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Evaluation of an intervention to develop interpersonal relationships in virtual teams

The purpose of this applied dissertation study was to create an intervention to assist in helping virtual team members develop interpersonal relationships necessary for successful project achievement and thus, the enhancement of organizational effectiveness. A void in the literature and research studies prompted the design of a 2-day workshop and its evaluation by expert reviewers. Personal experience in virtual teams and the need apparent in governmental agencies in California precipitated the motivation for the design. The following research question formed the basis of the research: Will an intervention, designed as a workshop, to assist virtual team members in building interpersonal relationships enhance the effectiveness of virtual teams? A formative evaluation method was utilized to collect data in order to modify the training design prior to considering a pilot workshop. Thirty-six evaluators were selected and invited to evaluate the design, each possessing experience and knowledge of virtual teams, including backgrounds in information technology, training and development, management experience, and or organization development. An evaluator packet was provided to the evaluators that included a formal invitation, a summary of the workshop and a detailed design. A mixed methodology for gathering quantitative and qualitative data was utilized using Qualtrics, a third-party search engine, for gathering the data. A total of 18 evaluators (50%) completed a 16-question survey by the deadline utilizing a Likert-type scale and by providing written comments for each question. The results indicated the design would meet the objectives, be beneficial to organizations, and that the training supported evaluators’ perception of what they felt was needed for geographically dispersed teams. The evaluators confirmed the validity of the topics, activities, flow of the design, length, pace and method of delivery. The major themes that emerged from the data included (a) a need for training on the specific technology used by virtual teams, (b) the importance of introspection by each individual member of the team, (c) the importance of developing interpersonal dynamics and relationships, (d) the need for the development of virtual team members and its resulting benefit to the organization, and (e) support for the design, its content, activities, pace and flow.