Five Tips for Managing Virtual Teams

With the remarkable advancement in technology in the last decade, more people are now working across borders without leaving their seats. This opportunity, both for the employers and the employees, comes with special challenges. The physical remoteness of team members from the employer and from each other can cause misunderstandings and lack of coordination. For managing your virtual team, use these tips to pull out the weeds from your virtual plant and allow it to grow beautifully:

1.       Keep Yourself Available

You do not want to be unavailable to your team, especially during the hours that you are expected to be available. Be it on Skype, email or phone, make sure that you can be reached easily. Also, ensure that you check the messages frequently so that you are not answering your team two hours after they want your clarification on something. The mantra: Be available and respond soon.

2.      Choose your Words Carefully

When communicating through text messages or emails, you do not have the advantage of taking cues from the body language and the tone of the voice of the other person to understand them. That is what created emoticons. You can easily be misunderstood if you solely use written communication, and you are talking to someone new. Therefore, pick the right words, avoid slang, be polite and appreciative, and do not indulge in sarcasm or humor. The mantra: Keep it short and sweet.

3.      Allow Time for Understanding

It is difficult for us to trust people we haven’t met or are culturally alienated from. For managing a virtual team, you need to be patient and allow the people to establish a pattern. With time, the team members will get to know about others in the team and will be able to manage themselves and others better. Still, it is a good idea for team managers to converse informally with team members occasionally so they feel comfortable sharing their problems. The mantra: Be patient and intervene when necessary.

4.      Cultural Differences

To manage a virtual team, you need to build respect and openness towards other cultures in your team. There is scope for misunderstandings where different mannerism means different things to people due to cultural differences. To tackle this barrier, encourage the team members to explain themselves so that the other person does not have room to misinterpret the communication. The mantra: Explain and ask for feedback.

5.       Poor Team Players

You can expect a team to have poor team players. To manage poor team players, you must communicate with them more to manage their results and how they are communicating with other team members. Many times, a poor team player has a negative effect on other team members. If your efforts at turning the poor team players do not show results, it is best to remove them. The mantra: Remove if cannot improve.

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