Yet, there are other obstacles met while managing virtual teams. Among them is tracking project progress, following deadlines and prioritizing tasks to be done.
Development of software projects, digital marketing, customer care and many other work fields which are quite costly are now moved online. That is why tracking such works became a real headache for the project managers and business owners. However, you may optimize your work routine to keep your team on track and make sure that the work delivered at right time by the right people. Below you will find five project manager’s tips to ensure that your virtual team stays on the top of the work priorities.
1. STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE TEAM
First of all, you need to understand that you won’t be able to stay on track with your team if you don’t keep in touch with them. Do you know the saying “out of sight, out of mind?” It means that if nothing reminds you about task, notion or event you soon forget about it.
You need to create an environment and opportunities to be in touch with your team. Of course, you have checkpoint meetings, regular calls and established communication within message system or call software. But you need to think of going beyond.
It sounds simple and probably you are doing that while working with the small team, but if you have a large and much-dispersed team when team members live in different time zones. Of course, it will be difficult to stay in touch with each team member during working day. The key to success here is planning. Plan your calls during the day, it will be okay if you’ll start working later, you may use Google Calendar for example to plan your calls and keep on track all the tasks and communication you have.
So what is a benefit of tracking each team member with personal communication? Well, it is an ability to resolve all possible issues before they became a bigger issue for the project. You will find out what is blocking each team member from the progress and will be able to define the next step earlier. This will help you to keep all the tasks on track and make your team more effective.
Yet, you should remember that the call shouldn’t be long and you need to prepare for it before the call itself.
2. USE DIFFERENT ONLINE TOOLS
Technology is the way to bring your team closer and make the work and collaboration effective. There are numerous tools you can use during work on your projects. Today, there are different technology options available to you.
IT and marketing virtual teams use Slack for a chat, documents sharing and other project related features which require timely updates. Online mind mapping tools, like iMindQ allow virtual team members create project plans and flow diagrams together with screen sharing features.
Flexible project management systems like Wrike, Jira or Trello make it possible for project managers to set and track projects with their virtual teams. These tools save a lot of time and allow adapt to changing requirements of any even the most complex project.
There are numerous other tools available on the market, which are aimed to make any kind of project completed by the virtual team successful and fully delivered.
3. ASK THEIR MANAGER TO HELP (IF THE PERSON ATTACHED TO YOUR TEAM WORKS ON THE BEHALF OF OTHER COMPANY)
Sometimes it is very difficult to get information or the task completed on time. Both parties are interested in the results and profit. However, we are all people and have our own character. If you are not getting in time feedback and report, worried about the deadline, and the person assigned to your project seems to ignore your tasks, it is time to talk with their manager. Of course, it will be possible only if this person works on the behalf of other company.
Try to carefully contact their manager and ask what is happening with your team member. Maybe the person you are referring to is on sick leave or have some personal issues, yet, you need to be sure that the project will be delivered on time.
If you are working with freelancers, and person disappeared, you need to find another contractor.
4. VARY YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
It is good to have a conference call once a week to discuss the project with your team members, or daily scrams via Skype. But sometimes to stir up your team members once a month use something different. For example:
- Audio meeting if you use video or vice versa
- Dividing team members into smaller groups and meeting with them separately
- Skipping the actual meeting and sending out email updates
- Asking one of team members to report on others tasks to see if he or she also tracks progress
- Meeting in person to talk not only about the project progress but also to get feedback in your management and relationships with others.
If you mix formats the interaction within the virtual team can become more effective since such changes can push team member for whom it is hard to express during standard meeting used by your team.
5. ASK TEAM MEMBERS TO DEFINE THEIR OWN DELIVERABLES
When you set time-frames yourself you more likely will follow them. This also applies to others, since the person will feel a sense of responsibility. Ask each team members to give you their own time frames on the tasks assigned to them. Moreover, don’t forget to delegate some of your tasks and encourage other team members to do so. Even a good worker is better in something than others. Such flexibility may reduce pressure and make your team more effective.
I hope these five tips will help you to keep your virtual team on track and encourage their creativity. They will also help you to establish better relationship and trust inside the team. If you have other ideas how to make virtual teams more effective please let us know.