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To operate efficiently in today’s market, businesses need interaction and guidance of leaders from all over the world. These day’s modern offices are defined by time zones rather than traditional offices. Virtual teams consist of individuals with unique and distinctive aspects who reside in different geographically dispersed locations but share responsibilities for a common goal.

Bringing different minds which are located at different geographical areas together can be profitable to a company, but managing such personnel can prove to be a difficult job. Virtual team leadership is a whole different practice compared to what managers and HR are traditionally used to. A lot of aspects have to be considered here, such as communication, on time results, product quality, and working together. Such issues need to be quickly assessed by managers, to come up with appropriate guidelines to keep project team relationships, productivity, and outcomes on the right track.

Leaders supervising virtual team should be thorough as well as practical and display exemplary leadership skills in their work practice. Also, when choosing a team, a leader should pick those that are ready to work, are tech-savvy and communicate effectively, have clear and inspiring goals and those that coordinate across organizational boundaries.

Here you will learn the best practices and challenges in virtual team leadership.

Best practices

Best practices will make the distance between team members seem smaller, and they are as follows.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a critical skill in leadership development. Communication also involves the use of a variety of media formats including Skype, virtual media, web conferences, email, instant messaging, and phones. Team leaders should be conversant with these forms of communication or any other modern means of communication.

Team leaders are accountable for making sure everybody is on the same page; this can be considered as another form of communication. They are also responsible for the frequency of discussion, and participation by team members. 

Listening is another crucial aspect of communication. Listening without visual clues require attention and a set of listening skills. Leaders have a considerable role to play in creating opportunities for all team members to be heard, and asking questions is a good idea to know what’s going on. Leaders should model the behavior of their employees to something that they expect.

Teambuilding

Team leaders should make use of initial face-to-face meetings to build a sense of teamwork among members. Teams can try to meet face-to-face annually or semiannually; however, this may not always be possible. Face-to-face meetings help instill much-needed trust and promote engagement and synergy among the group members

Other team building activities a group can implement are extensive use of social media and open source platforms, scheduling celebrations regularly, fun and creative activities during scheduled meetings so that members can place a voice to a face among others.

Observe Protocols

To build and maintain trust and to set a tone for a successful team, there is a need to establish ground rules or protocols. These set of rules should dictate deadlines, goals, technology etiquette, and cultural norms so that teammates know what should be done and at what time and vice versa. Having protocols will surely make virtual work effective.

Challenges That Affect Virtual Team Leadership

A virtual work relationship might seem the most ideal one yet but sadly it’s bound to meet challenges, such include the following,

Isolation

Most members end up feeling isolated since they do not get face-to-face contact with other team members. This is a significant challenge to the management getting all the team members to one geographical area might be difficult.

The Difference in Time Zones

Time zone difference is another leadership challenge for virtual teams. Different countries wake up and sleep at different times. A difference in time zones is thought as the biggest problem in managing virtual teams. The difference hinders collaboration between colleagues and can cause group members to miss deadline among other work issues.

Different time zones make using the global clock effectively and reasonably challenging. Group leaders find that setting up a large meeting can be tedious since they have to consider everyone’s conditions and schedules.

Lack of a Sense of Connectedness

Leaders strive to connect their team so that a sense of teamwork and connectedness can be achieved. For ordinary managers, this is easy since they meet their employees all the time around the workplace. But for virtual team leaders, this proves to be a horrendous task since the only contact time they have with their team is through face timing or voice calls.

The more a leader manages a virtual team, the easier it gets for them, and in due time the geographical distance grows smaller. Negative distance challenges reduce over time and learning designers can help ease this transition.

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