In today’s global business world, there are higher chances that you will end up leading a virtual team at some point in time. Though basics of leadership remain the same in a virtual team, however, the members of a virtual team work at different times and different places. This will make your leadership tasks much more complex and difficult. In this blog, I will talk about 3 key challenges of virtual teams and my practical approaches to resolve those challenges.
PROBLEM: As with all teams, trust is a key factor in determining virtual team’s success. Building trust in a virtual team, where people speak different languages, come from different cultures, and live in different time zones is very challenging.
SOLUTION: These challenges can be resolved by different approaches. The approach that works for me is to use of facial pictures in e-mail exchanges. This will help you a long way by putting a human element in to virtual communication and reminding people about the person who sent this message.
PROBLEM: The virtual nature of the team and its assignment can make the virtual team’s project seem less real and pressing, with the serious consequences that team members fail to take ownership of the project.
SOLUTION: I might not have the perfect answer to resolve this issue, but here is what I do: Lay down team’s mission and explain the reasons behind that mission. In this way, they can connect their goals to this mission and I get more buy-ins from them. Then I try to share control over defining team’s objectives and process. This helps me build the climate of self-determination and ownership.
PROBLEM: “Out of sight, out of mind” may explain why it is easy for a virtual team to become isolated and forgotten by the organization. Thus, maintaining visibility becomes a real challenge in a virtual team environment.
SOLUTION: Again, I might not have the perfect solution for this challenge, but here are few steps that I follow:
- Invite key decision makes, stake holders and project managers in the weekly conference call.
- Include these key decision makers in some of your important e-mail chains.
- Publicize your achievements through group e-mails and team’s website.
- Follow up with key stake holders regularly to check up on the project progress and get their feedback.
I hope these tips help you in resolving your day-to-day challenges of virtual team management. And let me know, if you have any other suggestions. I am always looking for your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi