In part 1 I explored how selecting the right employees was one of the key factors in managing a geographically dispersed team. In this part I will dig a little further into what it takes to successfully manage teams that need to work together even though they may be across the country or across the globe through communications.
One of the most critical elements to team dynamics is communication. If you don’t have a constant flow of communication between team members your projects will suffer greatly either by missing deadlines or failing entirely. The bullet points below will help show you how to establish communication between team members.
Designate One Remote Employee as the Key Communicator
By selecting a team communicator you can filter all communications to report back to your home office. Depending on your team dynamic this method will prove effective if you have a team that breaks apart once they have to relay something to you. For example, you may have the brightest software developers working remotely but if they don’t know how to translate their technical jargon into effective communication to you or your home office developers you may have issues figuring out their progress. Whereas a designated team communicator that can relay deep technical jargon into high level bullet points that simplify the developer’s comments into meaningful communication you won’t have to waste time trying to figure out what is being conveyed.
Schedule Weekly Video Teleconferences
With technology such as voice over IP (VoIP) telephony you can quickly and cheaply keep in constant touch with your outsourced workforce. If you don’t already have VoIP you can use free VoIP services such as Skype for small inexpensive video conference calls to your desktop or mobile phone. You can schedule weekly meetings with your remote team communicator or with the entire team to go over important updates, issues, and progress of your projects to ensure they are on time and within budget.
It’s All in the Body Language
Email communications are great for quick responses but for major discussions a video conference expresses your body language in a way that email cannot. Your tone and body language brings emotion and brings a closer connection between you and your dispersed teams. When possible host a face to face meeting. If you can, try to visit your teams for a face to face meeting at least semi-annually if not annually If you have long term projects lasting a year or more, showing your face on the ground will have more of an impact than you may think. By visiting your teams you are instilling trust and belief that their work does matter and they are important to your company.
Managing dispersed teams can be easy as long as you take the time to find out the true dynamics of your teams. If everyone works well with each other and can collaborate without personalities getting in the way then you have succeeded in hiring the right individuals you can depend on to get the job done. Video conferences and face to face meetings make your employees feel more like a person and less like a warm body filling a position.