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.