Almost every individual works in a team environment, this is because there has always been the belief that highly effective teams are those that are located together. Most managers normally decide to co-locate their team following their reorganization despite the fact that a constant churn of individuals migrating from one place to another being viewed by others as being unproductive.
On the other hand, there is a worldwide phenomenon which is influencing team staffing in a different direction. Online collaborative tools, reliable and faster communication as well as the Internet are facilitating people coming together in teams which are not co-located anymore. Such teams are referred to as virtual teams. They are actual teams that can successfully fit the classic definition with regard to working together, so as to achieve a common set of aims/objectives. The virtual term is because these teams do not interact or communicate in the traditional manner i.e. face to face.
There are a good number of special techniques that can be used in the successful virtual team management, the main ones include the following:
1. Team Objectives
One of the tips for managing a virtual team is that it is important for all the team members to be aware of and properly understand exactly what they are doing together. This is because they risk being individual contributors if only personal roles and work are what is understood. Establishing clear and comprehensive team objectives is therefore a good way to manage a virtual team.
2. Team Reminder
It is a reality that if individual members of a team feel like they are working independently that they will act so. However, if individual members are aware of the fact that they compose a larger team with common deliverables and objectives, things are bound to work well. This is because they will definitely feel better concerning their work and this will translate in their active collaboration with other members of the team. An effective way of managing global virtual teams therefore partly has to do with reminding everybody that they are a team.
3. Ground Rules
It is critical for virtual teams to exhibit a set of behavior that is both acceptable and common to themselves regardless of their remote nature. This is one of the most fundamental tips for virtual team management. Ground rules here refers to things such as:
• Setting standard working hours for all members of a team.
• Establishing times for lunch breaks.
• Determining mandatory meetings, i.e. telephone, web-based or in-person.
• Definition of expectations with regard to communication turnaround times.
Establishing ground rules is the key to manage a virtual team and should never be overlooked.
4. Regular Meetings
When it comes to how to manage virtual teams effectively, it is necessary to organize regular meetings with the entire team and with individuals. This should be done both face-to-face and online. Online meetings can be conducted via video conferencing solutions, like ezTalks Cloud Meeting.
ezTalks Cloud Meeting has amazing features that satisfies all business needs. What makes it attractive is that it offers a convenient free version to all interested consumers and this comes with most premium features. This free version caters for up to 100 participants. It has the following features:
• Quick access to meeting – It is very easy to join meetings with ezTalks cloud meeting. This is because team members can simply login to a meeting via a browser, registration is not required.
• Audio quality and super HD video – Audio and video quality is very important for online meetings. ezTalks Cloud Meeting has 1080P and 1920P HD resolutions that ensure audio and video transmissions are crystal clear.
• Convenient annotation and screen sharing – Virtual teams can use ezTalks Cloud Meeting to present word, PDF and PPT files. Sharing screens is also easy as you just open file and then click desktop shareing.
• Record online meetings – Virtual teams can record meetings with ezTalks Cloud Meeting.
• Online meeting scheduling - It is quite easy for virtual teams to schedule a meeting with ezTalks Cloud Meeting.
• Text live chat.
• Control meeting settings and participants.
5. Shorter Assignments
It is better to give out shorter assignments when managing virtual teams. This is the only way to ensure that they will be completed in good time. This means apportioning the work, so as to easily track it.
6. Workload Management
Another tip on how to manage a virtual team is that one should be explicit and precise when assigning work to the members of a virtual team. Furthermore, it is important to follow up, so as to ensure that all the work is completed in good time.
7. Adjust on Time Differences
It is advisable to adjust as well as compromise on the differences in time. What is convenient for one may not be necessarily convenient for other members of the team.
8. Sensitivity to Cultural Differences
Virtual teams comprise of people from multiple cultures and countries. This is why it is important to appreciate the differences in how people work and behave when managing a virtual team.
9. Manage Expectations
It is wise to manage expectations because there are members of the virtual team who would want at some stage to move to headquarters. It is therefore good to have knowledge from the beginning of what to offer them at such times.
10. Shared Understanding during Recruitment
Virtual team members should be people who share previous similarities and experiences and those who have worked internationally. This refers to educational background, worked on similar projects and shared training activities. The objective is to have diversity and to build trust with a point of contact.
Virtual team management is inevitable as companies progress to expand worldwide. The ten tips outlined above will help managers to get the very best from their virtual teams.