One of the key challenges in managing a virtual team is creating one in the first place. The team leader must find team members that can work well under minimal supervision and can function with different types of technology. Don’t let geographical differences hinder the team you want to create.
Choose Self-Motivated People with Initiative
One aspect of working on a virtual team is the ability to be self-motivated and self-disciplined enough to finish the job without someone looking over your shoulder. When building your virtual team, choose team members that show self-motivation characteristics, such as making goals and having strategies for completing assignments. If looking to utilize current employees, look for employees who have had a proven record for getting assignments done and sticking to what they want to accomplish. If hiring from outside the company, look at the person’s resume and see what kind of success they have had and how they reached it.
Characteristics of a self-motivated person:
- They don’t fear failure
- They have definite goals
- They make plans
- They are flexible when faced with a problem
Face to Face Meetings at First (Kick-off Meeting)
Even though virtual team members will be working apart from each other, it is important to start the team in the same location, usually through some type of ‘kick-off’ meeting. At this first meeting, members are introduced to each other and usually exchange contact information. The manager would then usually introduce the goals, assignments, and future projects for the group. This is the time where employees can ask questions, discuss availability, and plan for what they will be doing during the course of the upcoming projects.
If geography is a problem for gathering everyone together, try to find a central location that is a fair distance from everyone involved. In some cases, team members may need to be present by phone or video to be a part of the meeting. Setting up a one-time video meeting or conference may be the only way to get some face time between all participants. Having that initial face time is very important to the overall success of the team.
Diversity Will Add Value
Any team leader wants a team that can all work hard and accomplish their goals, but in the same instance a team leader needs each team member to be different in their own way and utilize what they have to offer. Each team member is different and has a different set of skills that they excel at. They are able to provide different ideas and opinions that can be shared with others and create a new, unique perspective. When we bring a diverse group of employees together, they are not only able to use their diverse skills to complement each other, but they can ensure their part of the project is done to the best of their abilities, making the overall assignment a great success.
Benefits of a diverse work group:
- Various ideas and perspectives
- Each team member excels at their skill set
- Contributes to the group as a whole
Experienced with Technology
One of the most important aspects of a virtual team member is the need to be experienced with various types of technology. Team members will be in different locations, but will still need to keep in contact. Many ways employees accomplish this is to communicate by phone, email, fax, or even video phone. A virtual team member must know how to operate different forms of technology in order to stay connected to other team members and management.
Assignments and projects are often sent by electronic files in a variety of programs and shared among the group to edit and sent along. If the team members do not have a high level of knowledge when it comes to technology, they may not be able to function well on a team that relies so much on it. Current knowledge as well as keeping up-to-date with new and emerging technologies is required for today’s teleworker.