Practical Tips for Leading Virtual Teams
EDI Tip Sheet for Virtual Collaboration
This tip sheet (PDF) was created by ALSC's Organizational Effectiveness Committee (2021) to support ALSC Committee Chairs in preparing, coordinating, and managing their virtual meetings.
Goals and Expectations
The charge and goals of the committee, as well as the expectations of the individual members, must be made very clear and communicated to all. Expectations must clarified and reiterated in writing. It’s important that all members understand the expectations of their involvement and any tasks they have been delegated.
Getting to Know Your Members
Prior to embarking on official business, chairs should take the time to get to know their members. To successfully operate in a virtual environment, the technology skills and access of the members must be assessed.
In a virtual environment, communication needs to occur often. Regular communication helps members to stay focused and keeps projects moving forward. You will want to communicate frequently, monthly at minimum. If you have delegated a task, make sure to check in and make sure that the member is progressing and to see if any additional information or assistance is needed. Remember to communicate in such a way as to invite feedback, and to initiate discussion among members.
Maintain an Information Bank
It is essential for any collaborative project, whether virtual or not, to have a central repository to store all information and for all members to have access to the repository. This is where processes are documented and communications archived. It makes sense for a virtual collaborative to have a virtual repository such that regardless of location, all members can access it. This also makes the information accessible to any new members. The subsequent chairs can then have the committee’s previous efforts at their fingertips. ALA Connect is the tool you should use for your committee's information bank. It is essential that you store all relevant information on ALA Connect so that it will be accessble to future chairs. If you have ever taken over as chair of a committee and found absolutely no records to help you, you know why we want everyone to use one tool for this - ALA Connect!
Provide Support, Instruction and Training
Make sure members can contact you and can convey any concerns. While it is recommended that most communication take place among the entire committee, let members know that they can contact you directly if they have concerns they are more comfortable expressing privately. Don’t assume your members are familiar with all the tools you will be using. Reflect back on what you learned when you assessed members technology skills. Members may benefit from training and the opportunity to practice with various tools. Make sure to provide these opportunities and provide the support and assistance needed for members to comfortably and confidently participate.