Leading Effective Virtual Teams : Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results book cover
1st Edition

Leading Effective Virtual Teams
Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results

ISBN 9781466557864
Published December 13, 2012 by Auerbach Publications
236 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

A proliferation of new technologies has lulled many into thinking that we actually have to think less about how we communicate. In fact, communicating and collaborating across time, distance, and cultures has never been more complex or difficult.

Written as a series of bulleted tips drawn from client experiences and best practices, Leading Effective Virtual Teams: Overcoming Time and Distance to Achieve Exceptional Results presents practical tips to help leaders engage and motivate their geographically dispersed project team members. If you’re a leader of any type of virtual team and want to help your team members collaborate more effectively, then buy this book. You will learn how to:

  • Build trust and cultivate relationships, virtually, across your team
  • Design and facilitate virtual meetings that are focused and engaging
  • Influence without authority
  • Motivate and galvanize a virtual team for top performance
  • Blend asynchronous and synchronous communications for better virtual collaboration
  • Navigate cross-cultural and generational differences in the absence of vital visual cues
  • Assess skills, strengths, aptitudes, and preferences from afar
  • Handle other tough issues that can trip up virtual teams

The ideas in this book are based on Nancy Settle-Murphy’s decades of experience working as a change management consultant, facilitator, and trainer for project teams around the world. Designed to be read section by section in any order, this book shares approaches and techniques to help you address some of the toughest challenges virtual team leaders face, including keeping team members engaged from afar.

Table of Contents

Unique Challenges of Virtual Teams and Their Leaders
Unique Challenges of Virtual Teams
Unique Challenges of Virtual Team Leaders
Key Attributes of Successful Virtual Team Leaders
     Leadership Skills 
     Communication Skills 
     Behaviors and Attitudes 
     Coaching Skills 
     Technology Skills
Profile of a Successful Virtual Collaborator

Sizing Up, Onboarding, and Mobilizing Your Virtual Team
Onboarding and Off-Ramping Team Members
Assessing Capabilities, Aptitudes, and Preferences of Team Members
Getting up to Speed in a Hurry
Assessing How Cultural Differences May Affect Team Dynamics
Influencing without Authority across Boundaries for Virtual Project Team Leaders

Building Trusting Relationships across Boundaries
Building the Foundations of Trust
Creating a Level Playing Field
Building Social Capital

Best Practices Operating Principles for Virtual Teams
What Is an Operating Principle?
Principles Development Process for a Virtual Team
Characteristics of Strong Principles
Getting to the "So What?" behind Each Principle: Hammering Out Implications
Areas for Which Norms Are Especially Vital for Virtual Project Teams
10 Top Norms to Untangle Virtual Teams

Communications for Collaboration and Cohesion
Creating a "Big Picture" Virtual Team Communications Plan
Virtual Team Communications: Steps to Success
E-mail for Virtual Teams: Using It Wisely and (Probably) Less Often
Connecting Virtual Teams through Imagery and Metaphor
Brainstorming across Borders: Stimulating Creative Thinking from Afar
Real-Time Conversations Crucial for Collaboration in a Virtual World

Managing Performance from Afar
The Challenges of Virtual Professional Development
Tips for Developing Performance from Afar
The Challenges of Performance Coaching from Afar
Tips for Performance Coaching for the Virtual Leader
You’d Be a Great Virtual Leader if You Could Just Be Quiet: Listening Tips for Virtual Leaders
Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team
Ensuring an Equitable Workload
Celebrating, Recognizing, and Rewarding Great Performance 
     Creating a Shared Sense of Community 
     Recognizing and Appreciating Noteworthy Performance 
     Planning and Running Virtual Celebrations

Navigating across Cultures, Time Zones, and the Generational Divide
Galvanize Global Virtual Teams with Clear Operating Principles
Real Cultural Assimilation Takes Patience, Time, and Willingness to Adapt
Surfacing and Addressing the Cultural Differences That Most Affect Virtual Teams
Communicating across Cultures: Designing for International Transportability
Listening and Learning across the Generations: Strategic Communications Planning for Better Collaboration
Open Communication and Mutual Respect: Keys to Intergenerational Harmony

