Effective Visbility of Virtual Teams: how strong is the “dotted line”?

Virtual teams are a very effective approach to resource management. Key skills, those that require a lot of training/experience and which are difficult to recruit into, are shared across the organisation. The people who join your virtual team will, for the most part, already know how your organisation works and be familiar with the culture, so they will “hit the ground running” and not have to be briefed, given access to facilities and systems or even found a place to work. The individual will continue to report to his/her own line manager (the “solid line” on the org chart) for HR and career management, but will report to you (the “dotted line”) for the purposes of the project. Virtual teams also extend beyond the organisation boundaries to include members from both the customer and suppliers. In the ideal world, this is an efficient way to organise. Teams are brought into being for the purposes of a project then dispersed again to work on other tasks without complicating the HR side, or leaving an individual without effective career management. Team members can even be shared between projects to maximise utilisation of specialist skills. What happens, however, when the world is less than ideal? – Individuals have conflicted loyalty, or even pressure applied to act in certain ways or prioritise some tasks above others, from their line manager or the managers of other virtual teams -There may be a conflict between the “new project” to which the team member has been seconded and the “day job” -Pressure may be applied to “sanitise” communications between the organisation and customer, or suppliers and the organisation, for commercial purposes.   All of these situations and more can happen, have happened, and will happen again. This weeks collection of articles look at some aspects of managing virtual teams that differ from traditional management practices: Control in Virtual Teams: The Case of Boeing The Affects of Behaviour Control Mechanisms On Trust in Virtual Teams Managing Virtual Teams

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