Going Virtual – 7 Tips on How to Manage A Virtual Team

a business man in front of a graphic representing vritual staff

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With the global pandemic forcing so many business owners to pivot, you may need to explore new options. Could building a virtual team help you overcome the challenges that business faces today?

Managing a virtual team can boost your efficiency (and productivity). We can take a few tips from Hootsuite on putting the right people together…

Hootsuite is a great example of a company that did it right. They manage a strong virtual team that enables the business to operate with more flexibility.

According to Matt Handford, SVP of People at Hootsuite, this was one of the biggest issues they faced: 

“Engaging remote employees can be a real challenge.”

Hootsuite’s virtual team came into being because of corporate need, yet the company values its virtual employees just as much as its on-site employees. The hashtag #hootsuitelife helps empower its virtual employees.

Three ingredients allow the successful management of a virtual team: communication, regular feedback, and avoiding isolation.

The question is: do you need a virtual team?

Most businesses can benefit from virtual teams that might span continents. You can reach the BEST talent from anywhere in the world – a clear advantage over companies limited to the best talent within a 20-mile radius.

More and more people want remote jobs. As a result, employee retention is better. The costs of managing virtual teams are also lower. 

There’s no need to rent more office space, pay for electricity, equipment, and so on. The most important benefit? You can finally stick to a 24-hour business schedule. This is one of the main advantages of having employees in different time zones.

Here are some tips on managing a virtual team:

Tip 1 for Managing a Virtual Team – Document Your Work Systems 

Hootsuite’s Matt Handford has some insight for companies that plan on hiring remote teams: 

“Multiple channels of communication can bog down the process, and it’s likely to confuse and frustrate team members.”

That’s why it’s important to document your work system. People have their own ways of approaching specific tasks, but allowing everyone the freedom to go about things in their own way is not ideal.

Repeatable, standardized work systems work better. You have a better chance of maximizing your team’s effectiveness. They also help you avoid confusion and create a transparent work environment.

Clear systems help shave time off various workloads and provide clarity for your virtual employees.

Tip 2 for Managing a Virtual Team – Focus on Tasks and Processes

Here’s another way to provide clarity and maximize efficiency: shift the focus to specific tasks and processes, instead of briefly explaining roles. 

Virtual employees often need more clarification on certain topics or processes. Use video calling and face-to-face communication channels, especially when assigning new tasks and explaining new processes.

Often this is enough to boost productivity. Of course, offering extra support may also help a lot.

Remember that remote workers crave flexibility, but make them understand what’s expected of them in order to maintain good employment standing.

Tip 3 for Managing a Remote Team – Create a Community 

Again, this is about valuing all team members. Creating a community invites the development of personal connections – an invaluable asset when dealing with virtual employees.

How can you achieve this?

It requires a few things. One of the most important is overlapping work hours. Having a global team means dealing with multiple time zones, but overlapping some employee schedules by at least three hours is usually possible. This allows for daily collaboration between team members from different parts of the world.

Holding regular meetings and briefings is also important. Introducing routines often reduces stress and instills a sense of security for your virtual employees.

To facilitate this process, create a communication portal for your company. With that, encourage interaction between all members and allow informal conversations. This helps build trust and form connections between on-site and virtual team members. A community bond, if you will.

You can make use of project management platforms, such as Slack. These apps offer safe environments for team members from different departments, where they can communicate and develop personal connections.

Tip 4 for Managing a Virtual Team – Provide Regular Feedback

Feedback is essential for keeping remote employees focused. It also shows them that they’re valued team members.

Do your best and show trust. Falling into the micromanaging trap is easy enough with on-site employees. It’s even easier with virtual employees.

Take into account that people who want remote work want less oversight.

So, do your best and provide some autonomy outside the standard company routines. At the end of the day, it’s about doing the job the right way.

Tip 5 for Managing a Virtual Team – Dedicate Additional Time

It’s always a great sign when you show interest in your virtual employees. Don’t just be there for the feedback and reminders. Take a few extra hours per week and engage with your employees from different time zones.

Fill your role as a company leader (or project manager). Provide trusted and important employees with your personal contact information.

This is another way of making off-site team members feel like team players and not benchwarmers.

Tip 6 for Managing a Virtual Team – Reward Virtual Team Members Accordingly

Some people find their salaries rewarding enough, but others want merit-based rewards. As for you, you can consider establishing a system of meritocracy.

Virtual employees who respond well to merit-based rewards are the ones you want on your team. It shows you that they’re eager. They want to thrive in the workplace and make the company succeed.

You always need hard workers, but the hardest workers often need positive reinforcement and more incentives. You should try to meet those needs. Offer merit-based rewards to on-site and off-site team members alike.

Tip 7 for Managing a Virtual Team – Leverage the PRINT®  Model to Discover Unconscious Motivators

PRINT® is a model that helps you to map out the key unconscious motivational drivers of a potential team member. Every single person has a PRINT® that you can consider as a blueprint that informs how they view the world.

Your PRINT® informs why you do the things you do, and why you are who you are. It also plays a key role in how you react to the events that unfold in front of you.

Simply put, PRINT® helps you to understand the roles people play in bringing out the best (and worst) of each other.

All told, there are 72 PRINTs that a potential hire may have. A person’s PRINT® defines the natural talents that person has, in addition to any obstacles that they’re likely to face. The talents are what help the person achieve their Best Self, and obstacles are the things that lead them into the Shadow state.

Combined, these talent and obstacles help you to see what motivates the individual you’re thinking of hiring. You can use PRINTs to figure out what drives a potential hire, both consciously and subconsciously. Ultimately, this leads to you making better hiring decisions based on the needs of your team, and helps you manage your team better.

Conclusion

Creating a virtual team is one thing. Managing the virtual team and keeping everyone happy are other things entirely. Yet they’re all essential if your virtual team is to help your company grow.

Start by finding the right people. Don’t limit your searches to neighboring cities. Look for global talent and benefit from different inputs. Allow your company access to different markets.

Understand that virtual employees may have slightly different needs than your on-site personnel. Connect all of your employees and encourage personal conversations. Pay equal attention to everyone and offer fair rewards.

For more tips on creating the ideal virtual team, sign up for free daily business coaching lessons. We can also introduce you to the PRINT® model in more depth and help you understand how to use it.

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