It looks like not too long ago people working together on teams shared an office or at least worked on the same campus. Nowadays, it has become common for all the members of a particular team to be able to work in remote locations, communicate through electronic means and rarely, if ever, they happen to see one another. But virtual team life is not all hunk dory. To be able to succeed, team members have to overcome obstacles such as time zone differences and a lack of nonverbal communication. Virtual team management strategies have proven to be successful in instilling motivation among team members.Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your virtual team:
It might seem contrary to the nature of many virtual teams, but in case it is possible, arrange a time and place for all members so that they can physically meet (at least for the team leader to meet each team member). Trust is considered the foundation of an effective virtual team. Because face-to-face socializing is a lot easier than virtual, it will help in building trust among team members and also establish important social bonds. If meeting in person is not at all feasible, than schedule a video conference where everyone can connect.
Institute and stand by regular communication norms. You have to agree on how you will be able to communicate (email, phone, video conference, chat), and how often you will be able to talk and how long it should actually take to respond to one another. Rapid responses are usually preferred as they help in building trust and also keep the teammates focused on the task, thereby preventing little problems from turning into big ones. At the same time, it’s very important not to bog everyone down with constantly checking their inbox. It is not healthy; you should let everyone know when it’s time to pick up the phone.
Your virtual team is quite diverse, as it is all about consisting of dynamic, self-motivated individuals with varying skill sets and experience. There will be a number of times when you will need assistance with an assignment and popping your head out of your virtual cubical to actually consult with a team member is a must. So, reach out to your teammates and do not forget to take advantage of their expertise so as to both share ideas and strengthen trust. Successful virtual team members are quite dynamic, self-motivated as well as responsible.