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Managing a virtual team

February 14, 2012 435 No of hits
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Managing a virtual team

Telecommuting is becoming more commonplace. It saves the company the costs of rent and utilities. It saves the employee commuting time and costs. And it allows for greater geographic flexibility--a team can be widely dispersed. But managing a virtual team requires managers to learn a new set of skills. The biggest challenges are ensuring cohesiveness, engagement, and good job performance when they can't see the individuals. Here are some recommendations for doing this:

Assuring Cohesiveness And Engagement. Schedule team meetings by telephone or videoconference at least monthly. Talk to each team member individually monthly, as well. Team meetings are for group decision making and consensus building. Individual meetings are to check in about what they are working on, how they are doing, and any problems or help they need. Maintain contact by e-mail between telephone meetings. Try to get the team together once a year in person, and include some fun, team-building activities in addition to the business agenda.

Managing Performance. The telephonic team meetings are an opportunity to assess how your staff are doing. Listen carefully to each individual. Do they sound engaged and excited? Are they actively participating and contributing? Or are they reserved, low energy, and bored?

If the latter, follow up immediately after the team meeting with a private call to find out what it means. Do they have an issue with the direction the team is taking? Are they multi-tasking, which might mean a motivation problem? Do they have a personal problem distracting them? Respond accordingly.

Following are some additional red flags of under-performing telecommuters:

* Long delays to return e-mails and phone calls

* They don't answer their phone; your calls always go into voice mail

* Noise in the background during phone calls; for example, television, music, children crying

* Frequent interruptions during calls

* Missed deadlines

* Work appears rushed or is of poor quality

Any of the above can indicate an employee who lacks discipline and lets their personal life interfere with their work. You will need to have a frank discussion with them. Focus on what you have observed. Don't make accusations about the underlying causes, but hold the employee accountable correcting the problem.

Tags:   Managing a virtual team   Team   Meeting   Phone   Performance   Cohesiveness   Engagement  

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Telecommuting is becoming more commonplace. It saves the company the costs of rent and utilities. It saves the employee commuting time and costs. And it allows for greater geographic flexibility--a team can be widely dispersed. But managing a virtual team requires managers to learn a new set of...

By: Richard Martine Created 76 months ago

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