Virtual teams have become increasingly prevalent in project management. This is an exciting time for all PMs because it allows us an opportunity to heighten our skillsets in new and innovative ways. The #1 challenge of managing virtual teams is being “out of touch”. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” means if you don’t see it, you don’t think about it. Sometimes this can happen to us as the project manager of a virtual team. Because we are not physically co-located with our team, we may feel as though we are not as effective. This does not have to be true for you. Here are 3 ways to connect with your virtual team:
The level of preparation for meetings and team activities is often higher with virtual teams. Learn which communication vehicles work best – for the individual team members as well as the group. Spend ample time preparing materials in advance and give team members an opportunity to actively participate.
Technology has enabled us to share information in very creative ways. Leverage SharePoint, wikis, social media and other online collaboration tools to exchange information and ideas. Embrace these tools and develop ways to integrate them within your project. People love to share – take every opportunity to facilitate.
Create a close-knit team with frequent communication. Phone-time is the equivalent to face-time when it comes to building relationships with your virtual team. Every conversation should not revolve around the project or the deliverables. Making a personal connection with genuine interest goes a long way.
The good news is: Virtual teams are here to stay. We can manage them successfully by staying connected in new and innovative ways. You will find it just as rewarding as having a team within your reach. Remember, out of sight does not have to mean you are out of mind!
Please share some of your challenges and solutions for managing virtual teams!