Communication and collaboration are two key success factors of effectively managing virtual teams, and ultimately, making the team work efficiently for you.
Virtual teams are linked together by communication technologies that allow them to interact electronically by email, instant messaging, and Voice over IP technologies like Skype. For US based businesses, an internet-based telephone service (VoIP) is an essential tool for real time communication. Conferences can be done through telecons and video conferencing as well.
Managing virtual teams effectively and efficiently
If you’re the leader of a virtual team, keep in mind that you’re managing a set of individuals with different personalities and eccentricities. More often than not, they will be working from different time zones, at different hours. For virtual teams to work effectively, the virtual team leader should:
Set clear team goals and objectives – make sure that each team member has completely understood and accepted project goals.
Define work responsibilities and accountabilities of each member – team members should be clear with each member’s role, and how a member’s inaction or delay can affect the work that the other members are responsible for.
Supplement team conferences with one-on-one time with each member – regular online meetings should be followed up with individual discussions with each member of the team. This ensures that each member is clear with project goals and timelines. Individual issues and questions that are of a more personal or confidential nature can be addressed during this time.
Make each team member feel his or her ownership in the project – A sense of ownership leads to commitment and focused action. Allow collaborative effort for team members by involving the whole team in the decision making processes that need consensus and commitment. Set group goals and do regular group discussions of possible solutions and outcomes.
Ensure seamless communication lines – make sure there are no blocked lines of communication and each member of the team is kept fully informed of all developments at all times.
Strengthen team rapport and camaraderie within the virtual team environment – make it a point to incorporate team building activities and opportunities for extra social time with each other into your schedule. The benefits for your team are invaluable. Among other things, this smoothens relationships among team members and encourages open lines of communication.
These are just some tips that can help you effectively manage and get the most out of your virtual teams. Working with virtual teams can be a challenge, but also provides several benefits, both tangible and intangible – but this is a topic for a future post.
For the next post in the series, we’ll discuss collaboration programs or software that can further help you manage your teams and ensure seamless coordination on project goals and timelines. Until then, do you have any tips for effectively working with a virtual team? Share them in the comments.
Check out the other posts in our Virtual Teams Series:
- How to Effectively Work with a Virtual Team
- Online Collaboration Tools for Virtual Teams
- Identify yourself: don’t make it hard to figure out who’s behind your site
- Show me around: make it easy to navigate your site
- Say it, and say it well: make sure you get your message across
About Pepper Virtual Assistants
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