The Virtual World: Management Challenges Faced By Global Virtual Team Leads

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.


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,, 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.

Cross-Cultural Training for Global Virtual Teams

As the working world goes remote, our work dynamics – and those with whom we work – have changed.

One of these changes is that our teams have become more international.

Last week, we talked about what makes for a successful global virtual team.

While you can build a contextually diverse team to maximize creativity or a team that is low in personal diversity for projects that need a quick turnaround, any team you build will need cross-cultural training.


Because training = competency.

Cross-cultural teams need intercultural skills to thrive.

Such teams face unique obstacles – like differences in work styles and time management.

There are also varied collaboration styles across cultures.

Some team members may not know how to join in and participate, as their own culture may have different hierarchical workplace structures (matrix vs. flat, for instance) or different communication styles (passive vs. dominant, etc.).

This is why cross-cultural training for global virtual teams is paramount to their success.

The Stats

According to culturewizard, formal cross-cultural training was delivered to less than a quarter of working professionals on virtual teams in 2020.

This may be why other stats show that:

“only 15 percent of corporate leaders reported having been successful in leading teams across cultures and countries.” (Culture Wizard, 2018)

How do you run a successful global virtual team if none of them have the tools to work across cultures?

As my book, I am the Monkey!, explores, the deeply ingrained biases we have toward our culture’s own values and norms are something that must be overcome when living and working in other cultures.

It is natural to assume that your methods are “right” while others’ are “wrong.”

Cross-cultural training is essential to acknowledging and overcoming these biases and differences in order to work together more cohesively. 

The Training

While cross-cultural training may be broad or more specific to the project goals at hand, either should cover the following:

  • The development of deeper intercultural insights
  • The ability to channel teammates’ differing cultural perspectives
  • The ability to adapt one’s work style to gel better with the group dynamic
  • The development of constructive intercultural communication skills

Cross-cultural training may delve into other project-specific intercultural dynamics, but generally, any training on the subject should cover these bases.

They are pivotal to a working team.