11 Tips for Managing Virtual Teams
9. Understand individual needs.
Based on the type of job or the requirements, some team members may need more frequent conversations and/or guidance. Good leaders know that all employees have individual needs and require different management styles to maximize their performance and their job satisfaction. Those project lists I send are different based on the employee function because they are custom to the roles and responsibilities, as well as the approach of team members. I also take into account that some like communicating via Skype and others are writers who like the longer email format. Some are talkative and others have to be drawn into discussions. Keep working to figure out the right questions to ask to develop the appropriate style.
10. Connect their work to the company.
Especially when spread out, it becomes even more important for each individual to see how he or she contribute to the greater framework. With all of the work we did for Go Red, I shared the great response we got before, during and after the event (link to blog post). When an internal customer loves a new ad concept, I make sure to send the kudos to Unmana.
And if you personally get a rave review on a project as the head of the group, make sure to give the team credit and then let them see or hear the feedback. They should be aware of the response to their work.
11. Make friends.
One last piece of advice is to get to know team members personally. While it is great to be able to run into someone in the hall or catch up on how the kids are doing while getting some coffee, you can still do this with a virtual team. Use IM to ask how someone's weekend went. Share photos from your vacation via email. Talk about the latest book you read on a Skype chat (Unmana and I love to do this). Otherwise, you run the risk of being nothing more than a disconnected email address and/or voice and who wants to work for "Big Brother?"