Managing virtual project teams
Managing virtual project teams

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Managing virtual project teams

1.5 Person specification

To assemble a team with the right work skills and the optimum personality mix, the project manager can draw up specifications for the people required for the team. Even where the project manager has little direct involvement in team selection, the act of drawing up a specification at least gives a clear picture of the discrepancies between the ideal person and the individual who will actually fill the post. A person specification should contain requirements relating to areas such as:

  • educational and professional qualifications and licences
  • relevant experience
  • communication and numeracy
  • personal characteristics, e.g. physical characteristics if they are required for the job
  • willingness to travel
  • team-building or administrative skills.

Job descriptions and person specifications can be used for job advertisements, interviews and any other recruitment and selection procedures that might be used (for example, psychometric testing).

Activity 2

Where the project manager has had little or no involvement in the selection of the team, what considerations or actions might be needed?

Discussion

  • Find out why each person was selected.
  • Meet separately with each team member and find out what their aspirations are.
  • Ask the sponsor or senior management for extra staff on the project if there is some key skill missing and funds for training to raise skill levels where these are weak.
  • Look for any member of the team who may be more destructive than constructive (for example, someone who is unduly aggressive with others); if any are found, talk privately and constructively to the person involved about the problem.
  • Try to get the team to set the detailed objectives, plans or schedules collectively (their ownership of what they are going to do is important).
  • Try to find a quick win for the team (e.g. an extra person, more resources, extra time) to gain the team’s confidence and establish a position of leadership.
  • Use all the team-building skills and techniques possible.
  • Evaluate the gap between the team they have been given and the ideal team (which would be fully capable of all the required project tasks and roles); determine how to manage these gaps.

Virtual team selection

When selecting members for virtual teams there is a tendency to select computer-literate individuals and those who are comfortable sharing information electronically. However, as we have seen, functional and team roles are also important, so that selecting team members with other skills is required for project success. It is clearly important to select team members to create a balanced team and training needs to be provided to improve team members’ skills. In fact, Kirkman et al. (2002) suggest that interpersonal skills may be more important in a virtual team because electronic communication is not as rich as face-to-face interactions. 

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