Do you have trouble managing remote teams or virtual teams? Have you just been put in charge of running a remote team?
How do I manage a remote team?
By their very nature remote or virtual teams are often scattered in different geographic locations which make regular physical contact nigh on impossible.
Smart phones, email, social networks, PC’s and fast, cheap broadband have not only made the remote team possible but very common. For many managers and team leaders managing these remote employees or teamworkers is fast becoming the norm.
The good news
Managing remote teams is very similar to managing regular teams, but requires greater emphasis on building trust, fostering communication, implementing team processes and using technology.
90% of your problems will be people related and effective communication is the key.
- Set up your communication plan
Outline what needs to be communicated, how it will be communicated, who needs this information, when do they need it and what happens if communication breaks down
- Define the decision making process
How, as a group, will you make decisions? What is your back up plan to make a decision? What escalation path have you set when a decision cannot be made?
- Determine your conflict resolution strategy
How will you deal with conflict and what are your rules for avoiding them
- Distribute goals, roles and responsibilities
Set out the goals, then communicate who does what, including their specific responsibilities
- Ensure fair work distribution
This some times need to be adjusted as time goes along and work changes
- Decide your leadership level
What will your leadership be? It needs to be appropriate both to your team and its individuals
- Think “face to face”
If at all possible have face to face meetings. This is especially vital if it’s a new team or a team with new team members. Face to face connections help build trust quickly. If your budget permits travel to a central location, or at the very least, use video conferencing or teleconferencing
- Encourage personal communication
If face to face just isn’t possible encourage other forms of personal communication such as the telephone, as long as it does not interfere with the work being done – technology tends to be very impersonal and can easily lead to misunderstandings
- Schedule virtual meetings
Test video conferencing equipment thoroughly before each and every meeting. At any virtual meeting, have someone make introductions at the beginning of meeting and include what their responsibilities to the team are. Make sure everyone participates, otherwise, silence will be taken as agreement
- Update and communicate
Keep your information tight, such as up to date mailing lists, keep everyone informed of current questions, answers, and general progress. Consider use of a team only website or other online team collaboration software
For more detailed information about these ideas and how to build high performing teams contact us at www.teamskills.co.uk or telephone Conrad or Suzanne Potts on +44 (0)1903 778977