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12 Top Questions Managers Ask About Managing Virtual Teams

Posted on July 5th, 2012 by The Learning Factor

Creating effective virtual teams has proved to be more difficult for organisations than expected. Managers can’t simply create high-performance by assembling a virtual team and ‘letting it run’ for itself. Without careful structuring, support, and attention to processes, virtual teams may not even perform at a marginal level.

Over the years, we have conducted hundreds of training programs for managers at leading global organisations. We have been tracking some of the questions that managers consistently ask about their role when they need to start managing remote teams.  The following list summarises the most frequently asked question. See if any of these resonate with you:

  • How does remoteness change group and leadership behaviours?
  • What is the right balance of task and team focus?
  • What is the right balance of control and autonomy in the way we work together?
  • What causes divided loyalties, and what can we do about them?
  • Why do we need to be a team anyway?
  •  When should we communicate, and how often is enough?
  • How do I manage my team when the travel budget is cut?
  • When should I get face-to-face, and when is it better to avoid it?
  • How do I stay visible when I’m remote?
  • What’s the point in remote coaching? Isn’t it just more work when I don’t have the time?
  • How can I travel less without damaging my career and still get results from my remote team?
  • How can I accelerate the transfer of learning through my dispersed team?

IDC’s recent Worldwide Mobile Worker Population, 2011-2015 report paints a picture of a global workforce that’s marching inexorably toward mobility. Their forecast shows that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015.

Senior leaders in organisations must now recognise the need to upskill their managers in the new world of work. Motivating a virtual team to perform is one of the key challenges managers get stuck on. Take a look at the discrepancies between the rankings people gave to motivating factors at work (1 being most important, 10 being least) and what their managers thought.

What managers thought

What team members

Work that keeps you interested

5

6

Job security

2

4

Tactful disciplining

7

10

Full appreciation of work done

8

1

Good wages

1

5

Sympathetic help on personal problems

9

3

Promotion and growth within the company

3

7

Feeing “in” on things

10

2

Personal loyalty to workers

6

8

Good working conditions

4

9

It is easy to see how virtual team management can be doomed for failure when there are such discrepancies on understanding motivation – a key basic function of a team management!

Organisations save a lot of grief and stress when they get it right from the start.

 

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