You are a senior manager tasked to develop a virtual team that will evaluate current business practices. Your boss wants this team assembled quickly and expects a short turnaround on any outcomes.
Using some of the concepts and types of assessments described in this chapter, describe how you would quickly assemble this team and how you plan to overcome some of the expected challenges.
Virtual teams have become the norm in the technology field, organizations are looking for the best minds, and geographic proximity to an office location is no longer a primary criterion. Let’s look at Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, the heart of the internet. Linus works from his walking desk in his basement and commands a developer community of more than ten-thousand developers. (Bort, 2015) Linus provides direction for a passionate and purposeful group community of developers who use their discretionary time to contribute to the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel development community is not a unique phenomenon in technology; the Open Source community is made up of people passionate about what they do, a quick look at the GitHub statistics from 2017 reveals the magnitude of this extraordinary community, constructed primarily of virtual teams. (GitHub Octoverse, 2017)
Linus Torvalds outlines the five things he has learned about managing software projects, the largest project being the Linux kernel development which relies on a massive virtual team. It comes as no surprise that all of the Big Five factors are touched upon by him in this article. (Torvalds, 2008)
In my opinion, there are some distinct differences in managing a virtual team vs. managing a team face-to-face. The number one criteria I look for in a virtual team member is passion because passion creates drive and drive is a difficult thing to control when managing a virtual team. To quickly assemble a team I would probably start by identifying those who possess the subject matter expertise required, then begin to look at self-report surveys and observer-ratings surveys (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 65) to gather a subjective and objective perspective on potential candidates. I would also leverage personality-assessment instruments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or other personality-assessment instruments, as well as discussions with peers and management to assess prospective candidates and better the probability of a best-fit scenario. (Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 81) Given that this situation will he high-pressure with the expectation that the team will rapidly deliver outcomes I may apply the Trait Activation Theory (TAT).
Using TAT to predict situations that may “activate” a trait that could be detrimental to the team and the objective improves decision making and further increases the probability of a best-fit situation.
(Robbins & Judge, 2018 p. 81)
As someone who manages a virtual team, communication is critical. It’s important for people to be able to connect with each other even though they may not be in the same physical location. Hosting quarterly, semi-annual or annual meetings where the team can interact and connect can be extremely valuable. It is also critical that virtual team members are comfortable using the tools available to them to facilitate virtual team collaboration, the telephone is not a tool of the trade. Learning how to efficiently use multi-party video conferences, asynchronous communication platforms, collaboration platforms like Google Docs, daily standups and other technologies and processes can significantly enhance virtual team cohesion.
Bort, J. (2015, February 22). Linus Torvalds runs one of the world’s most important software projects from a tiny ‘Zombie shuffling’ desk. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from http://www.businessinsider.com/a-peek-at-linus-torvalds-little-desk-2015-2
GitHub Octoverse 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2018, from https://octoverse.github.com/
Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. (2018). Essentials of organizational behavior. New York, NY: Pearson.
Torvalds, L. (2008, August 04). Five Things Linus Torvalds Has Learned About Managing Software Projects. Retrieved March 24, 2018, from https://www.cio.com/article/2434502/open-source-tools/five-things-linus-torvalds-has-learned-about-managing-software-projects.html