Tag Archives: online operations

Virtual Team Leadership

Virtual Team Leadership – Excel in Today’s Organization

by Mark Sivy

Virtual Leadership

Virtual LeadershipVirtual team leadership skills are a useful, if not necessary, asset that many leaders may overlook developing or may not effectively execute. The increased globalization of people, services and economic activity that is being facilitated by the rapid development of Internet communication and collaboration technologies has led to an exponential increase in the need for functional virtual teams and organizations (Caulat, 2006; Zhang, Fjermestad, & Tremaine, 2005). This encroachment of virtual activities into the workplace and markets necessitates that leaders understand and embrace it.

Perceptions of Leaders

Boje and Rhodes (2005) stated that due to mass media, leaders and leadership that are not directly seen can become virtualized and the virtual leader becomes a construct in the minds of those who follow or are impacted by the leader. To employees, clients, teachers, students, and other virtual community members who do not encounter a leader face-to-face, the leader takes on a distinct character based upon the information they receive. The online leader’s persona is created from the individual perceptions and interpretations of virtually exhibited leader variables such as mannerisms, gestures, tones, words, actions, reactions, and styles. For this reason, it is important for leaders to mitigate misperceptions and incorrect beliefs by being careful, clear, intentional and communicative.

Virtual Team

Challenges

Being perceived in a desired way can be made more intimidating by the fact that the virtual environment can be subject to the following unique barriers and challenges that have been identified by leaders of virtual teams (DeRosa 2009):

  1. Having infrequent face-to-face contact as a team
  2. Lacking necessary resources
  3. Building a collaborative atmosphere
  4. Lacking time to focus on leading the team
  5. Evolving and shifting team and organizational priorities
  6. Having more work than the team can handle
  7. Managing poor performers
  8. Experiencing situations in which team members can dedicate only a portion of their time to the team (p. 10)

These challenges are not insurmountable and can be addressed by developing leaders to have the necessary capacities and capabilities to perform effectively in their specific environment and conditions.

Virtual Teams

Just as with different face-to-face work structures and environments, there are specific best practices and techniques that can be more or less effective in a virtual setting. Duarte and Tennant-Snyder (1999) recognize seven basic types of unique virtual teams with members who work across distance, time, and organizational boundaries. These team types are:

  1. Networked teams – diffuse, fluid, and sometimes dissociated members collaborate to achieve a common goal
  2. Parallel teams – a short-term working team with a distinct membership which makes recommendations concerning a special function or task
  3. Project or product development teams – a decision-making team which exists for a defined period of time to produce a specific outcome
  4. Work or production teams – these are usually recognized as organizational units which have a specific regular and ongoing work function
  5. Service teams – these consist of multiple teams which function to provide around-the-clock operations
  6. Management teams – members are located globally but work collaboratively to lead an organization
  7. Action teams – members of these teams provide immediate responses when needed, often in emergency situations or short-term times of need (pp. 2-5)

Team

It’s important regardless of the type of team that virtual team members are aware of, are prepared for, and understand the challenges that each situation and work dynamic presents. It is the leader’s responsibility to identify the type of teams they have, need, or want and to proceed accordingly.

Reflection Point – “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” ~ Babe Ruth

 

References

Boje, D. & Rhodes, C. (2005). The virtual leader construct: The mass mediatization and simulation of transformational leadership. Leadership, 1, 407-428.

Caulat, G. (2006, August). Virtual leadership. The Ashridge Journal.

DeRosa, D. (2009). Virtual success: The keys to effectiveness in leading from a distance. Leadership in Action, 28(6), 9-11.

Duarte, D. & Tennant-Snyder, N. (1999). Mastering virtual teams: Strategies, tools, and techniques that succeed.

Zhang, S., Fjermestad, J., & Tremaine, M. (2005). Leadership styles in virtual team context: Limitations, solutions and propositions. Proceeding of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Advertisements

Online Group Organizers

Online Group Organizers

by Mark Sivy

Why Would I Use One?

These web-based tools enable coordinators, leaders, and self-motivated individuals to create communities of volunteers, staff, or like-minded people that are organized and managed online, but who connect and interact in-person (or online for that matter). Organizing one of these events is an excellent way to establish yourself or an organization as the “go-to” expert in a given profession or business.

