Assessing the Effectiveness of a Virtual Team Leader

In a previous post, we looked at members of virtual teams using information from the book “Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams .” This post provides a summary of the sample self-assessment based on the 7 competencies of effective virtual team leaders in the book. This mini-assessment is for managers to use to decide if they are ready to lead a virtual team. If this assessment shows the manager is lacking in any area, they can use the book and other tools to fill-in the missing pieces for a more successful team.

To take the assessment, rate yourself by asking the questions below and answering using this scale:
4 = Always , 3 = Frequently, 2 = Sometimes, 1 = Never
Any areas in which a potential leader has a score less than 3 may imply a need for research and learning on the part of the future virtual team leader.

1. Leader
  • Help the team understand what it is responsible for?
  • Respond to communication from team members within 24 hours?
  • Empower the team by ensuring it has the authority, resources, and accountability it needs?
  • Provide effective interventions for teams, including face-to-face meetings on a regular basis?          (See my next post for an activity to jump start team meetings.)
  • Ensure effective information-sharing, problem-solving, and decision-making processes are in place?
  • Manage by sharing info/data, not by unnecessary rules and regulations?

 2. Results Catalyst
  • Focus on results?
  • Clearly state the limits within which the team can make decisions?
  • Actively support team decisions that are within stated boundaries?
  • Strive to manage by guiding principles rather than policy only?
  • Make sure the team establishes and uses operating guidelines?
  • Establish clear performance goals and metrics jointly with the team and discusses regularly?

3. Facilitator 
  • Model good meeting preparation and facilitation?
  • Help the team use effective decision-making processes?
  • Sensitive to group dynamics and deals effectively with dysfunctional behaviors?
  • Help the team solve problems; ensures the use of problem-solving tools?                                     (Problem types include: Technical, People, and Business)

4. Barrier Buster
  • Actively work to remove unnecessary, policies, procedures, and practices that hinder team performance?
  • Correct differences between what the company says it wants people to do and what it rewards people for doing?
  • Work with team members to help them overcome feelings of isolation?
  • Help the team to understand, recognize, and manage different kinds of conflict?
  • Recognize when he/she is a barrier to the team and takes action for improvement?

5. Business Analyzer 
  •  Communicate information about what is happening in other parts of the organization?
  •  Ensure team members know how to use communication technology effectively?
  •  Act like serving the customer is the most important priority?
  •  Discuss specific data about with the team on a frequent basis?
      (Data includes: Product/Service performance, Competitors, and Finances)

6. Coach
  • Build problem-solving skills in and transfer responsibility to others by asking questions rather than giving answers?
  • Ensure team members have effective ways to communicate with each other?
  • Allocate time and money for training and development activities?
  • Deal with poor performance appropriately?
  • Exhibit good feedback skills and teach the skills to team members?
  • Ensure the team develops and uses appropriate technology protocols?
  • Technology includes email, phone, web meeting/conference tools, etcetera?

7. Living Example
  • Provide a personal example of the way people act in a team setting?
  • Admit mistakes freely and openly?
  • Follow through on agreements?
  • Willing to do things that are personally inconvenient if it helps the team?
  • Will do what is right even if it may be disruptive to personal career goals?
  • Behave consistently with corporate values and ethics?
Besides the assessment, another suggestion to team leaders from the book I found interesting was the flipping of the traditional weekly progress report. Not only do the team members send reports to managers or update the team project plan, the leader sends a report to the members of what he/she is doing for team and provides advance notice of when he/she is available/unavailable.

The above assessment is an excerpt from chapter 3 of the book “Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams” authors Kimball Fisher and Mareen Fisher , copyright 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Permission to reprint was granted by the publisher.  
Disclaimer: McGraw Hill makes no representation or warranties as to the accuracy of any information contained in the McGraw-Hill material, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall McGraw-Hill have any liability to any party for special, incidental, tort, or consequential damages arising out of or in connection with the McGraw-Hill Material, even if McGraw-Hill has been advised of the possibility of such damages.
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