Working virtually is the reality of today. From ordering food online to having digital business cards, most work and life activities are now taking place virtually.
And just like that working virtually is also the trend of today. Virtual work setting might be comforting, but it also has unique challenges.
There can be a communication gap, or conflict because of cultural differences - and these are just a few problems. There can be many more challenges like -
- Coordinating team members
- Dealing with time zone differences
- Setting and measuring goals
- Ensuring collaboration
Troubles can start anytime. That's why if you're a leader of a virtual team you need to be very tactful and have some tricks up your sleeves to keep your team sorted and motivated. So let's look at some of the best practices that you can use to lead and manage your virtual team like a pro.
Ways To Manage Your Virtual Team Effectively
1. Keep Everyone Updated & On The Same Page
Each player of your team should be aware of all work-related stuff going on for your team.
If there's any change in the project or any new development - everyone on the team should be informed about it.
For instance, if you and your team are working on designing a website and creating the content for the website. But there are some minor changes like a new color scheme or website layout have been requested by the client. Now this information is something that should be relayed to the entire team like even the content creators.
And you don't even need to hold full-blown meetings to circulate such info. You can just use business communication tools like Slack or even Whatsapp to get the job done.
2. Set Some Ground Rules
One of your teammates was late for the meeting? Or didn't sign in to the necessary tools.
Now these problems crop up when you lack rules. Rules are important for any team, more so for virtual teams.
And not all leaders will have the same rules or tactics. But some of the basic rules that usually remain unchanged and you as a leader should put in use are -
- Hold meetings at least thrice a week. Also, specify daily log-in timings.
- Set meeting timings yourself. Try to consider the time zones of your subordinates if your team comprises members from different parts of the world.
- Make it clear that everyone should 'sign in' and make use of the tools and software needed for the projects.
- Let everyone know that any kind of disrespect, be it cultural or otherwise will not be tolerated.
Now these are some of the basic rules that you can set. Plus you can add some more of your own depending on the dynamics of your team. But be sure to have some rules, as they serve as SOPs for your team.
3. Use Project Management Tools
Who is working on what task? What's their progress? How are they collaborating together?
These are some of the common problems faced by virtual teams. And as a leader, you need to keep track of all and sort out more such problems of your team.
Now you can take care of all these with project management tools. Tools like Notion, Confluence, Teamwork., etc, are some of the most popular project management tools.
These tools are collaborative workspaces that allow you to assign tasks and monitor their progress of them. Team members also can communicate with each other through in-built communications tools in case they need help or have something to inform the team.
Integration with other tools, analytics, reports, scheduling of projects, etc. is some of the other features that you'd find in most project management tools.
4. Keep Expectations Realistic
Now this point stands true for both virtual and real teams. It's important to keep your expectations realistic. That is if you expect something from your team members then it should be reasonable and achievable.
Don't assign impossible tasks to your team members like expecting them to finish a full website design in 2 hours. Or write an SEO-optimized blog post of 2000 words in one hour. These tasks are simply impossible.
Keep your expectations realistic and remember that your team members are also human. Talk out with your team, check if they have the bandwidth to work on another task, and then assign tasks accordingly.
Take It From Here
Being a leader of a virtual team can be quite challenging.
But it's not impossible and with the right strategies in place, you can grow and manage your team efficiently.
Use some tools, keep the communication going, and have some rules in place and you'll be able to manage your team with ease. But above it all, understand that each team member has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. And as a leader, you should be able to understand them and work accordingly.