In Review

A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams

Author: Yael Zofi
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication Date: 2011
Length: 272 pages
Price: $27.95
ISBN-13: 978-0814416594
Source: www.amacombooks.org

Leigh Isaacs

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The days of the traditional office setting are nearing extinction. Today, the workplace dynamic comprises virtual, diverse, geographically dispersed teams of individuals. With mobile devices, remote network access, and online collaboration tools, employees can be productive anywhere.

But, although technology provides the foundation that allows virtual teams to collaborate effectively, it is not the only key to their success. In A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams, author Yael Zofi writes that the human connection continues to be the key driver for business success.

Her book, therefore, focuses on conquering the obstacles to developing the collegial aspects of virtual teams and offers common sense insights for making the transition from traditional management techniques to those that produce results in the virtual world.

Establishing Personal Connections

Zofi writes that the same technology that allows organizations to reap the benefits of diversity and leverage widespread talent and resources can also present an impediment to creating the dynamic of teams of yesteryear with their personal, face-to-face, relationship-building connections.

A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams takes readers through the various aspects of managing a virtual team – from identifying the initial stages of team development, to establishing effective communication strategies, developing accountability, defusing conflict, overcoming roadblocks, and getting deliverables out the door.

Zofi reminds readers that it is no longer adequate or meaningful for managers to be agents of change – virtual managers must be “agents of connection.” They must use their energy to connect the team and to identify creative ways in which to build a collegial atmosphere of trust and energy that once developed organically.

She also writes that it is important for team members to feel they are a part of something larger and purposeful and have a meaningful connection not only to their fellow teammates, but also to the work that they are performing.

Real-world, actual case studies of challenges encountered by virtual managers lend relevance to her suggestions and provide tangible takeaways that translat concept into action.

However, while Zofi’s commonsense advice is plentiful, much of the content is repeated throughout the book, leaving readers to feel as though they are merely reading different words that convey the same idea.

Also, the concept of managing virtual teams in this book is focused primarily on project-based relationships. This perspective is valuable and relevant to many industries and organizations; however, it is now commonplace (especially in global organizations) for virtual teams to be static and longterm rather than only project-focused.

Thriving in a New Age

Virtual teams are here to stay, and those in leadership positions must learn how to effectively manage them. Today, a primary role of a leader is linking the right resources and talent to achieve goals. Virtual settings allow leaders to do this in ways they never could before, but they must be done with forethought and strategic, deliberate planning.

Zofi’s practical, straight-forward presentation and real-life case studies ultimately made this book an intriguing read, offering the right balance of easy-to-implement, innovative strategies with the validation of common sense management techniques that benefit even the most seasoned manager. The author’s combination of research and practical experience adds credibility to her recommendations.

Managers at any level or skill set will take away tangible skills to achieve the optimal performance from their teams – virtual or not.

Download the complete PDF version here.

Leigh Issacs can be contacted at Leigh_isaacs05@yahoo.com.

From March - April 2012