Scatterwork Guest: Why must virtual teams have soft skills?

My name is Howard Esbin and I’m the creator a virtual team game.

Virtual Team members need trust to collaborate effectively. The research shows that the lack of trust is fundamentally the greatest challenge that virtual teams globally are facing today. The research also shows that there is a direct correlation between social emotional intelligence on virtual teams, that’s soft skills, and the degree of trust that may manifest.

The research also shows that if there is limited soft skills,chances are trust will be affected and there will be a significant lack thereof. The challenge for virtual teams, leadership and training is that there is insufficient time to build relationships. There is an inability to read nonverbal cues and there’s a lack above water cooler moments. The goal for effective training is to actually create virtual water cooler equivalence and to promote symbolic communications.

The research further shows its symbolic communication and the equivalent water cooler moments are going to be tied to a variety of soft skill applications. Our original research has identified twenty best practices and when one looks at these in total,they’re all about engaging and connecting the whole person and virtual team emotionally at the start a project. These best practices help a virtual team,essentially of virtual strangers, break the ice and therefore provide the equivalent of water-cooler moments using online play, games and creativity.

In summary, why must virtual team’s have soft skills? To be productive virtual teams need to trust each other. In order to trust, virtual team members must be self-aware and pacific, appreciate their differences and communicate honestly. These are all soft skills. Thank you.
Virtual Teams (1)

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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Develop the Ground Rules together

This is a short video from Scatterwork about developing the Ground Rules together for Virtual Teams.

Project Ground Rules are clearly stated behavior limits to which everyone in the project team agrees. We have them to make it easier to live and work together and it helps avoid extremes of behavior. However, rules can be ignored if they don’t make sense.

A place to start is sample team ground rules and there are many of these published and there is little standardization between them. Here you get the names of four different authors and some of the lists that they publish are very, very long.

Here is one suggested group of categories for them in one of those documents: Goals, leadership skills, roles, processes,interpersonal relations, accountability, client involvement.

But of course it really depends on your own project and if it’s a virtual project then you probably need things to do with time zone and being on time at meetings and things like that as well.

But whatever way you develop your rules it’s really best to do its in direct association with the project team members themselves because then they’re more likely to accept them. And when you have your rules do a final sanity check before applying them.

In this case here, a simple rule for dogs on the strand in the west of Ireland has a maximum fine of 1,269 euro 74 cents. Why such a funny number? Well, this is a thousand pounds in the old money before the euro was brought in but the sign post was translated and it doesn’t make sense.

So if you’re looking for support to develop project team ground rules, please contact us. 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

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

Use Games to Build your Virtual Team

 

Hello and welcome to this short video from Scatterwork about using games to build your virtual team. Virtual teams needs defined operating agreements, they need to implement rituals and they need to share planning.

Now, operating agreements, ground rules or whatever you like to call them are essential so the people operate in more or less the same way.

For example somebody may have made strenuous effort to get to a meeting on time or maybe they had to put a baby to bed or change your flight. So not sticking to the agreed time can have big consequences so it’s better to have rules.

Rituals help the momentum when systems fail.So for example when a call is held at the same time every day but the link drops out but because it’s a ritual,the parties spend several minutes trying to reestablish contact.

If it wasn’t a ritual they were just go offline and the work would not get done. And then chairing the planning:
engagement is lacking if planning is simply imposed but that’s much more true in the virtual environments.

For example how work is done can be very local so telling people what to do is not always the best way to do it.

But when it’s completed, it’s shared with the whole team and that’s an issue for the team as a whole.

So the question is: where is the glue that holds the team of people together and the suggestion is that games can be used to help build a virtual team. Think if the games that people play at parties to speed up the process of getting to know everybody. And these days there are a lot of shared applications so that several people can log in at once and use them and they’re great tools for games.

So here’s one: your virtual team needs to introduce its members to others (think Facebook terms) so put the members in groups of three and by having them in separate groups, then you’ll get more ideas than if you put them all in one team.

Then tell them within each team to connect with each other by text or voice and then find out how to connect with
Google slides or some other application, where several people can join in at the
same time and then develop a page to introduce the people in the team. And then afterwards bring all the teams back together and hold a competition to select the best page.

But this is very useful because even the fact of producing a page together with photos and text generates interaction and the interaction, notice, cannot even start without real time communication. And the team learns how to access a cooperative working space which can be used for other things.

So if you find this interesting remember that Scatterwork supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams and the contact details are on this page.

