Managers are more and more finding themselves supervising and directing partially or completely virtual teams. Working with consultants, temporary employees, and employees who work from home is par for the course in today’s workforce.

Becoming responsible for a virtual team is a change that comes with a learning curve. Due to distance, differences in communication, and lack of constant contact, managing a virtual team comes with its own unique challenges. These strategies can be helpful for managers who are just starting or seeking to improve their ability to lead a virtual team.


Establish Appropriate Communication Tools

Choose the best communication tools that facilitate your project and workflow goals. Give yourself options and explore the different technologies available before coming to a decision. It’s best to have multiple communication tools in your reach to be able to get in touch with team members immediately and communicate in the most effective way at all times. Videoconferencing is, of course, a must-have for virtual teams.


Schedule Regular Meetings

Meet with your team at least once a week to review progress, establish deliverables and get everyone on the same page. It can also be beneficial to meet regularly one-on-one with each of your employees individually. The routine of this practice will provide some structure and reassurance to your team members, which in turn reduces stress and worry about performance. Video calls are an ideal way to hold these meetings, since they best replicate the face-to-face encounters that remote teams don’t typically get.


Clearly Define Deliverables and Expectations

There’s a fine line between being too hands-on and not giving your employees enough direction. It’s important to strike a balance: micromanaging can grate on your employees’ nerves, but leaving them completely to their own whims can leave them floundering. Give your employees detailed descriptions of what you expect from them in their work in general and on specific projects. Then, give them the appropriate feedback to let them know how they’re doing – but otherwise, leave them be to work. You’ll get better results and also have happier employees.


Reward and Recognize Good Performance

Good, hard work can be rewarding in its own right, but when people are doing work for others, they like to know that it’s appreciated and that their contributions matter. When your employees do a good job, give them the recognition they deserve. Sometimes this might be as simple as mentioning a job well done in an online meeting. Other times, you might give them an official award, and ultimately what they really want – a raise in pay or a bonus. Giving rewards and recognition based on merit will motivate your employees to work harder and perform better.


Use Project Management Tools

Tracking assignments, deadlines and deliverables has never been easier with the many project management tools available today. Free and low-cost options are everywhere, or you can go big and buy a full-service platform subscription. These programs send out alerts and reminders to all participants and give at-a-glance and on-demand overviews of what needs to be done when and by whom. Whichever option you choose, project management tools will keep your team accountable to the tasks and deliverables that fall under their responsibility.


Overlap Employee Work Schedules

Members of remote teams may live in different time zones and thus have slightly different work schedules. However, they still need to be able to work together for at least some hours of the day. Make sure everyone on your team is working at least a few hours per day all at the same time. In case a meeting needs to be called, or something is needed from anyone on the team, those requirements can be met without a lot of hassle.


The trick to managing a virtual team ultimately comes down to planning and organization. By default, remote teams have less built-in structure than collocated employees. Implementing forms of structure using the techniques above will make your employees feel more like a cohesive unit that follows the same rules and protocols, and who are truly coworkers in every sense of the word. This will result in better teamwork and thus greater productivity, and make you better equipped to do your job as a manager.

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

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