Avoid Virtual Team Mix-Ups

Hello! This short video from Scatterwork is about avoiding virtual team mix-ups.

I’m talking about the sort of situation where the team is carrying out some work, maybe a project, and the participants are not all together all the time; in other words some of the work is carried out virtually.

And any work requires coordination so not only does the work need to be done but we need to communicate:

“OK I’ve finished this bit; you can do the next bit now”.

And if the communication is poor or if the communication is wrong or if it’s misunderstood or if indeed the thing that should have been delivered isn’t delivered – all of those situations lead to people at the other end getting annoyed or upset because they’re not getting what they expect.

My personal experience is that if there is communication, for example a telephone line between participants in different parts of the world, and it doesn’t work, the person who speaks thinks that the person at the other end is the problem even though the problem maybe somewhere in between.

Instinctively we think if we talk to somebody “well if they don’t understand and I’m talking properly then it’s their fault”.

But it could be the system in between. So we can get into really mixed up situations that can be very hard to get out of.

So the question is “what’s a possible approach to solving that” and here we’re talking about personal skills. They’re often called soft skills but I could mention many of them.

One of them is active listening, for example,

“tell me exactly what the issue is and I’m going to listen and interact with you until I understand what you’re talking about. I’m not going to do emails at the same time or be doing some of the work in the background you looking over your shoulder. I’m just going to listen.”

Another skill is presentation skills.

I’ve seen so many projects where you get spaghetti type PowerPoint slides saying we’re doing this, that and the
other thing.

And they might be visually wonderful but it’s very, very hard to understand what they doing so another’s personal skill is to sift out what the real issues are and to present them very, very clearly in some sort of graphical format.

And other personal or inter-personal skill is negotiation because if we discovered that what we wanted and what the person gets is not the same then we have to work out “what are we going to do now?” and negotiation is it what happens.

People say “could we do this or could we do that?” and so on. So competence in negotiation is also very useful in that sort of situation.

And there are others, so the summary is to avoid mix-ups in virtual teams, it can make sense to invest in personal skills of the individuals involved and of course then they get the benefit of having those skills for use elsewhere in life as well so it’s something that everyone wins from.

Thanks very much!

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Charter your way to success!

Hello, this is another short video from Scatterwork where we ask: “Is your project charter the key to virtual project success?”

I always say, when you’re asked to do a project: do this, do that, meet this constraint for that budget and so forth, the first thing we need to do is not to start, but it is to check that we understand what is being asked.

It may be that the person asking has a very clear idea and we misunderstand it or it could be that they themselves haven’t a very clear idea so it makes a lot of sense to check and the best way I know of doing this is called a charter where we write it all down and say “hey, is that what you meant ?”

So in the charter, which is not the plan, we include for example what they’re expecting, constraints, we must do this, we must not do that, this is the budget, this is why I’m doing it and so forth and it should be maybe a page or two.

Now, this is true for any project.The first step we check that they say “that’s what we want” and then we can go away and look at it as project managers and say yes, we can certainly do that or maybe no, but here’s another one that would come close.

In the virtual world, I can’t see how a project can deliver unless there is at least agreement on this level. So it’s a very short document a couple of pages it can be put together by using a type of application that allows several people to write at once; things like your Google Documents for example. Preparing a document where everyone’s concerns are there means that we know what our starting point is.

So I would answer the question and say yes, the project charter is the key to virtual project success.

Thank you.
Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

Please share with colleagues, who also get 10% off their first booking.