Managing virtual teams
Have you ever managed a virtual team? Have you ever worked on a project with people you have actually never met? Then you know managing virtual teams can be tricky. Research shows that virtual team-members are 2.5 times more likely to perceive mistrust, incompetence, and broken commitments. But there is good news as well! As a manager, you can influence these numbers tremendously! “Your team can be highly effective, even when no one has never met in person. In fact, your virtual team has the potential to outperform a traditional co-located team.” (Source HBR)
Virtual teams can outperform local ones, when they are properly managed!
Characteristics of a distributed leader
The NWoW consultancy company “Work EvOHlution” has done over 14 years of organizational psychology research, and have found that:
- All of the capabilities that are required to lead face-to-face teams are necessary, but not sufficient when leading a distributed team.
- Poor leadership is amplified when leading from a distance.
According to their research, there are twelve attributes that are essential for a distributed leader:
How are you scoring on these features? Click here for more info on their assessments!
Having the 12 attributes of a distributed leader, is great, but not sufficient! You still need to put these capabilities into practice. The first thing you have to do when leading a virtual team is: don’t panic! Your virtual team members are just people, so leading them isn’t that different from leading a co-located team.
When diving into research, there are 4 foundation habits that are essential when leading a virtual team. These are the things that keep coming up over and over again in academic literature:
- Communicate qualitative and predictable.
- Create a shared identity.
- Have a cave and commons structure.
- Foster trust.
How to build virtual leadership habits?
By the year 2020, 62% of employees are expected to work in virtual teams, so it is essential that you start getting the hang of these things. Now that you know what the four most important habits are of a distributed leader, it’s time to put things into practice and close the “knowing-doing gap“! Do you want to double your chance of success in creating those new habits? Check out our 90-minute workshop “How to build new habits” we just gave in Austin, Texas at SXSW.
Good luck with those new habits!
Read more articles about virtual teams:
- How can I foster trust in a virtual team?
- How do you manage communication in a virtual team?
- How do you create a shared identity in virtual teams?