TIPS FOR LEADING VIRTUAL TEAMS
Updated: Apr 5
Well the world is quite literally upside down.
COVID-19 has certain come with some unique challenges, including the need for many of you, including myself, to lead teams virtually. There is a big difference from working from home 1-2 days a week to suddenly going full time. Its crucial that we support our teams mental wellbeing as well as ensure the business continues to function effectively.
1. Use technology!
Use technology such as skype whiteboard to stay connected as a team and if possible, use video as well.
Research shows that people aren’t as comfortable sharing their ideas and thoughts over the phone/online messages and they’re more likely to think they’re not being heard. Teams can also fall victim of misunderstandings and communication difficulties when they can’t read body language and see facial expressions.
Face to face contact through video will allow you and your team to pick up on nonverbal cues such as body language and facial expressions, and your team will know that you’re giving them your full attention.
2. Provide more structure
It is a lot easier to spend quality time with a face to face team. Review your team routines and make sure you prepare for and schedule any team routines or activities well in advance, rather than booking ad-hoc.
Set clear expectations with your team around communications.
Plan out the next month or two and make sure you make the most of the time you have together.
3. Stay connected
Virtual teams can miss the daily chit chat and face to face banter. Bring this kind of banter to whiteboards and Skype conversations to help strengthen relationships and build trust within the team.
In Skype meetings, we tend to ask everyone to go on mute. This can hinder the natural call flow as it can silence laughter and comments made by team members. These little contributions are all needed to help stay connected. Ask everyone to go to a quiet place, unmute and jump in when they have something to add. You could even include a quick little team building exercise at the beginning of your team meeting.
Don’t forget to celebrate wins and successes to help strengthen relationships through praise and recognition. Send Thank you cards and celebrate special occasions, like anniversaries and birthdays. Have whiteboard templates ready to go to personalise these days for team members.
4. Regular contact
Make regular contact with each of your team members.
Send a quick Skype message to check in and say hello each day, this will help them feel supported and valued.
Working in isolation can affect peoples’ mental health so its important to keep this in mind.
5. Set goals
A lack of accountability can create issues within virtual teams, which can lead to disengagement.
Get your team to set mini goals each day, this can help keep them engaged and motivated. Check in with them to see how they are tracking throughout their shift.
For larger initiatives and team projects, select team champions and encourage them to share updates and successes with the team.
I hope you find this useful! This is an unusual time that we are in but we know we can get through it together if we work as a team!