Working virtually is a widespread idea that companies use for many reasons: saving money, lowering expenses, flexible schedules, giving staff more freedom and flexibility to follow their passions and be with their families. These things can add happiness for the team while reducing expenses for the company. Managing a team that works virtually is exciting and fun for me. Previously, I would manage people in person, being able to see, connect and measure results. Now as the manager of a virtual team, I’m learning new skills to manage people and projects virtually. This is my story of project management for the virtual team.
Being the Project Manager for a virtual team has some challenges. Workers schedules vary, communication takes place mostly through text and email, and progress can be harder to measure. Ask any Project Manager and they will tell you that communication is the number one reason projects fail. Communication can make or break your project and your team. For more tips on good communication, read this blog on communication.
As a Virtual Project Manager, I’ve learned to give lots of project details at the beginning to help my team understand the project goals and objectives early. Frequent communication during the project allows me to set goals and tasks, measure progress and receive input from the team to keep us on track. Being specific about time commitments is another thing that must be done early in order to manage the work flow, assign tasks and juggle team schedules in order to meet deadlines, client expectations, and project goals.
Trust is a big factor in managing my virtual team. I empower my team to do their best by giving them the necessary details and targets upfront, then trusting them to do what is needed or ask for help. I enjoy being the Project Manager of a virtual team. It is a learning experience to grow and improve from our challenges.
When managing a virtual team, here are my suggestions:
Help your team to understand project goals and objectives early, be specific about time and details, then trust the people who work with you. These tips may seem like no-brainers in the physical world, but they hold the utmost importance in the virtual world because you can’t walk into someone’s office to give them details on the project, tasks, or a little pep talk. All of these must be done virtually with great skill and care.
Tune in next month for more project tips.