Virtual Management

In today's world of work a successful people manager has to be good at a wide range of skills that were not as critical a mere generation ago. Virtual management - no surprise - has become important in leading teams because in this new business environment, yesterday's methods of managing people and projects are no longer sufficient. These tactics worked when business was simpler and may even have helped you get promoted to your current level, but as diversity fosters complexity, managers face greater leadership challenges.

Do you remember the days when you could actually walk down the halls and drop in on your direct reports? In the days of so-called MBWA (managing by walking around) you could talk with people face-to-face, get a sense of how they think things are going, and listen to what's on their minds. It was possible to observe meetings, watch the team's interactions and even sit in on difficult conversations. A performance evaluation could include examples of things you personally observed. You could find out what's really going on as your team members strolled into your office and vice versa. Easy to check out family photos, learn about their personal hobbies and build a relationship over lunch. In truth management was never an easy activity, but few would disagree that it's a lot more complicated now.

Welcome to your virtual reality; welcome to virtual management!

Leaders of virtual teams are challenged to create a smooth operation in spite of the many differences at play. Greater diversity in the workforce is a by-product of virtual teams, since professionals with different backgrounds, styles, and languages work at 'the same table'. Possibilities for misunderstanding and cultural blunders get magnified in such situations.

If you are charged with ensuring a cohesive team that delivers results, it's a good idea to expand your tools and techniques. Leaders and managers must be flexible and adaptable in a diverse workforce that includes a mix of different worldviews, communication styles and behaviors across a wide range of colleagues, vendors and clients.

Virtual management presents constant challenges, even at small companies - since there's a good chance you interact virtually with global audiences. The good news is that you are not alone. These are common challenges that are faced across a wide range of organizations. So how are you going to excel at managing your virtual team?

Throughout this blog section, I will give tips and strategies for virtual management to help ensure that your virtual team is set up for success. These best practices will enable you to establish the human connection in a virtual world and set up your team with processes for getting high quality deliverables out the door. For more information on the best practices for your virtual team, check out my book A Manager's Guide to Virtual Teams.

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