3 Tips to Successfully Lead an Online Team

By Erica Badino

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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Virtual teams can be a challenge to manage. It’s not simply about labor cost or offshore labor. We will be dealing with real people and will, therefore, need real management skills.

The greatest challenges I have experienced in leading remote or distributed teams all stemmed from the attitude of a few rotten apples. But nothing is impossible because, after all, we are dealing with human beings.

Here are three important tips/strategies on how to ensure that a virtual team is working in sync with local staff and moving in the right business direction:

1. Define Work Systems

Micromanaging will not help to achieve these goals, which is why some managers avoid giving instructions with too many minute details.

Based on personal experience, it’s better to provide detailed descriptions of tasks with examples of what the result should look like. Give the team the freedom to execute the tasks rather than to give fewer instructions and have to deal with potential misunderstandings.

These work systems need to be both standardized to allow for maximum effectiveness and tailored to allow the necessary freedom to complete the task to the best of one’s ability.

Having a website is highly important to define work systems efficiently.

2. Establish Multiple Communication Tools

The team will need a way to communicate something that is urgent.

Secondly, it will unify processes, e.g., as what to use for conference calls, screen recordings, and so on. With Skype, WhatsApp, and e-mail being available at everybody’s fingertips, it is tempting to chat and send a quick e-mail whenever there is something to discuss.

But be wary as to how they are used, as it can easily lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.

3. Project Management Skills

Start by Scheduling Meetings. Follow the SCRUM Process and do briefings via virtual meetings on a weekly basis. In return, it helps to put the team at ease and reduces stress. SCRUM – S Coordinates Rutgers University Model – is a simple framework for effective team collaboration on complex projects.

It’s no secret SCRUM delivers value to the end customers faster than traditional methods. Keep in mind that the SCRUM process helps the company in saving time and money. It becomes easy to deliver a quality product in a scheduled time using the SCRUM framework.

Digital communication is the best way to maximize efficiency in every business because it helps to recreate the routine office feeling that remote teams are missing.

  • Handsome Usage of Project Management Tools:
    These tools can be unique or ideal for keeping track of deadlines. It will also send alerts and reminders for deadlines and give quick daily and weekly overviews of what needs to be done, by who, and when.
  • Hold People Accountable:
    The primary temptation with a remote work situation or for distributed teams is that people will take advantage of not being in-house and slack off. In some cases, a remote situation can be unworkable. In this case, before making a drastic change, check data such as VPN logs.
  • Make Sure Work Hours Overlap:
    Regardless of what time zones the team members are in, it is recommendable to have at least 3 to 4 hours a day where most of the team is online at the same time. This will bring the team closer together and is the quickest problem-solving solution there is.
  • Try to Establish A Meritocratic System:
    This is the process of rewarding and recognizing people based on their skills. This stimulates people to work harder and better. Make sure to set up a reward system to keep the team motivated.

The greatest challenges I have experienced in leading distributed teams all stemmed from the attitude of a few rotten apples. The attitude tainted the management of the teams or projects they were assigned, causing more damage. In retrospect, there were breadcrumbs that ultimately led me to the conclusion that these individuals needed to be “managed out” for the success of remote working and business, both mutually.

Working with distributed teams means doing things a bit differently.

We need to put more effort into different aspects of work-life balance, effective and consistent communication, vetting potential employees, and motivating the team.

How Can You Lead an Online Team?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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