Leading teams to achieve their goals is what team management is all about. It can then be different for businesses that employ remote workers and those who have co-located teams. The latter can inspire their team members easily because they see each other at the workplace every day.
However, leading a virtual team isn’t easy and requires specific management skills. This article looks into the best skills that you should learn to manage a virtual team properly. Relying on technology to communicate denies you the chance to model desirable behavior and practices in your organization.
Here are the skills you need to manage virtual teams effectively.
1. Have great communication skills
Team managers and members need excellent communication skills to work effectively. Remember, virtual working takes face-to-face interactions from you, making it vital to be a great communicator if you’re successfully leading a team. Virtual teams face a huge risk of miscommunication.
The best thing to do is to try and be as clear and concise as possible. Avoiding any confusion or ambiguity will ensure that your team does exactly what you expect. Maximize productivity by deciding what the most appropriate communication channels are.
But then, you need to avoid too much communication as your team may find it overbearing. Lastly, encourage collaboration to get the desired results.
2. Be able to utilize technology
Virtual communication uses various tools and technology to succeed. As a team manager, there’s no better way to communicate than learning how to use these tools efficiently. But that’s not to say that you have to be so tech-savvy. All you need is a little digital literacy.
For instance, you should be able to send emails, text messages, and other chat programs. It is also vital to know how you can set up a video call. You should master more than one way of online communication to make communication efficient even when one channel fails.
Another vital skill that a virtual team manager needs is patience. The tech world can be disappointing, with equipment failing at a time when you need them most. Sometimes, you may have time zones problems, especially when your team is spread across many countries or continents.
Patience will help you become a great and more efficient leader. You will get over time and language barriers more easily and make sure that there’re no upsets among team members and deadlines are met accurately. Even when meetings fail, a patient team manager will remain positive.
4. Leading with empathy
A virtual environment faces many communication hurdles, and as a business that operates remotely, you need to find ways to get over them. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that verbal and non-verbal cues are vital in virtual communication. You must pay extra attention to them to be efficient.
How you listen to your team and handle the challenges they face when connecting with you matters greatly. Sometimes, people can have a hard time trying to adjust to a remote setting. You can learn how to handle them better by taking leadership courses that will improve your soft skills.
5. Be self-motivated
Leaders everywhere in the world have the huge responsibility of providing direction. For managers leading co-located teams, guiding teams to success is easier than those working with virtual teams. You must model the character that you’d like your team to display even when working remotely.
Self-motivation is a very critical aspect that every business needs. Motivating a dispersed team can be daunting, but you can motivate them if you show that you’re self-motivated. They should see your positive intention for the company and your commitment to seeing the team meet its business goals.
6. Understand cultural differences
Cultural differences are also another factor that affects the productivity of virtual teams. As a team leader, you need to focus on making sure that there’s awareness of cultural differences in your team. Personally, it would be best if you had a deep and well-developed understanding of how to handle cultural differences in your team.
However, you may not develop a cultural understanding quickly. It is a skill that requires time to master, and a high level of commitment to learning is vital. A team that understands each other finds it easy to function more effectively than one that doesn’t. This leadership skill will make virtual working possible.
7. Be consistent
Consistency is key for anyone looking to lead a virtual team in any organization. Leaders that change their minds abruptly make it difficult for people to work with them. As a manager, your work ensures that your team can predict what you expect from them.
You do not always need to talk to your team to deliver on a task if you’re consistent. They can predict what you expect from them and deliver to your expectations. The more consistent you are, the more the team can understand processes and deliver without waiting to hear from you.
Of course, what every company or organization wants is to focus on bringing in the best results. Your work is to make sure that you focus on delivering the results the team desires. The problem with virtual teams is that there can be a challenge in measuring what the team does and whether they can deliver.
As the team leader, you need to ensure that you’re focused on results yourself. Your team will feel inspired to deliver to your expectations if you can lead the way. Besides, you should be able to measure results so that you’re sure that your efforts are paying and the business is heading in the right direction.
Whether you have managed a virtual team before or not, this is a skill that you need to learn. Although it may look intimidating at first, you’ll be heading in the right direction with the tips listed above. These are essential tips that are perfect for beginners and non-beginners that would like to improve their skills.