Chief Information Officer
CIO, virtual teams
It's my belief that the first years of this 21st Century will be characterized as the fall of the traditional business empire and the rise or global collaborative and virtual empires.
And paradoxically, the very communication technologies enabling this transformation can be the biggest obstacle to communication.
Eric Lesser, head of human capital research for IBM’s consulting practice, told me recently that on any given day, more than 42 per cent of IBM’s employees (398,455 employees globally as of last week) report to an office outside their hometown.
How should CIOs and senior managers deal with their virtual teams ?
Eric says it's more important than ever before to maintain your network and your connections by having regular face-to-face meetings and then to build a relationship of trust, and to understand the context in which you find your distributed workers.
A similar comment came from former Accenture financial services partner Mark Allaby: "When running large project teams in India and Manila, we didn’t just pick up the phone and say, ‘Right, guys, we’re a team, let’s get to it’. We had to go and build relationships. We sent people at all levels from the onshore teams and had some of the offshore guys come onshore. If you don’t do this you just get a lot of talking but no real communication."
I believe that leaders of the new corporations need to be both more flexible and more aware of staff slipping into technology and out of communication. Inter-personal skills such as team-building, collaboration and relationship focus are critical to powerful and effective leadership in a virtual world.
Leaders need to propel their teams into face-to-face relationships and avoid
the situation that one executive described to us, where a group of people —
occupying three different floors of the same building — regularly communicated.