Special Skills to Manage the Virtual Team
Virtual projects tend to fail if managed poorly. A project manager with special skills, however, can lead an isolated and distant group of people and become successful.
So, what leadership skills are needed to manage a virtual team?
Be a Self-Starter
Like your team members, you also work independently. You spend your days alone and apart from co-workers. They do not know what you do and you have no idea what they work on. In isolation and without stimulation from others, you can easily slip into slacker mode.
To manage a virtual team successfully, you have to motivate yourself to get the work started, keep the momentum going and finish the job on time. With no one there to help, you must work extra hard to get things going. Show your team a professional image as a project manager and you are already off to a good start.
Use Clear Communication
Because information gets confusing through virtual correspondence, it is important to communicate clearly. When you give directions, make them precise. When you set a deadline, make it definite. Articulating exact, meticulous and carefully formulated words gives the team a clear conception and eliminates misunderstandings.
When you talk to the team, speak authoritatively. Doing so lets everyone know that you direct the process and demand results. Even if they do not answer you in person, they need to meet your expectations and give you their utmost respect.
Be Results- and Task- oriented
Without checking in face-to-face, how do you know when team members slack off? They can report that they are doing fine, when in reality work isn’t progressing. To ensure that things are getting done, assign specific tasks and ask for specific results. For example, in software, ask developers to deliver certain functionalities and make sure that the product passes all testing. By pressuring for results, you get real progress.
Be Technically Savvy
With so much technical dependency, virtual team managers need certain amounts of technical skills. Know how to use both the hardware and software to conduct meetings and communications. Also know how to troubleshoot if things break. With teams going electronic, managers are expected to acquire technical skills.