Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Tools for managing virtual teams efficiently, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
Imagine you're baking a pie. You'll need a few things to help you make it delicious rather than a science experiment gone wrong. Using the appropriate baking utensils is like using different tools as a remote manager. These tools can assist you with your task at hand. Here I will share six different tools and the pros and cons of each that you can use to productively and effectively manage your virtual team. Virtual conference rooms, pros.
You can get to see your team's faces, watch reactions, and can create a sense of togetherness. If you can see your team and they can see you, you can also limit the chance of distraction as their attention and focus is visible to all. Cons, technology sometimes isn't completely reliable and glitches or malfunctions can distract or negatively impact momentum. Also, user error can be more difficult to manage and address with virtual employees, particularly ones who work from a home office with little to no local tech support available to them.
Social media, pros. You can instantly share and see personal and professional updates and it can shrink the distance between you and your teammates. Sometimes even the impression of proximity social media creates can increase positive team dynamics. Cons, this can be a huge distraction for many people and an easy way to spend hours without producing necessary work. It can be more difficult to manage time spent on social media with a virtual team than an office where certain sites can be blocked or access denied.
Email, pros. This can be a great way to quickly share information, touch base to set up an impromptu phone call, or communicate the same message to multiple people all at once. Cons, emails can be misinterpreted even with the use of emoticons. A misunderstanding via email can cause conflict which might create more work and decrease the convenience factor. Phones, pros.
This can make your remote employees easily accessible to you and you accessible to them regardless of location. Cons, cell service is not always dependable. Also, it can be easy to fall into a routine of texting instead of calling and with a virtual team, voice time is typically more effective. Tablets, pros. These can be more manageable to travel with and can be connected to a server or Cloud technology which means productivity does not have to suffer if your employees are not in their offices.
Cons, these are not a viable resource for everyone so if your company will not reimburse for purchasing and using tablets, it may not be a realistic option. There is also a learning curve and providing any sort of technical support for tablets can often be a challenge. And lastly, Cloud technology, pros. Cloud technology can be a great way to manage version control and document sharing and a number of other elements and it is often cost efficient.
Cons, it's easy to do things like add or delete files so you can move or remove documents inadvertently. Also, if you don't set up a naming convention for documents, you can end up having multiple versions that are so similar there's a potential for quality issues. As a sidenote, it can help to set up one person who is responsible for archiving and document standards to address these issues, but that consumes resource time. There are plenty other tools out there just like there are hundreds of recipes for apple pie.
The key is to talk with your information technology team and do your research and you might even create your own tool combination.
Discover how to build rapport, set mutual expectations, communicate, connect, overcome conflict, get work done, and grow the team. Also included is a look at the top five challenges managers face in leading remote teams and helpful solutions that will get your team on track.
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