Addressing Virtual Team Challenges

In today’s business environment it is critical to react quickly and continually to challenges. Remodelling the organisation to adapt to threats, being ready to benefit from opportunities and generally make competitive advantage from any situation. It has become the norm to exploit the global environment, utilising resources from around the world to gain an edge and ensure effective execution and timely delivery.

The same is true for delivering programmes and projects, teams composed of resources from disparate areas. These virtual teams have become a common solution.

In a few years, virtual teams have gone from being an uncommon option to team working, to being mandatory and necessary choice. The economic meltdowns of recent years has led to budget cuts, downsizing, etc. plus the profound improvements in technologies have driven the changes in ways teams work and where they are located.

Organisations can draw talent from different functions, organisations and locations. Aiming to optimise the specialisms required in the team to typically to achieve the most effective execution and delivery. Cost is also a driver in an organisations drive to disperse teams.

One common problem impacts many organisations. They don’t address the issue that virtual teams are unlike traditional teams.

The challenges of managing and leading teams are compounded with virtual team. The issues inherent in detached work settings, whether working from home or in offices in other geographies, there are typically issues of isolation, trust, human dynamics, performance, etc. Maybe issues of cultural differences for team members on other continents.

In order to effectively lead a virtual team it is imperative that the leader builds relationships with and across the team. This relies on effective communication and collaboration that goes beyond what is seen in a typical team. But without this virtual relationship the team is unlikely to succeed in its objectives.

One of the keys to succeeding in managing virtual teams is leveraging electronic collaboration and communication technologies. Often organisations have invested in technologies such as Microsoft’s SharePoint which enables very effective team collaboration along with real time online communication. Even today’s social networking tools can play a crucial part, making it easy for virtual teams to collaborate.

The trick is to leverage electronic collaboration and communication tools that brings team members together in ways that forge meaningful connections. It is these connections that make the virtual team gel and enable the team to deliver successfully.

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