Virtual Teamwork – Challenges & Solutions, by Charles Parnell

The discourse in organizations presently focuses on understanding and meeting the challenges of working in and leading a virtual team. Here are some researched based suggestions to understand and adopt:

  • Communication. This is more critical now than ever. Differences in communication styles must be considered. Whatever the style is, it must be supported, understood and support collaboration by the team members. It is important to understand the behavioral styles of your team members. It’s more critical in this environment than a classic one. The use of communication-based technology tools like instant messaging, chat and other two-way communication channels are encouraged. Teleconferencing and video conferencing are common channels.
  • Managing Remote Employee Performance. This is more challenging in this environment. The utilization of employee productivity software is suggested. It gives you the quantitative data to have effective discussions about time management and the completion of projects. It is strongly suggested to use SMART goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound).
  • Absent of Trust and Cohesion Within Your Team. Trust is earned over time. It’s easier when the communications are face-to-face and more difficult when interacting with team members remotely. A premium should be placed on candid and timely feedback regarding performance and related issues.
  • Conflict Resolution. This is difficult for people working remotely. Leaders should actively seek out signs of conflict such as changes of tonality in messages or emails. The same is true for participation in group threads. Once you have a possible conflict identified, it’s critical to be proactive and resolve it.
  • Scheduling Difficulties. It can be problematic to manage a virtual team across several time zones. It is important to set meetings efficiently and practically for team members. The use of teleconferencing and video conferencing are useful and necessary. The recording of meetings for employees that can’t attend live is an option.
  • Diverse Multicultural Teams. Virtual teams usually are made up of individuals with different cultures, each of which has their own customs, values and work habits. Leaders will need to learn and find common ground between team members.

There is little doubt that the workplace has changed. It has become more virtual and presents challenges to leaders to adopt different approaches to interact with their employees and customers. The foregoing are some challenges and suggested solutions. If you embrace them, you will be on the journey to successful leadership in the world of virtual teams.

HPISolutions can help your team navigate working in a virtual landscape. Contact us for a consultation!

1 Comment

  • I find it interesting/sad that this type of cooperation needs to be stated. However, I recognize in the midst of adjusting to the new work environment and a solitary work environment, this type of reminder is so needed! The level of stress precludes many people’s ability to think things through, slight panic taking the upper hand. Back to basics-communication and self regulation-in easy to follow steps allows employees a sense of “doing the right thing” itis! Many will need a pat on the back to reassure them, allowing the adjustment to become familiar. It is a lesson I have learned in the last 3 months! And I find it is a lesson learned by all worker bees, employees, bosses and entrepreneurs!

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