Tips for Senior Managers Encountering Virtual Teams for the First Time
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It is the age of the internet, and virtual work plays a key role in the global business of today. However, navigating the waters of virtual teamwork can be tasking for managers who are used to the on-site context. In this guide, we share tips on virtual team management to help you get started.
First: The company culture
The company culture is the key to a successful virtual team. The company and their HR department need to help their senior managers learn how to work with virtual teams, adapt their work processes and embrace new ways of communicating with employees. They should also be open to new procedures. For example, team activities that might not be needed in ordinary teams are a must in virtual teams, and will successfully improve motivation and productivity.
Second: The HR department
The Human Resources department needs to understand the characteristics that distributed team members need to have. Not everybody is made for working on a distributed team. The person that works virtually needs to:
- Be autonomous by nature
- Have a certain degree of self-motivation
- Be a good communicator, at least in writing
- Share or relate to the company’s mission and vision
Third: Managers, shift your mindset
More and better
The managers in virtual teams need to work more effectively, think more and have more energy. This does not mean they will end up tired and burnt out. In fact, it is quite the opposite: the more they give, the more they will receive from the team, and the more fulfillment they will get.
We recommend senior managers to:
- Improve their communication skills
- Have clear channels of communication with the team
- Listen more to the team members
- Work towards being more assertive, proactive and enthusiastic
- Share your passion and enthusiasm, it is contagious!
In order to boost productivity, the senior manager needs to take all the knowledge acquired over the course of their experience to think about what messages need to be communicated better with the team:
- Clear objectives
- Clear procedures
- Clear expectations
To make messages clear, not only do you need to have them in writing, but you also need to repeat them several times, and using different channels. A good manager will know what the right time is to give each message. In Managing Virtual Teams we call this “super communication.” When it happens, workers tend to reproduce the patterns they see in the manager and the entire organization works better.
If you have a motivated team, and you work constantly on keeping that motivation up, you will encounter fewer problems and have a better response when facing a challenge.
On top of the technology and security needs that your project might have, we recommend all virtual and remote teams to use:
- Video conferences as much as they can
- Online project management tools that show team objectives and achievements
- Social media sites that are private for your company
If you would like some guidance in the process, we will be happy to assist you. Just contact us!