3.5 VIRTUAL TEAM PERFORMANCE


3.5 VIRTUAL TEAM PERFORMANCE

The success of any project will be based primarily on the measurable values of the triple constraint. However, it would be somewhat simplistic to regard project performance as a collection of statistics. A more realistic description would be that projects are technical problems with human dimensions. Thus, project success would require that a group of individuals work, collectively and individually, toward a common goal. Today's projects are very complex, and they involve creative and innovative products and services. In order to meet the challenges of the project, the team members must coordinate their efforts, share their ideas, and discuss their insights. Project teams are expected to produce results, and thus performance is hindered if the team members do not work together effectively. If every team member is totally engaged and fully productive, then the virtual team will successfully deliver the desired products and services.

However, considering the specific attributes of virtual teams, it would stand to reason that work compartmentalization becomes exacerbated in the virtual environment. In the virtual environment, it is relatively easy for team members to work as isolated individuals and not to perform as a team. Then, each person would feel responsible only for his or her specific tasks without regard to how he or she interfaces with those tasks that are the responsibility of others. In such a case, individual team members would not contribute fully and effectively to the goals and objective of the entire project. In this scenario, individuals tend to contribute in singular ways, and the full component of their capabilities might not be exploited. In this environment, responsibility for project issues might not be shared, leading to possible mal-performance, which in turn leads to shortfalls in the project deliverable . Team members might make decisions based on incomplete information because, in this isolated environment, it becomes difficult to acquire expert information from multiple sources. Unfortunately, an atmosphere of teamwork does not result under these isolation circumstances. Notwithstanding, compartmentalization can be harmless in cases where the tasks are totally independent or when a team member has been commissioned to integrate all the individual and independent components of the project.

The objectives of the project team, and those of each team member, must be established in the team charter with as much detail as possible. In turn, these objectives must set the foundation for measuring team performance as well as individual performance. Ideally, drafting the performance standards should be conducted in a collaborative manner so that team members develop guidelines to evaluate the contributions of others to their tasks. Then, repeated and regular discussion of performance should focus on improving overall project performance. The charter should specify how often accomplishments are to be reviewed against the objectives, ways to obtain information concerning these accomplishments, information to be documented, and distribution of performance information. The charter should describe methods for reviewing performance information, methods to address unsatisfactory performance, and procedures for resolving any subsequent disagreements . Finally, the charter should note how people are expected to report their accomplishments and with what frequency progress information should be disseminated to the collective team.

All of the team members should be aware of the contributions of others. Such awareness is easy to maintain in a collocated team because people can determine quite readily whether someone is or is not participating in the product development. Unfortunately, the members of a virtual team can sometimes become afflicted with performance misconceptions, which result in either overwork or underwork. In a virtual team, someone might be diligently completing his or her assigned tasks, yet other team members might not specifically acknowledge and recognize these accomplishments in team conference calls, on the project intranet, or through standard status performance reports . Some people simply will not complete their assignments, believing that others will not notice their lack of participation. Further, some team members may duplicate the objectives of others if they are unaware that someone else actually is doing the work. In other cases, work may not get done at all because people assume someone else is doing that specific task. Given that these situations are usually the result of improper communication and inaccurate progress reporting, appropriate communication procedures should be aimed at minimizing the incidence of episodes involving overlaps and/or gaps in performance.

One of the more festive components of team building is the reward process. Best practices of team building include activities related to, and occasions for, recognition of superior performance. The rewards can be of a physical nature, such as monetary rewards or gifts. The rewards can also be of a recognition nature, such as plaques, titles, and other intrinsic rewards (Figure 3.6). Notwithstanding, these rewards are usually awarded in public gatherings and/or documented in newsletters. A reward system appropriate to the behavioral aspects of the team and applicable to the technical aspects of the team must be established for each virtual team. Finally, an effective team is one where the reward system is based on a combination of individual performance and mutual accountability.

start figure
  • Substance of Reward

    • Expanded Responsibility

    • Career Advancement

    • Salary Increase

    • Improved Working Conditions

  • Appropriateness to the Individual's

    • Cultural Background

    • Education

    • Age

    • Career Aspiration

    • Work Experience

end figure

Figure 3.6: Rewards



Achieving Project Management Success Using Virtual Teams
Achieving Project Management Success Using Virtual Teams
ISBN: 1932159037
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 75

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