As a virtual manager, how do you monitor your virtual team from afar?

Last week, we talked about challenges that managers face dealing with global virtual teams, specifically in a cross-cultural context.

But some challenges have to do with the environment itself.

While the virtual environment comes with significant advantages, you might face difficulties as a manager with communication, task management, accountability, etc.

Communication 

From virtual meetings to chat tool procedures, you have the tools at the ready for quality communication on your virtual team, even if it isn’t in-person. 

But as a manager of a virtual team, you shouldn’t assume that everyone is familiar with the program your using or chat procedures.

As a manager you should:

  • Instruct your team about how and when to use communication tools, whether a phone call, a chat, or an email
  • Collaborate as a team over virtual meetings to work together and solve any issues on the project
  • Clearly deliver the team’s expectations and aims
  • Encourage remote team bonding to nurture relationships amongst team members

Task Management

Managing a team virtually is very different than in an office environment.

You can still check in on progress, but you can’t step into your colleague’s office and visually see where they’re at in a group project.

Ensuring that each member of the team is on task and in sync to complete the project by deadline might therefore seem like an impossible task.

But don’t worry; the virtual world has software to assist in monitoring progress from your laptop.

Teamwork, Wrike, monday.com, ProjectManager, Mavenlink by Kantata – all of these project management tools will allow you to track the progress of each team member…without having to badger them every single day.

Productivity & Accountability

While the above tools can help you hold your team accountable, it’s still difficult to know whether they’re truly being productive or not…or if they’re scrolling through Facebook all day long.

Some of your employees may be new to virtual work; others may have a million distractions in their remote working environment.

As a team lead, teaching your team how to remove the distractions and work independently is essential to keeping them productive.

Some ways to keep your team accountable and productive:

  • Communicate your work targets regularly and ensure they’re met by each team member
  • Recommend website blockers, timers, and noise cancellation software to keep team members on track
  • Teach effective time management methods, like the Pomodoro Technique, to improve focus

All of these tools, along with an emphasis on communication and task management, will help you create a virtual environment that’s engaged, task-oriented, and collaborative.

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