Virtual teams are more common than ever. They allow companies to expand their reach and provide employees with opportunities they would not have otherwise had. However, managing virtual teams also comes with unique challenges that require special solutions.
Managing virtual teams can be difficult for both managers and employees alike. As a virtual team manager, you need to find ways to communicate with your team effectively. You also need to make sure your team knows what they should do and keep them motivated to produce high-quality work.
We know how challenging this can be because we’ve been there ourselves! That’s why we created VirtualTeams.net – an all-in-one media platform for cutting-edge advice and solutions for successful virtual team managers and entrepreneurs.
In this article, we will discuss all of the necessary steps and strategies a virtual team manager should undertake to successfully lead his or her remote teams without any confusion or frustration.
What Is A Virtual Team?
A virtual team is a group of people who work together and collaborate remotely. This way, they can meet in person less often than if the whole company is at one office location.
Virtual teams have no physical barriers, which means that they can work together from anywhere in the world. They allow for members to focus on their specific projects without being distracted by co-workers nearby because virtual collaboration could happen anytime via email, video conferencing, and online project management tools rather than face-to-face interaction.
How Do You Manage Virtual Teams Successfully?
Virtual teams are a great way to collaborate on projects and remain connected with co-workers around the world.
So how do you manage them successfully?
Here are some tips to help keep in mind: set clear goals, create roles for your team members, establish a process of work structures that promote productivity within virtual environments.
It is also vital to communicate and trust your employees while encouraging creativity and innovation among the team. You need to include employees during decision-making processes, so they feel valued by their company too.
Set Clear Goals And Objectives For Your Virtual Team
Be sure to consider carefully: 1) what each team member would like from their team role; 2) whether they possess the skill set required to succeed in their position, and 3) how long it may take them to complete their tasks per week. Hence, there are no surprises when it comes time for project completion deadlines.
Everybody on your team should know what you expect of them. You need to formulate and write down goals, and it is desirable that team members actively collaborate on the process to create a roadmap that will help them meet their plans for the year. This way, everyone will know how to manage their work time better.
You should stimulate your virtual team’s creative thinking not just during brainstorm sessions but all day long, with each individual doing whatever he or she can do to make progress towards shared business objectives.
Innovative ideas come from everywhere, so you need to encourage your team members to provide feedback about how things are going and any ideas for process improvements. Ensure you have an open-door policy at work by making yourself available regularly throughout the week so people feel comfortable coming up with new suggestions and ideas.
Tips on how to set up clear goals and objectives:
- Ask yourself a series of questions: “Is our objective specific?”, “Am I clear about who is responsible for accomplishing each task?”, “Do I know what needs to happen for us to achieve our goals?”, “Have I set any clear timelines or milestones along the way?”, “Is everyone in my team well aware of what I expect of them?” etc.
Define Clear Roles For Your Virtual Team Members
The other important piece of this puzzle is to figure out what exactly you expect from each virtual team member. This approach helps you set expectations and gives your team members a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the success or failure of specific company goals and objectives.
It’s also an opportunity for everyone involved to identify any gaps or overlaps that may need addressing. Hence, nobody feels like tasks are being left undone due to someone else doing those same things and opportunities where two people with complementary skillsets might make great partners with one another.
Don’t Be Afraid To Give Guidance.
It’s easy for virtual team members to feel like they have no idea what their manager wants from them, and instead of clarifying the specific tasks needed, managers often jump in and do it themselves. While this may seem like a quick fix on your part, you’ll find that it creates resentment between yourself and your remote employees.
Take some time to lay out the necessary steps before directing your employee towards these goals. This approach will ensure everyone has clear expectations about where they are going and how long each step will take, so there’s less confusion or frustration down the line.
Tips on how to provide clear guidance to virtual team members:
- Clearly define expectations by providing detailed steps for every task needed.
- Make sure to provide a timeline, a deadline, and the necessary resources each step will require (i.e., any documents or software that need to be downloaded).
