Virtual teams pull together talent from all over the world to complete a single project. Of course, such non-traditional work arrangements can lead to challenges that can result in setbacks.
Use the following steps to help you become a successful virtual team leader.
1. Build Relationships
Your success depends on your establishing trustful two-way relationships with every team member. When you do, you help to ensure that everyone on your team stays motivated to work toward common goals. Trust can also inspire a high level of cooperation.
In a traditional or coworking setting, you often have cues that can stimulate relationship building. For instance, you can compliment people for their attire. You can also see personal items such as family photos that people have at their desk.
In the virtual world, you must take intentional action to form relationships. Try doing this by hosting virtual parties for birthdays and other important personal life events. You can also encourage your team members to use the mail to share tangible items such as culturally specific snacks.
You and your team members can also use social networks to build personal relationships. There, everyone can share details about their families, experiences, interests, and hobbies. Consequently, you may form bonds that last a lifetime.
2. Use Collaboration Tools
In a physical team environment, you can hold regularly scheduled meetings in a conference room. You can also physically move around objects such as paperwork and product samples. Similarly, you can work on tasks in shared workspaces.
In the virtual world, you can bridge the geographic gaps between your team members with technology. Innovations such as cloud-based software make working collaboration easy and convenient.
To begin with, consider using OneDrive for file sharing. That service stores, shares, and synchronizes files via the cloud and allows multiple people to collaborate while creating documents. OneDrive works like an ordinary computer folder, so team members can comfortably use it from their personal computers and devices.
Other collaboration tools such as virtual whiteboards make it easy for teams to illustrate their ideas as they converse. You might also try software applications for virtual meetings, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
Remember that your team has a unique purpose and special needs. So, engage your entire team in the effort to find the collaboration tools that best fit them.
3. Maintain Accountability
In the virtual realm, employees who work from home don’t have supervisors and managers hovering about them, helping them to stay focused. As a result, team members can encounter distractions that lead to procrastination and missed deadlines.
As a team leader, you must find ways to hold your staff accountable. Again, technology can help. For instance, you can use a cloud-based virtual time clock. Additionally, you may want to use a group calendar to facilitate scheduling.
There are tools that can help you systemize your business and help you manage your teams’ resources. By assigning tasks to individuals, you give them the responsibility to follow through. The software also gives you a way to identify and resolve bottlenecks and other performance issues.
Generally speaking, you can get the best results from your team when you emphasize results. Such an approach encourages efficiency without penalizing people for reducing the amount of time they spend clocked-in.
Meanwhile, encourage open communications. The members of your virtual team may struggle at times with feelings of isolation or insignificance. By being an active listener, you can provide support and motivate them to stay happy and productive.
In summary, the above steps can help you to lead successful virtual teams. As you work, always look for new ways to make your virtual team a safe, fun, and productive group.