5 Tips on Managing Virtual Teams

By Mike Cardus  |  Organizational Development Consultant, Executive Exchange Facilitator

This global pandemic and mandatory work at home has created chaos and a shift in all workplaces. Some of us have worked remotely and managed virtual teams for years, and some of us have not.

That is one of the many benefits of the BNP Executive Exchange. Within the group, you have open access to executives that have done what you want to do and want to learn how you did what you did.

In an email exchange with the Tuesday Executive Exchange group, Mike Mumau, President of Kee Safety, shared these great 5 tips for managing remote and virtual teams.

Here are some thoughts on managing a remote team based on my years of experience managing remote sales teams.

Set clear expectations

Make sure that all of your employees understand your expectations and required deliverables. A couple of examples of these expectations, working hours are between 8-5, I expect you to make x amount of phone calls, I need this report at this time every day.  Setting this upfront will stop people from getting bad habits.  Manage them to these expectations moving forward.

Over-Communicate

It is easy for remote employees to feel isolated.  For an office-based employee, you most likely average 12+ micro-interactions with them when you walk by their desks or see them in the kitchen.  Suddenly they will be reduced to hearing from you only when you call them.  This reduction WILL lead to a feeling of isolation.  You need to make a conscious effort to reach out to your team and communicate frequently.

You may want to consider having a daily “start call” every morning at 8 AM to make sure that everyone is at their desk and working and set work for the day.  Having a wrap-up call at 4:45 PM may be a good idea too.

Communicate important information multiple ways, make a phone call, send an email, and drop an IM.

Foster a sense of team

Make communication personal.  Avoid the temptation of mass emails to communicate with everyone.  They lose their effectiveness FAST.  I create goofy videos to deliver ideas or messages JUST because it makes everyone feel like they are a part of something bigger.

Encourage your team members to talk to each other.  Pick up the phone and talk; even it is just to talk about non-work issues for a little bit.

Leverage technology to communicate.  Set up groups for group chats. Instant message people, video chat, screen share.

Respect Boundaries

Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean they want you to call them on their lunch hour every day, or after 5 PM.  Respect their time.

Pick up the phone!

The simplest yet most effective way to manage a remote team is with a phone call.  Pick up your phone when people call.  ALWAYS answer your phone, even if it is to say you can’t talk.  I will send someone a text back immediately if I can’t answer.  Make sure that you and your team members make picking up the phone a priority, even if you can’t talk right then.

As we move from this chaos into a new normal in our work, Mike’s tips for managing virtual teams will prove helpful.

Mike Cardus: BNP Executive Exchange Facilitator:
Mike has focused expertise in team building, managerial-leadership, and organization development. Frequently asked to create solutions to address the development of high-performance teams, retention of talent, the innovation of product and profit streams, group conflict, coaching of leaders, developing systems to drive positive behaviors, and development of skilled knowledge to increase organizational and personal effectiveness. Working primarily with teams and management within these organizations, his role has been honed to coach, counsel, facilitate and conduct focused group work.Learn more about Mike.