Running a virtual team can be one of the most rewarding or stressful experiences you can have as a business owner.
It’s where your communication skills, systems, and, most importantly, your core values are put to the test.
There are a few things you must understand to run a high performing virtual team.
You need to understand your team’s work schedule. Building in one-to-one meeting times that don’t conflict with the assignments your team members are working on will increase their buy-in to what you are connecting with them on. This ensures they see that you consider and respect their time, which prevents them from feeling like they’ve been forced into a meeting that disrupts their day and the flow of their work.
You need to know what your team members are currently working on. Knowing exactly where your team members are on a project or assignment allows you to know what questions to ask, which steps to create to ensure everything is completed on time, and how to best coach and support them.
We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?
The main challenges with running a virtual team are performance monitoring and measurement.
Are your team members performing well?
And how are you measuring their success?
At the end of the day, every business has KPIs and it’s important to get extremely clear on those and to have processes in place to “inspect what you expect”.
Here are 5 tips to managing a high performing virtual team:
One: You need to understand their communication preference. You have to be willing to meet your team where they are comfortable (i.e.: email, phone, text) so you can lead them to where your company needs to go.
Two: You need to understand their communication style. Does your team member need more rapport building upfront? Does your team member need time to process information as it’s given? Does your team member need just the facts and prefer a more direct approach? Learning what they need and matching it will increase the effectiveness of your communication with them.
Three: You need to understand their work schedule. Building in times where it doesn’t conflict with the assignments your team members are working on will increase their buy-in to what you are connecting with them on. This ensures they see that you consider and respect their time, which prevents them from feeling like they’ve been forced into a meeting that disrupts their day and the flow of their work.
Four: You need to know the level of support they need. Newer team members will need more support and reassurance as they are starting. More veteran team members will need more autonomy with their work. Knowing what your team members need support on is critical to great work.
Five: You need to know what your team members are currently working on. Knowing exactly where your team members are on a project or assignment allows you to know what questions to ask, which steps to create to ensure everything is completed on time, and how to best coach and support them.
Managing a virtual team is simple once you understand the steps.
However, if you haven’t created a strong foundation through the formation and communication of core values, all the managing in the world won’t impact you team’s performance. By developing core values and using them in your hiring, onboarding, and coaching processes, the right team members will come into your company and thrive. The wrong ones will self-select out.
Once your core values are instilled, you have systems and processes to monitor the KPIs within your business.
Then there’s the final step, which is the scariest for business owners.
You have to give your team members autonomy.
Giving employees autonomy around their work increases productivity as it decreases distraction and frustration. Moving forward, businesses are going to have to acknowledge autonomy and workplace flexibility as an important consideration in talent acquisition.
Through autonomy they are able to “own” their work which increases their performance. It’s why you have to make sure you have the right team members on the team who are willing to embrace this way of life.
However, they’ll still need coaching and that’s where leading from the front comes in.
My belief on coaching team members and clients is that we’re not doing our job if we’re not being honest. We can’t help someone grow if we’re only telling them what they want to hear. Setting these expectations in the very beginning will allow you to have much easier crucial conversations. Also, making sure to always acknowledge the good stuff your team members are doing first lets them know you see the value in what they do.
At the end of the day, coaching a team member is about helping them become better. If you truly mean it and come from a place of service, they’ll buy into it.
As you bring together the right team members who are bought into the core values of your company, then it’s time to build a culture.
We have a culture where we #ringthebell when someone does something great. We have a thread for it in our Facebook groups where we encourage our team members to share their wins in life and have them add the hashtag #ringthbell to their post. We want our team members to be successful, not just in work but in all areas of their life.
We have also created a culture of real family where we don’t just work together, we play together. Every team member at my company gets a VR Oculus headset for our gaming nights after they make it past 90 days with us. It’s just another way for us to build together outside of just doing the work.
If you take care of your people, make it fun for them, and hold a high standard of excellence, great things can happen for your organization.
If you’re not running a virtual team then you’re missing out on opportunity to acquire top talent all while keeping your overhead low.
When you maximize talent and minimize cost, that’s when you’re able to go get what you’re worth as an organization.