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Leading Global Teams — Without Leaving People Out

Virtual management at work

Managing a virtual team is full of challenges and surprises. But if you prepare beforehand, the entire process will be much easier.

Learning how to manage people whose faces you see only through the lens of a webcam is an important skill that you need, no matter what industry you are in.

In this article, we’re going to reveal the secrets of effective persuasion, change management, and communication, which can assist you when managing staff remotely.

As a result, you’ll learn how to manage a virtual team and keep your remote workers happy so they can do what you need them to do.

Psychological secrets of persuasion

In business, persuasion is a process aimed at changing the attitude of a person or a group toward specific events or ideas either verbally or visually, or with both methods.

Remote team management requires persuasion skills that are even deeper than those needed when working with the team locally. It’s quite tough to influence or persuade people with whom you do not meet face to face. However, if you master these skills, then you can consider yourself a guru of persuasion 😎

Here are some secrets that may help you out.

Secret # 1: The importance of authority

When a person or company offers valuable information, they build authority and become trustworthy.

To build authority at work, you need to have a method of sharing information via the company’s internal network, such as a personal blog.

@nickmorrison — Unsplash

This is especially important when managing virtual employees. Probably it’s the most reliable way to share information with them. The reason is that many global team members are scattered across different time zones and thus their communication is asynchronous.

So writing a blog can become the best method to stay in sync. Besides, the blog gives you an opportunity to proactively manage any change before the employees start asking questions.

Secret # 2: Reciprocity

Reciprocity means a wish to do a favor in return for a favor. For example, when a salesperson gives you a free sample of a product, you are more likely to buy a product from them.

Reciprocity is also a synonym for mutuality, cooperation, and teamwork.

At work, you can bring this principle to life by constantly rewarding your employees. For example, you can give them a shoutout at the team meeting or nominate them for an award.

When running a team of virtual employees, you can create a system of virtual badges for team members and make sure that everyone can view them in the intranet.

These badges can be similar to those of fitness trackers. As a result, you’ll keep your employees motivated and engaged.

Secret # 3: Commitment & consistency

According to the principle of commitment and consistency, when a person commits to doing something and articulates this commitment, it is very likely that they’ll stick to this commitment, i.e. remain consistent.

For example, when you publicly agree to participate in a Facebook challenge, then you’ll feel the urge to remain consistent and complete the challenge. This principle also works when managing a global team.

@dearferdo — Unsplash

You can ask your remote employees to verbalize their commitments during a live meeting and see whether they stick to those commitments during work.

If yes, then this principle works. The commitments can be related to their tasks, roles, etc. – depending on what’s most important at the moment.

Change management principles that can lead your virtual team to success

Today’s fast-paced world no longer knows what stability is. Everything is constantly moving, evolving, and transforming. And businesses, especially startups, are the first to feel those constant changes.

Your remote company is probably a startup because the remote-first business model appeared not so long ago. So you may be aware of the dynamic, ever-changing environment in which you have to survive and help your team to stay afloat as well.

In this section, we’re going to share the change management principles as an important aspect of managing global teams.

Principle # 1: Communicate the change

Do not assume that your remote employees understand the need for a transformation as clearly as you do.

In a co-located team, people can at least read the non-verbal signals or overhear the gossip. However, it is impossible in a remote workplace.

Of course, the change needs to be communicated to in-house employees, too, but this is a must for virtual team management.

So if a team works remotely across the world, it is crucial to overcommunicate via multiple channels.

Principle # 2: Evaluate the cultural landscape

Virtual teams are typically multicultural. Thus, if you know how to manage employees in remote locations, then for sure you must be aware of cultural differences and related issues.

Cultural diagnostics acts as a foundation for building the change elements, such as the new corporate vision.

When a change occurs, knowing the cultural landscape is critical to define the core values, behaviors, beliefs, and perceptions that may impact the success of the transformation.

Such cultural diagnostics can evaluate the readiness to change, spot any conflicts, and identify the factors that can impact the sources of leadership and resistance. 

Principle # 3: Have a plan B

When implementing the transformation, make sure to have an extra plan so that you can avoid any unexpected surprises. No change program goes completely according to plan.

Be proactive and prepared. The ‘change in the middle of change’ may always occur, and you never know when exactly.

People react in unexpected ways and may resist the transformation. Efficient change management implies ongoing re-evaluation of its impact and ability to adopt the next wave of transformation.

As a startup founder and/or remote team manager, you are probably used to being agile and flexible. That’s what you need for managing your teams efficiently, no matter what happens.

Principle # 4: Organize training and Q & A sessions

It’s not a secret that you’ll be flooded with questions from employees right after you announce the change. Even if you explain everything at the initial meeting, not everyone will get it straight away because of the frustration.