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

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

Why meet for group assignments?

Hello, this is another short video from Scatterwork, this time about distributing work in a virtual team environment during group assignments. For example at a kick-off project meeting where everything has been decided and we really want to get the work moving as quickly as we can.

The trick, or the strategy, here is to recognize the type meeting this is. This is effectively not a group assignment but a one-way meeting. Of course there will be questions and so but this is completely different from a problem solving type of meeting; different interactions will be required.

Now, to make it work there has to be proper structure and support. People have to be invited correctly they have to turn up on time. There need to be proper minutes and then there needs to be a strong chairperson and so forth. If this is not the owner of the project, then that person or the project manager has a much better chance to actually do the work, provided there’s a service like that in the background.

So that’s somewhere we at Scatterwork can help you, is to make these meetings a success. If you have a big project, a lot of people, you need to get it moving fast and it will benefit from not having to travel, well then this is a scenario that might suit this.

I look forward to hearing from you, thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, Switzerland who supports Virtual Working for Virtual Teams globallyReach out by setting up a short call or e-mailing deasun@scatterwork.com.

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

 

Leave unsafe travel environments behind

Here is a short video from Scatterwork about the benefits of avoiding unsafe environments while traveling in the interest of training or coordination of virtual teams. We all know that it’s never 100 percent safe to travel. Everyday of the week there are car accidents and trains and much evidence of unsafe travel. We just have to accept that and get on with our business. Very often the alternative is poor telephone conferences, not very effective web meetings and so forth. One of the ways of counteracting ineffective meetings is to build more structure into how the meeting is held, how it’s supported and so forth. This is a skill that a virtual team will have. So, I’d like to suggest that to you. If you have project activities that need to be supported and you’d like to do it without traveling, do get in touch with me and we’ll see how we can help. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional
face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but
virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training
features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Holding Team Meetings doesn’t need to be stressful


This is another short video, this time about the stress of travel for training. We all know that training is easier when we can come together and we can share ideas. But, traveling for team meetings can be stressful and should not be overlooked. For example, we have to stand in security queues. We eat at the wrong time. We get late night taxis to hotels. And then, it also generates stress by the time it takes out of our working week. We have to make up the time when we get back to base. This is a bit like going for a swim. Maybe driving for an hour, getting there, doing half an hour of a swim and then doing an hour of a drive back. The actual amount of time on the swimming is very limited compared to the effort. So, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to think in terms of virtual workshops for virtual teams. That’s the idea I’d like to leave you with tonight. If you have any queries about that, please do get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

How to schedule global meetings

Hello this is Deasun î Conchœir from Scatterwork to talk about an issue that should be simple but frequently causes a lot of effort and frustration, how to schedule meetings across time zones.

The first guideline is to recognize that scheduling is an iterative process. So that means messages that come over and back. It requires quite a lot of messages to find the exact time. This can’t be done instantaneously. People who sit in the same office they say yes, no, check that out and so on. But, when you’re working in a distributed environment it takes longer for the process to take place. In addition to that, we have to treat it as a process and not just something that happens in the background.

Guideline number two is to use a scheduling tool that converts time zones automatically to find possible meeting times. If this is done, then the individuals get suggestions and they can read them in their own time zone and so on. It really is not practicable to send things are you available in this time zone. And, of course, if there are errors, the meeting doesn’t take place.

The third guideline is to offer as many time options as possible. If a very limited number of options is sent out, we find that no solution emerges and then we have to repeat two or three days later. So, it saves time just do it in the beginning.

The fourth guideline is to broadcast the options as far in advance as possible. I’ve seen situations where people need three or four meetings over a period of a couple of weeks, maybe six weeks in advance. People always have their diaries full closer to the current time. So, by going out as far in advance as possible, it gives a better chance of finding workable times.

Guideline number five is to not allow individuals to dictate their preferences before starting. If they do, then that limits the choice that is setup and the process doesn’t start. It’s much better to try and recognize these but not to force it on the system and offer lots of options. It may turn out that most of the people are available for a particular time and we have to go back and negotiate. In fact, not even the boss should be allowed to dictate times at the beginning. It should really be done on an open basis and that we find works best.

When we send out requests for availability, we should have a time limit on the reply, for example, 24 hours. Otherwise, people will come back four or five days later and undo the effort that you were putting into the scheduling.

