6 Steps to Effectively Manage a Virtual Team
In 2018, more and more people will be taking to the internet to make a name and a living for themselves. The age of the internet entrepreneur is well and truly underway. However, whilst many women have found success working from home – or wherever else suits them – it does present a growingly unique issue. Just how do you learn to effectively manage a team when you may never even meet them face to face?
As a female entrepreneur, it is a question you need to answer from the outset. Before growing a virtual team, have a process in place which deals with any issues that may crop up; especially if you plan to recruit from far and wide. A worldwide recruiting process may turn up the best talent, but it will also test your management skills.
Here are six simple things that can help you to curb any issues you may face as a virtual team leader.

6 Steps to Effectively Manage a Virtual Team

1. Open Lines of Communication

Not being able to see each other face to face is an issue that any virtual team faces, it’s almost impossible to avoid. The only way to navigate this is through having open and honest communication channels.
A constant team chat may also be a good idea. Perhaps not even as a means to talk about work, but the ‘social hub’ of your virtual team. This is where people can talk, get to know each other, and ultimately have that interaction that may be slightly lacking in a virtual team. It’s not like you can have a cup of tea together, but you can have the same kind of chats across the internet.

2. Use Project Management Software

In the traditional workplace, managing a project can be difficult. Loose ends can turn up, things can be forgotten and it can be very messy in the days leading up to a deadline. The same issues present themselves to a virtual office, but even worse in some cases. That is why careful and comprehensive project management is a must from day one.
Even a simple Trello board is useful, as it helps you to see where your team is up to, what they are working on and so forth. It may also help if everyone can see it and visualize what they are doing as a whole, rather than just on an individual level.

3. Track Time

If you are paying your team based on hours worked, rather than a traditional contract, then the best way to do this is through tracking. It may seem like a Big Brother managing technique, but virtually if it is almost a necessity. Your team will appreciate that you need to understand what they get up to on a daily basis, especially as it is how their wages will be determined.
[RELATED: Six Tips for Building Passionate and Productive Teams]

4. Collaborate

Having documents which a whole team can work on, update and change is a great way to improve cohesive work in a virtual team. It allows each person to see what the other is up to, how they are approaching a project and can simply be a great way to share. Big projects typically need a bigger level of collaboration, so don’t be afraid to try and insert this into your virtual team more.
One of the best ways to effectively collaborate is through meetings, so don’t be afraid to have these even with a virtual team. It may seem odd: how do you have a meeting with people you can’t even meet face to face? Luckily, a group Skype chat and even text chats do the same job. Just make sure everyone is willing to participate and put forward their ideas!

5. Pay Well

Lots of genuinely talented people are eager to work virtually. It fits into a better, more flexible, working style for them at the end of the day. In order to entice these workers, however, you need to be able to match or exceed what they were getting in the traditional workplace. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, it’s possible you may have to make a few sacrifices; fewer workers but more talent is ultimately worth it.

6. Meet in Person

Okay, so your full team may not be able to meet in person, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t meet them. This doesn’t have to happen all at once or even include the whole team. Meeting key members of your team, getting to know them on a personal level may be just what your virtual team needs to strengthen it.
If this is truly impossible, then at least ensure that you have a face to face video call at least once a week. It’s not quite as personable, but it may do the trick to strengthen your team.
Ultimately, being a manager of a virtual team comes with its own unique challenges and hiccups, much like any traditional management role. Overcoming these is the test of a good manager, but not an impossible one if you are well prepared.
As an entrepreneurial woman there is no doubt you have come across bigger challenges in your career – so, this one should be much easier in comparison!

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