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Virtual-Team Management

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Virtual-Team Management

Virtual teams are so common, that I can honestly say that I was not a member of a team where we all were in the same building since 1995. From 1999 on, Kenya Email List I was part of a virtual team, and I managed a virtual team that and no one was in my own country.

The troubles managing people that are remote are many, and here are just a few things that I have learned (the hard way) need extra attention. I am going to include examples where my best intentions failed because of the distance or difference in languages.Kenya Email List

Before I begin, I am an American and I live in France. One of the first things that people on remote teams say is that “you can’t understand what it is like to work in a language that is not your native language.” Well, I can. I have done it for years and will continue to do it.

Basic Management

With remote and virtual teams we can’t really manage daily activities as our parents did. In days of old the manager was on the same floor as his employees, and senior management was usually on the upper floors, but at least they were in the same building.

Build trust

All managers have to gain the trust of their local and remote teams. It is always much easier to lose trust, than to build, it. Trust needs special work when you are never face to face with employees – because you can’t catch the body language and rolling of the eyes during a phone call.

When your people are not in the same room as you they tend to feel that any praise they receive is a light praise, or something obviously due. When they are criticized the criticism is often taken to harshly.

My personal example was a gent that worked for me in Sweden. He did a good job one year and I had recommended that he be promoted in level, receive a pay raise and a bonus. My recommendations were sent to my management before our review meeting. I the review, he asked for the promotion and pay raise – a lower pay raise than I had already recommended to senior management. What could possibly be better than getting more than you asked for?

Somehow he when he saw the numbers, I remember sending them by instant message because we both worked in an open space and I didn’t want to say the numbers out loud. At first he was sort of shocked, then he was quite. I had no idea why. I should have reacted to the silence instead of continuing with the review.

The full review was almost done, I just had to ask what he wanted to do the coming year. Our company had a policy that year where every manager asked their employees if they wanted to leave the company (stock value had dropped) and if anyone wanted to leave we were going to offer a package. We had a script that we read. My manager read it to me, I said no. I read it to the gent in Sweden and he became horribly upset. Asked to end the call. Contacted his local HR representative and said that I was trying to get rid of him.

HR had the “do you want to leave” script that I read to him word for word, and they had his promotion and pay raise numbers in the computer system, and seeing the numbers made him trust HR. From that point on he had a hard time trusting me, even though 3 years later I promoted him again.

Workplace Communication

As the example above should show, you have to contact every member of your team regularly. How often is regular? Often enough that they feel

comfortable with you. Communication can be email, telephone, a face to face visit, or a text message on a cell phone. It can also be a hand written message delivered through office mail. I used to ask people in my company that were going to the country where my team members were to deliver something. Anything. A baseball cap with the company logo and something written in French, accompanied by a signed note.

Invent opportunities to get your together.

This works best when it is the entire team, but if you can only do parts, make sure that the people that don’t attend the first meeting do get to attend the second. I had 3 of a 5 person team traveling one seek and they were all passing through Munich. One of my team member worked in Munich. I sent the 4th person, from the UK, to Munich and had everyone stay for a one day meeting that I could not attend. I was there by phone and video conference, BBBORG but was not able to be there in person. The team found this to be one of the most productive meetings, I suppose because they could easily mute me and talk “behind my back” before coming up with a collective answer. This also did wonders for the team building trust in each other.

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