Guideline number seven has already been mentioned in passing. If we look at the feedback from this process and find most people are free for a particular time, we can go back and ask the other person are they really, really not free at the given time. It might have been a preference rather than an absolute. For example, people don’t like to work late at night. But, obviously if they are in an airplane they usually can’t talk.

Guideline number eight is to close the process and say this time was decided. Then, send out a separate invitation with that time. This will make sure that it will show up in everyone’s calendar with their time zone.

So, there you have it. Treat setting up meetings as a process. Do it over a longer period of time. Use a tool that converts time zones and insist on having a wide variety of options.

So, I hope that works for you. If I can help you in any way, please feel free to contact me.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Clever Thinking delivers Project Value early

Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork with another anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK Guide. This one relates to costs, or indeed, getting the project value early from a project by a bit of clever thinking. A project manager in England was responsible for building a large supermarket, which would also sell cheap petrol to attract shoppers. The plan for the petrol station included the usual small shop for soft drinks, newspapers and so on.

The original plan was to build the supermarket and open it, a big project phase. Then, to build the petrol station, a small project phase. As most of the time and the value was in the supermarket, this meant getting value towards the end of the overall project. What they actually did, was simply reverse the phases. The petrol station was built first, and the customers started coming. They also got familiar with the main supermarket, because a selection of the products was also sold in the small shop.

Then, they built the supermarket. By the time it opened, it had already been a steady stream of customers who knew where it was and were familiar with the products. The moral there, is that the value in a project can be obtained much sooner, on occasion, by a bit of clever thinking. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Flexible Scheduling with Virtual Training

Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, with another short video about the benefits of virtual training. This time, we’re looking at the flexible scheduling and availability of the trainer, compared to on site events. For on site training, there is always an overhead of time, for travel and for the costs, and this is factored in, and it results in less flexibility, less scheduling flexibility for the trainer.

It can happen, that the trainer that you need, and the availability pattern, cannot meet your requirements, but by going for a virtual event, the availability and flexibility is increased. Training can be done, realistically, in shorter sessions, and the loss of time due to travel disappears completely. In summary, virtual training allows more flexibility in scheduling, and that gives another plus point when you’re setting up your event. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

Scatterwork Guest: How do you see your project?

My name is Jonathan Norman from Gower Publishing,  a guest of Scatterwork GmbH, and I’d like to introduce you to a new platform we have developed for project and program managers, GpmFirst. In order to do so, I’ve taken a particular theme, which is the question of how do you see your project, and how do others see your project. I’ve chosen this subject for a couple of reasons. It introduces the premise that human psychology is a powerful influence in projects, and their success or failure, and it also underlines one of the key features of the new project community of practice that I mentioned.

Let’s just tackle these elements in order. In each case, I’ve used screen dumps from the community practice to illustrate my points. First of all, how does our psychology influence projects and their success or failure? Have a look at this image that was created by the wonderful writer Gareth Morgan, and is used in our book, “Images or Projects”. Imagine that this is a picture of your project, what do you see? A pig, but it isn’t as simple as that.

Have a look at each of the people around the edge of the image, let’s call them the stakeholders of your project. Put yourself in their shoes, and now look again at the pig, what does each of them see?

To the farmer, the pig represents his livelihood, a source of income. To the butcher, the pig represents a series of joints and cuts, bacon, ham, and so on. To the vet, the pig represents a potential patient. To the little girl, the pig represents the start of a nursery story, you get the point.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders and ask yourself, how do they see my project, do they see it differently from the way I see it? What implications does this have on how I should communicate with them, or manage my project?

Once you understand the importance of perception, you’ll understand the idea of a playlist, which is a feature in the platform, www.gpmfirst.com. Rather than simply presenting content in the site in the way that we, our moderator, or our expert authors think it should be presented, we’ve included a feature that allows you to add any elements of the site, chapter, books, user generated articles, videos, community discussion threads, and indeed external links into your end playlist, which you can commentate.

Think of it as your own personal scrapbook of how you see a given theme, or a problem, in project management. Once you’ve created your playlist, and here’s one I created earlier using chapters from our books around the theme of perception in projects, you can share it with others by social media or email, and it will become a part of the searchable content on the platform, so that other users can benefit from how you see projects, or an aspect of project management.

Thank you for listening. If how I see projects peaked your interest, than I hope you’ll take a moment to visit this site to explore the new platform, and to get a sense of how you might use it. I’ve included my contact details on this final slide, so if you’d like to know more, than just go to the website, or contact me directly by email. Thank you very much.

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