08 Nov 2013 – Shaambhavi Pathak – Featured –
Before the era of virtual presence, it was of essential importance that the teams needed to be in the same workspace for effective working. However, with advent of technology, similar goals can be achieved by people even when they are thousands of miles apart.
Technology has brought us closer. The team members may be in different continents; speak different languages and may be from different cultures but are driven by same urge to excel.
Although, this sounds like something which benefits organisations vastly, yet, management of such teams is challenging even for the most experienced leaders.
However, these challenges can be overcome by keeping these simple points in mind:
1. Work with the right team members
A right team works from galaxies afar. Lookout for the following traits before short-listing candidates for your task:
The team members should be self-motivated. They should be able to work independently on their own.
The individuals should have good communication skills. This is because the contact is not frequent, so, workers must have good people skills. They must also be fluent with web-technologies such as webcams or skype.
The team must be result-oriented. They should set real-time objectives and be able to achieve them. They must be comfortable when evaluated against key performance indicators.
The team members should be honest and open. They should be reliable when it comes to problems and their solutions and feedback.
2. Defining the team purpose
It works wonders with geographically dispersed team to work around a common objective to achieve. All team members should agree to the team goals.
The creation of a team charter works perfectly for this purpose. It is basically like a roadmap for team and ensures that everybody is focused right from start.
The team charter works on SMART framework. It comprises of following attributes:
- Time bound
The team charters come in handy when there are obstructions. For example, working from remote locations can build in stress and loss of focus. The team charter will boost up morale and get workers on board again.
3. Developing strong team dynamics
Whether it’s a new team or recruiting members to an existing team, team dynamics must be kept in mind. Managing team relations is already difficult in shared office space but it becomes all the more challenging when team is dispersed across globe.
If you want to improve team dynamics, stay tuned for these warning signs:
Short and indifferent emails
Avoidance to participate in conference calls
Shortage of new working ideas
If you are facing such problems, then you need to take steps immediately. There are various measures which can be undertaken. For instance, most teams abide by:
This strategy is followed as soon as team creation. Identify the stage where you team is and work accordingly.
4. Feedback and performance reward
Feedback is an essential tool for improving team moral and performance. It assumes more important role in case of geographically dispersed employees.
Stay in touch with your team members. In a shared office environment, it is easy to keep a check on the employee’s work and compliment him on good work. However, if the same employee is working from another continent then, the feedback portal is more formal. For instance, a phone call can be scheduled or feedback via email is more prudent.
The feedback process must be fair as well as consistent.
Make sure your incentives are fair and equal. This will ensure loyalty and boosted performance from your team.
5. Team bonding
The team should be close knit. This is as important as it is to choose right workers. The team members must be united by the same cause. As a team leader, the manager must ensure creative ways to bring the team closer.
Here are some suggestions:
- Set up a forum page on the intranet. Include the photographs of team members to make the workplace more personalised.
- Develop a virtual team room. It is the equivalent of the coffee-break space of your office. The employees can share information and some fun time in getting to know each other.
- Be tolerant to the linguistic barriers. Make sure there are language guidelines during con calls and keep checking if everyone is able to follow the discussion.
- The geographically dispersed teams offer huge incentives. They are efficient, cost cutting and you get to choose from the best quality and best skills around. Value your team members and let them know they are worthy even though you cannot meet them frequently.