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Common Challenges in Virtual Team Leadership

Three Mini Case Studies

Read the mini case studies and learn some ways to best handle the situation.

Mini Case Study 1: You are leading a team meeting.  You and several other members are in one main location and two other people are calling in from separate remote locations. The current topic of discussion is a bit contentious and there are multiple side conversations going on in the room where you are. You recognize that this is likely creating some communication difficulties for the other two participants and is undoubtedly frustrating for them.

What should you do?

Here is what the team leader might do: Stop the meeting and ask everyone to minimize the side conversations as they are distracting and don’t enable for full participation. Reset the meeting, describing the current topic and summarizing what has been said to date. Use a round robin approach, calling on each individual to share their thoughts on the topic. Start with the two individuals at the remote location who have been unable to contribute effectively.

Mini Case Study 2: One of your virtual team members has a major task due by end of day. He just sent you an email and told you it won’t be completed for at least another week. and she just informed you it will not be completed on time. You are surprised since you just had a status meeting two days ago and he hadn’t mentioned anything about the task being late.  Additionally, he hasn’t brought up the task at all over the last month nor asked for any assistance.

What should you do?

Here is what the team leader might do: Contact the team member by phone and discuss what has happened to delay the task. What still needs to get done and what is preventing him from completing the work. Set a timeline for completion and get him support if possible. In addition to attending future status meeting, work with him one-on-one for the project to ensure that he is completing tasks in a timely manner or letting you know when assistance is needed so that such issues do not happen in the future.

Mini Case Study 3: Two of your virtual team members have been arguing on every team conference call. This has happened over the last three calls and they just seem to argue about nothing at all. In fact, it is as if they look for an opportunity to argue. It is having an impact accomplishing what needs to be accomplished during the team meetings.

What should you do?

Here is what the team leader might do: Arrange for a phone call with both team members to understand what is going on between them. Let them know that it is impacting the team overall and the meetings are just not effective if they keep arguing. Work with them to develop a plan to fix the situation.

Virtual teams are often difficult to lead and manage. They require significant communications to be effective and require monitoring to ensure the team members are successfully meeting their goals.

Stay tuned for more mini case studies in future articles.

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