17 Worst Mistakes in Managing Virtual Teams
Virtual teams working has grown in popularity in recent times, according to a recent Forbes report. Non-traditional working arrangements are rising at a time when work has become more global than ever. To take advantage of these new trends, managers must learn the new art of managing when workers are located in distributed offices.
Managing Virtual Teams
Hiring a remote team to help with software development requires careful planning. You must weigh the pros and cons of going remote. In addition, you should do a search for providers that have a successful history of implementing projects with your chosen technology.
Benefits of Virtual Teams
Software development has become a uniquely collaborative profession. Clients in countries in the West and other regions have discovered the many benefits that virtual teams bring. According to data by StatisticBrain, in 2016, American businesses outsourced 1,457,000 jobs. Companies are eager to adopt trends that can help their growth.
As a result, it has become common place to have teams in different countries such as Ukraine, Poland, India or China working with companies in Silicon Valley. You might want to assemble a remote team based on the following benefits:
- Cost – Virtual teams allow you to develop software much more cheaply than you might be able to do with office employees
- Save time – Remote teams can be scaled up quickly, saving you hiring team. This allows you to get developing right away
- Create world-class software – Going virtual lets you access world class talent from different regions of the world. If your local market lacks suitably skilled individuals, hiring a virtual team from elsewhere lets you create apps that are up to world standards.
Some of the largest companies have now turned to incorporating remote teams and virtual management into their operations. Here are some of the large companies adopting this model today, according to Baysource Global:
According to StatisticBrain’s data, businesses gave the following reasons for turning to virtual teams.
Besides the many advantages you can get such as cost savings, you should be aware of the challenges of remote working. Below, we will show you some of the worst mistakes you should avoid in managing virtual teams.
17 Mistakes in Virtual Team Management
- Not leveraging project management tools – Working with a virtual team is different from working in the same office because management and workers can be in different time zones. This means that you need to take extra steps to keep the project on schedule. Digital project management tools such as BaseCamp and Trello are great for this task. Even if you have a small project, failing to use a project management tool can make your team less efficient.
- Taking too long to approve work – Your remote team may not be in the office with you, but they need timely work approvals. If you get back to them faster, the work will move faster as well.
- Hiring without a proper process – Since you might never meet your remote team in person, you need to exercise greater care when hiring. Carefully assess the capabilities the team will be able to put to work for your project.
- Not creating a team spirit – The best project managers create a cohesive unit that acts as one. When managing virtual teams, take special heed to creating team spirit that allows your team to give their all to the work.
- Using old school communication exclusively – In this modern age, using phone calls and emails may work, but global project management requires the sophistication of modern tools. Invest in online collaboration technology like Slack and Gitter to manage team communications.
- Putting up too much red tape – At the end of the day, your team just wants to get the work done. It’s easy to set up too much remote team management red tape around things like code access, or getting approval for design choices. Where possible, eliminate friction so work can get done.
- Assigning tasks randomly – It is tempting to treat your remote team workers as interchangeable cogs. This is also a way to get inconsistent results with your IT outsourcing. Assign each task to the team member most suited for it.
- Infrequent communication with your team members – Communication is essential, especially when remote work is involved. If you are the sort of manager who goes for an entire week or more without communicating, you may be in for a surprise. Work might not be getting done, and you would never know until it is too late. Regular communication between you and your team keeps everyone in sync.
- Giving ambiguous specifications – Give your outsourcing services provider clear targets so they know what to aim for. Having coding requirements that are too vague will demoralize the team and lead to slow progress.
- Not planning for disruptions – A good remote project manager knows that disruptions may occur. As such, you need to plan in some buffer time into your schedule so that disruptions don’t make you miss deadlines.
- Frequent personnel changes – For a complex software project to progress smoothly, you need to minimize personnel changes and reassignments. New team members will require extra time before they can be as efficient as the ones they replace.
- Forgetting that team members are human – It is easy sometimes to forget that team members are human. A bad day, problems in their personal life, and other things can make them underperform. A good manager finds ways to get to the root of the problem and help team members solve problems.
- Not allowing the team to share ideas with you – Good managers know that communication is a two-way street. Sometimes, having tasks written down in a project management platform has the perverse effect of closing you off to new ideas from your team. Be flexible enough, when managing remote teams, to encourage the team to bring up ideas for your consideration.
- Mistaking activity for productivity – Managing a team remotely means you need to become an astute observer. There is a vast difference between hours billed and tasks accomplished. Ensure that your dispersed teams are getting the most results accomplished for the hours they are billing.
- Assuming that everyone has the information they need – In software projects in particular, there is a wide variety of implementations that can be taken to address a technical problem. Unless you as the manager have made it very clear how things are to be done, work may not be done to specifications. This can be a very costly mistake. Code may have to be rewritten, entire weeks of work scrapped. Make sure, therefore, that everyone on the team has the information they need to get their work done properly.
- Not giving proper feedback to team members – When managing a remote project, feedback becomes much more important. Since your team is not in the office with you, they cannot tell how you feel about the progress they are making other than what you let on in electronic communications. As a project manager, you need to create a system in which you give accurate feedback to team members. If something is wrong, they will be able to use your feedback in order to fix it.
- Letting standards lapse – When working remotely, you have less chance to influence culture than when working in the same office with the entire team. It is your responsibility as the manager to keep standards high and drive the team towards ambitious goals.
Improving Your Team’s Online Collaboration
As you can see, managing a virtual team optimally is a fair challenge. But with the help of digital tools and the right software development agency, it can be done. Working with a remote team will make you a better project manager since you have to learn to solve all these different kinds of problems. As a result, your team will work faster, in unison, and your projects will be accomplished successfully.