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Managing Virtual Teams

Tips of Effective Communication

Virtual Team

Managing virtual team is one of the biggest challenge for today’s project manager. Keeping entire team on the same page, motivated for the project work and vision is a very difficult task when you are dealing with a virtual team. In this article I am limiting myself to communication aspect of virtual team management. Keeping speaking and writing skill/knowledge language, homogeneousness of technical and business knowledge, disability of any team member, available of team member, time zones, cost of communication technology acquisition, cost of communication, frequency of communication needed between team members a project manager has to make several decision related to engaging and communicating with virtual team.

What Communication Technologies are Available?

  • Instant Messenger
  • Chatting tool
  • Email
  • Voice Mail
  • Telephone
  • Teleconference
  • Video Conference
  • Webex
  • SMS
  • MMS
  • Hand written mail
  • Physical Meetings
  • Webcam
  • Collaboration website

What Communication Tools are Available?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Whatsapp
  • YM
  • Microsoft Outlook

What are the Possible Communication Methods?

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Interactive

What are the Possible Team Type?

  • Virtual Team
  • Co-located Team

What are other important things regarding communication

  • Urgency of messages
  • Privacy of messages
  • Details required
  • Distance to
  • recipients
  • Timeliness
  • Need of feedback
  • Size of audience
  • Need for human connection cost
  • Need for collaboration

Etiquette of communication in virtual team

Telephonic talk

  • If you want to leave out from the call then it is worth to say something like this and then go out “I am really enjoying the chat, however I have to go”. Never go out without letting other party know that you are going, or your didn’t like discussion so you left.

Conference Call tip  

  • Introduce yourself. eg. “Hey this is Hari, who just joined the call. Good morning everybody”
  • If you could not listen the conversation in conference call consider saying something like “I am sorry, I was distracted, could you please repeat the question (last sentence)”
  • When people are joining conference call and you are host then ask people “about weather, traffic, location from where they are calling, who else is on the call, ask about their family, any off the track things”. Let them feel comfortable so that they can contribute effectively.
  • It is rude to ask. e.g. “who is on the call?”. Consider “who have joined recently?”. Even to speak this be polite.
  • Record the meeting
  • Recap before finish
  • Consider having 2 dedicated role for meeting one presenter, second administrator. Administrator should be responsible for MoM, Infrastructure, Invitees joins, Meeting agenda is followed.
  • If you are behind or ahead on slide then share slide number, which you are referring. Before you start meeting share presentation with slide number on every page.
  • To ask for a feedback say “Does anybody has anything to add.” Then wait for some time. You can do it by saying it like “Raj do you have any thing to add” (ask individually). Silence becomes unbearable and people will speak out something.
  • If somebody joined in mid and you want to ask him some question, send him brief of conversation my instant message and ask for feedback.
  • Ask if things are not clear or unambiguous

How to Use Collaborative Space  

Basic

  • Avoid using e-mail for things you could do in the collaborative
  • Remove the ability to delete content from collaboration site. If permission is disable then don’t show it.

Status Reporting

  • Use collaboration side to publish status report and send message to the relevant stakeholders
  • Never surprise to people by giving them information once in a blue moon day. Keep updating them from time to time.
  • Picture speaks thousands words. Words have their own limitation and picture has lot many interpretations. So strike a balance to ensure the message is understood properly and then retained.
  • Don’t send presentation around without you going there. Go with presentation

How to Manage a client

Basics

  • Stay in constant touch
  • Be accessible
  • Reassure Communicate status immediately
  • Cultivate the relation
  • Be confident
  • No surprise ever.

Leadership

  • They need to know that you genuinely care about them Listen carefully when people are saying
  • Make people comfortable, be gracious
  • Learn about them. Possibly go and meet them face to face.
  • Be sensitive to the problem which are not visible to you
  • Need to work hard to show the commitment.

How to bring Virtual Team member on board

  • Develop a team charter in collaboration with team
  • Talk to them one to one.
  • Let them read team charter.
  • Introduce that person to others team members.
  • Let him feel comfortable to talk and discuss.

How to tackle with people who do not respond

  • First, send him/her email.
  • If he/she does not respond then call them on all possible phones which you have with you.
  • If there is no reply then send them offline message.
  • Finally if no reply then send them registered letter.

Rules of email

  • If possible avoid attaching files. Therefore put the information in main body directly. It is not true for large content or versioned document.
  • For email also follow the rule of real mail (physical letters). Do not use it as messenger or IM tool.
  • Understand the rule of To, CC & BCC
  • Write structured email, make point using bullets
  • Use fonts type, font size, underline, bold, color to emphasize on important content
  • Always keep disclaimer at the bottom
  • Always keep signature at the last of your message
  • Always write greetings and salutation
  • Never press end button if you have not reviewed content, meaning, spelling and message.
  • Never press send button if you are in really bad mood.
  • Mostly you will find that bad news is better than no news in communications. So do not remain silent for long if there is no progress or bad news.
  • Never write and send any email in bad mood. They are documentary evidences!
  • Balance the use of messenger and email. Do not write email if messenger can server the purpose

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