LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS: 6 SUCCESS FACTORS AND 3 BASIC MISTAKES

LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS: 6 SUCCESS FACTORS AND 3 BASIC MISTAKES

New forms of cooperation that are no longer tied to one location are emerging. Increasingly, they also go beyond company boundaries. Due to increasing globalization and the increased use of IT technologies, working in virtual teams is becoming more and more important.  This demands a lot from managers in particular. This is how the successful management of virtual teams works :

Today, companies are having increasing difficulties finding qualified employees. Smaller companies in particular depend on freelancers or the international talent pool. In the future, it will be more and more natural for a team not to sit together in one office, but spread out across the city, country or world. But regardless of whether the employees are in their home office 50 kilometers away or in a shared office in Singapore: virtual teamwork  is always associated with difficulties. So how does an efficient virtual exchange succeed in order to work successfully in a team?

The success factors – These should be the prerequisites for successful virtual collaboration

1. Technology that works

The technical equipment must work perfectly. Because if the sound stutters at every virtual meeting or the internet breaks down when uploading files, no one can work well. Employees in Germany  waste around 20 working days every year because they are frustrated with the technology in their company. This is already annoying enough for classic teams. But anyone who relies on digital communication for their work must be able to rely on functioning technology. Otherwise, frustration among employees increases. If the technology doesn’t work, a virtual team cannot work.

2. Clear goals and rules

If you want to lead a virtual team, you have to set clear goals and rules. Because if you can’t talk face-to-face, you have to keep appointments, agreements and deadlines.

There should also be a strong feedback culture throughout the company . This applies both to the employees and to the boss, who also has to accept criticism from his employees.

Therefore, agree on who will take on which tasks and how the progress of a project will be measured. The responsibilities of the individual team members should be precisely defined, because ambiguity slows down virtual teamwork. Each team member should know when and how to reach out to the others. It should also be clear to all team members who reports to whom, informs whom, and who has access to which files.

Fixed daily or weekly appointments where the whole team meets virtually also help to structure the work in the team. Virtual teams need clear rules and firm agreements.

3. Enough trust

But although clear rules and clear goals are needed, the principle applies: trust instead of control. Because employees in the home office have to act more independently than employees whose boss is in the office next door. And if the boss asks himself all the time whether his employees are really hard-working, he no longer gets to work himself.

Sufficient praise should not be neglected at a distance. Managers should make an effort to give positive feedback on a regular basis. When employees are in different places, what is needed above all is trust.

4. The right people

For the success of a remote team , not only the boss is decisive. Because not everyone is equally made for working together in virtual teams. On the one hand, of course, you need a high level of digital affinity. If you don’t feel like dealing with web conferences and project management tools, you should probably sit at a classic workplace in the office. On the other hand, a high degree of digital know-how is not yet a key to successful cooperation. Remote workers often struggle with loneliness and struggle to separate work and personal life. You are under the pressure of constant availability.

For successful cooperation, it is crucial that all team members like to communicate with each other a lot. You should have fun logging into the chat and trying to get in touch with the other colleagues. When all team members are sitting alone at their desks, it will be difficult to work together effectively. Managers should therefore already pay attention to whether the potential employee is suitable for virtual cooperation during the application process. Remote teams need employees who develop their own solutions and still seek close contact with their colleagues.

5. Meet in person every once in a while

In order to build trust, it is important to look each other in the eye at least once. So if it’s somehow feasible, get your team together at the start of the project or some other time. Organize a kick-off event or organize e.g. B. A celebration for the team. The main thing was to shake hands behind the Slack profile picture, laugh together and eat something. Once some trust is built, communication works better over miles. Getting all team members in one place every once in a while is expensive, but it will be worth the investment.

6. Room for informal exchange

Remote teams miss the chat next to the coffee machine and the after-work beer together. A joint Slack group and a weekly meeting with Skype does not make a team out of scattered employees. Leaders of remote teams must therefore create enough space for informal exchange.

For example, allow a few minutes for small talk during web meetings . How was the weekend? Where is the next vacation going? What did you have for lunch? All topics that are talked about before a normal meeting can also be discussed on Skype.

In the chat, too, there should be room for a nice chat or funny things from the internet. If you use a wiki, each employee could create a profile with, for example, a photo, hobbies and favorite color. This creates a small bridge between professional and private life.

If you were to order a big pizza to the office for everyone just before a deadline, do the same for your remote team. After all, there is also Pizza Hut in Singapore. Virtual teams must also be able to exchange informal information. That is the basis for a team spirit.

3 basic mistakes – How to lead a virtual team and still not distance yourself

1. Incredible variety of tools and applications

There are thousands of collaboration and communication tools on the market. And every program can do something that another program cannot. It could become a big problem without launching a precise strategy and deciding on any applications on the spur of the moment.

There’s no easy way to tell which program is best for you. However, if the various tools do not work together or cannot be integrated into the existing IT system architecture, chaos quickly ensues. The consequences: inefficient collaboration and frustration. So far, only very few companies have complete collaboration solutions.

In this blog article we have given you  e.g. B. put together the best marketing all-in-one solutions .

2. Lack of corporate support

If you are faced with the decision to lead a remote team, you should strive to ensure that the entire company is behind the decision. If only part of the team is working from home and the rest of the team is in the office, it is important that all employees want and support virtual collaboration. Because it can be exhausting.

At the management level it must be clear that investments will also be necessary: ​​better technology, new programs as well as flight and train tickets. And the rest of the team needs to stand behind the remote workers, too. No one should be forgotten during telephone conferences and if the train is late, an appointment sometimes has to be postponed.

3. Inadequate onboarding and onboarding

Especially with remote workers, you should think about on-boarding and on boarding. You should be extremely organized and provide regular support in the early days. Prepare training materials and collect all important information in one virtual place that everyone can access.

Make your new remote workers feel like they can ask anything, anytime. Especially at the beginning there must be close contact between you and your employees. 

Conclusion:

Anyone leading a remote team needs to think very carefully about their leadership style. But a virtual team does not have to be an obstacle to successful projects. If the conditions are right, virtual collaboration can work even better.

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