Searching for new information to share with my clients and followers on virtual teams, I found a number of relevant articles published by Billie Williamson in the Magazine Business Week. I agree, in many ways, with her thoughts on how to manage a virtual team.
Williamson mentions how important peoples’ interactions are in order to have a successful team; but points out that good leadership is even more important. The team manager is the person responsible for keeping the team together. One of the qualifications of a good manager is the ability to listen. In the article “Managing Virtual Workers” , she wrote, “It’s important to listen to everything, particularly any silences. Silence can mean consent, or it can mean the person you’re not hearing from disagrees with the team’s strategy or is disengaged”.
Other qualifications include the sensitivity to language and time zone differences, especially because modern teams are dispersed globally where English may not be the language of choice.
An aspect that is particularly important is the meaning of the word “virtual”. “Virtual should not mean you never meet,” said Williamson, and from time to time it is the manager’s responsibility to locate a place to meet personally with team members and establish a relationship through face-to-face interactions. Maintaining a warm atmosphere is ideal for creating a group environment where the members can include their profile, picture and more.
In her article “Managing Virtually: First, Get Dressed”, Williamson also mention the value of technology and the importance of being prepared for any technical glitches. Once again, a good team manager should be ready to support the team using a different media if necessary.