Improving Actual Communication with Virtual Teams

As a manager, communicating with your team is a top priority and yesterday we reviewed simple tactics for ensuring your staff is well informed. But what happens when you’re supervising virtual team members? Maintaining great relationships with these people takes a little extra – and different – effort.

Clear rules of the road – Virtual team members are naturally a little more independent, but that can lead to frustration for the manager and re-work for the employee. Make sure that virtual employees understand the guidelines for their work. And, when you start a project, it’s worth a phone or video call to make sure that everyone understands the expectations. This will help avoid virtual employees trying to read between the lines of an email.

Inclusion – If they’re not physically present, virtual members can be brought into huddles with team members by phone or web cam. Do this every time your on-ground team has a huddle. And, ensure that virtual team members are allowed to speak, not just listen.

Watch out for conference calls – Virtual employees can become frustrated and bored with conference calls, especially those that entail one person droning on. Make sure that your virtual employees are active participants –and often leaders –of these calls. This will help them feel more like the group and have some personal accountability for paying attention.

Build communities – To avoid feelings of isolation, build teams of virtual workers. Some organizations also assign an on-ground buddy for their virtual workers so they are not out of touch with conversations or events happening at the home office.

Offer praise – As the manager of a virtual team, it’s up to you to keep workers motivated. When you see a job well done, let the employee and his or her colleagues know about it. Virtual workers don’t want to be forgotten, especially when they are giving their all.

Remember, being a great communicator takes time and energy, but it’s among the most your most important responsibilities as a manager.