It is conference call time for a multinational headquartered in Paris. Professionals in three time zones get ready with their details and plug themselves in the conference. The first greeting starts with a small tease with the professionals in three time zones expressing three salutations – A good morning, another one good afternoon and the third one expressing a good evening. They break the ice with another banter stating how the time zones have been made irrelevant by technology. They then get into their engagements, discussing serious issues pertaining to the clients. This is no exception, but a rule in a globally connected ecosystem.
Virtual teams are the new realities of the business world. With physical geographies having been obsolete in terms of businesses being done, to succeed it is but important for every professional to understand the nuances of managing virtual teams across the globe.
Given below are some techniques to manage virtual team meetings effectively –
- Motivate people to engage in relaxed conversations
Being in different time zones and from seemingly different cultures, it is but important to break the ice before hitting the point. Motivate your team from across the world to engage in relaxed pleasantries if they are meeting for the first time so that the team is relaxed to share ideas and opinions with each other.
2. Encourage cultural sensitivity
As your teams move into virtual conversations across several locations, it is pertinent that each one of them attending the meet is sensitized to the cultures of the others who are participating in the discussion. Because it is virtual, it becomes more imperative than face to face meetings as to be sensitive to the diversity that each of the member brings to the table.
3. Describe work process
Each individual has his/her unique way of looking at tasks. In a virtual team, where time is a huge factor, it is important that you upfront describe the discussions and deliberations so that each one of the member is in the same page. Setting standardization in the deliberations will save a lot of time, which otherwise would be difficult.
4. Have clear and detailed deliverables
It saves a lot of energy and effort from either sides when you have an absolute clear and detailed deliverables to be discussed and concluded at the end of the meeting. Everyone, irrespective of the geographies loves to be a part of a professional culture which is focused and has a clear agenda to discuss and deliver.
5. Be meticulous in your approach
Remember that the most important aspect of a virtual team is how you effectively communicate with each other. Hence, it is important that you become a great team player across the board. Make sure you listen intently and ask questions rather than forcing your opinions on others. Also, it would be great if you could call people by their names and get everyone to contribute their ideas to the discussion. Speak slow and use short sentences so that everyone understands clearly what you are saying. State what seems obvious to you because if you assume that people across geographies understand a few things without saying, you would end up in a position to call for the next meeting…albeit the same agenda!