Distributed teams are composed of members all scattered from each other operating from different parts of the world. Distributed team members rarely see each other since nobody is in the same geographical location.
What makes distributed teams different is the advantage of getting to work with high ROI individuals from across the globe. And considering the work from home culture is here to stay, it is best to jump on the bandwagon to reap its benefits.
As appealing as it may sound, managing distributed teams come with its own set of challenges. Out of sight can quickly become out of mind if not effectively managed. But if you do a little research, you’ll come to realize that the benefits of adapting your organization to accommodate distributed teams far outweigh the risks. We have compiled a list of ways to smoothly manage distributed teams for optimum results:
Set clear standards and expectations:
This is the very first step to successful distributed team management. Establish clear standards and communicate them to your teams. This helps in clarifying roles and responsibilities for each team member. Setting expectations for your team can initially be uncomfortable, but once you learn to do it many management problems will automatically be resolved.
For instance, some team members may consider delivering high quality results as their priority, while others may consider meeting the delivery deadline more important. Both may be right in certain scenarios but it may vary as per the project and the client requirements. In such situations, setting expectations right with your distributed team helps set common grounds and prevents build up of confusion or frustration amongst team members.
Make use of the right tools:
It is impossible to successfully manage distributed teams without having access to the right tools. This includes tools for communication like video-conferencing and instant messaging, tools for sharing data in order to exchange confidential information, time management tools for tracking work done by employees and project management tools for effective scheduling of tasks.
For seamless communication and engagement amongst team members, having the necessary softwares is crucial. The Learning Management System (LMS) most companies use for executing their virtual training come loaded with all the above mentioned tools. For instance, let’s look at the Absorb LMS. Apart from providing eLearning, it enables employees to communicate/collaborate and managers to track/manage without having to rely on external softwares. This makes the Absorb LMS pricing model highly economical.
Focus on results, not hours:
Not being able to physically see team members working can make managers believe the myth that it’s hard to control results from remote employees. Since distributed team members are working from different time zones, team managers need to let go of their fear that they are not being productive. Imposing fixed working hours does not guarantee results. Shift your focus from hours to the daily deliverables and project deadlines.
It can be a challenging task for managers to change their mindset about the measure of efficiency while managing distributed teams. But it is actually counter-productive to frequently ask progress reports in order to ensure employees are busy every minute of their work hours. This can end up doing more harm than good as team members may feel they’re not being trusted to accomplish their work.
In order to have a truly productive distributed team, you need to start things at the right foot by hiring the right individuals. Make sure the onboarding program is effective in communicating your company policies to familiarize them with your work culture. The best part about having a distributed team with members working across different time zones is that you can have someone or the else working on your project all the time. You just need to smartly plan and allocate the tasks to take advantage of the situation.