5 Tips to Help You Lead Your Virtual Team

Virtual teams are becoming an increasingly popular way for organizations to boost productivity by facilitating collaboration among far flung employees while eliminating travel costs. In fact, according to a white paper recently released by Kenan-Flagler Business School’s MBA@UNC, a groundbreaking program which delivers their MBA online to students globally, virtual teams average 10 to 43 percent more productivity than co-located groups. But virtual teams function differently than co-located groups, and they need effective management to realize those productivity statistics. Here are five tips that can help you lead your virtual team to victory:

1. Choose Your Team Carefully

It takes a particular type of individual to rise to the challenge of working in a virtual team, according to MBA@UNC’s white paper. Those who demonstrate a flair for independence, consistently take initiative and communicate well with others will excel on a virtual team. People who lack those qualities may become distracted from their work or may fail to overcome the challenges of long-distance communication with their team. Choosing individuals who have already demonstrated these qualities will ensure the whole team’s productivity.

2. Use Technology Appropriately

A sophisticated and quickly evolving set of tools for online communication offers endless possibilities for collaboration. However, matching the right tool to the right job is vital to harnessing the power of each technology. Utilizing a mixture of synchronous technologies (video conferencing, chat rooms) and asynchronous technologies (email, message boards) will allow team members to work on different schedules while being well prepared for online meetings. It also helps to remember while groundbreaking advances in technology can profoundly change the way we do business, older technologies need not be forgotten. While your team will surely benefit from eight-way video conferencing, an old fashion phone call will sometimes be an easier and more direct way to answer a question.

3. Train Your Virtual Team

How do you ensure that every member of your virtual team will know the right tools for each task and how to use them? Provide each team member with specialized training on working in a virtual team. The fast pace of technological advancement requires that team members stay up to date on how to use the technologies appropriate to their particular tasks, understand productive organizational structures and are familiar with established team processes. Training that addresses the most relevant cultural differences, such as differing norms in group decision-making processes, can also prevent communication problems before they arise.

4. Establish Formal Collaborative Roles and Processes

Because of cultural differences and the particular challenges of online collaboration, it is necessary to explicitly formalize certain processes that you might not regulate in a traditional office. Establishing a uniform decision-making process, clearly defining distinct roles for each team member and creating a clear schedule of deadlines are all doubly important for managing virtual teams. These measures will help to prevent misunderstandings and build trust among team members.

5. Respect Geographical and Cultural Differences

Collaboration between team members in different countries on different continents can lead to obstacles if individuals do not approach each other with respect, understanding and particular pieces of basic information. Some of these differences are obvious, while some are more nuanced. For example, it is common courtesy for team members to consider each other’s time zones when scheduling video conferences. Cultural differences in group decision making processes may also require greater subtlety to navigate, as some business cultures tend to make decisions during informal pre-meeting conversations, while others tend to practice a long-term consensus building process. This article was written by Social Media Outreach Coordinator Harrison Kratz on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2tor — an education technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to deliver their accredited MBA program online. Virtual team leader image from Shutterstock

When most people think of Nike, they think of shoes, retail stores, and, of course, athletes. That's all true, but there's more. Behind Nike's walls, you'll find the doers and thinkers who design, create, and innovate every day. There are also data scientists who discover and leverage athlete insights to create the future of sport.

You might be surprised to learn about the impact you can have in Data & Analytics at Nike versus at a major tech giant. Nike employees get to work on a wide array of challenges, so if you're obsessed with math, science, computers, and/or data, and you love sport, these stories may inspire you to work at Nike.

SHOW MORE Show less

Employee loyalty is something every company longs for. It's estimated employee turnover costs as much as 130-200% of an employee's salary. When a talented, knowledgeable, trained employee leaves, it's bad for business. And, when lots of them leave, it can be the kiss of death.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the interview situation one of our viewers, Remi submitted. He was in an interview and was asked the question: How many cows are there in Canada right now? - What a weird question but this is a technique that some hiring managers are using these days.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Kevin submitted. He is a college student who's working a part time job to make ends meet. The manager/owner of the company has become a micro-manager who watches him work on camera and reads his company emails. A bit over the top wouldn't you say?

SHOW MORE Show less