jr. Tomas “Seize the opportunity: Join a virtual project team.” Building Design &
Construction. June 1996. Pg. 23.
11. Iacono, C.S. “Developing Trust in Virtual Teams.” Proceedings of the Hawaii International
conference on Systems Sciences, 1997, v30, p.412. VI:EN047251849
12. “Improving Project Team Interaction.” Cost engineering v36 n12 December 1994 pgs. 7-12.
13. Ishii, H. “Cross-Cultural Communication and Computer Supported Cooperative Work” Whole
Earth Review. Winter. 1990 pgs 48-53
14. Kling, Rob. “Social Relationships in electronic Forums.” CMC Magazine. Excerpt from the
book Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices. 2nd Ed.
Academy Press. San Diego, CA 1996
15. Kirkman, Bradley, Shapiro, and Debra L. “The Impact of Cultural Values on Employee
Resistance to Teams: Toward a Model of Globalized Self-Managing Work Teams.” National
Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings. 1996 pgs. 156-160.
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Articles (continued)
16. Kossler, Michael E., and Prestridge, Sonya. “Geographically Dispersed Teams.” Issues &
Observations. Center for Creative Leadership. Vol. 16, No. 2/3. 1996. Pgs. 9-11.
17. McGrath, J.E. “A Theory of Groups; Time, Interactions, and Performance (TIP). Small
Group Research, v22, n2. Pgs. 147-174. 1991.
18. Melanie Menagh. “Virtues and vices of the virtual corporation.” Computerworld12, Nov. 13,
1995 v29 n46 p134 (1).
19. Merrick, N. “Where’s the Virtue in Virtual Teams?” People Management. P. 40.
VI:EN041289181.
20. Paddy Miller; Jose Marie Pons; Peter Naude. “Global Teams (use of technology to manage
globally distributed teams; Mastering Management).” The Financial Times, June 14, 1996
n33009 p12 (1).
21. Musthaler, Linda. “Effective teamwork virtually guaranteed: Virtual teams can present a
management challenge, but the potential rewards are worth it.” Network World. Oct. 16,
1995 v12 n42 pS10 (2).
22. Odenwald, Sylvia. “Global Work Teams.” Training & Development. February 1996.
23. Poole, M.S., Holmes, M., DeSanctis, G.R. “Conflict Management in a Computer Supported
Meeting Environment.” Management Science. V37, n8, pgs 926-953. 1991.
24. Snow, Charles, Division, Sue Canney, Snell, Scott A., Hambrick, Donald C. “Use
Transnational Teams to Globalize Your Company.” Organizational Dynamics. Spring 1996.
Pgs. 50-67.
25. Charlene Marmer Solomon. “Global teams: the ultimate collaboration.” Personnel Journal,
Sept. 1995 v74 n9 p49 (5).
26. Schwartz, Alan; Andy Neil. “Team up for virtual development.” Data Based Advisor, May
1994 v12 n5 p52 (3).
27. Townsend, Anthony M., Samuel M. DeMarie; Anthony R. Hendrickson. “Are you ready for
virtual teams?” HR Magazine, Sept 1996 v41 n9 p122 (5).
28. “Unify Dispersed Development Teams.” Datamation v41. N15. August 15, 1995. Pgs 37-39.
29. Voss, Hanswerner. “Virtual Organizations: The Future is Now.” Strategy & Leadership,
July-August 1996 v24 n4 p12 (5).
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30. Youngjin Yoo. “An Investigation of Group Development Process in ‘Virtual’ Project Team
Environments. Paper on Internet.
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