Forbes suggests that the most successful leaders embody leadership traits that are learned and well-practiced – such as the ability to self-manage and act strategically.
When you are leading a virtual team, the traits you must possess need to be tailored to a virtual working environment. With more people working from home than ever before, being an effective virtual leader is the only way forward.
Hone Communication Skills
Communication is key when working in a virtual team. The Harvard Business Review suggests more frequent contact with a remote team than you would have had in an office. Schedule meetings, utilize phone calls and online messaging systems like Slack or Yammer to be in communication with your team. Give them access to you during the workday for questions and concerns.
Ensure Stable Infrastructure
A team can’t function without a stable infrastructure. Make sure that your entire team has the technology they need to succeed in a remote environment. Ensure that team members have functioning laptops, additional monitors if necessary, working cell phones and reliable internet.
Tools like Slack, Yammer and Microsoft Teams make it easy to check in on your team frequently. Utilize these tools, and phone calls or texts. Check in on a one-on-one basis and in subgroups within your team. Create groups on communication tools to check in with your team as a whole, and to give your team frequent updates on projects and goals.
Reinforce Company Culture
Your team needs to feel that they’re part of the company even if they are spread apart. Share updates about the company as a whole, and updates specific to your team to keep everyone in the loop. The Harvard Business Review suggests that team members may feel more isolated when working remotely – so it is especially important that all team members have access to the same information and that it is frequently updated.
Hold Virtual Meetings
Tools like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams allow you to hold virtual meetings where everyone can be seen and heard – an important factor in keeping a team feeling cohesive while working virtually. Misunderstandings can easily occur over text communication, so Entrepreneur recommends regular virtual meetings.
There are endless tool options to utilize in your virtual team. Research what works best for your team, and ensure that everyone on your team understands how to use the technology. Share files with tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive; use Mural or Jira to collaborate online, and catch up during the day with messenger apps or virtual conferencing software.
Manage Projects Effectively
Stay on top of projects without micromanaging your team by setting clear expectations, goals, and deadlines. Manage projects virtually using tools like Jira to delegate tasks and track deadlines.
When you’re the leader, it is on you to be proactive and lead your team. HR Daily Advisor suggests setting a routine with scheduled calls or meetings to stay on top of any questions or concerns that may pop up within your team. Being available to your team throughout the workday is imperative to good leadership. If your team can come to you when problems arise, you can proactively fix them before they become big issues.
A team that is physically distanced from one another may feel unappreciated or overlooked – after all, you’re not treating them to work lunches or after-hours happy hours for a job well done. Call out achievements both at a one-on-one level with your team members and in group settings such as during virtual meetings to ensure that everyone is getting acknowledgment for the excellent work they accomplish.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
A team working in a virtual environment has many factors that play into their workday – from locations in different time zones to noisy home environments. Be understanding of each of your team member’s home situation, and set realistic expectations for how their work needs to take place. Working remotely gives a team greater flexibility in the timing of tasks. A team member might prefer to work in the early morning or late at night, so set your deadlines and expectations clearly at the start of a project to avoid misunderstandings.
For more tips on leading your team in a remote environment, check out our blog.