Online Group Options

There are several players in this field, but I find GroupSpaces, BigTent, and Meetup to be the most appealing. GroupSpaces offers free and paid plans, BigTent is free, and Meetup is paid only. Similar services are GroupLoop, SureToMeet, Wild Apricot, MemberClicks, and Meetin.org.

GroupSpacesBigTentMeetup

 

 

 

These providers and others offer a range of basic services that you would want to have such as calendars, file sharing, forums, RSVP’s, and public-facing webpages. Other options where many providers start to differ, and that you may want to consider as decision points, would be photo sharing, event specific services, social media links, subgroups, and file storage.

Setting Up Your Group

Even though each service is slightly different, here are some general points to consider in setting up your group:

  1. Select your area of interest and then do your research to find out what type of individuals might be interested in your group and what topics would attract them.
  2. Have a few photos ready, at least one of you and one that represents your group.
  3. Sign up with your service of choice and create a personal profile.
  4. Search around and see what type of activity is already happening within your area of interest. Search for keywords that relate to your field. Don’t let competing groups control your ambitions. Pursue your interests and be good at it.
  5. Consider that keywords or tags that describe what your group is about or hoping to accomplish.
  6. Craft a clear brief description that explains exactly your group’s purpose, giving potential members a clear idea of who should join and what to expect. If done well, the description will enable people to understand what type of community and conversations you hope to develop.
  7. Create the group, providing the location, name, description, etc.
  8. Select the pricing plan (if available).

Grow Membership

To get more members to join, and if you think you’re ready, schedule your first meeting. Don’t immediately host this event, but rather plan for it to occur about a month after you start your group. Contact friends, associates, and organizations that you think might have an interest in the group. Announce it through your social media and networks.

The First Meeting

Coffee ShopThis means knowing when and where it will be. Usually this is at an open public space such as a coffee shop. Keep the first event simple, serving mainly for introductions and open conversation. Pay close attention, both analyzing the audience and learning individual interests. Make the members feel as a part of the process.

Usual Meeting Format

The members typically meet, network and talk over drinks and light snacks. In certain locations these can be provided through the group or in others they can be purchased onsite by the individual attendees. Often there is an invited guest speaker or a panel discussion to stimulate interest and attendance.

Meeting Venue

The place to meet will depend upon the size of the group. The key is to find someplace free. Most establishments that sell food and beverages will be open to hosting a group of people, but be sure they can provide a dedicated space. Based upon available capacity, set a limit to the number of people who say they will attend and then create a waiting list.

For the Meeting

The day of the meeting, contact the meeting venue to confirm their awareness and that they’re prepared. Bring an attendance list, sign-in sheets, blank name tags and markers. Have people put their name, company, and specialization or title on the name tags.

Ongoing Social Media Connections

facebook-260818_1280In addition to maintaining communication through the online group service, other social media channels can be used to maintain community, networking, and conversations. The choice will depend upon the type of group, whether casual, professional, or somewhere in-between.

Funds

Typically there are costs associated with meetings and other operational expenses. These can be paid by the organizer, sponsors, membership dues, or event fees.

Sponsors

Getting sponsors is a way to help fund meetings and to make them more professional at times. Sponsors can come from within the membership, a local industry or a business.

The Virtual Organization

 

The Virtual Organization Blog

by Mark Sivy

<img src="image.gif" alt="Virtual Organizations" />After many years of leading individuals and teams at-a-distance, overseeing educational and business operations virtually, and communicating online with international educators, business contacts, and colleagues, I decided to temporarily add the challenge of being a doctoral student to that of being a mid-career professional. This decision was based on the personal desire to enhance my knowledge, research skills, and theoretical perspectives in a manner that would augment my practical experience with organization operations, virtual leadership, educational technology, e-learning, and educational leadership. Now that the role of being a student has come to an end, it’s time to regroup and put the added abilities, wisdom, and education to good use.

One way to do that was to create this blog as a means to share what I’ve learned and intend to discover about the virtual organization, including virtual operations, leadership, ecosystems, and communication. At the same time, since I have many other experiences, interests, and curiosities, I decided to launch other blogs as well:

Now that I’ve announced this blog and the others, from here on out they will take on their own character and set sail in their unique directions.

Sailing Ship LR

Reflection Point – I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.  ~ First stanza of Sea Fever by John Masefield