The internet age now allows you to connect to work from virtually anywhere in the world. However, managing a team of remote employees presents unique challenges. Monitoring, communicating, organizing, and motivating remote employees and coworkers can be difficult, even with available technology that helps remote employees meet and collaborate in virtual spaces. As you review the Learning Resources this week to prepare for your Shared Practice posting, imagine the following scenario:
At your current employer, or at a company where you would like to work, you have been assigned to manage a virtual team. Your virtual team is composed of some individuals in the office, some that work from home in various time zones, and some others that work out of another office several time zones away. Consider the challenges of managing virtual employees and how these challenges compare to managing a traditional “non-virtual” team.
With these thoughts in mind:
Explain benefits and challenges that a manager has when developing, leading, and motivating virtual teams and how those challenges are unique to virtual teams.
Explain which of the challenges you identified that need to be addressed directly by a manager, and which challenges should managers empower or allow the team to address.
Describe how you would meet the challenges and contribute to the virtual team if you are assigned to manage the team. Be sure to identify obstacles you think you would have and how would you address them.
Hint: An exemplary response will draw on the themes from previous weeks, such as ensuring a positive and productive environment, handling difficult conversations, motivating employees, providing feedback, maintaining levels of trust, etc.
Part 2 (250 words or more for each colleague)
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.
Respond to two or more of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:
Share an experience that is relevant to a colleague’s post about having managed, lead, and/or participated on teams that largely collaborated in a virtual environment. Evaluate the factors that made the teams successful or ineffective.
Expand on a colleague’s post with relevant concerns or observations, based on your experiences or the readings in the classroom, about working on or managing virtual teams.
Expand on a colleague’s post by offering resources and processes that should be in place to support virtual teams and how to mitigate the risks that working virtually creates.
1st Colleague to respond to:
“Virtual team members may be located across the office, but almost as easily across the country or across the world and may rarely or perhaps never meet face to face” (Berry, 2011). When it comes to a virtual team, managers are face with many benefits and challenges when developing, leading, and motivating a team. Some challenges are having infrequent face-to-face contact as a team, (DeRosa, 2009), building a collaborative atmosphere virtually, (DeRosa, 2009), lack of trust, poor communication, time zone differences, and physical distance. “The most effective leaders of virtual teams develop a process for establishing and adjusting priorities as a tool to address these challenges” (DeRosa, 2009). Communicating daily to ensure that you are running a successful business is important. Without communication within your company, you are not operating a business successfully. “Virtual teams are greatly influenced by the effectiveness of communication” (Emelo, 2002). To ensure that as a manager, you are operating a successful virtual team, everyone should help others achieve their goals, provide their support, and take accountability for their own actions. To help enhance team performance, managers, should ensure that a team charter is created to enhance team commitment and accountability, and that team members are happy and comfortable with giving feedback virtually. Some benefits include lower office cost, reduced travel time, and having a 24-hour workday. With some employees working from home, computer equipment isn’t being used frequently. A staff that works from home, is a substantial benefit, because they do not need to travel everyday to work. Employees that work out of another office several time zones away, is a benefit to the company, because you can operate your business on a 24-hour schedule with shifts in different countries. One of the challenges that should be addressed directly by a manager would be the lack of communication. Communication is the key to a successful business, because it allows a company to be productive and operate effectively. You must communicate daily with all employees to ensure that the job performance is successful, to make sure every employee is on the same page, and to build a relationship with your employees so that they are motivated and committed to working essentially. As a manager, you should always allow employees to work at their own pace, long as deadlines are met. Having different time zones is a challenge but as a manager I would allow, because you know someone will always be available because you have staff working different schedules. If I was assigned to manage a virtual team, I would motivate all employees to work hard, by recognizing all the hard workers, which includes giving bonuses. As a manager, I would ask for feedback daily to ensure that we are on the same page. I would also provide feedback to ensure that we as a team, is doing what we supposed to do to achieve daily goals.
Berry, G. R. (2011). Enhancing effectiveness on virtual teams. Journal of Business Communication, 186–206.
DeRosa, D. (2009). Virtual success: The keys to effectiveness in leading from a distance. Leadership in Action, 9–11.
Emelo, R. &. (2002). Virtual team interaction. T+D, 17–19.
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