Effective leadership is an on-going process of learning, adapting and evolving. As technology and people change, so will the way we work, learn and relate to one another. Virtual teams are becoming the norm in the workforce, and when it comes to leaders managing on-site teams, they must work especially hard to refine their skills to keep up with the telecommuting times and learn how to manage their new virtual members.
When inheriting virtual teams, leaders with their sole experience in managing on-site teams can miss the mark. Some fail to understand some of the most basic complexities and principles that are prevalent in remote teams. If you’re new to leading a virtual team, don’t make these four mistakes.
- Assigning or grouping members based solely on skills:
Depending on what kind of project you’re tackling, there are probably some very specific roles that need to be satisfied. Most inexperienced leaders of virtual teams will fill positions if a potential candidate fits the basic criteria for the job without considering other factors that could determine success, such as their ability to communicate effectively and other necessary social skills. Your team should be compiled of people who complement each other behaviorally as well as professionally.
- Micromanaging team members:
Leaders can naturally get frustrated or anxious about the progress of a project. This could lead them to constantly check up on their team and lead to distrust and resentment. Effective communication is crucial here to ensure that regardless of one’s location, they are in touch, but not stressed or pressured about their assignments. Instead of micromanaging, leaders should be coaching, communicating and relinquishing the control so members can do their jobs.
- Inability to properly assign and clarify assignments:
If a team member can clearly communicate goals, expectations and cover all the bases of the task at hand, the team will be more efficient and self-reliant. The little bit of autonomy this gives toward a group effort could help them focus on their assignment and be more open to sharing their progress or any need for help. It helps identify their contribution to a goal in relation to how it will impact the others.
- Failure to include a medium for collaboration:
While responsible for their own pieces of a puzzle, virtual teams will still need to collaborate often. Great virtual team leaders will provide a platform that meets the needs of the team and is easily accessible so they can share, brainstorm or pop in for brief meetings. This safe space for collaboration can get the creative juices flowing and help your team build a rapport with each other – one of the top qualities of successful teams.
The best practices for managing on-site teams will need to be amended and refined to keep with the natural growth of an organization and technology to accommodate virtual teams. These teams may be different from on-site counterparts, but in the hands of a knowledgeable leader, their diversity and flexibility can make them even more successful.