Project Management

Change From Afar: Navigating Virtual Team Members Through Change

Denene Brox

From a simple restructuring of a team to a complex business acquisition that rattles a company’s culture to its core, projects involving organizational change pose a challenge for project professionals leading virtual teams.

To successfully lead remote team members through an organizational change, project managers must find strategies to effectively communicate the purpose of the change and the implementation plan, and then ensure compliance.

“Too often, organizations view organizational change as a discrete event. Change is actually accomplished during the transitional period following an event, not at the point that something becomes different,” says Matthew Ferguson, a practice manager for ESI Consulting Group, ESI International, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

For virtual teams in particular, this transitional period is best managed through transparency, regular communication and, if possible, temporary transitional working arrangements, Mr. Ferguson says.

The payoff is well worth the effort: According to the 2011–2012 Towers Watson study Clear Direction in a Complex World, organizations that are highly effective at change management and communication are twice as likely to outperform their peers and eight times as likely to continue to exhibit new behaviors after a change is complete.

Project professionals know the importance of …

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