In today's world, many companies have transitioned to remote work, making virtual teams the new norm. While working virtually offers flexibility and convenience, it also presents unique challenges, such as communication barriers, technological issues, and difficulties in building team cohesion.
As a result, it's crucial for leaders to understand how to effectively manage virtual teams to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and achieving success. In this blog, we'll explore 29 practical strategies and actions that leaders can take to manage virtual teams effectively, from establishing clear communication channels to recognizing and celebrating team successes.
By implementing these strategies, leaders can build trust, enhance team dynamics, and improve performance in virtual teams.
1. Establish clear communication channels
To establish clear communication channels, ensure that every team member knows how to contact one another and what platforms to use for specific purposes. This is important because it helps prevent confusion and misunderstandings that can arise from using different channels. To take action, create a document that outlines which channels should be used for what purposes, and share it with your team.
2. Leverage video conferencing tools to connect face-to-face
Video conferencing tools can provide a sense of connection and facilitate better communication among virtual teams. This is important because nonverbal cues can be missed when communicating via text or audio only. To take action, schedule regular video calls and encourage team members to use their video feeds.
3. Use multiple modes of communication
Using multiple modes of communication can help ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page. This is important because different team members may have different preferences for how they communicate. To take action, use a combination of email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls to communicate with your team. This is the future of global leadership.
4. Set up regular check-ins to maintain communication
Regular check-ins help ensure that team members are aware of each other's progress and can provide support and assistance when needed. This is important because it helps maintain momentum and prevents small issues from turning into bigger problems. To take action, schedule regular check-ins with each team member and stick to the schedule. Find ways to cross over between departments. Have the financial management members of your team engage regularly with marketing to break down silos.
5. Create a virtual open-door policy
Creating a virtual open-door policy means that team members can communicate with you at any time if they need assistance or have a question. This is important because it encourages open communication and builds trust between team members. To take action, let your team members know that they can contact you at any time via email, instant messaging, or phone.
6. Encourage team members to share their ideas and feedback
Encouraging team members to share their ideas and feedback can help identify potential issues early on and foster a sense of ownership among team members. This is important because it can lead to innovation and help ensure that everyone feels heard. To take action, create an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and feedback and be sure to acknowledge and address their contributions.
This can also help with talent development. Who are the amazing people in the circles of your team? Encourage them to share any ideas of who could join your team.
7. Foster a culture of transparency and openness
Fostering a culture of transparency and openness means being honest and upfront with your team members and encouraging them to do the same. This is important because it can lead to better decision-making and create a sense of trust within the team. To take action, be transparent with your team members about goals, expectations, and challenges, and encourage them to do the same.
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8. Develop a virtual leadership presence
As a virtual leader, it's important to establish your leadership presence in the virtual environment. This means communicating your vision, values and expectations clearly and effectively, and demonstrating your leadership skills through your actions. To do this, you can start by setting up regular virtual meetings with your team, communicating with clarity and empathy, and setting an example for others to follow.
9. Strengthen team networks for improved performance
Building strong networks within your virtual team is key to improving team performance. This involves creating opportunities for team members to connect and collaborate, such as setting up virtual team-building activities or encouraging team members to share their experiences and insights. To strengthen team networks, you can start by facilitating regular team meetings and check-ins, providing feedback and recognition for team members' contributions, and encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Learning networking will help your team members now and across their careers.
10. Create trust and engagement in a virtual environment
In a virtual environment, it's important to build trust and engagement among team members to foster a sense of community and belonging. This involves creating opportunities for team members to connect and interact with each other, and providing a supportive and inclusive work environment. To create trust and engagement, you can start by setting clear expectations for communication and collaboration, providing regular feedback and recognition, and encouraging open and honest communication.
11. Leverage generational, cultural and geographical differences to create positive team impact
In a virtual team, there may be team members from different generations, cultures and geographic locations. By leveraging these differences, you can create a positive team impact that benefits everyone. This involves recognizing and valuing diversity, promoting cross-cultural communication and understanding, and providing opportunities for team members to learn from each other. To leverage these differences, you can start by encouraging open communication and feedback, promoting a culture of respect and inclusivity, and providing training and development opportunities for team members.
