Building a Virtual Team.
One of the ideal methods for building an efficient virtual team is the successful conduct of the kick-off meeting that focuses on issues and agendas that are relevant to the goals of the project and generate ground rules that are fair, practical, and acceptable to all members of the team. Once these goals are achieved, the team leader can then focus on ways to build relationship and trust within the team.
Agenda for Kick-Off Meeting
Kimble (2011) explained that a type of virtual team whose members only meet through the use of technology is very rare because, despite the requirement of working remotely on important projects and assignments, information technology lacks the capacity to replace the values and benefits of face-to-face meetings. Therefore, this assertion is the basis of the position of this author that the physical attendance of members of the virtual team at the kick-off meeting should be mandatory if its allocated budget can accommodate the cost. However, the physical presence of the team member would yield minimal positive outcomes if the agenda of the meeting fails to highlight the essential elements of the project and stimulate the generation of valuable ideas and insights into its execution methods.
In the case of the kick-off meeting for the virtual team discussed in the case study, its agenda would include the creation of the team charter, presentation of team goals and objectives, introduction of team members and their roles and responsibilities on the project, and discussion on the communication methods that would be utilized by the team during performance of their duties. Other items on the proposed agenda for this project’s kick-off meeting include a presentation of standards for team coordination, agreement on methods for task monitoring, guidelines for collaboration and application of ideas generated from various brainstorming sessions. The final element that would be included in the recommended agenda for kick-off meeting for this project are suggestions on appropriate team building activities that would promote good relationships and trust among member and ways for maintaining consistency on the project.
Reasons for the Selected Components of Agenda
The primary reason for including the items discussed above on the proposed agenda for the kick-off meeting is to address essential topics for the project, as well as prevent potential barrier that might limit the chances for success. First, the presentation of the team goals and objectives after the team charter is created would enable the members of the group to understand the purpose of its establishment and its role in the attainment of overall corporate objectives. Secondly, the introduction of the team members, as well as explanation of their respective duties would highlight the importance of each member and the relationship that exist between their roles. According to Flynn (2014), this aspect of the agenda is one of the most important tools for managing virtual teams, especially when members are dispersed across various geographical locations. He stated the knowledge of the dependencies of the tasks and assignments of the project would enable virtual employees to identify individuals and processes that either relies on them or vice versa. An additional reason for the inclusion of the item on the meeting’s agenda is set the foundation for building trust and identification of different personalities and their needs.
Meanwhile, Wright (2015) explained that an understanding of the approved communication methods and individual preferences is another critical aspect of the meeting that must be performed successfully. He argued that effective communication management is one of the primary responsibility of the team leader and key to the delivery of the expectations from each member. Therefore, the inclusion of discussions on the alignment of technologies provided by the organization with the preferred channels of communication of individuals within a group is to ensure that brainstorming sessions and task monitoring are performed without hitches. The final justification of the composition of the meeting’s agenda is the need to establish relationships that are built on trust and understanding through the conduct of various interrelated exercises.
Ground Rules for Team Management
Acceptable minimum behavioral standards are necessary for creating a safe and conducive working environment for employees of an organization. According to the various psychological theories on human behavior, the essence of establishing rules that would govern the practices and actions of people in a group is to prevent the occurrence of challenges that would hinder the strive towards shared goals and objectives. For example, a situation where actions of one employee cause discomfort in his or her colleagues in the group cannot be addressed without benchmark or policies regarding such actions. Therefore, the establishment of ground rules for team management during the kick-off meeting would define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, actions, and practices, as well as the penalties for those that engage in them. Meanwhile, Rosen, Furst, & Blackburn (2007) noted that the kind of ground rules that are used for managing virtual teams so as to eliminate the barriers that its absence might generate is different from those used for face-to-face ones. The reason for the difference is to accommodate and reflect the collective desires of the group without compromising the standards of the organization.
Regarding the management of this team, the elements of the ground rules that would be negotiated or debated by members during the kick-off meeting include a communication plan, milestones, work schedules, and schedule delivery /coordination. The essence of allowing the virtual employees to discuss the virtual team for the rules governing communication and schedules is to recognize the need for achieving work-life balance and adopt technologies that are suitable for communicating with individuals within and outside the group or organization. In contrast, rules concerning core hours of duties and project deadlines would have to be mandated and enforced by the team leader, Lauren. The critical nature of these elements to the development and maintenance of appropriate behavioral tendencies within the group is the reason for their classification as mandatory.
Recommendation for Virtual Team Members
When an individual is appointed to lead a team whether virtual or face-to-face, the fact that he or she accepts the responsibility makes it imperative to develop and adopt effective team management strategies. In the case of this team, Lauren can influence the capacity of the team to accomplish the performance goals and objectives by establishing a trusting relationship. She can do this by examining the differences between the two types of teams used by organizations for the implementation of critical project. As Staples & Zhao (2006) noted, the kind of structures used for building the relationships that exist between members is one of the major factors for successfully managing a virtual team. Therefore, Lauren would need to use the “first impression meeting” to achieve this important goal by seeking input from all interested members on issues before deciding on them and setting clear, realistic, and achievable expectations for the group. An additional recommendation is for her to effectively utilize her listening skills for both verbal and non-verbal communications that are necessary for understanding the needs of the member of her team. The effective utilization of these soft skills would assist her in overcoming the barriers to the effective management of the team.