Maybe a few key office staff spend one day of the week working from home, or your sales team needs to be on the road selling while collaborating with people in the office.
Virtual collaboration is here to stay. In today’s distributed business environment, many companies are using virtual teams to take their company to the next level.
So…how do you manage virtual teams effectively? It’s not all that different than managing teams in a brick and mortar office. It’s about empowering, communicating and equipping.
Empowering: Give Up Micromanaging
In order for your team to be productive in a virtual environment, they cannot be micromanaged. (This may take some reprogramming!)
As team leaders, I’m sure none of us will actually admit that we micromanage….but look in the mirror and be honest. We’re controlling by nature.
Give members on your team the ability to make decisions on their own. Don’t waste their time with 20 emails a day. If they’re answering your emails, they’re not spending their time effectively.
Let them know that they will be responsible for their own tasks, and hold them responsible for the outcomes. Allow them freedom to make mistakes.
It is far better to make a mistake doing something, than miss opportunities by doing nothing. So give your team the authority to make decisions.
Communicating: Be Crystal Clear
Have you ever been assigned a task, but not fully understood what you were actually supposed to do?
Maybe you had to ask for clarity after the meeting because something just didn’t click. It’s easy to ask follow-up questions when your team leader is just across the hall, but it’s much more difficult when you have to wait for an answer to an e-mail.
Clear communication is important in the traditional office environment, but it’s even more important in a virtual setting.
Spend extra time to ensure your communication in meetings, e-mails and in person is clear up front. It will save you time in the long-run.
Since you communicate less, it’s important to make your communication as effective as possible.
Equipping: Find the Tools and Strategies that Work Best for You
Every team is different. Some teams communicate best through e-mail, while others can communicate quickly with just a 15 minute phone call once a day.
Just remember that every time someone is in a meeting, talking on the phone or sending you an e-mail, they are not actually getting their own work done.
There are many software options available, but find the one that works best for you and your team.
Working in a virtual team can be intimidating for managers, but the same basic management principles apply to virtual and traditional teams.
As a manager, be a resource to your team. Help them when they need help, but stay out of the way while they work. Only be involved when you are adding value to the team. You can do it!
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