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How do you manage a virtual team? What about cultural differences? Is email the best way to communicate? How do you integrate team members across cultural boundaries?

This book answers all these questions and more. It is to the point and has some valuable information. As someone who has managed virtual teams before, there are a lot of helpful hints this book gives you that I wish I had when I started. As much as there is to like, I also thought that everything after Chapter 7 was not as applicable to just virtual teams. The information in Chapters 8 and onward can really be applied by any manager anywhere. Its good information, but not really enough. The authors try and take too many broad concepts and break them down for virtual teams, and the last chapters have a whole lot of good information, but not much great information.

Pros
* Easy to read, well organized
* A lot of good information
* First seven chapters are excellent

Cons
* Last half of the book loses focus
* Would have liked information on building virtual teams (ie, what sites to use, what screening questions, etc.)
* Best information is contained in side bars and bonus boxes rather than the actual text

All in all, this would be a great book to pick up for anyone who has to manage virtual teams or is thinking about managing virtual teams. Recommended. Also, for some practical information on how to build virtual teams and utilize them, pick up The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content. as well.
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on June 24, 2014
After reading this book, I decided to buy a copy for my contact center management team. We have a work at home contact center, small contact center with about 100 agents in season. In the management or leadership team, we have three supervisors, five team leaders, and two managers. We all must work together daily without being together in the same building or even the same city. I planned a monthly "book review" for a chapter in the book. There was a "homework assignment" to read a chapter and then usually do a little something before our conference call (usually making a list, writing down thoughts or ideas from the chapter, whatever would be good to have them prepared for some discussion about the chapter). Really a great exercise and use of this book! Highly recommend finding a copy if you work with remote teams!
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on August 5, 2014
This book is not only good for learning how to manage virtual teams, but it is also applicable to many other leadership positions. The book does a great job explaining it's concepts, but a good instructor coupled with the book WILL maximize the potential one gains from this book.
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on May 31, 2011
In the "Manager's Guide to Virtual Teams," readers will find more than the typical team leader and team-building information, as it goes beyond the meeting room to encompass members located elsewhere and the issues this brings for the team and leader. Yes, the book covers team basics like: budget, charter, collaboration, communication, decision making, goal setting, roles with responsibilities and accountability, operating guidelines, performance feedback, problem solving, and trust. And the Fishers go beyond that to explain how these things may be more important to or more difficult for virtual teams. Why it is important for the team to understand business and their customer is also presented. The virtual team issues of members being in different geographical locations, across multiple time zones and work shifts, as w ell as dealing with varying cultures is emphasized throughout the book. The use of technology such as telephone, email, internet meetings, texting, videoconference, and etcetera is discussed. Tips on obtaining work/life balance for the manager and their team members are also provided.

As a leader's guidebook , case studies and assessments for the team leader are included for use in planning, as well as a checklist at the end of every chapter to review main points. Plus helpful activity instructions are available in the chapters where the leader should facilitate a particular type of discussion with their team.
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on May 24, 2011
"There was a time when some experts wondered if an effective work team was even possible if its members were not physically located together." Kimball and Maureen Fisher

Most of us now either work or know someone who does in "virtual," or non-face-to-face, environments. This new work innovation presents special challenges, benefits and obstacles whether workers are in the same country or increasingly, in several different countries around the world.

Organized Format Expedites Learning

The book contains seventeen concise yet detailed chapters introduced by enlightening quotes. There are also ample table of contents and index sections. The co-author's writing style is engaging, conversational and knowledgeable. "Key Terms" sections quickly explain concepts that may be unfamiliar to the reader. I liked this feature since it provided easy access for future reference. There were also helpful sidebar items to reinforce integral points such as "For Example" and "Smart Managing". I also enjoyed the "Manager's Checklists" at the end of each chapter which was another innovative feature to help virtual team managers.

Practical Advice

One of the most salient features of this book was its generous doses of common-sense advice. For example, "We have a business contact in Moscow who has an 11-hour time difference from our location in Portland, Oregon. Every virtual meeting requires someone to work outside of the "normal" 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. In these cases, do your best to minimize this problem by choosing the least disruptive times." Or one that few writers would have had the courage to include: "If you discover that deep-seated or irreversible cultural biases exist on your team (members of warring groups or religious sects, for example), you may have to adjust your staffing."

Cluttered Layout in Some Areas

At times, too much information was presented in small spaces due to the chosen book layout and sidebar features. Even though this is a "Briefcase Book," I believe that more white space in some areas (for the physical book which I read) might have made this publication easier to read. This is not a criticism of the excellent content; however, a longer book (it was 214 pages before the index) might have made a few sections less cluttered. Some readers may not mind. Especially if they use this book more as a reference source than a daily guide.

Notable Quotes

"One of the most important things you can do is learn to be sensitive to the culture of others."

"Some people work well on virtual teams, and some don't."

"Rudeness is magnified many times over when you are not face-to-face."

"If it's (e-mail) more than a screen-page-length, it's too long."

"Do not stockpile feedback."

Useful for Any Type of Manager

This book addresses key themes for virtual managers as they formulate strategies to handle a new frontier. It will also assist more traditional managers due to its practical advice and case studies.

Please Note

A McGraw-Hill representative provided me with a complimentary review copy of this book. I was not monetarily compensated for the review by any party that would benefit from a positive analysis.
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on September 20, 2012
I felt this was a good book, was organized well and easy to read. In fact I was really encouraged by the first half of the book but then it kind of lost its steam and almost just dwindled away. It did not provide solid action steps with detailed instructions to building your own virtual team, not to my liking anyway. Overall its a good bok and do recommend it but wish they would fix the last few chapters and really give solid steps to put in place.
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