If your boss invites you to a spontaneous one on one meeting in a disused warehouse you may want to consider moving on, before he does it for you! In all seriousness, part of successfully managing virtual teams is arranging regular one on one meetings with each of your staff members.
I’ve said it before, that it’s just not as easy to see what’s going on in someone’s life when there’s no water cooler or office coffee machine for you all to gather around. That means, as a manager, you have to go to greater lengths to make these meetings happen and arranging regular one on ones with staff is an irreplaceable part of effective remote team management.
The best managers know their team well and that is a truth that spans the spectrum from sporting team managers to business managers. Over a coffee in the office it’s easy to ask someone how their day has been, what they’re working on and how their son’s 5th birthday party went, but when someone’s sitting on the other side of the world you have to make more of an effort.
But it’s an effort that’s worth it because, without knowing your team members personally, you will never have the bond you need to get the synergy between you going. Both parties benefit from a closer relationship because people work best for other people, not nameless, faceless identities, making their work experience more pleasurable and their productivity better too. If someone’s got a personal problem, after all, it nearly always begins to affect their work, so helping that person wherever possible will result in a better outcome for everybody.
One on one meetings are a great way to do find out more about your virtual teams individually. You can schedule these weekly with the project managers, who can then also conduct weekly one on ones with the staff they are supervising, so the time and workload is spread.
Also, however, if you don’t have such a large team, it’s worth making sure you have a 30-minute sit down with each of your staff members once every few weeks or so. Some managers baulk at this because of the time element, afraid that it’s time wasted that could be better spent on more profitable things.
The truth is, however, that one on ones can end up saving time as many people who would otherwise bombard you daily with the “little” issues that crop up, will end up saving them all up for their one on one session which they know is coming up. This way the little things can be dealt with en masse rather than eating into parts of every day.
The structure of a 30-minute one on one should be a combination of time for them to air their thoughts and feelings and for you to do the same; then 5 minutes or so at the end to see where you can aid their growth as an employee or with their personal goals as well as to go over any questions your staff may have for you.
An honest and open interchange may be a little awkward at first but, over time, trust will increase and hopefully you can spend the time getting to know each other better and raising any concerns frankly.
There is much more to learn about one on ones for managing virtual teams so if you want to know more check out our Facebook page at Facebook.com/SEOMastermind.