When companies expand, the teams that work on a global virtual basis also grow. Since time-zones are different and distances are wide, virtual teams need to find new strategies. Virtual global management becomes a way of life; new policies and less formalization are being introduced, yet there is still a need for management in order to get the project done.
Below are 10 strategies virtual team managers should take into consideration when overseeing their team’s accomplishments:
1) Availability – Always be accessible, if possible, for your team members around the clock. They need to be in a good mood in order to be productive. Virtual team managers can help with all types of queries, including the social life and daily activities of the team members. The best managers know that their team members should not feel isolated as they work in the virtual world.
2) Meetings – Online video-conferencing or meetings via Skype and social media should take place on a regular basis. Face-to-face meetings may be harder to organize, but crucial, if at all possible, once a year. The key is to build a good rapport.
3) Casual Conversations – Building trust through informal chats are important with virtual team members. Being flexible in scheduling attendance of team members to on-site jobs is also important. Weather, road and other conditions may be a disadvantage for the member locally and that should also be taken into consideration when they are setting up their schedule.
4) Location Rotations – It’s important for team members to go visit the actual locations where their team members are working. Global rotation of team members, for short periods, is a good experience.
5) Creative Team Bonding – Team gift giving and approval of the performance of all members is important for bonding the virtual groups together. This should be carried out year-round by the team manager.
6) Time Zone Selection – Making an effective schedule for virtual global meetings is imperative, since time zones are so different. The time and date of the meetings should be carefully organized, so all participants get a fair chance of being at the meeting during hours that are not always too early or too late for them.
7) Cultural Training – Since virtual teams have members that are scattered all over the world, it is important to be aware and sensitive to the cultural manner things are done in various settings, such as sending emails, video chats and the like, in different cultures and social settings these forms of communication and the manner in which they are conveyed may have different meanings.
8) Pre-existing Team Climate – It is important for a manager to make sure that barriers are not created among new team members and those that already have been working together as a pre-existing team. Building relationships and socialization among all members will ensure strong team performance.
9) Recruiting Guidelines – When putting a team together, it’s important for coherence as far as the education and work experience of the majority of the members is concerned in order for them to be in sync with each other. Diversity is great, but similarity in some aspects of the team membership mix is also an additional asset to keep in mind.
10) Work Opportunities – Some team members who work on a virtual basis may want to visit and move to the headquarters of the company or become part of an office environment that also works with virtual members. This should be well understood by the HR department when hiring a team player.