Effective Strategies for Building and Managing a Virtual Team

How to Effectively Expand Your Team

In the past, the primary method for growing a team was straightforward: hire employees. This typically involved setting up an office, purchasing necessary equipment, and building from there. However, this is no longer the sole or even the default option.

In the future, you might find yourself working with a virtual team if you aren’t already. Here are five lessons I’ve learned to ensure smooth operations:

1. Prioritize Clear Communication

Effective communication is crucial in any relationship, and this is even more true when working remotely. Since you can’t rely on face-to-face interactions to convey nuances, you need to be extra diligent.

Encourage your team to ask questions and seek clarification. It’s better to address numerous questions upfront than to have someone spend hours on a task only to find out it was misunderstood due to unclear instructions.

2. Implement Regular Check-Ins

To manage communication efficiently, consider scheduling regular check-ins instead of constant back-and-forth emails. This could be a daily or weekly meeting, depending on your needs. Collect non-urgent issues for these check-ins, saving everyone time and reducing the flood of emails.

3. Utilize Video Calls

Rank your communication methods from most to least effective. Here’s my list:

  • Video Calls: These are the closest to in-person interactions, allowing you to see facial expressions and body language. Tools like Google Meet, Zoom, or Teams are great for this.
  • Phone Calls: These allow for quick, real-time communication and help build relationships through casual conversation.
  • Texting: Useful for immediate, brief exchanges within your core team.
  • Online Communication Tools: Platforms like Slack, Trello, or Discord can reduce email clutter.
  • Email: While sometimes necessary, email should be used sparingly as it is less efficient for interactive communication.

4. Assume Positive Intent

When communication gaps or mistakes occur, approach them with a positive mindset. Instead of assuming the worst, give your team the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the instructions weren’t clear, or someone had a rough day. Start conversations with an understanding tone, which helps maintain a positive team dynamic.

5. Celebrate Achievements

To foster a team spirit, celebrate successes together. Acknowledge milestones, like reaching a podcast download target, with small tokens of appreciation or simple gestures like a virtual high-five. These actions, though minor, significantly boost morale and create a sense of camaraderie.

Bringing the team together physically for occasional meetings or dinners, if possible, can also strengthen relationships. Even if team members are meeting in person for the first time, the strong virtual connections they’ve built will make it feel like they’ve known each other for a long time.