Business virtual team members value mentoring and coaching more than training
This mixed methods study explored perspectives of 137 virtual team members about how performance coaching, mentoring, and training contributed to their development. Coaching and mentoring were identified as significantly contributing to personal development. The relationship of training was not significant. The results can help managers focus efforts for greater impact.
Virtual teams continue to increase in popularity; yet, researchers know little about several of the human or interpersonal factors of virtual teams. Research is limited on what team members consider important in the performance coaching and personal development processes as members of virtual teams. The purpose of the mixed methods study was to explore the perspectives of virtual team members about how performance coaching, mentoring, and training contribute to their personal development as a virtual team member. Participants for the study were members of social network virtual team groups who had been members of virtual work teams. The sequential explanatory study data was from a sample of 149 virtual team members (12 for the pilot survey and 137 for the full study). The Kruskal-Wallis results, at a significance level of .05, produced significant findings for coaching and for mentoring, to reject the null hypotheses indicating perceived positive contributions of performance development efforts (coaching and mentoring) on the personal development of individual virtual team members. Training effects were not significant. Coaching of virtual workers could be more challenging for leaders and members of virtual teams. Mentoring of virtual team members was seen as a positive resource for virtual team members. Mentoring a person received was reflected in the mentoring they gave. Training of virtual workers was judged critical to their success but only 35% received training; it should be delivered in a targeted way. Some key comments from participants included: P1 – I have improved my communications skills due to lack of ability to read body language. P51 – As a virtual team member, you must have a great sense of discipline, more so than if you were to work in an office with your peers. P66 – I would not participate in a virtual environment again. P68 – I don’t think I would still be in a team if it weren’t for my growth and the relationships I gained from becoming a part. If it were just a touch-and-go situation, it would have created such an effect on me. P76 – I don’t really think it changed anything in regards to my personal development because it didn’t really have an impact on how I acted around others, and it didn’t make me work any differently. P86 – Learned to communicate more effectively. P93 – I feel that I learned more, I was less stressed, or feeling of being put on the spot at the moment, for me this was much more relaxing. P104 – From this team, I have realized that communicating online is just as important as face-to-face communications in order to be informed of what’s going on frequently. P107 – Very helpful. The general framework developed by Caya et al. (2013) integrating interpersonal, IT, and task factors facilitating the study of virtual team effectiveness supported understanding virtual team dynamics and our focus on the interpersonal processes of coaching, mentoring, and training of virtual team members.
Additional content will be provided upon request.