Monday, November 21, 2011

Leading a Dispersed Team

Dispersed teams have members scattered across a country, region or the globe. In the humanitarian and development aid sector, dispersed teams are becoming commonplace, but learning to manage and lead them is a challenge of culture, technology and time zones. The Center for Creative Leadership offers advice to team leaders, supervisors and managers faced with organizing, leading and motivating these far flung groups of people. In addition, People In Aid provide a distant management workshop to support help managers develop their teams successfully.

Launching the Team. The long-term viability of dispersed teams depends on how well leaders prepare. Pre-launch preparation can make the difference between failure and success.

It may be useful to ask these questions :

• What best practices do the team exhibit and how can they best be utilized and built on ?

• Are lower-level employees allowed to make their own decisions ?

• Are HR policies in place to deal with recognizing and rewarding both individual members and the whole team, and equally...

• ... policies to help expatriates and others working from a distance deal with feelings of isolation, not being included etc?

• Do you provide and support stable, user-friendly communication technology at every site where team members work ? Webcams and similar technology vastly improve dispersed team performance and sense of belonging

• Will the organization help identify potential team members who are motivated, self-managing, comfortable with technology and the dispersed environment, with project management and communication skills?

The First Meeting. You can’t overstate the importance of a dispersed team’s first meeting. Separated by time, distance and culture there’s only a brief period to clarify goals, build relationships and secure commitment. Because of this, the teams first meeting should be face-to-face. Members who have met in person are more likely to have less disagreements and conflicts about personal issues between team members – a boon to ongoing performance and productivity.

Two points to carefully consider:

1)Take time zones into account. If you can’t avoid asking a member to attend in the middle of their night arrange a schedule so that this inconvenience is rotated amongst team members. (2)Social status, culture and language ability may make it difficult for some team members. Make sure from the outset the team understand that everyone is expected to contribute.

Communication. Dispersed teams require greater amounts of information and more frequent communication that local teams. Leaders need to direct special attention to both formal and informal communication. Teams need to know WHEN to communicate and HOW to communicate. Design a way for the team to document and store information so that it can create a team history.

Membership and trust:

Experienced leaders of dispersed teams use several tactics to create a sense of belonging. Keep the team informed of organizational changes, and ask the team for input + Make time for team-building activities (on line). Encourage personal contact + Hold face-to-face meetings whenever you can.

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OSHA Pulls MSD Column Proposed Rule

It had been held up since July 14 at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Jan 25, 2011

Many stakeholders and commenters will be pleased by Tuesday's announcement by OSHA that it has temporarily withdrawn a proposal to add a column for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to employers' 300 injury and illness logs. The regulation has been bottled up since July 14 at OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs; OSHA said it is withdrawing the regulation from OMB review in order to "seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the proposal and will do so through outreach in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy."

Opponents have argued the regulation is OSHA's attempt to resume ergonomics rulemaking for the first time since Congress and President George W. Bush repealed a new OSHA ergonomics standard in early 2001.

"Work-related musculoskeletal disorders remain the leading cause of workplace injury and illness in this country, and this proposal is an effort to assist employers and OSHA in better identifying problems in workplaces," Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said Tuesday. "However, it is clear that the proposal has raised concern among small businesses, so OSHA is facilitating an active dialogue between the agency and the small business community."

The agency's announcement cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics in stating that MSDs accounted for 28 percent of all reported workplace injuries and illnesses requiring time away from work in 2009.

The proposed rule would require employers already mandated to keep injury and illness records, and to record MSDs, to place a check mark in the new column for all MSDs. "Prior to 2001, OSHA's injury and illness logs contained a column for repetitive trauma disorders that included noise and many kinds of MSDs. In 2001, OSHA separated noise and MSDs into two columns, but the MSD column was deleted in 2003 before the provision became effective. This proposal would restore the MSD column to the Form 300," the agency noted. It said a joint OSHA/Office of Advocacy meeting to hear from small businesses will be announced within 30 days, with participation possible both by telephone and online.

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