Thursday, 13 August 2009

Leading and Managing at Distance: Case Studies in the use of Web 2.0 tools

image: flickr Nimages DR

Caroline: dispersed team of healthcare trainers

The team of trainers, nominally co-located, would for large parts of each month be working as a dispersed team. All worked on a part time sessional basis on different projects and days of the week had consequent difficulties in communication, coordination and in finding time for the team to reflect on performance, consider improvements, undertake their own professional development and discuss new policies and training in the latest techniques.

The LAMD module gave Caroline the opportunity to undertake an analysis of these difficulties, discussing these in various forums with fellow students, and to experience for herself the uses of blogs, wikis and other relevant tools for collaboration and communication.

She chose to focus in her final project on the development of a wiki and a group web page for her team which could be used as a noticeboard, document repository and discussion forum to enable everyone to keep in touch and up to date with changes in regulations and practice.

From this she went on to develop another wiki to aid communication and collaboration in planning a CPD conference with another dispersed team.

Caroline Taylor is Lead Dental Care Professional Tutor - North East Scotland. She can be contacted at for further information.

Alison: how my leadership style has changed..

"... I have learned many things both about technology and its application to team work. I was aware of some means of online communication but had not related it to my working practice nor experienced its use. That has changed and I have now set up and administered a wiki which I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to do before. I have used blogs and accessed online learning. I did find the use of the wiki and online discussions very helpful to gain differing views and opinions.

I have also learned about my own abilities and am aware some of the pitfalls of leading and managing at a distance. I believed I had good communication skills but have become aware that these need to be better when the opportunity of face to face communication is not available. I have learned to listen to my team more and use every opportunity to give positive feedback rather than focussing on the negative. I will also be encouraging more reflective practice....

So what will I do now?

......... I could have used a better method for introducing the wiki to the team which may have been more successful. Instead of using email I plan to relaunch it with improved explanations of the benefits it could bring at the next team meeting . In this way I hope to better motivate the team to embrace new technology and to look for other means of improving the service to patients. It will also encourage the team members to think as a team and communicate with each other more consistently.

My Myers Briggs personality is ISFJ which means I like structure, hierarchy and organisation all features that are difficult with a dispersed team . I will need to work on being less controlling and more trusting of my team members’ abilities to allow them to develop their own skills. "

Alison Pendlowski is Deputy Head of Speech & Language Therapy at Perth Royal Infirmary

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