Project Management

10 Ways to Lead a Virtual Team

Leave the chit-chat at home? No way says Karen Frenkel, a science and tech writer for CIO Insight. The truth is that highly successful teams engage regularly on a personal level. According to a recent Unify report, the relative proximity of team members may not affect their productive output, but effective communication certainly will. Two-way dialogue, where team members can engage about out-of-work subject matter, is the best scenario for long distance project development. Here are ten reasons why:

1. Staying Connected: enhances the overall quality of team interaction by encouraging the exchange of open dialogue that is not business oriented. 

2. Encourage Collaboration: The avoidance of monologues (where one person drones on and everyone else listens) at team meetings improves overall success rates.

3. Promote Team Unity: Even if the team is conducting their affairs via remote communication, a good PM can help them feel unified around their goals.

4. Encourage Team Leaders to Lead: In a virtual environment, leadership and teamwork take slightly different forms, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be achieved.

5. Show Personal Interest: A quick call, or an inquiry into how an employee’s day is going, can spur a more positive and productive state.

6. Conduct Conference Calls: Keep these calls short to avoid members feeling isolated, and address each person on a first name basis.  

7. Engage Office-Based and Remote Workers: Give individuals who are anchored at the office a way to engage and collaborate with the long distance staff.

8. Avoid Postponing Discussions: Dialogue outside of planned meetings is also an indicator of success. Only 27 percent of time collaborating is spent in meetings by accomplished teams.

9. Call Anxious Emailers: Individual members who seem troubled through the tone of their email should be contacted directly by phone to reduce stress and improve connectedness.

10. Differentiate between Discussing and Briefing: Drawn out formal discussions should be reclassified as briefings. These briefings can be delivered as power points, recordings, or in writing.  

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