Discover How to Lead Virtual Teams – Nu Leadership Series

“All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.”
Lao Tzu

Today, the latest, business craze of the 21st century is “virtual organizations.” Loaded with emerging technologies such as videoconferencing, employees work in teams that transcend time and distance. Communication, however, takes on a brand new meaning when there is no “face-to-face” interaction between team members to facilitate these nontraditional relationships; it is essential to understand how to unify these virtual relationships. Virtual teams sound like a great idea, right? I have one question then…how can you trust someone you can’t see? Many companies have allowed workers to work from home to achieve huge company savings. Managers assume that an employee, equipped with a computer and fax machine, can stay connected to the organization. This outlook is simply a myth. Relationships are built on trust. According to a USA Today poll, nearly half of those interviewed said that corporations can be trusted only a little, or not at all, when it involves looking out for the best interest of employees. James Kouzes and Barry Posner, management experts, note that over the long term a leader’s credibility depends on the quality of the relationship maintained with followers.

Are virtual teams a mistake? I would say “no” because there are numerous advantages. Hackman and Johnson, leadership gurus, explain that virtual teams still need to meet periodically at the same location in order to clarify organizational issues. Numerous studies have shown that communication is less efficient in virtual than “face-to-face” teams. Rico and Cohen, virtual team researchers, argue that virtual team members also have a difficult time staying connected to each other. These matters showcase the problems with maintaining trust in virtual teams. Therefore, it can be argued that virtual teams have more difficulty in building relationships among its cohorts than traditional teams. Leaders who understand the challenges of virtual teams have an opportunity to build stronger relationships with followers. Learn how to better manage your team (virtual or not). Don’t allow your organizational relationships to deteriorate. Grow this relationship today!

References:

Johnson, C. & Hackman, M. (2000). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Waveland Press.

Rico, R. and Cohen, S. (2005). Effects of tasks interdependence and type of communications on performance in virtual teams. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 20(3/4), 261-274

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green

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