More and more managers are finding themselves leading teams where some or all of the members work virtually.
Whether they reside in the UK or around the globe, working remotely is becoming increasingly popular in modern times.
Although there are so many advantages to allowing employees to telecommute part or all of the time, it provides new challenges for supervisors that those with physical employees don’t have to face.
The fact that the subordinates aren’t present in one location and likely don’t interact with each other, makes it difficult to control them or create a team. However, there are steps you can take to be the best virtual team leader with this advice.
Foster Communication – With employees residing in different locations around the country or the world, most managers don’t make it a priority to foster communication. All they focus on is emailing out instructions and making sure they are followed. While that may get specific tasks accomplished, it doesn’t create a team between the individual and the boss, and between the colleagues. Therefore, it is up to the supervisor to encourage a dialogue between all the team members. Set up monthly Skype meetings where all employees are required to participate, and create teams where individuals must communicate with each other to get the work done. The more everyone interacts with each other, the more they will get to know one another and start working together as a team.
Engage Face-To-Face – Although you may communicate by phone or email, it is very important to have some sort of face-to-face interaction with your employees. This is easy enough to accommodate if they live in or around the UK, but much harder if they are in other parts of the world. However, take the time to travel to sites where your subordinates reside to get to know them. Usually, teams will be assembled in certain countries, with team leaders situated there, as well. Schedule annual trips to these spots to introduce yourself to your employees and set up company outings to build trust and rapport with your team.
Push The Personal Angle – Although your employees need to work together, nothing will get them to bond more than by sharing personal information. Therefore, encourage sharing by allocating the first ten or fifteen minutes of your weekly meetings to catching up and asking your subordinates how their lives are going. Start a Facebook page and ask all team members to post photos of families and recent holidays. The more your employees know about each other, the better they will likely work together.
Managing employee’s long distance has many challenges, but just as many rewards. With the advancement in technology, if you are not yet managing remote employees, you likely may in the near future. The Internet is taking distance out of the equation when it comes to the corporate world, so start learning about managing virtual teams today.
Senior Trainer & Consultant