#ThinkDigital: Managing a Global Team Virtually

The role of a manager has become increasingly demanding as global work environment advances. As a new manager, there are lot of expectations from your employer and subordinates. It is hard enough dealing directly with those within your immediate environment but when you are given the task of leading several teams scattered across the globe, then your traditional skills might fail you. This New Year, you need to consider additional skills for managing virtual teams using technology.

You need to understand the types of barriers you are faced with. There is the cultural, the linguistic, the geographic distance among other barriers. They often create a feeling of ‘social distance’. Each has its own effect on the team, and managing them properly is essential to the smooth running of the entire team as well as its level of productivity and results. There are ways to maneuver distance that may surface whilst dealing with teams in different parts of the world.

To eliminate the likely effects of social distance, it is important to quickly establish a ‘shared identity’ or common understanding for ease of communication, transaction and dissemination of information among team members. Everyone needs to know exactly who is responsible for what. This would drop the spate of conflict that could arise from executing tasks as well as enhance the success of projects.

Having a common understanding helps everyone to stay on the same page. Ensure you build a clear and common understanding of how things are done or should be done. This enhances coordination and efficiency. It also helps to clarify your goals or targets and make them unanimous so as to carry everyone along. Encourage them to see how important each team member is to the overall success of the project. Remind them that a team is still a team whether virtual or physical and would require some effort to stay in sync.

Finally, constantly evaluate yourself, it is important not to let your perception of people from a different cultural background affect your working relationship with them. You must constantly remind your team about the shared objectives. Give room for them to share their peculiar experiences from their various locations, it gives a sense of connection and oneness.

From a critically close range, the rules of managing a closer team are actually not too different from managing a global virtual team. A team is a team. It simply involves effective people management and good leadership. Once you get the basics right, you’re good to fly.

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