Best Ways for Handling Virtual Teams and Meetings

by Shamsul
Virtual Teams
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Since the world is being hit hard by the Corona Virus pandemic, the global workforce has been forced to work from home. With this new trend of remote working, there is great emphasis on the reliance on telecommunication. Organizations realized a new fact that it is the need of the hour to develop strategies in order to communicate digitally. So, leaders must alter their ways so that they could effectively manage their virtual teams and meetings remotely.

People who have been working remotely from home admit the easiness. However, working from home virtually has many advantages, it could be very challenging at the same time. Research shows that there are some specific restrictions in managing virtual teams. It is like non-homogeneous participation of the people, issues in developing trust, and complications in resolving the conflicts.

The co-located team members also experience frustration that is an amalgamation of technological glitches during virtual meetings, connectivity problems, and teammates’ various expectations about comfort and the utilization of technology.

To win against these hurdles while seizing the advantage of the opportunities, we recommend the following tips for distant collaboration and issue-resolving while supervising virtual teams.

How to Manage Virtual Teams- Here Are the 3 Tips

The following three tips to manage virtual teams are extracted from a research “white paper” by the Center for Creative Leadership on handling virtual teams.

1- Build up Communication in Real-Time & Train Your Team Using Technology 

The success rate of your organization will be higher. If you often engage your team members in face-to-face virtual meetings. You must use real-time technologies. This is because video conferencing tools, like “Zoom,” allow the team members to interact verbally. Consequently, communication becomes more natural and comfortable. Non-verbal communication is an important element for effective and strong virtual communication.

Giving training in software technologies and tools to your team members can help your organization.

A survey was conducted before the pandemic. It revealed that 60% of companies did not utilize virtual tools for their leaders and teams. For the companies that did provide some training, more than 80% of their respondents highlighted that virtual training was not a prime concern.

Especially for organizations with few connections, training is crucial to help the members get off in the right direction while using modern tools and technologies.  

For efficient communications, training describe which tool is better for what purpose. This will help in preventing the same information transferred via various mediums and no one can overlook the work.

2- Overpower Time Zone Differences

Teams that are over various time zones can engage themselves easily. They can work long hours to fit in each other’s time zones. This is especially an apprehension during the time of the pandemic. When people are working from home and experiencing blurred borderlines between personal and professional duties. Be conscious of the fact that due to long work hours, your team may be on a path to physical and mental collapse as it would be difficult for them to set apart from work.

When you have scattered teams, you can follow the tips below for better virtual management and keep members safe from burnout.

Ensure that your team members are talented enough to get great work done during their standard working hours.

Equip your team with tools for making schedules and guidelines on connectedness to reduce late night and early morning meetings. The international virtual teams especially require clarity on the time of their availability, including on local holidays and weekends.

Formalize team norms and provide additional support for recovery practices. The teams that are more geographically scattered have a lower tendency of team commitment. Such teams can benefit from extra support to meet face-to-face at crucial times throughout the whole project.

Make sure that all your success is perceptible and celebrated to help in building team dedication and keep up the confidence high.

Do not forget that although your workers are often ready to work extra hours when necessary and inevitable, these long hours are not sustainable. Most importantly, recognize that providing your people to manage hitches, anxiety, and uncertainty results in stronger and more flexible team members who are ready for future challenges and a stronger organization as a whole.

3- Contemplate Your People’s Other Commitments

Your team members can only be overtaxed so far, and the more teams they participate with, the less time they can dedicate to every project. Taking the following steps will ensure your team members’ engagement.

Ensure that the size of your teams is optimum. According to research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, an optimally sized team is one that includes 5-9 members.

Be conscious of your team members who are working simultaneously on various teams. Predictably, the members who work on more teams, the less efficient they are.

Differentiate which team members are core and which team members are peripheral. Core team members are the main contributors who are highly committed and remain associated with your team for a longer time. Peripheral team members assist the team’s work, but their involvement with the team is temporary. At the start of a project, describe the role of each team member and the anticipated contribution.

Refrain from overburdening the high performers with excessive workload. Limit their responsibilities, specifically if they are core members of your team. It will ensure smooth working and no one overloaded.

Design and Support Your Virtual Teams by Keeping in Mind this Management Checklist

Fabricating the appropriate conditions for virtual teamwork in order to succeed is crucial in the early phases of the development of a team. We are mentioning a checklist that can help you in designing your teams and enhancing their future performances.

Clearly express the organization’s vision and objectives to all team members. This is even more crucial in times of catastrophe.

Choose team members on the basis of individual abilities and talents which include interpersonal skills and technical competency.

Once you have developed your teams, instruct the team leaders to clearly articulate the team’s goals and mission so that all team members are on the same page. 

Decide procedures for making decisions, transferring information, and sorting out conflicts or misunderstandings.

Establish a communication channel for conversations or process questions that are separate from the assignment-related communications.

Clarify the tools that teams have for establishing communications with one another on a daily basis.

Make sure that team members have obvious goals and suggest to them possible approaches to execute their work.

Recognize the team’s efforts individually and as a whole through performance incentives and awards.

Best Methods for Steering & Managing Virtual Teams 

It can be difficult for team members to participate remotely in a meeting. You can make things more convenient by taking the following steps:

Design a detailed plan and send it to every participant at least one day before the meeting, so everyone knows about the agenda of the meeting and they come prepared.

Make a list of participants at the beginning of the meeting, so every participant is there.

Address participants by name while interacting verbally with attendees, and give opportunities to all participants to contribute.

Focus on tasks in order to keep the participants engaged and to keep them away from multitasking.

Give short recaps while moving through the agenda, stating again more clearly what the combined input is before moving on to the next thing.

Try to get feedback and give by means of all communication mediums.

Produce action items in the recap of a meeting to all attendees after the meeting to repeat what was came to a conclusion and what the next course of action is.

Above all, keep communication channels open to make sure all team members are on the same page, lined up, and work in cooperation to attain your shared goal.

Conduct More Meaningful Virtual Meetings

What is the reason that some virtual meetings seem like a wastage of time, while others seem necessary and fruitful? The difference is being cognizant of ensuring that the meeting is a productive utilization of everyone’s time. The below-mentioned qualities distinguish the most productive meetings from the rest:

1- Every Participant is Conscious of the Fact That the Meeting is Crucial to Address the Agenda

Not everything requires a meeting; sending an email could be enough. Pretending to require people’s input does not need a meeting; just issue a statement about the decision already been made. Everyone is clear about it that we all recognize the results of past meetings.

But some matters need your team’s interaction and collective thinking. On many issues, we do not have solutions to so far. If you need creative solutions to these issues, conduct a meeting and solve the issue.

2- Every Stakeholder is completely present

You might be a part of meetings where others are busy on their mobile phones or doing other tasks, looking at the meetings from time to time, or where some participants only give attention to just listening when the team leader talks.

You can’t achieve the results by being scolded by the boss. The achievement of the target is possible with a meeting agenda that emphasizes the discussion on decisions that make a difference.

3- Achieve an Agreement on what will have to accomplish and the kind of discussions used to acquire the Results  

This includes the decision about deliverables- sharing of information, management of traffic, making decisions, the kind of discussions and problems that we need to find and conclude.

An agenda should incorporate what is required for each item, and it should be delivered on time so decisions can be made on time. Your team members should not know about something for the first time at the meeting.

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