Working with Virtual Teams

Video Activity

In this lesson, Subject Matter Expert (SME) Kelly Handerhan discusses seven guidelines for virtual team building. These days team members may be local and/or global. There are similarities and differences in the skills needed to deal with team members at your site and those who are off-site. Handerhan discusses the following guidelines for Project ...

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2 hours 27 minutes
Video Description

In this lesson, Subject Matter Expert (SME) Kelly Handerhan discusses seven guidelines for virtual team building. These days team members may be local and/or global. There are similarities and differences in the skills needed to deal with team members at your site and those who are off-site. Handerhan discusses the following guidelines for Project Managers to manage their teams effectively: 1. The importance of the project vision 2. Recognition of individual differences 3. Tailored motivation strategies 4. Use of effective interpersonal communication skills 5. Different conflict resolution techniques for different stages 6. Offer suggestions to keep performance at optimal levels 7. Respond quickly to crisis situations You will learn: - how to deal with and motivate team members who are at your location and those who are virtual - how to keep team members motivated and focused on the project vision - the importance of creating an environment that respects diversity - how to foster a fair, sharing environment - the different things that motivate people – it is not always just money - how to understand non-verbal communication - determining the best methods for communicating with your team members - how to help your team be comfortable with conflict resolution - the importance of responding quickly to crises

