Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Are you building your team’s virtual learning ecosystem?

The first ever team someone manages is now often a global, virtual, cross-cultural team.  Quite a challenge. As a result all managerial onboarding should be infused with virtual working – not just a 30 minute slide deck tacked on at the end. Secondly, the move towards cross-functional, cross-organizational teams means it’s more important than ever to encourage (or some commentators say ‘push’) people to gain diverse experiences by moving across functions and geographies throughout their career.

Beyond that, in a fast-changing future, we can’t know exactly what we will need to train our people in. We know it will be different, but we don’t know how quickly digital augmentation or automation will take off. What we can do is start by building the habit of continuous learning into our people and helping them develop their own ecosystems of learning to prepare them for this environment.

Encourage your team to think consciously about who could provide thought leadership for them and how best to access this. For example, outside of the organization, choosing a diverse selection of people to follow on twitter/ LinkedIn; setting up Google Alerts for relevant key words; subscribing to relevant industry blogs and white papers (McKinsey, The Economist, Global Integration).  Inside the organization, who could they approach to be a formal or informal mentor, who could they ‘follow’ on internal networking tools?

To drive continuous learning IBM recently replaced its global LMS with a new digital learning platform that:

  • Allows employees to publish any content they feel is important
  • Curates and recommends training based on role and experience
  • Integrates external learning from across the web
  • Supports career development through recommending new jobs by looking at the patterns of their peers

However, a word of warning. The whole idea of self-directed and on-demand learning assumes that the individual will be able to identify the need and will actually do something about it. Unfortunately, as we discussed in a previous blog, a large proportion of people will never do this without a stimulus and follow up mechanism.

Looking to an even more digital future – GE and Google are using sophisticated software to understand team dynamics, speed up virtual team learning and evaluate group goals.  For example, Kannetic, a developer of collective intelligence systems is now offering a virtual team coaching platform that uses algorithms to aggregate each team members’ experiences and predictive analytics to ‘guide teams in taking practical steps to perform better together’.

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