Virtual teams are becoming more and more common as technology advances. To manage successful virtual teams, it’s crucial to find ways to keep remote team members motivated and on-task.
To be a successful virtual team manager, you need to influence your team members. Having no one listen to what you say can lead to many problems such as lack of productivity and low quality work. That is why managers need to learn how to influence their teams to create an environment where people feel empowered and motivated.
Here are six key principles for managing successful virtual teams and influencing them effectively to get things done.
Always Set Clear Deadlines For Your Virtual Team
But how do you set deadlines? Here are three simple rules that you should keep in mind:
Make your deadlines reasonable
The first rule is to be reasonable about the timeframe of your deadline. If you know that a task needs at least one week, then don’t set an early deadline for tomorrow. This rule sounds obvious, but managers commonly abuse managers who think they’re clever or savvy in getting their work done quickly and efficiently without following best practices for productivity (based on scientific studies).
Being reasonable with your deadlines also helps prevent burnout among team members because everyone can have realistic expectations instead of feeling pressured into working late all the time.
If you want to know how long a task will take, ask for feedback. If you are worried about not getting an honest answer, ask for the best-case and worst-case estimate to average both of these scenarios out.
Make your deadlines completely clear
When you want a task or project done, it’s essential to be 100% clear about when. Deadlines are ineffective if they’re ambiguous, and you need to mention the specific day/date your team needs to complete the task. This way, your team members know what is expected of them without having any gaps in time for interpretation – say, “I need this done by Monday” instead of “in the next few days.“
Always set deadlines for your team
The third and final rule to manage successful virtual teams is to always set deadlines. Every single task should have a hard deadline associated with it. If you do not need an actual date, choose one out of thin air – no one will know the difference in your case anyways. And if the due date for this project falls on some undetermined future day, make sure there are checkpoints along the way to ensure you monitor progress on your upcoming tasks.
Assign Clear Responsibility
To avoid the diffusion of responsibility effect in your team, you should always assign tasks to specific people. This way, everyone will be held accountable for their work and responsibilities, which can help improve efficiency and teamwork within a virtual environment.
Some managers tend not to do this because they assume that someone from the team would pick up any slack or get it done without being asked explicitly. Still, usually, if one person has been assigned these duties, then others on the team are more likely to contribute towards other areas of weakness, rather than letting things slide by themselves while waiting for another member’s assistance.
Here are three valuable tips on how to assign responsibility the right way:
Use a direct communication style
First, you want to use straight-to-the-point language. Using plain language tells people precisely who is responsible for getting things done and avoids any confusion about who’s in charge.
Find volunteers for the task at hand
The second tip is to ask for volunteers. When a task could be accomplished by several team members, asking for volunteers has two advantages: first, when someone volunteers, the chances of getting it done increases because of an influencing principle called commitment and consistency. This principle means that people are more likely to honor commitments they signed up for rather than ones assigned to them after the fact.
Sometimes people don’t want to do what you tell them to do. When you let them choose, it helps create more productive team members. But if no one volunteers and the task needs doing, then an assignment should still be made for someone else.
Assign to concrete individuals
The third tip to prevent diffusion of responsibility within small groups is to assign specific tasks to individuals and not groups. For example, when setting a job that requires more than one person’s involvement, make sure you trust primary responsibility only to someone while giving secondary duties to others.
Always Write Down Any Tasks You Delegate
It’s essential to write down tasks when delegating them so that they get done. It’s because people are more likely to follow the instructions on paper than following verbal commands.
You want to make sure the tasks are shared verbally and in writing. This approach will increase adoption rates for your team members because they can see what is expected of them, avoiding any miscommunication that might occur if you were only verbalizing assignments during a conference call or an online meeting.
Build Trust With Your Virtual Team
One of the prerequisites for successful virtual teams is establishing trust. What does this mean? For any successful team, whether physical or online-based, to be found with confidence amongst members, then one must learn how to establish “trust.” Trust isn’t like an on/off switch. You may build trust by getting better acquainted with another person through repeated interaction.
Building trust in a virtual environment is vital to the success of virtual teams because people who can have faith and be confident that their teammates will do what they say produce more work. On top of this, those with low levels of trust may not commit fully, resulting in more unsatisfactory team performance and negative energy among team members. Building up your confidence level when it comes to trusting others might seem complicated due to factors such as culture, personality types, communication styles, or even how dispersed everyone is geographically speaking. Still, there are ways you can build these relationships if done right.
Trust is a crucial element for any successful team. Building and maintaining it can be tricky, but fortunately, there’s one secret that will help guide you as you try to foster trust among your teammates: Trust equals reliability plus likeability.
You need to build more reliable connections with the people on your team or inspire them to feel a warmer connection towards each other, leading to greater levels of trust within the group. Start by increasing either their level of reliability or their sense of likeability. This approach could work well in tandem because if they’re already feeling closer, they’ll have no problem being more cooperative when it comes time for tough decisions.