12. Provide clear expectations and goals for the team
As a virtual leader, it's important to set clear expectations and goals for the team to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives. This involves communicating expectations and goals clearly and effectively, providing feedback and guidance when necessary, and ensuring that everyone understands their role in achieving team goals. To provide clear expectations and goals, you can start by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals, communicating these goals to the team, and regularly checking in on progress.
13. Ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities
In a virtual team, it's important to ensure that everyone understands their role and responsibilities to avoid confusion and ensure that tasks are completed efficiently. This involves communicating roles and responsibilities clearly and effectively, providing support and guidance when necessary, and encouraging open communication and feedback. To ensure that everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities, you can start by creating a team charter that outlines each team member's role and responsibilities, communicating this to the team, and regularly checking in on progress.
14. Encourage team members to take ownership of their work
In a virtual team, it's important to encourage team members to take ownership of their work to foster a sense of accountability and responsibility. This involves providing autonomy and trust to team members, setting clear expectations and goals, and providing support and guidance when necessary. To encourage team members to take ownership of their work, you can start by setting SMART goals that allow for autonomy and flexibility, providing feedback and recognition for individual contributions, and promoting a culture of accountability and responsibility.
15. Set clear team norms and expectations
Clearly communicating team norms and expectations to virtual team members is important to establish a shared understanding of how the team will operate. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise from differences in expectations. To take action, leaders can create a document outlining team norms and expectations and share it with the team to get their input and agreement. This becomes even more important when you're in the middle of significant culture change or business growth.
16. Foster a sense of team cohesion
In a virtual team, team cohesion can be challenging to achieve. Creating opportunities for team members to get to know each other, build relationships, and establish trust is important for improving team cohesion. Leaders can take action by scheduling regular virtual team building activities or social events that enable team members to connect and build relationships outside of work. Ask yourself, "What team building activities could align with our business strategy?"
17. Encourage collaboration and team building activities
Collaboration and team building activities can help to improve communication, build trust, and enhance team cohesion. Leaders can take action by creating opportunities for team members to collaborate on projects or work together on shared goals. This could include virtual brainstorming sessions, collaborative document editing, or team challenges. Take a topic like customer service and have your team brainstorm serious innovation. What might that look like? Encourage team members to share their life hacks for time management. You'll be surprised how great the content is they come up with!
18. Provide opportunities for social interactions
Social interactions are essential for building relationships, establishing trust, and improving team cohesion. Leaders can take action by scheduling virtual coffee breaks, team lunches, or happy hours to provide team members with opportunities to socialize and connect outside of work. Social interactions also help to realize the full potential of the workplace diversity. The more 'known' your employees feel, the better their motivation and engagement.
19. Address conflicts and misunderstandings in a timely manner
Conflicts and misunderstandings are inevitable in any team, and virtual teams are no exception. Addressing conflicts and misunderstandings in a timely manner is important to prevent them from escalating and damaging team dynamics. Leaders can take action by establishing a clear process for addressing conflicts and misunderstandings and ensuring that team members know how to access this process.
20. Manage team dynamics and get everyone working together
Managing team dynamics and getting everyone working together is crucial for achieving team goals and delivering results. Leaders can take action by creating a shared vision and mission for the team, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, and promoting collaboration and teamwork.
Consider investing in executive coaching to take your team to the next level. Sometimes team members who are difficult in the team don't realize. Challenges in dynamics are exacerbated by virtual compared to face-to-face. People are less likely to pick up on cues. This type of investment also shows you care about your team's career development.
21. Create a positive team culture
Creating a positive team culture is essential for improving team dynamics and enhancing team performance. Leaders can take action by modeling positive behavior, providing recognition and feedback, and creating a supportive and inclusive work environment that values diversity and encourages open communication.
