How To Manage Your Virtual Team
March 30, 2016
At Talentmark we place life science professionals globally. Many of our successful candidates become leaders of remote teams.
Anyone with experience of virtual teams will tell you that they come with their own unique set of challenges. From making sure that everyone understands the company vision, through to the creation of trust between your virtual team members, leading a remote team successfully can take every last ounce of your management skills.
Ways to Manage Your Virtual Team With Excellence
- The importance of good project management software cannot be overestimated in the success of virtual teams. With the right collaborative tools, you’ll be able to keep track of everyone’s output, keep the entire team motivated, and even more importantly, keep them updated on the progress of projects – ridding the team of task overlap!
- Make sure all team members rigorously update their shared calendars as to their working hours to avoid wasting time waiting for responses from absent colleagues. This is particularly important if your team operates across time zones, but is just as important in local remote teams regarding holidays, appointments and sick days. On a related note, insist on a ‘rapid-response’ ethos within your team to cut down on wasted time.
- Communicate the company vision to everyone in the team so that all members are working towards the same goals.
- Hold regular meetings (virtual and in person) to keep everyone updated, check in frequently with each member of the team, and keep on top of everyone’s output so that some members don’t end up ‘carrying’ others.
It’s notoriously difficult to create bonds of trust between virtual employees, so this is a key priority for your role as a leader. For many people, the friendships they make at work are one of the best things about work, so it’s very important to replicate a feeling of sociability and positive culture within the team.
- Schedule regular meetings, but don’t launch straight into business. Start with small-talk, just as you would if you were walking into a physical workplace on a Monday morning.
- Get everyone talking on the phone from the start. Email is often stilted and it’s harder to create authentic bonds over a computer screen, so break the ice by getting your new employees to call the other members to introduce themselves. Having your experienced team members making contact with new colleagues will be well received.
- Remember that different cultures sometimes see manners and time-management in quite different ways. When you have team members from different cultures, make the effort to understand how they do business, and accommodate that where you can.
- Create a feeling of belonging where you can. Send flowers/cards/cupcakes on birthdays, and perhaps start a closed social media page where all the members of your team can chat, post fun pictures of themselves and swap travel recommendations and recipes etc- just as they would in the tea-room.
- Wherever possible, bring employees together physically for conferences or get-togethers. While you can definitely create bonds remotely, nothing can quite replace getting together for a meal or company retreat.
It’s been proven that a well-managed virtual team can be even more productive than an in-house team, yet we also know of examples where the remote team becomes fragmented, disorganised and overly individualistic. These are just a few important things you can do to make sure that your virtual team operates as the former- rather than the latter.