We’ve been asked by many of our customers for periodic, no-nonsense emails with just-in-time information for managers and knowledge workers on how organizations work. This is our 6th edition and we hope you enjoy it.
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What We're Reading
The Distance Manager. Kimball Fisher & Mareen Duncan Fisher. McGraw-Hill, 2001
Quick Guide to Interaction Styles and Working Remotely. Susan K. Gerke & Linda V. Berens, Telos Publications, 2003.
There are many books about working in a virtual world and a client recommended these two. Both are very good sources of how-to’s. The Distance Manager has lots of short chapters with extensive examples of how to achieve the seven competencies the authors have identified as critical to success. The competencies are not different from success in managing a co-located team (that’s a team that is in the same location).
However in all the research I’ve reviewed, there is a clear consensus that managing virtually takes much more skill and time. A somewhat effective manager of a co-located team will not be successful with a virtual team. The way you manage also matters. One of the sentences that jumped out at me from this book was this one, “Autocratic leaders, even nice or intelligent ones, are rarely successful with virtual teams, which depend on each individual to willingly contribute his or her full effort.” (pg. 20) Autocratic leaders still exist; however, how they manage just does not translate well across the mediums used by virtual teams (i.e., email, Instant Messaging, voicemail, and teleconferencing).
The second book, the Quick Guide to Interaction Styles and Working Remotely, is a kind of a ‘thin book.’ It is short and yet full of definitions and specific ideas of what to do to build trust and relationships with remote workers. The book also includes a generic ‘style’ model. Styles are how your brain operates and many people have taken style inventories such as MBTI, DiSC, and Strength Finders among many others. I find that most style inventories have something in common with the others so this generic model and the accompanying suggestions will be helpful if you have any experience with an instrument. The authors give ideas of how to specifically manage a ‘type’. While all team members want to be treated fairly, they probably shouldn’t all be treated the same because of these innate differences. I also found that most of the tips and tools listed in the appendix include many of the ones I offer in my TeleClass on virtual management. I came up with my list through extensive research so this book will save you from that large investment of time. Like the first book, this resource is just as applicable to managing co-located teams.
Both books are available on Amazon.com.
Because of the increased number of virtual teams and remote workers, a need for training in a virtual manner has also increased. I recently attended and presented at a regional conference of ASTD (American Society of Training & Development). I went to as many of the e-learning sessions as I could and came away excited about where Thin Book’s work and products are headed. Many e-learning vehicles have one person sitting at a computer doing a self-paced course. The challenge is to engage the different types of learners. One of the other uses of the word style is ‘learning style.’ Most people fall into one of three categories, auditory, visual or kinesthetic which means you have a marked preference for learning in a certain way. That’s why training programs try to offer different activities to capture each learning style. With exciting visuals, the visual learner is engaged; the kinesthetic learner is engaged while typing in responses. The auditory learner is focusing on the voice if there is one.
What greatly enhances the effectiveness of e-learning is some kind of live interaction and facilitated discussion. For this reason, all of our TeleClasses use live interaction and facilitated discussion. In the 8 months I’ve been doing these classes, I’ve not only learned from every one of them but also have been amazed at how much content can be effectively delivered in one hour to all three learning styles. It’s not perfect or the answer to all development but where it is appropriate; it presents a huge opportunity to offer ‘just in time’ learning to anyone anywhere.
We’ll be expanding these opportunities by offering podcasts of our class content. The downside of the podcast is that you don’t get the advantage of the collaborative conversation, the visuals or the activity of the keyboard. Yet, it at least gives you an opportunity to learn some new content while you’re driving, exercising or sitting on an airplane. We expect to offer our two free classes in this format within a month or so.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about virtual management or how virtual teams work in an interactive session, please consider our TeleClasses. We offer three TeleClasses on these subjects, as well as two new classes on understanding styles using the DiSC and the Team Dimensions Profile.
- April 12 - Team Dimensions Profile; 12 noon EDT
- April 13 - Virtual Team Building: How to Make 3 Cultural Differences Explicit; 12 noon EDT
- April 17 - DiSCovering Your Strengths Through DiSC: Improve Your Communication Skills & Impact Your Success; 11 am EDT
- April 24 - Virtual Team Building: The Role of the Leader; 12 noon EDT
- April 27 - Virtual Team Building: Best Practices of Virtual Teams; 12 noon EDT
Consider these questions:
- Do you spend a lot of time working with Indian partners and/or colleagues?
- Have you experienced frustrations in working with Indian partners?
- Have you experienced learning, joy and success in your work with Indian partners?
As promised last month, we are now offering a new class: How to Work Effectively With Indian Partners. Come and learn about some of the theoretical and practical ways to succeed in working with Indian partners. We will discuss your experiences, address questions and provide a host of practical, tactical and TESTED tips on successful cross-cultural work with India.
Sessions are scheduled for April 10 & June 21. Enrollment will be available on www.thinbook.com starting April 2.
Thanks for your interest and support.
Sue Annis Hammond