Distributed teams, as the name suggests, are teams that do not work out of the same physical location. Team members are scattered across different geographies, different time zone, and sometimes different organizations as well, while working on the same project or business function.
Managing distributed teams is not without its challenges. Many methods have been tried to ensure that distributed teams function smoothly, especially social networking, but no method has proven itself to be completely foolproof and easy to use. In this article, we will share 10 tips for managing distributed teams. Use these tips and see if they give the desired results.
Tip 1: The most important and the very first task to accomplish is to focus on the desired results. Discuss in detail with your team what it is that you altogether want to achieve. Show them a vision of what you want to deliver. Get them to focus on the goal.
Tip 2: The next logical step is to share with your team why the project is important for you and your team. Once the team is into the task undertaken, they will relate to the project and will feel motivated to finish the task within the stipulated timeline.
Tip 3: To manage a distributed team well, you ought to give each member of your team a clear role and distinct responsibility. You can decide this based on the project that you have as well as based on the competency of each of your team member. This will also help your team members focus on each mini-task as a part of the whole and then consolidate everything at the end.
Tip 4: Define milestones. Give a clear direction to each of the team members. Once you have explained what each of the team member is supposed to do, you might have to individually get in touch with each team member to help and give further guidance for the individual task.
Tip 5: Invest on good resources to set your virtual office that can bring your distributed team together. Use applications like ezTalks Cloud Meeting which are cloud-based video conferencing tools and have facilities like content and screen sharing, advanced interactive whiteboard, cross-platform chat along with high definition audio and video conferencing.
Tip 6: Be connected with the team members on a frequent basis and host regular online meetings to discuss the status or the challenges faced by the team members. These meetings have to be fixed well in advance to accommodate everyone’s preferences on day and time. The time selected also needs to be as per everyone’s convenience. If there is a particular team member whose time is not at all fitting into the schedule, have a focus on meetings.
Tip 7: For distributed team management, you ensure that your meetings are structured and keep to the point. What is appreciated by all team members is that most of them will be working out to different time zones. It is advisable to share a status report prior to the meeting, so that the participants are on the same page.
Tip 8: While meeting with the distributed team, ensure that all your discussion is visually presented as well. Use versatile and reliable applications, like slide shows or share your screen, so that everyone follows what you want to get across to them. Also, a visual online presentation minimizes any chance of misunderstanding. Try and use video conferencing as much as you can.
Tip 9: Always be accessible to your team members. Let them know the methods and the time frame that you would prefer them to get in touch with you for any questions or clarification that they might require. For distributed team management, you should help them understand that once in a crisis situation, they can reach out to you. Explain the methods that they can use to reach out to you, whether through a call or a free instant messaging app, etc.
Tip 10: Celebrate small wins. This is very important for the entire team. Each small win and achievement needs to be appreciated. Try and send small tokens or cards which can be sourced locally at the place where the particular team member is working from.
The concept of distributed teams is catching up fast in today’s growing globalization, where businesses are utilizing productivity from across different locations and time zones. This arrangement also saves a lot on infrastructure cost and increases productivity as the team members tend to work different hours. If you are running a distributed team, you can take the top 10 tips for managing distributed teams in an efficient and easy way.