IC TIG Week: Boundless Teams; Endless Possibilities by Maria Viteri Vela and Robert Perez

Hello good people. We are Maria Viteri Vela and Robert Perez. Maria is the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and Robert is a Research Assistant at Hamai Consulting. We would like to introduce to you the start of the Independent Consulting TIG Week! The topic this week is Independent Does Not Mean Alone (Collaboration and Community Building).

Team members work on opposite sides of the world, and yet, we often work together online, harboring trust and collaboration despite not sharing a shared physical office. This work space arrangement has become more and more common as time goes by. Virtual teams may become a challenge to manage if not and communication may get muddled. Still, being a part of a virtual team carries with it a ton of opportunities and allows us to work without many of the boundaries experienced in a physical office.

Our main tool for communication is Microsoft Teams. Teams allows us to create multiple virtual rooms, separated by project. However, it’s not all work and no play. There’s a special room, where we can talk about topics that are meaningful to us on a personal level.

Hot Tip: As there is no “water-cooler” in a virtual office, create one! This could be a separate virtual chat room, email list, a Facebook page, or even a Discord server for your team to interact outside of work and projects. Ideally, it would be a safe place for them to convene and just chat about anything non-work related.

Our team’s management strategy is one of our strengths. The tasks are divided to ensure that the work that Robert does is complementary to Maria’s work, and vice versa. This way, we can ensure that we incorporate each team member’s experience and know-how into producing high-quality results.

Hot Tip: Roles, responsibilities, and processes were clearly defined within the first weeks since the virtual team was created. Although it can be easy to disconnect from work in a virtual setting, our team established and enforce a rhythm of communication. We provide frequent updates on each of our individual projects. We highlight what’s been completed, challenges, successes, and next steps. In addition to project monitoring, this practice helps us maintain ongoing communication.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating IC TIG Week with our colleagues in the Independent Consulting Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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