11 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams
4. Talk about company developments.
One of the biggest challenges in a global and/or virtual company is informing employees on goals, direction, accomplishments, and ongoing development. There can be newsletters, weekly memos, tweets and even ticker tape parades but people will still miss the information. Be sure your direct reports know about clients coming to visit, new policies, staffing changes in other departments, and other news. I'm not talking about divulging confidential items or spreading gossip. Rather, to have a sense of company, team members need to know what is going on and should hear it from you versus the rumor mill. When our CEO visited India a couple of weeks ago, I let Unmana know immediately. It was a good thing, since he subsequently requested a meeting with her and she had several extra days to prepare.
They should also have context for their projects. In other words, why are we changing our tagline, what do we hope to gain from attending a new trade show, what is the message we are trying to communicate? When I asked for the fifth change to a cover of a brochure last week, it was not surprising or frustrating to the designer because he knew the problem we were trying to solve. You can't do everything and the more you share with team members, the faster they learn and start suggesting new and varied approaches you never considered . . . and that are better than yours!
5. Take advantage of technology.
With web cams, IM, Skype, Webex, social media and other options today, you can be talking to your team members all day long even if you are on other conference calls (not that this ever happens to me!). But use the technology to make the interaction more "human" versus hiding behind it. The more you can do to put faces and personalities on each employee, the easier it is to work together. Our team loved seeing the wedding photos from Mel's sister because we got to see more than a thumbnail photo of him on Skype!