Seventhman Blog

Managing Virtual Teams: Five Keys to Success

"virtual team management"Do you believe that teams working remotely can outperform those who work in the same location?  Virtual collaboration is shifting from trends to norms as more people are working from anywhere in the world.  They all have to thank mobile technology with this new-found freedom.  There’s no denying that we are entering the age of the global workforce and soon, team members working in the same cubicle will be obsolete.  We see teams working from their homes, across cities and even across the globe.  Everyone works independently this time.  Aren’t we so lucky to live in such a digitally-connected world?

The Fallacy of Face-to-Face Meetings

While it is undeniable that nothing beats the usual way people meet to brainstorm and synergize, leading teams across different time zones and conquering cultural divides can be felt in the virtual world.  Small businesses are taking advantage of running a virtual team as it means flexibility and minimal cost.  Though studies have found that collaboration across distance is tougher to manage, it is manageable still.  Proximity may promote frequent communication, but it can also be a hurdle when trying to accomplish complex tasks that need more focus.  A good example is those in the research and development industries, where their network of operations are scattered across the globe as they compete and work towards excellence.  The degree of expertise in these teams are more extensive, where they can work for the same goals while having a higher tolerance for diversity.  This diversity may cause problems in communication but overall, it enhances problem-solving skills so everyone can come up with a faster and better solution for a particular project.

How You Can Lead a Virtual Team to Succeed Anywhere in the World

I have worked with virtual teams for over two decades now and managing people in dispersed teams means helping them realize their potentials.  There are many socio-emotional barriers to cross and making sure that your remote team commits to your business goals is a learning process, even after this long.  What’s the secret formula?  There is NO secret! The future of work starts with having people skills so you can create trust, connection, communication, collaboration and commitment among them.  You have to:

1. Place trust at the heart of your work relationship with your virtual team and employ strategies for building relationships over time

2. Promote the idea of self-leadership among your team, so they can be self-sufficient in managing their work

3. Set expectations early by communicating with your team what you expect for them to accomplish – from work hours, deliverables, status reports, to conference calls

4. Stay virtually connected by utilizing platforms like Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangout and many more.. It’s all about creating an online water cooler for your team to feel that they’re stepping into the office.  It’s all about sharing ideas and breaking the ‘virtual ice’.

5. Use new technology wisely as there are a plethora of tools available for you to use in managing your virtual team

It all comes down to RESPECT.. and 360 degrees of communication at all levels.  By fostering a global mindset among your team, everyone will feel that they are part of something bigger than their geographic location.  This will make them respect the diversity of work, its schedules and stay committed to each other in meeting deadlines.  The degree of competitiveness lessens and collaboration heightens.

Are you ready to keep your team together?  

Bottomline is – the workplace has changed and we all have to adapt to survive and thrive.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2L6DARRAKB6JGEL6V6UNWNF7LY Robert

    I think the key to success is using right tools and project management software. There are alot of web-based virtual team management tools nowadays, which can also help users to manage the team better. For example we use in our company Comindware tracker and task management software.

    • Nader Ale Ebrahim

      In my recent article “Effective Virtual Teams for New Product Development
      ,Scientific Research and Essay, 7(21), 1971-1985, June 2012″, I conclude that “Technology and Process are tightly correlated and need to be considered early in virtual teams. It is found that the role of Knowledge Workers in virtual teams is significant”. So, Virtual team tools would not be the first priority of the virtual teams management.

      • seventhman

         Thanks Nader for sharing your insights – yes, tools and technologies to manage virtual teams are just a fraction of that contributing factor to success; people skills are important as well.

    • seventhman

      Thanks Robert – yes, project management software can help a lot, especially when managing virtual teams; it’s just a piece of the pie.

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  • Centennial Business

    Some important points given to manage your virtual team to soar high on the cloud of success. A must read and useful post.
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  • Prime Outsourcing

    Communication is really an important aspect when you want to be involve in an outsourcing business. When you can’t explain or illustrate the task that you want your team to do, or your team isn’t doing the right thing, then there’s a big problem behind it: Lack of communication.

    Thanks for sharing this useful tips.

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