Managing Virtual Teams
Leading a remote team can be challenging, especially when scheduling and facilitating effective meetings. Here are five tips for managing virtual teams and ensuring your meetings are productive, engaging, and successful.
This topic of managing virtual teams is not new to me. This has been my work life for over a decade. As I looked back on my management as a virtual school principal, these five tips for managing virtual teams came to mind.
Schedule Regular Check-ins
The first step to effective virtual team management is regular check-ins with your team members. These check-ins can be informal (a quick chat over video call or IM) or formal (a scheduled weekly meeting), but they should be consistent. This will help you stay up-to-date on what’s going on with your team and their projects, and it will also allow you to provide feedback and answer any questions they may have.
Keep meetings focused
It’s easy for virtual meetings to lose focus, especially if people are joining from different time zones or locations. To keep everyone on track, start by sending out an agenda before the meeting, so people know what to expect. During the meeting, stick to the agenda as much as possible and avoid getting sidetracked by tangential topics. If necessary, schedule breaks every 20-30 minutes so people can take a stretch, grab a cup of coffee, or step away from their screens for a few minutes.
In a virtual meeting, it’s important to encourage everyone to participate equally. One way to do this is by using “reactions” or “emoji” to let people weigh in on discussions without interrupting the flow of conversation. You can also ask everyone to share their thoughts on specific topics in the chat box so that introverts or shy team members have a chance to chime in. Finally, follow up with anyone who doesn’t participate in the meeting so you can address any concerns they may have about the discussion topics or the format of the meeting itself.
Use technology wisely.
Countless tools and technologies are available to help you manage virtual teams effectively. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to know which ones are worth using—and which ones will just be a distraction. When selecting tools for your virtual team, consider what will help you achieve your specific goals (e.g., increased collaboration, better communication, etc.) and then test out a few options before settling on one or two that you’ll use regularly.
Make time for socializing.
Just because your team is remote doesn’t mean you can’t still build strong relationships with them—you just have to be intentional about it. Schedule regular socializing time into your meetings (e.g., 15 minutes at the beginning or end of each meeting for small talk) or plan fun virtual events that everyone can participate in (e..g., happy hours, trivia nights, etc.). These moments of connection will make your team feel more bonded and make them more productive when it’s time to get down to business.
With a few adjustments to your approach, leading a virtual team can be just as successful as leading an in-person team—if not more so! By following these tips for effective virtual team management, you’ll set yourself up for success in coordinating remotely with your colleagues while maintaining high levels of productivity and engagement from everyone involved.