- Ask your team members if they have any questions about anything so you can address them before work begins on the project.
While this may seem like more of an initial investment of time than it’s worth, it saves both parties from headaches down the line when everyone knows what you expect from them and how much time there is until project completion.
Establish A Work Process And Structure For Your Virtual Team
It is essential to establish a clear path that will lead your team in the direction of success. This approach may involve establishing individual roles, values, or guiding principles, which you need to communicate clearly with your team.
You might even want to have these items written down somewhere where all employees can easily access them to minimize confusion and boost efficiency during meetings when things need clarification.
The goal should always be to ensure every remote worker has access to this information, know what their role entails, how long it’ll take to accomplish each task, and what deadlines they need to meet the way.
Tips on how to establish a transparent work process and structure:
- Clarify the team structure and organization charts.
- Make sure all team members know how to contact each other, if necessary. If they are in different time zones or work at additional hours of the day, it’s a good idea to make them aware of an appropriate time for them to reach out on social media accounts (like Twitter, Skype, or Facebook messenger). This way, everyone can adjust their schedules accordingly, so there won’t be any misunderstandings that might lead to miscommunication.
- Create a clear timeline for the project, including deadlines and milestones. These will help you and your team keep track of how things are progressing. If a task becomes too complex for one person, adjust the timeline to indicate that it needs to be split up or delegated.
- The most crucial aspect, though, is communication – make sure all tasks have clear deadlines, which employees know about in advance, and discuss any potential problems before they become issues.
- Discuss any potential future problems before they happen.
- Set up regular online team meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Have Clear Communication Guidelines For Your Virtual Team
It is crucial to set up clear communication guidelines and rules to make sure that team members can communicate smoothly. There should be a designated channel for questions or feedback and announcements, so people won’t doubt what they are supposed to do.
Having these established communication guides will help you avoid confusion between your remote workers, which results in more productivity at work.
Tips on how to set clear communication guidelines:
- Establish a designated channel for questions and feedback as well as announcements.
- Include the appropriate channels for each task on the team’s project page, so it is easy to find when you need them.
- Provide team members with contact information of other remote workers they work closely with, which will help them stay in touch more effectively.
- Set up regular online meetings depending on what works best for your virtual team, such as video chats weekly, daily standups via chat/video conferencing apps at specific times during the day, etc.
Build Trust With Your Virtual Team
When managing remote workers, building a trusting relationship and ensuring that everyone has enough autonomy is crucial for your success.
Setting up clear guidelines for what you expect from each individual will give them the freedom to do more while still having guidance on how they should execute their tasks.
Tips on how best to build trust with your virtual team:
- It is vital to have a trusting relationship with your team members. Set clear guidelines so that everyone will know what you expect of him or her. Don’t micromanage but be willing to help if any issues or problems arise.
- Be transparent about your expectations. Allow your virtual team members autonomy in their work performance and check-in now and then without feeling too intrusive.
Encourage Creativity and Innovation Among Your Team Members
A virtual team manager should create an environment for their remote workers that is both collaborative and creative. This way will help the entire group work better together and produce more innovative ideas.
Managers should encourage creativity and innovation by asking their team members for suggestions about improving things. They might also want to set challenging but achievable goals to promote the best out of each person.
The best way to get your creative juices flowing is by establishing a collaborative environment. The collaboration will lead people out of their comfort zones to be more flexible with what they’re used to doing before. This new perspective on life and work may allow them to explore different ideas than usual, proving fruitful.
Tips on how to create an environment of creativity and innovation:
- Encourage team members to collaborate on different projects for ideas to cross-pollinate into new concepts while also supporting their passions.
- Utilize the power of social media to create a collaborative environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and team spirit.
- Have team meetings with all individuals at least once per month for collaboration purposes.
- Provide your team members with virtual spaces where creative thinking is encouraged and supported.
Include Employees in the Decision Making
One of the keys to successful management is allowing your team members a voice in decisions.
By including your virtual team members in decision-making, you’ll get feedback from everyone on how best to approach challenges.
