Four Ways to Properly Leverage Time Zones

As a virtual manager, it’s possible that there are some members of your team working in different parts of the world. This makes it difficult when you want to set up meetings with the entire team, kind of like juggling a bunch of balls—one labeled China, the other India, and so on. The perfect time for you may be a horrible time for someone else. In virtual work, time is relative. To avoid having your virtual team get jumbled up in their communication, it takes an aware, compassionate manager to accommodate for these time zone differences.

If your team is dispersed far enough, time zones will make a huge difference in the logistics of work, meetings and deadlines. To work around time zones, we need a new way to think, lead and communicate across space and time.

—Claire Sookman and Amir Ahmed from Follow My Voice.

In our  book, Follow My Voice, we discuss four ways to leverage time zones to ensure that you’re respecting each team member’s work location. Let’s look at those now, shall we?

Use lumps.
The rise of virtual work has opened up some amazing opportunities for companies to delegate and hire specific talent, but team proximity is still a valuable asset. Wherever you can, lump your employees together as closely as possible (geographically speaking of course).

It’s tricky to manage a team when one person works in China (China Standard Time), and the rest in your home country. Of course, using lumps is not a set-in-stone rule—you don’t want a person’s geographical location to be a major factor when hiring—but it’s something to keep mindful of. If you can piece together a few team members in India, for example, instead of having just one Indian Standard Time worker, it makes communication a lot easier!

“Three people in GMT and three in PDT are better than six people in different time zones,” explain Sookman and Ahmed.

Empower your team.
Communicating with team members dispersed around the world can be tricky, so it’s best to limit interaction. Give your team breathing space. Assign them their work, provide them with the tools they need, and trust that they’ll get the job done. By letting your team know you trust them, they’ll feel empowered to take responsibility. Give your employees the authority to make decisions and they won’t be reporting to you every couple hours about a trivial issue.

Always on the clock.
The key is to always have someone doing the work. Have a certain team member work on a project, and when they sign off, they pass it on to someone who’s just starting their workday. This is a very efficient way to save time and energy, and to ensure that your company is always progressing forward—around the clock.

Change up meeting times.
Instead of having Skype meetings at the same time every week, say on Wednesdays at five o’clock pm, switch it up! It’s silly to force one employee to meet at irregular times simply because the rest of the team is lumped together. Let everybody know that you’re aware of the different time zones, and that you care enough to accommodate these variances (even if it’s just for one person). Your team will thank you for it!

These are only a few ways to leverage different time zones. As a virtual manager, how do you do it? Let us know in the comments below, we always love hearing from you!

By : Anil Kumar /May 01, 2014 /blog, Time Zones /0 Comment Read More

How To Manage Virtual Teams Effectively | Three helpful tips to manage negative energy

Today, we’re going to give some quick but helpful tips to manage negative energy. Click here for an overview of What is Negative Energy and why it’s important for teams and their leaders to be aware of it.

Blog pic1 - How To Manage Virtual Teams Effectively | Three helpful tips to manage negative energy

Simply put, we all put out energy. Depending on our state of mind, the energy we put out can be positive or negative. In fact, we can be putting out negative vibes without even being aware of it. Positive energy tends to be good – it boosts morale, provides a sense of hope and a desire to accomplish things. Negative energy can have the reverse impact. It can derail meetings, encourage disharmony within a group and promote a general sense of things getting stopped in their tracks. In some cases, negative energy can even stop a project from starting if it spreads through the group. The energy we put out has the potential to be extremely powerful, so it’s important to be able to harness it and manage it.

Let’s see how we do this

1. Manage your own energy.

As you start each day, be aware of what you’re bringing in to your office. If you’re having a rough day, acknowledge how your feeling and ask yourself what might turn things around. Perhaps its taking a walk or grabbing a coffee, or watching a silly video on the internet. The goal is to shift your energy. Being aware of how you’re feeling and taking steps to manage it will allow you to keep your interactions with those on your team and in your organization positive.

2. Pay Attention.

Frequently in meetings, we want to power through the list of things that need to be addressed. By being aware of what people are saying, who isn’t talking and the energy over the wire it will get easier to tell when negative vibes are bringing down a meeting. Often, our senses will tell us something is wrong long before we’re aware of it – but if we pay attention it’ll get easier to sense when something is off. If you notice that someone seems to be overly negative or playing devil’s advocate more than usual, it’s a good idea to have an off line chat. If the meeting is quickly falling off chart, call a break and give the person a quick call to get a sense of what is going on. If it’s not possible to take a break, manage the conversation by acknowledging what the person is saying. Many people struggle with this, but remember that acknowledging what someone has said isn’t the same as agreeing with them. Although we’ve used meetings as an example of when this could happen, be aware that this could be the same in a one on one conversation with a team member. Paying attention to what people are saying, what’s happening with a project and what your senses are telling you are good first steps to manage negative energy when it rears its ugly head.

3. Authentic Conversations.

Encourage your team to be open and honest with each other. This doesn’t give people permission to be hurtful, but by modeling and rewarding authentic conversations you’ll foster a work environment where people aren’t afraid to have difficult conversations. Disagreements can be misconstrued as negative energy, when frequently, people feel like they’ll be penalized for pointing out problems, however most managers would agree that finding the issues early on is better and more cost effective than finding out when you’re launching a product or service. If someone has an authentic desire to participate in the success of the team, they should feel comfortable being able to address concerns in a constructive manner, which means taking part in authentic conversations. This can be a challenge in a virtual environment where we lose the benefit of body language – having the team come up with ground rules and group norms to guide how they want to work together will help establish this type of culture. By welcoming the good, the bad and the ugly in a respectful and meaningful fashion, your team will be so much better off for it. Contact us to let us know your experience with negative energy and how you dealt with it!

By : Anil Kumar /April 30, 2014 /blog /0 Comment Read More
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