I was on a Skype call with my Social Community Manager in India discussing various projects and in the course of our conversation an earlier call with a fellow team member in the U.S came up.
It’s so normal to me that I chat with my Communications Manager in the U.S., with my Community Manager in India, and with my clients worldwide, from my office in Dubai.
That’s when realization hit me.
I’m not only a global citizen and a trailing spouse, but also a global entrepreneur, straddling time zones and continents as I build an empire to help other businesses navigate the eco-cultural waters in Dubai and the United States with ease.
Before I share how I manage my virtual team successfully, I have to confess something: It isn’t easy.
If you think that you’ll hire people across the world and make things work without running into snags and challenges, you’ve got to think again.
You will have technical issues.
You will have communication lapses.
You will have to unlearn everything you’ve learnt about people management as you send emails more than you do in-person meetings and phone calls.
Having said that, it is totally worth it because honestly, virtual team management is a leadership skill that every modern day business owner must have.
With the way technology is shrinking geographical boundaries, virtual teams will be a reality for many businesses.
Here is how I’m building my empire with the help of a team spread across the globe:
1. Be Aware of Time Zones and Workdays
When working with a virtual team, it is vital that you keep time zones in mind.
For instance, it will be unreasonable to set up team meeting calls when one of the team members is on a day off or when it’s middle-of-the-night for them, unless they work at that time.
Thanks to smartphones, figuring out world time zones is easier than ever and also, when you schedule meetings in your Google calendar, they get to see the time in THEIR time zone, ruling out the “I mixed up the time zones” challenge.
Also, be aware of the work week. For instance, here in Dubai, the weekend starts on Friday not Saturday, like in the U.S.
2. Read Your Email Twice Before Hitting Send
Since a lot of your correspondence will be via email, it is important that you read your emails twice before you hit send.
Not only do you not want typos that can change the meaning of a message, but you also want to be sure that your “tone” doesn’t come across as too curt, or even, rude!
Yes, it can happen.
While short, to-the-point emails are fine, just reread it quickly to see if it sounds too abrupt or patronizing. Make sure that your tone is professional yet not cold or distant. You don’t have to be friends with your team members, but you should have a comfortable rapport with them so they truly feel a part of your team.
3. Learn to Laugh Off Glitches
Fact: Where there is technology, there will be glitches.
Learn to embrace glitches, tech fails and goof ups as you navigate this pathway.
However, at the same time, make sure that you learn the lesson that the fail contains and prevent it from happening again.
A tool that refuses to behave? Ditch it.
A project management system that complicates communication? Switch it.
Emails that disappear? Set up a system where follow ups are non-negotiable.
There will always be a workaround for a glitch. Don’t let them hold your growth and progress back.
I’ll have more virtual team management tips to share with you in the next post.
In the meanwhile, if you have a question for me about managing teams across the world, ask me on Facebook or in the comments below!