Virtual teams can be top performing teams. Not every organization needs a virtual team or prefers to have one, but these teams are a reality, and they can produce top results. The number of virtual teams or home office workers is steadily growing.
Regardless of the composition of the team, the components needed to create traditional high performing teams also apply to virtual teams. There needs to be a visionary and motivating leader to lead highly engaged and dedicated team members. These team members need to have a strong motivation for achievement of their goals. Moreover, the team’s goal AND the members’ individual goals must be aligned. Just because people don’t meet in a physical location does not mean that there can’t be a culture of accountability. Every team and every leader needs to set the example and set the standard for the team to follow. The points are the same for virtual teams as they are for traditional team. Here are a few of the most important things to remember.
1. Have written goals with timetables and deadlines. Each team member must know exactly what the objectives are. They must have short term goals, intermediate goals, and long terms goals with deadlines.
2. Use measurements. Use a tool to share measurements online. There are many available. Actions must be measured as to how they contribute to the desired results. What is the desired result of every action and how will you measure it? The measurement should be shared with the individual team members so that they can assess their progress.
3. Schedule regular one to one meetings by phone, Zoom, Google Hangout or whatever works. Regular updates are important. You should utilize a standard format. Include progress updates and freely welcome discussion of obstacles and solutions.
4. Make use of technology to share information online. Keep regular online contact with everyone. There are now so many group sharing technologies. Find one that works for you. Sharing and updating progress is very easy to do online. You can easily tell if someone is not holding up their end.
5. Schedule regular team meetings online. Assign different parts of the meeting to others. Engage everyone by including all in the discussion and asking questions of everyone.
6. Finally, everyone needs face time. You need to schedule occasional physical get-togethers.
Trust is essential. In the case of remotely functioning teams developing trust must not be forgotten or pushed to the wayside. Your team must feel free to ask questions with the confidence they will receive support and the necessary information. An effective leader must ensure that everyone is informed and that he or she is “in on things.” You can make it happen with virtual teams, but you must sharpen your leadership skills and recognize that what you do in an office must be translated into its virtual version.
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