VTMM®
Virtual Team Maturity Model

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Discovering Virtual Teamwork

What I wish I had known before starting a virtual team project…

I have always admired these pioneers and explorers, leading headfirst into the unknown and overcoming challenges as they go. This turned out to be my New Year’s challenge – the start of a new virtual project. I have led many teams before including virtual ones. What could be different? Little did I know. Our first team meeting was a disaster: Team members struggling to log in, nerve-wracking background noises, team members showing up late or not at all, others getting bored and starting to do check mails. While I had intended to set the target and distribute tasks, our first meeting passed with sorting out technical issues and counting how many team members were actually present. I don’t know how the others felt, but I was frustrated. I wish I had known a better way to kick-off virtual teamwork.

I contacted Master Yado, my senior virtual team expert, and told him my story:

Some of my teammates work from the same location as me. In fact, one colleague sits right across. Hi Dave! But the others I barely know. Some even work from different continents and different time zones. What are the working hours in Kuala Lumpur? My first challenge was to set a time and date for our first team meeting. As I couldn’t jet around the globe to meet them in person, I invited them all to a web conference, hoping to get to know my team better in our first meeting. But while Dave and I were sharing our web cameras (remember, Dave is the guy who is sitting right across my desk anyway) the others didn’t, because they had no camera or didn’t know about it or didn’t want to or had no permission to.

Three of my team members didn’t even show up. Marc was apparently in transit at some airport in India. I thought he worked from Kuala Lumpur Office in Malaysia. Li Wie from China and An from Vietnam couldn’t dial in. I don’t even know how to address them. Are these male or female names? Yes, I checked the intranet. I am lucky, all my team members are highly qualified for their job, as far as their profile on intranet goes. But it doesn’t reveal anything about the person behind their title.

Master Yado gave me some hints:

I will try this for our next team meeting: Stay tuned to find out how it went.

Andrea Keil

Andrea Keil

Andrea is a VTMM® Team member. Over the last years, she has contributed to several international research projects on virtual teams and their performance improvement.

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