How Do You Effectively Lead a Virtual Team?
In the past, we have witnessed the rise of the Internet and the rapid development of technology, among other things. For a few months already, we have been witnessing the growing popularity of virtual or remote teams. Whether we like remote work or not, this work concept is keeping the global economy afloat. But, how do you lead a virtual team effectively?
Although virtual teams have been around for some time, some managers are still having trouble running a team composed of remote workers. On top of that, they have to turn their teams into high-performance ones in case remote work becomes a part of the new normal. For this reason, take a look at some useful techniques to help you virtually lead a successful team.
Keep in Touch
Distance and different locations are the greatest challenge remote teams and their managers face. Because team members work from various locations, they easily lose a sense of belonging and team spirit that unites them. When they start behaving like individuals instead of a team, your business, founded on teamwork, might start experiencing severe problems, such as financial losses, etc.
That is why team members must keep in touch with their coworkers. Nowadays, it takes only some kind of an intranet software to connect all staff members and voila! Every team member is well connected. All that is left for you to do is motivate them not only to communicate more but also better.
Communicate and Interact
It is important to use effective communication with your employees. Without boundaries between private and professional lives, remote employees frequently forget to socialize. They spend their days sitting at home, working, and talking only with the person they live with. No wonder remote staff feels alienated and anxious in most cases. To keep everyone healthy and sharp, encourage them to socialize with friends, family, and coworkers. It will help them keep their mind off current events and unwind after a long day in the virtual workplace.
Assign Job Roles
Virtual teams don’t have a stable structure as other teams do. The lack of structure confuses them so they sometimes misinterpret their positions and responsibilities. This is usually the main reason for their underperforming in simple work assignments. What you, as a manager, can do is assign key roles to every member of your remote staff. That way, they know what their position is, responsibilities, duties, and even what superiors and team leaders expect from them.
When employees know what every team member is in charge of, rarely any misunderstandings or conflicts between them occur. Along with roles, don’t forget to give all details employees need regarding work tasks, such as deadlines, clients, instructions, etc. It will not only make their job easier but also yours because you won’t have to double check it yourself.
Be a Leader
Managing a virtual team is a big challenge, even for the most experienced team leaders and managers. No matter how good your leadership and management skills are, you will still face obstacles while managing a remote team. Thanks to your skills, you will know how to overcome them unlike others. To lead a high performance virtual team, you have to not only be an effective business leader but also act as one. Assign tasks, provide instructions, mentor team members, monitor not only their professional growth but also project progress, etc.
Apart from management and leadership skills, you have to show support and empathy to the staff. You are both passing through a rough patch with everything that is going on in the world. To navigate through this crisis, you should motivate, support, and respect each other. When the pandemic ends, you will be stronger and more united as a team.
Remote work and the flexibility that comes with it is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because employees can finally have a healthy work and private life balance. It is a curse because there are no boundaries or rules. An employee might contact you at any time day or night because every team member works when they can or want. Since this is a sensitive issue, it would be better to set some ground rules or boundaries in order to run a successful business with remote employees.
You don’t have to introduce fixed working hours, but do try to come up with a schedule that allows everyone to work at the same time for a while. This way, if they need help or have questions to ask, they can ask you directly and get a straight reply.
Now more than ever, managers should recognize their employees’ hard work, especially when it comes to remote ones. The current situation, the uncertainty, change in the work environment can all take a heavy toll on employees. That is why you should make sure to recognize and award employees who are going to great lengths for the company. It doesn’t always have to be a material award, such as a day off or a raise. A simple thank you or well done will make them feel valued and increase their confidence. Don’t forget to praise them in front of team members. It will boost their team spirit and motivate others to put in an extra effort and join the employee of the month club.
It doesn’t seem like virtual teams are going anywhere anytime soon. You might as well take this time and apply some of our suggested techniques. By the time remote work becomes a new normal, you will already have a high-performance virtual team.