It is not the same!
Managing and leading a physical location in a workplace is not the same as leading virtual team in a world where the work is not a place anymore, I am not saying that one is better, requiring more management skills than the other, all I am saying is that “it is different”.
In an interview with Mohamed Mounir, MD of Pinnacle he mentioned “10 years back I started managing virtual teams, not coming to the same office, we are not even in the same content, not the same time zone, but the same goal, we were a Team
“Virtual” teams are on the rise. As companies expand geographically and as telecommuting becomes more common, work groups often span far-flung offices, shared workspaces, private homes, and hotel rooms. Armed with laptops, Wi-Fi, and mobile phones, most professionals can do their jobs from anywhere.
The appeal of forming virtual teams is clear. And now after COVID-19 AKA Coronavirus Outbreak, organizations are thinking about the cost of doing business as the first and easy way of cutting cost; they think “if we could implement working from home as a policy even after we get back to business that would be good way to cut cost”; Employees can manage their work and personal lives more flexibly, and they have the opportunity to interact with colleagues around the world. Companies can use the best and lowest-cost global talent and significantly reduce their real estate costs.
Transforming the way we do business into virtual team is not easy and needs good change management plans, from transition to transformation. But did organizations really think about this move? Leaders, managers, and team members needs a different mindset and skillset to be able to make the change; they need training and coaching.”
Here are three simple takeaways you need to do to manage your team, without seeing them every day in the office:
1. Clear announcements, clear expectations
Communication in a virtual team may be a little more explicit and detailed. Insinuations and concerns that are hidden “between the lines” often do not come across as they are meant, and the team leader lacks the direct feedback channel to verify it.
Not only in remote teams – but specifically here – a clear communication is absolutely critical for the success of the team.
The clearer you communicate, the more you limit the room for interpretation, the higher the chance that your counterpart understands what you want and can then take the actions you expect.
This saves you a lot of time that you would otherwise need to readjust, i.e. to correct the employee again and again, which leads to frustration on both sides.
How often in my consulting career have I experienced it when I was present at meetings that the manager did not communicate clearly to everyone what expectations he or she has of the individual team members.
When I then asked both the manager and the employees after the meeting, it seemed as if they were not in the same meeting. Most of the content communicated by the manager and the content perceived by the employees were not identical. This is absolutely terrifying.
And in order to avoid exactly that, we will deal with how to make your meetings more efficient and thus significantly increase the performance of your team in the training and coaching sessions we offer.
Your meetings have to be more inspiring (more inspiration than only information) and your team will be more engaged and actively participating. They have to understand exactly what your goals and expectations are, how they will achieve it and why. This will absolutely boost your performance.
You have to recognize when a team member is not aligned so that you can immediately intervene positively before other team members are infected and team performance is negatively affected.
2. Free flow of information
All information necessary for a project should be freely accessible to all, preferably from the moment it is created. This has two advantages: Firstly, it allows inconsistencies and errors to be identified early enough to be ironed out. Secondly, this approach offers practical advantages for everyone. If each person conscientiously discharges his or her fetch debt with the information, everyone has the opportunity to discharge their fetch debt (to be informed) more easily. A central information repository, as offered by project management and collaboration tools, is clearly preferable to endless e-mail threads.
3. Furthermore, structural measures are indispensable
Fixing of schedules, scheduling of meetings, meet now is not the best way to manage your team, this is stressful, and clarification of goals / objectives of the meetings are essential to be communicated. Responsibilities, determination of usual decision structures, target response time, visibility of individually assigned work orders and their processing status, milestone overview, feedback rounds (collective as well as individual) expected leadership tasks and participation rights as well as obligations, necessary use of technology, intended ways of conflict articulation and conflict regulation, group result saturated with individual results as (incentive) basis and more.
Managing virtual teams is not business as usual for most of SMEs, Government institutions, and astonishingly for many multinational large enterprises. Planning to take this into your modern workplace and after Corona time; please think carefully and provide your team with the right training and skills development.
Pinnacle has developed virtual training workshops and coaching sessions addressing:
- How to stay focused during challenging times – working on-task with distractions.
- Remote leading of teams – skills and mindset that supports your virtual leadership.
- Effective Remote Team Communication.
- Communicating with customers: Keeping in touch with customers while in times of distress.
- Keeping a positive work atmosphere during tough times.
- Why working remotely can be important and beneficial in the future
- Lessons learned – What do we take with us for the future.
- We go through 3 phases in crises. What are they and how to manage through effectively?
- Disrupt yourself – reinvent yourself in the digital world.
- Effects on learning and development culture in organizations.
This article is written by: Roland Friedl
A seasoned International entrepreneur and trainer with more than 35 Years of experience in sales and marketing in diversified sectors and markets such as household goods, nutrition, media, advertising, shopping center industry and property development. Roland is a member of the board of directors in an Austrian company running the largest shopping center in Europe. He trained and consulted companies like Xerox, OpenText, Raiffeisenbank, BAWAG, Johnson & Johnson, JansenCiilag, Basler Versicherung AG, MM Packaging Group AG, Saubermacher AG and many more.