Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

Communicating Virtually or Virtually Communicating?

It's all about your connections.
Managing teams is always a challenge; learning different personalities, maintaining communication, and dealing with conflict, are just a few things you have to learn. Today, with more and more of us working virtually it’s more important than ever to understand team dynamics.

Prior to becoming a Virtual Assistant (a job I LOVE!!), I managed a team located in the US, China, Japan and the UK. I have to be honest, at the time, I really didn’t think about it being such a big deal, we had email, web and video conferencing, and the telephone, of course, so how could this be an issue? Boy was I in for a surprise! You really need to work at developing a good relationship; here are some things I learned:

1. Time zones CAN be your friend! When people in Asia were going to bed I was just getting up. So, how do you have team meetings without inconveniencing one person all the time? COMPROMISE! That’s it – it’s that simple. We all took turns either staying up late or getting up early. That’s what being a team is all about – consideration for the other members. Plus, you get round the clock customer service – how great is that?!

2. Scheduled meetings are a must – regularly scheduled meetings even if there is no “formal” agenda are KEY! A meeting without an agenda – what a waste of time! Nope, not for team building. Even if the meeting is just a brief check-in to share successes or problems from the week – it’s worth having. These were some of our best meetings. Asia staff would share a new partnership they created, which would spark the UK or US staff to think of similar partnerships. Conversely, if a staff person was having a problem they could look to the team for a solution.

3. Learn about each other. It’s not enough to talk about work. Developing a solid team is also about learning about one another outside of work, especially when you work with a cross-cultural team. It was so interesting to learn about different holidays, hear how weddings were celebrated and talk about our favorite foods. As time went on, we would often send each other small gifts of food – yes chocolate was loved by all – especially UK chocolate (YUMMY!!) but no, I never did develop a taste for the beans they eat in China for breakfast.

4. Celebrate shared successes – My team was responsible for a large project goal so every Friday I sent an email with the results that detailed each individual members’ contributions for the week. This email went to management so everyone loved the “Atta Boys” the email contained. There was always some success to share, no matter how big or small.

In today’s world, it’s so easy to stay in touch, which makes working with a virtual assistant easier than ever. With email, instant messaging, Skype and tons of other free tools readily available incorporating a virtual assistant, or other virtual worker like a web designer or project manager into your existing team becomes such an easy process, you’ll wonder why you haven’t considered it before. Now, don’t you have a Skype meeting to schedule or a virtual assistant to contact?

photo credit: josh.liba

Posted on June 3rd, 2010 by Jennifer Gallagher, General Manager

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