When companies switch from waterfall to agile, they invite specialists that educate the employees on the principles of agile.

Therefore, we recommend that you collect all of the questions and hold meetings dedicated to answering those questions.

Additionally, the change managers should develop a training program that will teach the employees the new principles resulting from the transformation.

Although your team is completely remote, you can organize an onsite event to bring everyone together and explain the core reasons for and principles of the coming change.

Principle # 5: Hold 1 on 1 meetings

Speak to each team member individually so they know what to expect and how the change is going to impact their role and tasks.

Some transformations involve replacements and/or redundancy of certain roles.

Make sure that you provide each member of the global team with a structured plan and consider everyone’s concerns.

Of course, it is better not to lose any team members because of the change, but if it still happens, inform the relevant person beforehand and give them time to find a new job.

Principle # 6: Start with yourself

Your task as a team leader is to test the change yourself first and show how it works on your own example.

If your employees trust you, then they’ll be less reluctant to accept ANY transformation.

Moreover, they’ll know that everyone is equally subject to the change, not only the subordinates that need to adapt to the transformation and thus make the boss feel better.

Principle # 7: Verbalize the formal reason for a change

Formally expressing the need for a transformation supported by a written statement is a great way to align the change goals with everyone.

This is where the principle of commitment and consistency comes into action – after you articulate the need for a change, you will remain consistent when implementing it.

You can break the process into several stages. First, verbalize a convincing need for the transformation. Second, motivate the employees and emphasize that you as a team can do it. Finally, provide a detailed plan together with the instructions on how to implement it.

 

Principle # 8: Allocate responsibilities

When managing the change in virtual teams, it is important to create ownership for team members.

Those who are involved in the transformation should accept responsibility for implementation of the change in their area of control.

Ownership is often best created by involving people in the process and rewarding them for such participation. As a result, the sense of ownership, involvement, and affiliation will make the employees more interested in the transformations that happen.

Principle # 9: Thank your employees

Do not forget to reward your team members for their understanding and commitment to the change.

Make your employees feel like they’re a part of a new and exciting process.

The sense of shared responsibility and commitment will make your remote company even more successful. After all, people are your most valuable asset.

 

Tips to boost the efficiency of communication among your virtual team members

Communication is essential for any team, but it must be excellent in a virtual team because it keeps such teams afloat.

It is crucial to increase the efficiency of communication between remote teammates while reducing the time that you spend on frustrating meetings, legacy tools, and endless emails.

In this section, we’ll educate you on how to efficiently manage calls and meetings.

It’s certainly easier to start a meeting when a team is co-located. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, and then everyone just stands up and goes to a meeting room.

@drew_beamer — Unsplash

When running a team of virtual employees, you must define a time that is convenient for all time zones and use specialized communication tools for remote teams.

Apps such as Twist consider the specifics of asynchronous communication that is common for virtual teams and are a must for a remote team manager’s toolbox. Some remote-first companies even build their own tools for asynchronous communication, such as Async by Zapier or P2 by Automattic.

Before the meeting, share the agenda with the participants and engage everyone on the call. Ask each team member to confirm that they are on the call. In such a way you will avoid any confusion when trying to speak to a person who’s actually not there. Besides, knowing who’s present and who’s not right at the beginning will save you a significant amount of time.

Make sure that the team complies with the etiquette of video conference calls, which is equal for both the co-located and distributed teams.  

Here are some basics:

  • Appear at the meeting on time. Use the time zone management tools to make sure that you see the time converted to your local time zone.
  • Mute yourself while you are listening and not speaking.
  • To eliminate any background noises, use the headphones even if you are alone in the room.
  • Be sure to have good lighting so that the other team members can clearly see you.
  • Eliminate any distractions such as a smartphone, apps, and notifications to fully focus on the meeting.
  • Don’t eat during the meeting!

The bottom line

Managing a global team is certainly a challenge because you don’t see these people in real life and thus have technical limitations.

However, with the proper knowledge and skills, you will learn how to lead a virtual team, influence them, manage the changes, and improve the efficiency of communication between the team members.

In addition, the technology market is now full of solutions designed specifically for remote teams, to make their lives easier when synchronizing across different time zones.

We hope that our tips have helped you boost your efficiency as a virtual team manager and wish you success in this challenging journey 😉

Got questions? Contact our support team today — become a remote management superhero tomorrow!

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Mary Atamaniuk

Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist at YouTeam — a curated b2b tech talent marketplace that matches businesses with dedicated development teams from pre-vetted software outsourcing agencies.

Mary's areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.

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