Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Managing when you can't see each other, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
Imagine your right arm is in a cast because you've broken your wrist. You will most likely have to find ways to compensate. Some of the basics like driving, showering, and even getting dressed, might call for some serious relearning. Not being able to see your team is not so dissimilar to having a cast. You can create structures and reinvent how you manage given your circumstance. In this case, the distance factor. I will start by defining managed and unmanaged dynamics and then present a list of suggested questions that you can ask which could help you to create a more efficient framework for managing with a cast.
Let's start with the definitions. First up is managed dynamics. These dynamics refer to anything that has been clearly and effectively defined. A situation is known and an approach planned. it's kind of like creating a road map to support your team and navigating their interactions with one another. Unmanaged dynamics refers to anything that leaves room for assumptions and false conclusions. For example, let's pretend you're in college with a cast on your right arm, you're right handed, and it's exam week.
To create managed dynamics, you could communicate your situation with your professors and arrange to type any written exams instead of handwriting them. This allows your professor to understand your needs and to effectively support you. It also means your professor can explain your special circumstances to your classmates which might prevent them from assuming you're getting unnecessary special treatment. An example of unmanaged dynamics is this. You're working on a project and you opt out of a set of tasks that requires you to interact with a certain vendor.
Unbeknownst to your teammates, yo'uve chosen this not because you're lazy, but because the point of contact is your sister in law so you're simply avoiding any conflicts of interest. Take a moment and consider the impact on the dynamics on your team if you chose to not communicate these details. Communciation is a key component to creating managed dyanmics while reducing your unmanaged dynamics. Here's a list of questions you could ask yourself that can support that concept.
What are their motivational and demotivational circumstances? What should be written for clarity versus just conveyed verbally? Should this information be located centrally for the entire team to view? What details have I left out? What assumptions can still be made? What haven't I communicated? What needs to be done that hasn't been distinctly communicated or assigned? Who doesn't have a role yet still needs to be informed? Am I confident of the progress on this task or do I need to check in to ensure things are progressing appropriately? A tip for when you can't see one another is this, pretend overcommunication does not exist.
Use some of the fundamentals from chapter one, learning how to communicate, identifying expectations, establishing team norms to support you in setting up the ground rules to more effectively manage when you can't actually see the majority, if not all, of your team. Now much like the first few days you have that cast on your arm, things might feel a bit awkward. But the good news is you not only get used to it, you actually get really good at it and just like any broken bone, reinventing the basics of management can make for a great success story.
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.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.