Scenario Analysis: Near Virtual Disaster Handling Virtual Team Meetings


Sara was the frustrated leader of a virtual team who could not seem to get its act together.  Meetings rarely started on time. Many members, despite having agreed to the time and date of the meeting in advance, did not show up at all. Unfortunately, their participation was critical to the team's work and joint decision making. Sara scratched her head. Perhaps she was not setting the proper agenda. For the next meeting, she did everything right on the agenda and still had the same problems. Next, she decided that maybe the technology was inappropriate or not enabling the meeting as much as it could. For the next several meetings, she "experimented" with new and exciting technological approaches. Although they worked better than the ones she had been using, this seemed to make matters worse by frustrating the participants. Next, she tried to be sure to work on the "people" issues, including ensuring that language was not a barrier, encouraging dissenting views, and so forth. Still the attendance and quality of the dialogue did not improve. She finally decided to enlist the help of a facilitator. They spent several hours redesigning the next meeting. The result was as poor as the other attempts: two members of the five did not show up at all, one could stay for only ten minutes of the one-hour meeting, and the dialogue splintered into so many directions that neither she nor the facilitator could get the meeting back on track. That night, Sara and the facilitator went to dinner and talked at length about what was wrong. Sara realized that her problem was not the meeting agenda, the technology, the facilitation, or maximizing the contribution of every member. The dysfunction came from the fact that the wrong level of people were on the team, given the nature of the task at hand. After months of anguish and near virtual disasters, Sara realized that virtual meetings can suffer from the same issues as non-virtual meetings. Unfortunately, sometimes when we are working virtually, we go to the technology or the nature of the virtual space to solve the problem. There are times when the problem comes back to old-fashioned "Meetings 101".  Had Sara realized that the problem was in the team makeup itself, she could have saved herself and everyone involved a great deal of anguish and wasted time.

Points to Remember
I. Facilitating a virtual meeting includes managing the agenda, the participants, and the technology
2. Select technology that is appropriate for the outcome of the meeting. Match the use of technology to specific agenda items.
3. Leverage the agenda and the use of technology to maximize recall, the opportunity to contribute, and motivation and to reduce social pressure.
4. Make use of social protocols and best practices for using the selected technology
5. Make certain that logistics cover issues such as compatibility of technology; training ill-using new systems, and backup plans.

Knowing how to facilitate and lead meetings is an essential skill for anyone in business.

Sara feels she needs to go back to “Meetings 101.” What specific recommendations would you give to Sara?

In your document, focus on the following areas:
•    How to determine who should be present at the meeting
•    How to handle uninvited “guests” who show up for the meeting


The question belongs to Management and it is about virtual team maintenance. In this scenario, Sara, a virtual team leader was facing issues with her team in terms of coordination and meetings. She has realized after several failed attempts that the problem was with the people in the team. The solution offers recommendations that can help in building up communication and coordination among the team.

Total Word Count 542


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