Virtual Team Resilience: The Manager’s Role

Virtual Team Resilience 600x242 - Virtual Team Resilience: The Manager’s Role

In virtual teams, managers play a central role in developing resilience – the ability to overcome setbacks and adapt to change. While virtual teams are just as capable of harmonious, productive work as their co-located counterparts, the physical distance between colleagues makes them more prone to misunderstandings and feelings of isolation.

But not to worry! As a manager of virtual employees, you have a huge amount of power to create an environment that fosters resilience, setting your team up for long-term success.

Building resilience in virtual teams

In particular, virtual managers hoping to build a resilient team need to:

– Set direction and structure

It is your responsibility to communicate directives from the executive level, providing strategic and big-picture guidance that helps employees understand their individual role and accountabilities. At the same time, business priorities often change, and you need to communicate this information to your team and help them implement the changes. By ensuring the lines of communication are open and everyone is in the loop, you increase your team’s confidence in their mission and set them up to achieve their goals.

– Take on the role of a supportive coach

People who thrive in virtual teams typically value having the latitude to do their job and make decisions independently. The key for virtual managers is to grant this latitude while still holding staff accountable, providing additional guidance as necessary. Strategies include:

o One-on-one touch points
o Regularly occurring virtual office hours for drop-in conversations
o Non-judgmental, constructive feedback that engages staff in problem-solving
o Framing challenges as part of mastering new skills
o Facilitating team discussions about lessons learned and the best way to move forward

– Encourage self-advocacy

Remind staff that they are not alone. If they encounter personal challenges, they can and should speak up! No manager is a mind-reader, particularly without the benefit of non-verbal cues, so it is essential that employees recognize their responsibility to tell you when they need clairifiction or assistance. What managers can do is ask open-ended questions and exhibit strong listening skills, making employees feel safe in disclosing any issues they are having.

By following these steps, virtual managers will maximize the resilience of their team, empowering remote employees to identify, address, and overcome new challenges as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Want to learn more about managing virtual teams? Try one-on-one mentoring with Virtual Team Builders and get expert, personalized strategies and techniques to manage your unique team.

By : Virtual Teambuilders /March 14, 2019 /Resiliency in a Virtual Environment, Virtual Managers /0 Comment Read More

Mental Health in Virtual Teams: Top Three Tips for Managers

MEntal Health In Virtual Teams 600x242 - Mental Health in Virtual Teams: Top Three Tips for Managers

We think nothing of making workplace accommodations for colleagues with a visible, physical disability so they can perform their work more ably. But can we say the same for mental illness and workplace stress? In both virtual teams and their co-located counterparts, a new report from research firm Morneau Shepell shows that 25% of workers say they have become ill due to workplace stress.

Common symptoms include:

• Insomnia
• Forgetfulness
• Anxiety
• Irritability
• Defensiveness
• Mood swings
• Hypersensitivity
• Lack of focus

Without taking mental health and stress into account, virtual managers run the risk of encountering lower productivity, weaker performance and higher absenteeism.

Why mental health matters in virtual teams
In addition to typical stressors such as workload and deadlines, a sense of isolation is especially common in virtual teams. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes it difficult to build trusted relationships, and miscommunication is more common without nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. Add in the stigma people naturally feel about disclosing mental health issues or stress, and employees often feel as though they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

The tips below will help you to increase productivity, deepen interpersonal relationships, and boost resilience within your virtual team.

Top mental health tips for virtual managers:

Minimize social distance

In the virtual environment there is a tendency to over-focus on tasks and under-focus on relationships. This can worsen the sense of isolation that naturally comes with working apart from others and contribute to workplace stress. In contrast, one recent study found that colleagues who spend just 15 minutes socializing have a 20% increase in performance vs. those who don’t.

Unsurprisingly, co-located teams spend roughly 8% of their time socializing in physical locations like hallways or a nearby café. While these are not options for virtual teams, there are a number of excellent virtual equivalents including:

• Group chats or virtual meeting rooms for coffee breaks and team lunches.
• Instant messaging for fun, impromptu discussions about the latest show to binge-watch, upcoming vacations, or any other non-work topic.
• Start team meetings with an open invitation for anyone to share a recent success or challenge, tips they found, useful articles or other resources, etc. Showcasing team members in this manner is another way to foster trusting interpersonal relationships.

Make it about people, not technology

Success in the virtual world is 90% people and 10% technology – and mental health suffers when we place too much emphasis on the collaboration tools we use rather than the people using them. Virtual managers seeking to minimize mental health issues on their team should focus on the tone and nature of team communications, such as:

• When facing setbacks, focus on the path forward and lessons learned, not personal blame
• Encourage your team to ask for assistance when needed and not bear their burden alone
• Openly share information and project updates so everyone feels looped in and part of the team

Bridge gaps with language

Language is a powerful tool that can create a feeling of safety and trust, making it easier for employees to disclose their concerns and work with you to resolve issues. Non-judgmental language is especially important in virtual teams, where social distance can make it harder to come forward with any difficulties.

There are many ways to build relationships, communicate effectively, and address mental health in the workplace without the benefit of face-to-face interaction. Learn more about Virtual Team Builders team training solutions as well as one-on-one mentoring for virtual team leads to drive resilience and good mental health in your organization.

By : Virtual Teambuilders /March 14, 2019 /Managing Stress in a Virtual Environment, Resiliency in a Virtual Environment /0 Comment Read More
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    Virtual Team Builders is a training and consulting company that caters to corporations and teams who depend on effective virtual collaboration to succeed. Our training is targeted towards the unique challenges faced by teams operating in a virtual environment; challenges that are present whether members work 90 feet apart or 3000 miles apart.