The Core Challenges of Managing Virtual Teams
May 30, 2009 by Jason Montero
I came across this article by Karen McHenry; consultant, writer, and professor, which I feel clearly and succinctly describes the core challenges of managing virtual teams – and what new skills are required for managers who are accostomed to leading co-located teams.
Ms. McHenry states:
When organizations elect to create virtual teams, they focus on the potential advantages, such as the diversity of the team, or the potential for “round the clock” productivity with employees working in multiple time zones. However, companies must also be aware of the challenges that accompany virtual teams. For these groups to be successful, managers cannot use the old rules of leadership. New ways of working require different skills.
While I agree with this statement I believe that most of the adjustments required are small changes to team interaction or management style; and many ultimately amount to being more deliberate about process and workflow. Some of them are simply good, fundamental management skills that get overlooked when team members see each other regularly. So I think it’s important to note that while new skills and workstyle changes are required to be successful, distributed teamwork does not require a whole new way of working.
Have a look at McHenry’s article and see if you agree that much of what she suggests would be good practices regardless of the structure of your team or where members are located.