Video Transcription
All right, so we finished up talking about requirements. Now we're gonna move on to working with virtual teams team building. And let me tell you will move from this into engaging your project team. There's a ton of overlap because some skills are necessary, just plain working with people.
So whether they're virtual or co located,
you know, many of the same skills apply. But we have to be very conscious off morale and the performance of our team members. When we're not located in the same building, we have to make sure that we stay engaged. We keep our team members engaged. So first thing,
when you're in a distributed environment, sometimes it's tough to keep the team
focused to keep the team engaged, we want to make sure that they understand the vision of the project. Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day monotony and the day in and day out that we failed to see the big picture. So we want to constantly bring people in sometimes the little mundane stuff that we do.
I was involved in a project that was a very exciting project for course, where development,
however, my job was editing, which meant read, read, read, read the word thes misspelled circle that so it could be collected very tedious and very boring for me at the time. But what I have to keep track of is the end result. The benefit for me being on this team, the potential for profit and all those ideas.
So keep the vision in front of your team
again, whether we're co located or not. But it's a much bigger challenge when their virtual you don't have that day today interaction like you normally do.
Okay, uh, everybody needs to know the vision of the project, the vision of the project manager. And you know where we're going as a whole, we start talking about the end result from the kickoff. Look, guys, we've got a long climb uphill, but here's where we're gonna be. This is what we're gonna accomplish.
It has to be meaningful to me particularly.
And I need to remember why it's important we keep reminding folks at our meetings.
All right, second thing to remember with working with virtual teams is we want to recognize and respect individual differences. We don't want to deny the fact that differences exist. Differences are wonderful. That's what makes Ah, that's what makes our work environment so s so challenging and so interesting.
That's what keeps us engaged. When we are in a large organization,
we get the opportunity to learn from our peers and to get exposure to new ideas and new concepts. We need to acknowledge those differences. We need to promote an environment in which exchange of information is respectful, regardless of those differences. And we try to keep those.
We try to stay on task and respectful,
and we try to stress the value of diversity within our organization within our project team and make sure that our team members stay focused on the value of diversity. That's a very important idea. We want to maximize what we get from all of our team members, right, and
every single person on our team
has a different history. How does your history bring something to the table that I can use to be more successful? We want a foster, an environment that's fair. We want to foster an environment that promotes sharing of information and ideas, and the way that we do that is encourage respect,
tailored motivational strategies. The same thing does not motivate all people. You know, money. You know, I know a lot of people that make a very comfortable salary throwing a little money. Adam here and there doesn't make a bit of difference. But there are some things that tend to motivate most people.
Um, the chance to succeed
the chance to grow
recognition, feeling appreciated. Those were the things that motivate most people. And let me tell you, motivation doesn't always have to come with a price tag. You know, I've worked in an environment, you know,
early on, one of the first jobs I ever had, and I was probably 18. So I'll leave it to your imagination. How many years ago that was.
It was one of the first jobs that I ever had.
And the job itself was very tedious. I was an office manager, uh, did a lot of typing and transcription stuff like that.
But the woman that I worked for
was such a great manager that I would have done just about any job for her. You know, you do a little something, and at the end of the week, there'd be a card on your death, saying, I just noticed you really put in a lot of effort this week. Thanks for that card was a dollar 49.
Um, one week I had I worked over the weekend for
something we had to get numbers in, blah, blah, blah on. And I came in Monday morning and there was a blockbuster gift card and a little thing of popcorn. You know, get seven bucks, three bucks, five bucks, whatever. There are a lot of ways you could say thank you to your employees without spending a lot of money. I know project budgets air tight. If you confirm
build in
rewards for your project team members, that's great. They appreciate them. But I will tell you a thank you goes a long, long way, keeping your team motivated. Interpersonal communication skills
being a good communicator. You know, P. M. My estimates that 90% of the project manager's job is communicating. Now the question is, is it effective communication or is it just communication, right? There's a big difference. So how can I express what I mean to express? How can I make sure you understood
the directives that I have issued? How can I make sure that I've solicited information from you and that I got what you were saying to me. Effective communication skills are an important important job of the PM
There's actually a theory called the Halo Theory. H a l o liken Angels Halo. The halo theory and with Halo theory says, is
you find somebody who is very good at a particular discipline, and they will make an excellent project manager off that discipline.
As in I find an exceptionally good application developer. He will make a great project manager of an application development project.
Now, think about that for a minute.
If I take,
let's say, my very best programmer and promote himto the project manager of a programming project,
the fact that he can write code really well, when really efficiently, will that make him a good manager.
Now, in my opinion, the halo of, uh, theory is totally faults. That's like saying the only skill you need to manage a project is to be really good at the discipline of the project. Now, you've gotta have good communication skills. You've gotta have diplomacy. You've gotta have salesmanship. You've gotta have negotiation skills.
You've gotta have organizational skills you've got. We could go on and on and on,
right? So and as a matter of fact, if you do believe the halo theory, sometimes you wind up losing two positions on your team. You've lost your very best programmer and you've lost a manager because the person you've put there's not good either, right? So we think about that. We need to make sure that communication is effective.
