Virtual Teams – Need Tips to Better Manage Virtually
In concept, working remotely offers more freedom and flexibility to employees and a chance to think about teams and work differently for employers. In reality, virtual teams are a huge challenge for managers and direct reports. Research published in the Harvard Business Review found that remote employees are more likely to feel alienated or disconnected.
Too many leaders treat their virtual teams the same way they treat teams that share the same physical locations. But, when teams are virtual, you need to double down on the fundamental management and team skills that you learned in new supervisor training. You are operating in a different medium and do not have the safety net that more personal and more informal opportunities for connecting can provide. Learn the tips to better manage virtually.
Twelve Tips on How to Better Manage Virtually
Follow the suggestions below on how to foster trust, get results, and maintain connections with your virtual team:
Establish virtual team norms with your team for goals, roles, processes, and interpersonal relationships – especially communicating and sharing information. Be clear about how success will be measured, celebrated, and who is responsible for what.
The better you define expectations and align work with team members’ strengths and ambitions, the more you engender trust as a reliable and responsive leader.
Are virtual team expectations clear enough?
Does your team have the skills to thrive virtually?
Is your virtual team too big?
Are your virtual technologies, skills, and practices where they need to be?
Trust does not come easily when face-to-face interaction is a rarity. Make sure you take the time to catch up and really connect. For example, simply spending the first 10 minutes in a round robin to check in on how everyone is doing and what’s new in their life can go a long way.
Whenever it makes sense, help your team members create relationships with each other so they have a source of support, expertise, and advice other than you.
Are you fostering a culture of connection and a good team rhythm?
Are you investing the time to share good news, have fun, and remind people how important their contribution is to you, the team, and the company as a whole?
Are you behaving as you want your team to behave?
To combat people’s desire to multitask, keep meetings short and to the point, have and stick to your agenda, establish clear roles, and only invite people that make sense. Be clear about what you want to accomplish in each meeting and how you want your team to act and feel when it is over. Then think about how you need to interact with the team to achieve your objectives.
Are you setting clear expectations for what needs to occur before, during, and after each meeting?
Are you acknowledging and learning about differences to get the most out of the members on your team?
Do you have an effective and consistent way to know how your team is doing?
Advocates say that monitoring systems are built to boost productivity and make the quiet isolation of remote work better. But many workers report heightened stress and exhaustion as the lines between their work and personal lives become increasingly blurred. This is not surprising to us – micromanagement is not a sustainable path to higher performance.
While leaders may not be able to monitor team activities as closely as if they were co-located, we believe that the focus should be on results (the doing) and behaviors (the being), not effort or attendance. If goals are met, it should not matter to you how and when people do their work.
Are desired results clear, agreed upon, and aligned with your cultural norms?
Do you consistently hold one-on-one meetings with your team members?
The Bottom Line
Virtual teams have become a fact of life at work. Virtual teams can work well. They just require a strong leader who understands that working remotely has special challenges and has applied tips to better manage virtually.
To learn more tips to better manage virtually about download 10 Tips to Overcome the Top Virtual Team Challenges
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