Troubleshooting Tips for Virtual Teams
Six Management Practices That Don’t Cut It in a Virtual World
Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Micromanagement
Recognizing and Addressing Signs of Dysfunction to Avoid Irrecoverable Problems Later
When Your Team Is about to Implode: Watch for Signs, Act Fast
How to Disengage Your Virtual Team in 10 Easy Steps

Special Challenges of Facilitating Virtual Meetings
What Makes Virtual Meetings So Challenging?
Six Critical Factors for Running Productive Virtual Meetings

ABC s of Designing Great Virtual Meetings
Creating a Realistic Agenda for a Productive Virtual Meeting
Selecting the Right Participants
"Rightsizing" Your Virtual Meeting Depending on Objectives and Group Size
Selecting the Right Combination of Technology Tools for the Highest Level of Engagement
Making Pre-work Work
Importance of Thorough Preparation for Virtual Meeting Leaders
Creating a Realistic Virtual Meeting Agenda
Tips for Designing a Successful Hybrid Meeting
Setting and Enforcing Virtual Meeting Ground Rules
Guidelines for Great Global Team Meetings

Keeping Remote Participants Engaged
Understanding How and Why People Become Disengaged
Discourage Multitasking with Clear Ground Rules and Focused Meetings
Rx for Problem Participants Who Threaten to Derail Your Virtual Meetings

Troubleshooting Virtual Meetings
We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties
Reconciling Time Zone Differences
Dealing with Uninvited Guests
Handling People Who Show up Unprepared
Keeping Remote Participants Feeling Connected



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A renowned expert in the fields of remote collaboration, global teams, and managing wide-scale organizational change, Nancy Settle-Murphy is a popular author of articles, white papers, e-zines, and booklets. Her articles have appeared in publications such as The Meeting Professional, Mass High Tech, IT Executive Journal, PM Network, Association Management Magazine, and Intercom.

Drawing from more than two decades of experience in facilitating the work of global teams, Nancy leads highly productive working sessions designed to efficiently and effectively tap the best thinking of key contributors working across time zones, locations, and cultures. Among her recent clients are Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Shell Oil, Greenpeace International, Medco Health Systems, Partners Healthcare, Unilever, and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. Nancy is an active member of the International Association of Facilitators, the Virtual Facilitators Linked-In Roundtable, Boston Facilitator’s Roundtable, and American Society for Training and Development.

A presenter, trainer, and coach, Nancy parlays her expertise to help answer questions such as:

• Under what conditions must we really meet face to face to get work done?
• How can we make remote meetings productive amidst chronic multitasking?
• How do we engage and motivate virtual team members in times of change?
• Can remote teams really cultivate trust when social relationships are not possible?
• What communications methods work best for cross-cultural virtual teams?
• How can we navigate our way around cross-cultural differences?
• What skills are essential for leading virtual teams?

Some of Nancy’s most popular speaking topics include: Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teams, Building Trust Across Borders, Leading Virtual Teams, Planning and Leading Engaging Virtual Meetings, and Jumpstarting a Successful Global Project Team. Nancy is available as a speaker, presenter, writer, and as a source of illuminating content for articles related to virtual teams, global teams, remote collaboration, and managing enterprise-wide change.

Nancy is president and founder of Guided Insights (www.guidedinsights.com), a facilitation, training, and communications consulting firm based Boxborough, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.


Organizations are only now beginning to realize that specialized skills and competencies are needed to lead effective virtual teams ... . I particularly enjoyed the practical tips that can be applied to almost any kind of virtual team. Nancy knows what works and shares it with us in a way that is both easy to read and apply. She covers the gamut, from building trust to cross-cultural tripwires, in a way that will work for virtual teams, whatever their makeup.
—Dr. Penny Pullan, Director, Making Projects Work Ltd.