Increase Reliability Among Your Team Members
The ability of a team member to accomplish tasks in line with established objectives is what reliability means. This question psychologists call the cognitive trust component, and it answers whether or not someone can get things done reliably.
Here are some tips on how to increase reliability among your virtual team members:
Always verify your team members’ skills
You may not know it, but the root cause of the lack of reliability among virtual teams is a lack of proper team skills. There are two types of skills: technical and collaboration skills, which can be challenging to find because they’re often considered soft skills. Technical knowledge covers what you need to do your job (e.g., software development or engineering). At the same time, our second type has more to do with communicating within a virtual environment (such as communication technologies).
Team members need to be good at both technical and interpersonal skills. It would help if you asked your teammates some questions before they start their roles, including “Are you comfortable doing this task?” or “Do you have any concerns about the project?”.
Be explicit in your communication with team members
One of the most important things to do when communicating with your team is to be explicit and clear about what you expect from them. You cannot rely on someone if they are not 100% sure what they’re supposed to be doing, making it very easy for people by being specific in how tasks should get done. Keep communication going throughout whatever timeframe that task needs until you know every task is completed correctly.
Lead your virtual team by example
The third tactic to increase reliability is to set an example of how reliable you are. This approach works because your team looks up to your behavior as the standard reference point of behaving.
If you’re not reliable with your commitments, it implicitly permits them and tells them that if someone in a position like yours does this all the time, then there must be nothing wrong with doing so too. So don’t let their respect for you go unrewarded by showing yourself worthy of their esteem. Show every day what trustworthy means being.
Count on your virtual team members
Counting on others to do their job is an unknown tactic, but research shows that it can be beneficial. If you show your team members that you trust them by counting on them for things they say they will do, then the act of trusting your teammates implies reliability in return. So if someone says, “I’ll have this done tomorrow,” and we count on him or her to get it done. Our teammate becomes more reliable because he or she has proven themselves as such.
Increase The Level Of Likeability Among Your Team Members
Likeability is forming emotional ties between members of a team, and it is the practical trust component. In other words, likeability answers this question: “Do I like them enough to put my faith in their work?” You may increase likability by working with people face-to-face or using online tools such as video conferencing tools that allow for more personal interaction.
Here are some tips about how to increase the level of likeability in your successful virtual team:
Encourage social interactions among team members
One major drawback of virtual teams is that they lack the “water cooler” effect, where employees in a physical office typically gather around a water cooler to chat. Encouraging social interactions will help you create a virtual water cooler to increase team likeability and cohesion among your team.
One way to accomplish that is to start or end conversations you have in meetings with topics unrelated to work so as not only to break the ice but also to get everyone talking about their interests outside work! Spending just minutes upfront chatting away about anything informal before getting down back into business can be great for bonding over other things besides the job at hand-creating an even more supportive environment than we already have here.
If your team feels a little stuck, it’s time to try some more creative ways of bonding. One effective way is by sharing articles and videos with them on the Instant Message or email platform. Another strategy you can use when trying this method: schedule separate meetings for specific activities like games or group work.
Communicate regularly with your virtual team
This third step to increase likeability is relatively straightforward. To do so, you need to interact with your team more often than before! This way, they will become closer and friendlier towards one another as a result of regular communication. Repeated exposure through over-communication among the group will lead them from co-workers into friends in no time at all.
You should stay in touch with your team members at least once every day, even if it’s not essential. An easy way to do this is to connect with them using Instant Messaging software or give them a quick call every while for the sake of checking on things.
Organize more face to face meetings
Face-to-face meetings are vital for establishing rapport with your team. When you meet up with one another, it helps create a sense of bonding and understanding. However, suppose this is not possible due to budgetary constraints or time limitations. In that case, you may use video conferences as an alternative method for communication. This approach will bring the same level of connection among your teammates even when they cannot physically see each other’s faces in person.
Be positive with your team members
One of the best ways to increase likeability is by being positive with your attitude. No one enjoys working with individuals who are constantly negative and pessimistic. Most people will avoid these types, which can be detrimental in a virtual team environment. Although it’s pretty natural for high-stress times to occur, what matters is how you react during those times around other members of your team. Having a constant positive attitude will help keep others happy when they’re going through challenging periods.
Enjoyed this article? Learn more about virtual team management here: 6 Tactics On Creating A Highly Effective Virtual Team and here: Managing Virtual Teams [The Ultimate Guide].
Every member of your virtual team needs to be on the same page, and it will help if they like each other. By following these six tactics for managing successful virtual teams, you’ll create a more cohesive work environment where everyone is motivated to complete their tasks successfully.
Have any of these tips helped you? Let us know! We can provide expert advice on how to increase productivity in the workplace and specific industries or company sizes.