By Hanan Awaad
Traditionally, we all are used to work with teams, we interact with different team members, share the same goal, and use our skills to complete various tasks. However, striving to have a competitive advantage in the market, companies are always in search for ways to lower costs, differentiate tier products and services from the competition, and decrease the time it takes to launch new products and services.
This lead to the emerging virtual teams, where team members are no longer having face-to-face interaction, share same location and time zone. Businesses are in search for talents, highest quality, and lowest costs, and I am no exception.
During the two decades of my experience, I had participated in and led virtual teams. Moreover, lately, almost two-thirds of my teams are virtual, with the majority of my team members are scattered across the globe. Managing virtual teams is not an easy mission, with the continued need to clarify the purpose of the project, manage group participation and to juggle the three pillars of virtual management: people, processes, and technology.
Communication and trust are two major challenges virtual managers face when managing their teams. With team members from outside the organization; different locations; diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities, communication becomes difficult, uncertainty rises, and motivation could be gravely affected.
Throughout my experience in leading virtual teams, I recognized five competencies that will enable leaders to manage their virtual teams and accomplish effectively both short-term and long-term goals.
Managing people who are not physically present in the same location or time zone creates a new set of challenges. For instance, virtual team members might feel distanced from the organization and a lost sense of belonging. One of my team members complained that other members are not able to recognize the value of what she is providing to the team as she is unable to attend our virtual meetings due to time differences. Another team member could not visualize her career path within the company or perceive the available opportunities for advancement.
Such examples show the challenges the virtual manager faces when managing people. The effective leader should paint a vivid picture of each and every individual in her team, foster a sense of belonging and loyalty to the brand and the organization.
Originally posted 2016-11-11 00:36:46.