The previous sections have endorsed the fact the managing a virtual team is much more challenging task than managing a team in conventional organizational settings. However, the principles of managing remain the same. It is essentially the way the team leader tackles situations or circumstances that proves his effectiveness as a manager. Since team members are situated in different time zones and coordinating messages and tasks can be difficult, the manager should adopt a well-planned management strategy to tackle these issues.
Based on the analysis and discussion in the previous sections the following strategic recommendations are made to ensure effective management of virtual teams:
- Establish clearly defined goals and objectives for the team members – these objectives should be achievable, measurable, and relevant to the task.
- Communicate these goals and related work terms in clear and precise terms to individual team members – an email detailing the expected performance levels, accepted error rates, set work procedures, communication protocols should be sent to each team member eliciting their response and feedback, if required.
- Ensure resources required to complete the task are made available to the team members.
- Consult team members on a preferred time for daily briefings – for some members it can be at the beginning of the day and for the others at the end of the day’s work. A video conference or teleconference for a few minutes rounding up the day’s activities will assist in increasing interactivity between team members resulting in improved work relationship.
- Any critical situation should be brought to the notice of other members so that everyone is kept in the loop. Online forums can be used to discuss the impending crisis and how best to resolve the situation. This is not only effective in gathering individual opinions and feedback of all members but will also assist in involving others in the decision making process raising their self-worth and increasing team bonding.
- The team leader should assign specific roles and responsibilities to others within the team to increase work effectiveness and boost individual capabilities.
- Online training and development modules should be implemented to train the members on work processes and pass information on specific cultural and social background to improve mutual understanding.
- Maintain transparency in communications with team members and highlight the achievements with suitable rewards and recognition programs.
- Have online fun sessions that can act as ice-breakers within team members.
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Team leaders of virtual teams should be sensitive to differences in language, culture, time zones, and business practice and take appropriate action at the onset of team formation, or risk team dysfunction and suboptimal performance (Bell, 2002).
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