Tips on how to include your team members in decision making:
- Use online tools to facilitate discussion and collaboration.
- Hold regular meetings with the entire virtual team on video chat so that everyone feels involved in decision-making.
- Exchange messages/emails with your team about decisions as they’re happening – not just when it’s time for an update meeting or a review session.
- Respect your virtual team members’ opinions and sharing ideas, and always provide timely feedback on them.
How To Build Effective Virtual Teams?
Managing virtual teams may be challenging because their members naturally don’t have the same camaraderie or a unified sense of purpose as face-to-face groups. So they can fail to reach their full potential.
Virtual teams need a clear understanding of what is expected from them for everyone on the team to play an active role in completing tasks. Otherwise, diffusion of responsibility happens because it’s easier to email back and forth about unfinished items.
Virtual team members need to understand that they will be working for extended periods with others who might not share their culture or native language to create high-quality products efficiently.
They also need good communication skills to feel like they are part of the team even if everyone cannot meet face-to-face often. This approach means using Skype, Facetime, Google Hangouts, etc., tools that introduce video conferencing capabilities into everyday life.
What is the leadership style best for managing virtual teams?
If you are managing virtual teams, your leadership style is essential. You need to communicate and motivate teams effectively to do their jobs without any issues or distractions.
The best way to do this is by embracing the following three leadership styles: directive, participative, and coaching leadership styles.
Directive Leadership Style
One particular leadership approach that has been gaining popularity in recent years is the directive leadership style. This type of leader gives clear guidance and expectations for what needs to be done by subordinates who work under them while also giving them the freedom to achieve their goals as long as it follows company policy or strategy.
Participative Leadership Style
Participative leadership is a style that draws upon the strength of all participants in a group. This type of leader facilitates and encourages active participation from those around them to solve problems, develop new ideas, or have fun.
To be genuinely participatory, leaders need to listen and respond actively by asking questions and making eye contact when talking. Hence, people know their voice matters.
Coaching Leadership Style
Coaching is an essential aspect of leadership that will be crucial for virtual team managers. With the lack of physical proximity, it becomes challenging to make face-to-face connections with co-workers and foster a sense of camaraderie.
Virtual teams rely on strong written communication skills and consistent visual cues via video conferencing software (e.g., Skype). The coaching leadership style should guide to facilitate motivation among employees by providing feedback and offering praise where due while also establishing clear goals at regular intervals so your team can make progress towards achieving them.
How Virtual Teams Work Together?
One of the most exciting aspects of virtual teams is how they work together despite being so scattered. Without any physical meetings, managers and their teams must be extra vigilant with their communication because there can’t be as many back-and-forth conversations in a single day.
Another aspect that makes things more challenging for remote workers is ensuring everyone has all the necessary information at hand when needed. After discussing these challenges, it’s no surprise why some people say you need an “online personality” before doing any online collaboration.
Virtual teams are heavily reliant on text, email, online project management tools, and video conferences. These communication platforms are easier to manage when more people live in a different location/time zone or across the world from one another because of their convenience.
One should start with a concrete plan on how they want team members to interact before implementing any new communication tools, as it will make things smoother for everyone involved.
Enjoyed this article? Learn more about virtual team management here: 6 Tactics on Creating a Highly Effective Virtual Team and here: Managing Successful Virtual Teams – 6 Tactics For Success
With the proper management, your virtual team can be highly successful. The key to success is setting clear goals and objectives for each person on your remote team. You should also establish a work process that they follow and guidelines for communication.
Establishing trust with your employees will make you more likely to get their best performance, but it takes time to build this relationship. Creating an environment where people feel safe enough to collaborate, ask questions, and help keep things fresh even when working remotely.
Lastly, include those same employees in decision-making processes not just about day-to-day tasks but about strategic decisions too.
We hope that these tips help you in your remote team management. If not, we can always provide you with additional guidance on picking up one or more of these skills and turning them into habits for success. It’s never too late to start!