This is a very simple and straightforward activity that you can use at the start of a workshop or course that you run that teaches participants how to manage a virtual team.
The intention with this activity is to introduce and clarify the meaning of ‘virtual teams’ before then providing lessons on how to manage a virtual team.
Defining a team
“Before we progress any further, let’s make it clear what we mean with the words team and virtual”.
[At first, only show the first box on the left with the word ‘team’ and ask for a definition of ‘team’ as you see on the slide image below].
Wait for their answers.
After they have given their answers, show your definition inside the shape you see in the slide below.
With the word ‘team’ we refer to ‘two or more interdependent individuals who work toward a common goal’. So, these are people who depend on each other, they need to work together, to achieve a common goal.
The reason we need to make this clear is to avoid confusing virtual teams with virtual networks, which are not teams.
For example, an international network of marketing professionals who connect online to exchange information, ideas and advice about marketing is not a team.
These professionals are supporting each other but they are also independent of each other and, although they aim to further knowledge in their field, they do not have a specific goal that they need to achieve together.
On the other hand, if a company employs a marketing team, which is located in different places and connects virtually to work together, that’s a team.
This marketing team is composed of people who need to work together, and each member of this team is important for them to achieve the goal of, for example, increasing the sales of product ‘x’ by 50% within 1 year.
[Now show the second box from the left with the word ‘virtuality’ and ask for a definition of virtuality.
Wait for their answers.
After they have given their answers, show your definition inside the shape.]
When talking about virtual teams, our definition of virtuality comes down to two criteria:
- their physical dispersion in space (either within the same region or country or internationally)
- and the fact that they rely on communication technology to be able to work together.
So, these two elements together give us an idea of what a virtual team is:
Two or more interdependent individuals working together toward a common goal, who are spatially dispersed and rely on communication technology to cooperate.
If you want the full 45-slide PowerPoint presentation you can find them here.
Teaching How to Manage a Virtual Team
Dr Paul Symonds
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