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Enabling Virtual Team Relationships - Part XI

Wrapping Up Our Story

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part XI and Part X of our story for background information.

Let’s jump to the end of the project and wrap up our story. Alice ended up the project within the allocated budget (which you will recall was more than sufficient for the project) and at 7 days behind schedule. The schedule delay was due in part to the time when Siraj was working on the Bangladesh project simultaneously with this one.  To his credit, this issue only extended the time by 2 days. The other 5 days were due to other issues that had arisen on the project including 1 day when a key resource on the project was out of the office ill for 4 days. The project would have gone over by closer to 10 – 12 days over schedule except that Alice was able to secure a couple of additional resources to assist in getting closer to the due date.

The delay in release did not end up being a significant issue as Alice did communicate regularly with key stakeholders which enabled for keeping customers in the loop.

This, as you will recall from the beginning of our story, was Alice’s first major initiative with the organization and her first time working with a global team. Here are a few of Alice’s lessons learned:

  • While the initial team meeting was great; Alice realized that given the timeline for the project (12 months), another team meeting outside of the regular status meetings, should have been held in order to enable the team some additional time together. This would have enabled for continuing to build relationships with each other and may have avoided some issues that had arisen on the project. Many of the issues that arose were due to a lack of relationships among team members and therefore a discomfort in dealing with personality issues that arose among team members.

    It would also have given the team a break from the work they were doing on the project. Even with a significant budget and a very supportive project sponsor – 5 people (including Alice) to work on a project of such great value to the organization was quite a bit of pressure on the team! Alice believed she would have been able to make the case to get the team together for another team meeting given the support of the project sponsor.

    While the team seemed in sync after the team meeting, Alice could have spent more time with them both as a team and individually to continue the excitement of that initial team meeting.

  • Alice also noted that moving forward she would push the team members a bit more to come up with solutions to internal conflicts they were having rather than allowing them to rely on her as much as they did for solutions, or at least approaching her with potential solutions they agreed upon. This may have required providing her expectations to the team around how the team members should resolve problems and conflicts internally between themselves. She realized that while there was discussion around how the team will work together to resolve problems and conflicts, she never went back to that initial team meeting when these decisions were made to reinforce with the team and/or to re-evaluate if changes had to be made to how the team would work together.
  • Alice also felt that on such large initiatives, in addition to team meetings, she should have arranged for one-on-one meetings with the team members. This would have been easy enough with a smaller team. With a larger team she might hold one-on-one’s with sub-team leads. This would also have provided her much more insight about her team members than she would get by having all team meetings. With one-on-one meetings, Alice probably would have seen the problems Siraj was having sooner.
  • Alice noted that she might have also taken this time during the project to build some relationships throughout the organization. Granted when she took on this project she was fairly new to the organization and wanted to make a good impression on this project, but she realized she missed some key opportunities to begin to develop working relationships with others in the organization. Prior to starting her next project, Alice intended to spend some time getting to know others in the organization, and, when the next project started, Alice determined she would set aside some time to get to know stakeholders a bit better in order to understand their needs. This would also enable her to rely less on her sponsor to intervene with others on her behalf.
  • Use of a collaboration portal for the team would have been valuable. This would have enabled for the team to come “together” in one location to share challenges and successes and rely on each other. It also would have strengthened teamwork overall and enables Alice to continue that initial excitement when the team first got together. The collaboration portal also would have been a location to “house” all of the project documentation. Alice found that she frequently had to resend documents to team members throughout the project. With a portal in place, the team would have one location for all information related to the project.

Overall, Alice was pleased with her work leading this project, as was the sponsor who noted that she did a “great job” and he looked forward to working with her again.