Tip of the Week

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014

Managing Virtual Teams Effectively

As ACU continues to expand, the ability to manage virtual teams effectively has become increasingly important.  Many of us work in teams with colleagues or managers located on other campuses and in different time-zones.  Collaborating in a virtual environment has many advantages, but it also presents its own set of managerial challenges! Follow the six quick tips below to ensure the foundations for success are in place for your team.

  1. Set the team objectives/vision
    Establish this very early on, to set the context and a direction for your team, and so everyone can envisage the common goal.  Meeting the basic human needs for a sense of purpose and inclusion is fundamental to moving the team members in the same direction.
  2. Remind everyone they are a team
    If the team members think they are all working independently, each one is not likely to act as a team player.  Reminders that they working on common objectives and deliverables can prompt them to be more active in their collaboration with other team members.
  3. Establish ground rules
    Even though the team members may be remote, they still need to exhibit a common and acceptable set of behaviours.  In fact, this is probably more important for virtual teams. Ground rules include things like setting the hours during which the team members are expected to be working, establishing lunch times, determining which meetings are mandatory (in-person, web-based, or via telephone), and defining expectations for communication turnaround times.
  4.  Obtain the right technology
    The technology is there to support virtual teams - there is really no reason to be without it! Investigate your options for web conferencing, audio conferencing, video cams, collaborative software, and shared directories.
  5. Look for opportunities to socialise
    Virtual teams don't have as much opportunity to interact with each other face-to-face, so it is more important for the manager to look for ways they can bond socially. This might include chat rooms/forums, virtual water coolers and regular catch-ups, meetings or one-on-one appointments.
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate
    Managers need to be especially proactive in communicating with the team to make sure everyone understands what is expected. In a virtual team, people are particularly prone to feeling isolated if they do not receive regular communications.  Make sure the communication lines for your virtual team are kept open and used regularly.

Virtual team strategy

If you would like to develop a more comprehensive strategy for improving the effectiveness of your virtual team, watch this coaching video in the ACU online training library, or contact Capabilities and Development for further information on ext 2211.

To access the online training library click the link above and then click ‘Log in’ button. Choose ‘login through your organisation or school’ and enter www.acu.edu.au into the organisation box if prompted.  You will then be prompted to log in by providing your ACU staff username and password.