One of the ways is making sure we're using the proper medium
Maur and more people want to be communicated with via email. I like email because I can read it at my leisure. I can give it the attention that it needs, but also, I get that paper trail.
The problem with email, though, is it isn't instant. I don't get the feedback.
So when I'm talking about an urgent matter, I'm gonna pick up the phone and I'm gonna call somebody, and I'm gonna be able to use active listening and ask and make sure I'm gonna look for nonverbal clues. You know, sometimes you present an idea and you have that long silence over the phone and you think I didn't go over so well
face to face meeting is the best.
I think of all the ways we communicate that air, not verbal.
I am. I have a four year old at home. And yes, I'm way too old to have four year old at home. But I do.
And the other day he rolled his eyes at me.
He's four,
which I feel in my mind is way too young to think that I'm ridiculous, right? That should come as a teenager. I'm ready for it when he's 12 13. But at any rate,
he did, and he said, All right, Mom and then rolled his eyes. If all I heard was all right, Mom, that's one thing. But the eye rolling totally,
just sort of discarded the agreement. The point I'm trying to make is, you know as well as I do nonverbal communication is where the real communication is. If you've ever conducted interviews, think of all the things you look for and how much of your decision is made before that person speaks. The first word.
How were you dressed? What kind of handshake? How's your eye contact? Do you smile?
Um, Islam and Stuttle into the room? Verbal communications one piece, but nonverbal is another for so so for important issues, we'd like a face to face meeting. Phone call would be next. Email more for general information. Talk with your stakeholders.
There some stakeholders that don't check their email on a regular basis.
There's some that only one e mail. Make sure going back to that stakeholder register. You have discussed their preference for communication
conflict resolution
A. Now as a project manager, there will always be conflict.
Conflict at one point in time was thought to be very negative. We don't want any conflict, and sometimes you'll hear that couple that's been married for 60 years. We've never had a fight.
Do you guys talk to each other?
Because it's very difficult to go for very long without a fight and
let let me back up. You don't have to have a fight, but it's very hard to go for very long. Without a conflict, right? People have different ideas. That's good. We want to encourage that, but what we want to do is move from that conflict stage to a resolution as quickly as possible. Now,
do I have to be involved in every conflict? Absolutely not because my preference is that my team
is comfortable resolving the conflict on on their themselves, that they are empowered enough to make good decisions, that they can resolve it. But when the conflict does get escalated to me, I need to be able to go in and offer some good solutions. So many times we think, Well, let's find a compromise. But let me tell you, think about a compromise.
A compromise is really kind of a lose lose situation. You don't get what you want. I don't get what I want. We meet in the middle. Sometimes that's what we have to do. But what would be best is if the parties can agree on a solution together, right? Let's look at it. Let's get under the hood. Let's figure out what's causing the problem.
Let's put this thing back together.
You know other techniques that don't work.
You guys have worked together for 20 years. You respect each other. Get on back out there. I don't want to hear about this anymore. Well, if we don't address that conflict, it's going to stay bubbling underneath the surface, and it will continue to come up and at some point it will affect the work of the project. So when a conflict does get escalated
to you is the project manager.
We gotta address it. We need to find a solution, not just put a Band Aid on it and move forward. Keep performance at the optimal, optimal level.
That's all what team management is about. Let's keep our team motivated. Let's keep the performance up. So I need to be visible to my team. I need to be a coach, a mentor, a cheerleader to some degree, to my team. I need to be able to
take this virtual environment and make it feel like home.
That's very difficult. We've got a lot of technologies, though, at our disposal. You know, we have videoconferencing, that it's so accessible, no matter what your environment is today, that we would really be remiss not to take advantage of that. If we're not co located,
bring people in, make sure everybody in each office has exposure to the different teams. You know, I always like to be able to put a face with the voice and a face with the name so bringing people in if you can, you know we can always fly everybody into corporate.
I recommend meetings in Hawaii. If you're gonna do that, that's always good, and I will send your resume immediately.
But the idea is we know our budget. We know what we can do within, you know. So we've got to address the fact that it's tough to keep virtual team members motivated. How can we do it? How can we keep them as part of the team responding quickly to a crisis?
And you know, crises really don't necessarily mean the sky is falling there. Lots of things that could be a crisis on a team, and it really is more about urgency. You know, we're out in the field and the vendor hasn't shown up. I've got 15 guys standing around with no work to do. We're paying by the hour Baba block.
I gotta be decisive as a project manager, and I have to be able to understand a couple of things. They're looking to me for a decision, but I don't have to know. Everything is a project manager.
I have to know who to ask and where to go to find the information, but I don't have to know it all. I have to be quick, but that doesn't mean I have to make a knee jerk reaction.
Give me a couple of minutes. I'll call you right back.
Asking your team. All right. You are the foreman. What would you suggest in the situation?
Let me do a little research. I'm gonna call you right back. Okay? Be true to your word. If I tell you, I'm gonna call you back, call you back. And that's not just a crisis that's in any situation. Okay.
Keep the team. Don't hide things till they go away. Maybe we just realized where 30% behind schedule. Maybe it'll fix itself. No. We try to be transparent in all of our actions. Don't forget, you're not the only one with good solutions. Utilize your team. Keep them in the know
and look to them
to, uh, help.
After the initial incident, let's collect what we've learned. Let's document wouldn't happen. How did this happen? How can we keep it from happening again? We go back to that historical bad.
So these are some ideas to keep your virtual teams engaged. But again, they're not just limited to virtual teams. Most of these air good ideas, regardless
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