Measuring the Effects of Virtual Team Training on Performance Using the Coll-MM Framework

OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY

Teams play an important role in successful organizations. Cross-functional teams are instrumental in increasing efficiencies, reducing time to market for products and services, and improving organizational performance. The advent of the global and virtual teams, however, has created challenges associated with time, communication, and collaboration. With the growing importance of virtual work, researchers are struggling to determine how to create more efficient virtual teams. Research shows common attributes of effective virtual teams. But to date, little is known about how virtual teams are developed. Traditional team training is commonplace in organizations around the world, but teaching leadership in virtual teams is a new undertaking that requires different a curriculum and approach. Virtual team training includes all the traditional training requirements plus additional material on use of technology, respect for diversity, scheduling activities, meeting deadlines and working with teammates at a distance of both time and space. This study will gauge the effects of virtual team training on the collaborative efficiency of teams in a graduating class of online MBA students. The need for virtual team training became apparent when the first cohort of online MBA students began working in teams on case studies in their second year. Without specific guidelines about the use of technology, scheduling, communication protocols and other essential virtual team skills, the teams were force to “go it alone”. And while they finished all assignments, it was clear that virtual teams needed special guidance that their on-campus counterparts did not. In an effort to gauge the effectiveness of the virtual team training intervention, a tool developed by Boughzala and De Vreede named the Collaboration Maturity Model (Coll-MM) will be deployed before the training program and once again after the cohort has had an opportunity to apply the principles taught in the training program in their capstone strategy course.

This study is ongoing and is open only to graduate students engaging in virtual team projects. The curriculum, however is designed for any organization that uses teams (virtual or otherwise) as a means to increase productivity. If you are interested in having members of your teams take this training program please contact Dr. Valerie Whitcomb at vjwhitcomb@salisbury.edu

The program is fully online and can be completed for a grade or as a pass/fail certificate program. It is designed to be a one-month program, but an appreviated week-long program is also available. This program can also be customized for your organization’s needs.

Virtual Team Training Outline

Course Overview:

Working in teams is different from working in groups. Groups typically divide responsibilities to lessen the workload, while teams use the unique strengths of the members and solid practices to achieve a greater purpose. Team training has been used in organizations of all types for many years, but virtual teams have unique requirements that cannot be addressed by traditional team training programs. This short, virtual team training program is designed to provide all the basics of regular team training plus the special areas that must be addressed by teammates who are working, through technology, at a distance in time and space from one another.

Learning Objectives:

This short virtual team training program is designed to provide you with all the basic tools you will need to be a member of an effective virtual team. At the conclusion you will be able to:
• Demonstrate the need for getting to know your teammates, including their outside commitments, availability and strengths.
• Create a mission for the team
• Create a communication charter including interacting with outside stakeholders
• Establish group procedures concerning achieving project tasks and deliverables
• Author a meeting agenda and take minutes
• Use all aspects of virtual team technology including announcements, wiki-pages, discussion forums, collaborative documents, files and conferencing software
• Apply the basic principles of shared leadership in a virtual team setting including providing constructive feedback, managing to deadlines, and correcting deficiencies
• Understand conflict management in a virtual setting
• Contribute to a productive team decision-making process
• Use standardized revision control protocols for all work products

1. Establish Team Identity
• Mission and Purpose (for which the team is established)
• Team Member Introductions (roles outside of class and diversity)
• Trusting Your Teammates (commitment/reliability/availability)
• Guiding Principles and Shared Vision
• Communication Charter
• Managing External Stakeholders
• Establish member strengths and weaknesses

2. Policies, Processes & Procedures
• Establish Primary Roles
• Outline the Project
• Determine Project Tasks
• Set Deliverables
• Leading Virtual Meetings (checklist, agenda, and minutes)

3. Collaborative Technologies
• The use of MyClasses Canvas for Virtual Team Collaboration
• Announcements
• Pages (Wikis)
• Discussions
• Files
• Conferences
• Collaborations

4. Shared Leadership
• Adhering to Deadlines
• Feedback Protocols
• Incorporating Improvements
• Making Decisions
• Managing Conflicts

5. Knowledge Acquisition & Management
• Managing Research Materials
• File Management & Revision Control
• Written Communication
• Managing Multimedia

For Faculty and Managers

6. Managing Virtual Teams
• Interacting with the Team
• Status Checking
• Providing Timely Feedback
• Mentoring
• Measuring Team Performance
• Measuring Individual Member Performance