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Technology and Tools
22. Select the appropriate technology for specific types of tasks
Use the appropriate technology for specific tasks such as file sharing, video conferencing, and project management. This improves efficiency and ensures that everyone is on the same page. To take action, assess the tasks required for the project, identify the technology needed for each task, and ensure that all team members are equipped with the necessary technology.
23. Provide training on technology and tools
Providing training on technology and tools ensures that everyone on the team is proficient in the technology being used. This can reduce frustration and increase productivity. To take action, schedule a training session on the technology being used, and ensure that all team members attend. Ask your team, "If we were a startup, and short on cash, what choices would we make to help our entrepreneurship?" This question provides interesting discussion!
24. Encourage team members to share best practices
Encouraging team members to share best practices can help to streamline processes and increase efficiency. This can also foster a culture of continuous improvement. To take action, create a forum where team members can share best practices, or schedule a team meeting where everyone can share their tips and tricks. This also helps to speed up change management. Team members will see others pick things up and run with them.
25. Implement a project management system to keep everyone on track
Implementing a project management system helps to ensure that everyone on the team is aware of project timelines and milestones. It also allows team members to track their progress and collaborate with each other. To take action, research and select a project management system that suits your team’s needs, and ensure that everyone on the team is trained on how to use it.
Your project management system could also include elements of artificial intelligence. The technology is getting better every day. Ask yourself and your team members, "Is there anything AI could do for us or do with us to help us with checklists?" Those types of questions can help AI become a tool to take your team to the next level.
26. Set clear performance goals and metrics
To ensure team members are working towards the same objectives, set clear performance goals and metrics that align with the team's overall goals. This will allow everyone to understand what is expected of them and what they need to achieve. To take action now, gather your team and set SMART goals together that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
27. Provide regular feedback and coaching to team members
Regular feedback and coaching can help team members to stay on track and improve their performance. It can also help to address issues before they become bigger problems. To take action now, schedule regular check-ins with each team member to provide feedback on their work and identify areas for improvement.
Focus on investing in your team's emotional intelligence and self-awareness. The more your team can grow in these two areas, the better everything else will get. Also consider peer-to-peer mentoring. Have team members become mentors for each other or for up and coming leaders.
28. Hold team members accountable for their work
It's important to hold team members accountable for their work to ensure that everyone is contributing and meeting expectations. Establish clear guidelines and deadlines for assignments, and follow up to ensure that work is completed on time and to the expected standard. To take action now, communicate expectations clearly to each team member and hold them accountable for their work by following up regularly.
29. Recognize and celebrate team successes
Celebrating team successes can boost morale and motivation, and can help to create a positive team culture. Take time to recognize team members who have gone above and beyond, and celebrate when the team achieves its goals. To take action now, set up a system for recognizing team successes and make it a priority to celebrate achievements as a team.
183 Tips To Build Your Team: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Summary
I'm passionate about helping people to achieve their potential, that's why I love building teams so much. When a team, particularly a leadership team, is healthy, everyone wins.
The leader's life is infinitely improved (trust me, from experience!), the team members are able to step up and step into everything they need to do as part of the team and the organisation's employees, customers, clients, volunteers and other stakeholders get the very best from the organisation.
But HOW do you build a team? Where do you start? Why are some teams so effective? And other teams so ineffective?! Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is his most well-known book and it's easy to see why when you read it.
I picked it up and was so hungry for answers to those questions that I read it in a matter of hours late through the night into the early morning. His pyramid of 5 dysfunctions of a team is simple but powerful. It will help you understand how to build a healthy team and, more importantly, give you some next steps to actually go and do it.
1. Who wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team?
The author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is Patrick Lencioni. Patrick Lencioni is an American author, speaker and management consultant. He is the founder of The Table Group, a management consulting firm, and is best known for his books on leadership and team building, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
2. What Is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Model?
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Model is a theory developed by Patrick Lencioni that suggests that there are five main reasons why teams may not be effective. These five dysfunctions are: