At the end of the day, a good manager is a good manager. They all have a similar set of skills that allow them to motivate, direct and inspire their team. There are some minor tweaks, however, that need to be made to your managerial style when making the jump from an in-house team to a virtual one. We’ve highlighted the skills most desired in the man (or woman) standing at the head of a virtual team.
Be Adaptive to Change
This, above all else, is the key to succeeding at the head of a virtual team. If you’re the type of manager that feels the need to meet regularly, speak face to face, and get hands on with specific tasks, a virtual team may not be for you. If you are the type of person who tends to take a while to warm up to change, new processes, new tools and new ideas, managing a virtual team may not be for you.
There’s nothing wrong with either of these things, but when you’re talking about working with remote employees your ability to adapt to new ways of doing business are key. Not only to your ability to get tasks done under deadline and finish a project with quality work, but also to keeping your sanity!
Know What Each Employee’s Job Entails
You know the old saying, “If you’re going to tell me how to do my job, you ought to know how to do my job”? That goes double when you’re talking about a virtual team. Most of the people you’re going to have in your team are going to be experts in their role, or they’re going to be working underneath someone else who is. Establishing yourself as “the boss who doesn’t understand how things work” is a quick path to mutiny and poorly motivated employees.
I’m not saying you have to know everything about everything-that’s what you have a team for. But you should be familiar with the tools, techniques and end goals of each member of your team, and open to their input when they explain what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. This allows you to set realistic goals and deadlines, suggest improvements, and have meaningful discussions not only with your team, but also with members of upper management that are relying on you to be the spokesperson and advocate for the people and projects under your purview.
Never is your ability to prioritize going to be more important than when you’re working with a virtual team. This is one of those times when not being together in a room can actually hurt team flow, because when you can’t see them it’s easy to assume they’re not busy and can handle additional tasks. Especially when they’re stuck on a project, working with a piece that’s going to require some time, or having to go back through and correct mistakes. If you’re going to prioritize a task for them, it’s essential that the work actually take precedence over what they were working on in the first place.
In turn, it’s easy for you as the manager to get pulled in too many different directions, forgoing your ability to focus on your team and the projects you oversee. Prompt feedback and frequent availability are key to your team’s ability to function. If you’re not available, it can result in a bottleneck that brings productivity to a screeching halt.
To effectively manage your team, you’re going to have to learn when to say no and when to bump something to the top of the list.
Get Plenty of Sleep
One of the things no one tells you about working with virtual teams is that often, you’re going to be working across multiple time zones. This can create conflict with meetings, and can result in you as the manager working long days in order to match everyone’s availability.
Here’s the thing. People who don’t get enough rest suffer from short tempers, reduced IQs and difficulty focusingDecide when to call it a day and call it a day. Don’t bring work home with you if you don’t have to. Don’t encourage your team to call you at home during off hours unless something is really hitting the fan. . If you’re going to manage a virtual team, you’re going to have to take care of yourself too!