Tips For Managing Virtual Teams by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

COVID created a major change in the way companies of all sizes do business. In the past, most companies had doubts as to the effectiveness of remote work, but the events of 2020 changed that thought completely.

Today, virtual teams are found in most industries, even those that were assumed to be traditional in-person sales. While virtual teams can be very effective and meet or exceed sales quotas, managing these teams is very different than managing an in-house sales team.

Making a few changes to the way leadership manages teams in the virtual environment is important. Trying to continue managing virtual teams the same way as in-house teams is ineffective and can result in challenges in communication, understanding, and in employee satisfaction and retention.

Some tips and strategies to consider when managing remote teams include:

  • Stay connected – reaching out to team members on a weekly basis and also having an “open virtual door” policy helps everyone feel recognized, connected, and valued. Encourage your team to reach out to you as needed by text, email, phone, or through any communication software your company uses. This is important for everyone to feel they have your support.
  • Make goals clear and concise – as remote team members are not interacting in person, ensuring goals and expectations are clear and precise is essential. Talking about goals and expectations at regular meetings and providing support and recognition for team members as they strive to meet those goals helps to boost inspiration and motivation.
  • Know how to use technology – no matter what technology your company uses, ensure all remote staff has access to help and support staff so they are comfortable in using the technology. This also ensures everyone can be seen and heard during meetings, and people do not become disengaged through feeling isolated or unsupported.
  • Keep meetings structured – it is easy for online meetings to be more of a monologue or a sharing of information from the team leader to the team. Instead of this model, structure the meetings to provide time to discuss options, problem solve, or share ideas. Be inclusive and encourage people to interact in the process to build inclusiveness, collaboration, and creativity.
  • Follow-up emails – it is helpful to summarize or provide an email that identifies any key information discussed on the call. This could include deadlines, KPIs, goals, objectives, or results. This is helpful for team members to ensure they understand the essential information.

Talking to virtual teams and getting their feedback on what leadership can do to make their experience better is also a helpful tool. Being open to this feedback allows you to continue to tailor the meetings to meet the needs of your team.