May 19, 2022

Managing Virtual Teams: A New Frontier for Leaders

Managing Virtual Teams: A New Frontier for Leaders featured image

Leadership excellence is essential to keep your company working effectively. You need to be sure managers at all levels have the tools they need to excel because their success affects your whole organization.

Of course, leadership excellence means something different today than it did a decade ago. Remote work levels remain high, even as pandemic-related closures ease. Managing virtual teams comes with its own set of best practices, and educating supervisors in these skills helps them deliver a truly modern leadership experience.

The Rise of Remote Work

One of the most persistent questions business leaders are asking as COVID-19 infection levels fall is what percentage of employees will work from home permanently, as opposed to returning to the office?

A Gallup poll at the end of 2021 revealed, among the 50% of all employees who can do their jobs remotely, 30% would like to be permanently remote. As for the other 70% of WFH-eligible employees, 60% want to work between one and four days every week in person, while 10% want to be permanently in the office.

As WorkHuman explained, 30% of employees are looking for new jobs because their employers want them to come back to the office. This is especially notable amid a historically high level of resignations and voluntary job changes.

The enthusiasm for hybrid schedules or pure remote work should send a message to employers: It can pay to give workers what they want, and what they want includes telework options. Truly committing to these options means adapting the company’s practices to match, including investing in virtual leadership training.

The Importance of Great Virtual Leadership

Leaders’ objective in the remote work era is the same as ever: to get the most from their team members. What’s changed is the assortment of tools these managers have to work with to connect with employees. Motivating and encouraging workers is more complex when done remotely, as are administering discipline and keeping groups on task.

The true importance and value of virtual leadership come when an organization invests heavily in hybrid or remote work. In these situations, the whole company’s productivity hinges on the ability to drive the productivity of employees who are never present in person. Good virtual leadership in these cases is synonymous with good leadership.

Working with New Technology

Perhaps the most significant change leaders have to deal with when managing a remote team is relying more heavily on technology than ever. When it’s impossible to hold in-person meetings, scrums or discussions, managers need reliable tech tools to connect them with employees.

The Fast Company Executive Council recommended selecting single, centralized tech platforms and making sure everyone is using those tools to both stay in touch and track their projects. When there’s a clear system for checking in and collaborating, managers don’t have to expend as much time and effort tracking down each individual remote employee.

Connecting with Remote Workers

Virtual team management also means creating clear connections with employees, even when it’s not possible to speak to them face to face. Fast Company added that when managers spend the time to show empathy and consideration for each virtual team member, it leads to positive results. It’s easy for people to start to feel disconnected if leaders don’t keep in touch with them and deal with them on a human level.

The Association for Talent Development noted remote leaders should have a coaching mindset. Coaching is the opposite of micromanaging or exerting direct control over every employee. This means managers must believe their employees have the capability to perform well and solve everyday problems, and see it as their job to bring out that potential.

Whereas some managers will adopt the technologies and mindset needed to thrive in a virtual environment, others may fall behind. Training can make all the difference. Rather than assuming your company’s managers will immediately adapt to the new reality of virtual employees working remotely, it can pay to give them a refresher.

Leadership Training in a Virtual Environment

You can invest in specific training courses to teach leaders how to communicate within the confines of remote work. These courses teach essential skills such as relationship-building in online settings, making sure managers understand which skills transfer to a virtual environment and which don’t.

Everything from running a team meeting to communicating one-on-one with employees is meaningfully different when carried out digitally. Getting leaders up to speed on these differences can help them thrive, whether they’re dealing with a few part-time remote employees or coordinating virtual team members scattered around the globe who work from home permanently.

Just as the workplace has evolved to favor virtual work and digital communication, training delivery methods have also moved online. By choosing video-based digital courses, you can easily and affordably match your leaders with the skills they’ll need in the years ahead.

Improved virtual leadership can start with training: Browse courses now.

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