Five Key Skills for Virtual Team Leaders

Manager connecting with virtual team

The internet has made a lot of things possible. Movie and music streaming, online banking, e-commerce and social media are just some of the benefits that come to mind. The internet has also allowed people to work anywhere, either on their own or in virtual teams. You can now work from any location in the world, led by a team leader who will oversee your work.

Team leaders of such virtual teams need to know how they can effectively manage their teams to bring out the best in them. Managing people virtually can sometimes be more challenging than doing so physically. In this article, we will discuss five key skills that virtual team leaders need to develop. These skills will help team leaders make the most of their abilities and lead their teams to success.

Trust

Trust is a vital part of working in a virtual environment. Developing trust is no easy feat. When team leaders build virtual relationships, they must build them on an individual level. It is not as easy as chatting in person or grabbing lunch together. The remote needs of each team member must be taken into consideration when virtual relationships are involved.

Feedback is also important to ensure all team members are on the same page. It creates an open and honest relationship when team members freely interact and share their views and ideas with the group. As a virtual leader, you must be ready to take up responsibility and be available to all your team members. You can also build trust by paying special attention to team members. Marking birthdays, praising individual achievements, and announcing successes, is a good way to start.

Communication

Communication is key in both physical and virtual relationships. Team leaders and their teams may not be in the same physical location, but communication is even more important to their success. In this situation, it’s not just communication that’s required, its effective communication. Effective communication is when the message that is passed across is received exactly as intended. Email, text messages and video conferencing are just some of the ways virtual teams can communicate. It is therefore important to use the best communication tools available.

Team leaders should set communication guidelines for their members. The guidelines might include the accepted mode of communication, appropriate channels to discuss important issues, and call scheduling. Effective, frictionless, and prompt communication helps virtual teams get along properly. It also helps team members to remain in sync and on track.

Support

Support is one of the things that virtual workers need the most from their team leaders. Working with a virtual team in a virtual environment can sometimes be lonely for team members. The energy and morale that can be derived from working in a physical office aren’t present when working virtually. It is important as a virtual leader to effectively monitor your team members emotional state. You should give support to those who you suspect aren’t so motivated or who have unresolved problems.

You need to assure your team members of your willingness to help despite being geographically separated. To prevent burnout, team leaders need to pay attention and monitor the amount of work being done by each team member and ensure the workload isn’t too much for one person. Support is critical for your team’s well-being and to produce the highest levels of productivity.

Clarity

Team leaders need to explain in detail what they expect from each team member. This enables members to have a clear understanding of their tasks. When a virtual team is working on a project, especially large ones, it is always better that all members are aware of their roles in bringing the project to completion. As a team leader you need to ensure that at every stage in the development of your project, there is no friction between team members.

There are various questions you can ask to determine how clear your instructions are. For example, is there a clear division of tasks? A clear division of tasks enables everyone to know where they are supposed to do. Have deadlines been clearly communicated? Clearly communicated deadlines ensure your projects are completed when due. These questions are a means to ensure there is total clarity between you and your team members.

Empowerment

Authority to execute ideas independent of you is important for your team members. As a team leader, you need to enable your team members to tackle problems they might encounter while working on their tasks. Requiring all problems to be brought to your attention might hinder them. Empowering your team members to take decisions gives them a sense of control over their tasks. As a team leader, you need to support the choices your team has made in order to bring their tasks to completion.

Final word

In today’s world, virtual teams have become more and more common. Remote working has enabled a lot of workers to be part of teams with only a laptop and a phone. Leadership roles need to be learned by virtual team leaders the same way physical team leaders at the head office need to learn leadership. The five skills covered in this article are key to enabling a virtual team leader to have a better relationship and output from their teams.

Many attributes that make people effective leaders can also make them effective virtual team leaders. The important thing to always remember is that you are dealing with people. The more effective you are at handling your virtual team, the more you’ll be able to get the best out of them. We hope we have been able to set you on the path for virtual team success. Try and incorporate these attributes and skills into your virtual team leadership and see how it transforms the way your team works.

CSS NYC 2019



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