However, despite the endless advantages that virtual teams can provide, its management is still a huge challenge. Even though we have a lot of technological tools that make it easy for us to work in such an environment, there still are some difficulties, especially regarding team member motivation. Evidently, as the team gets bigger, and as more cultural diversity is involved, it is much more complex to motivate the team members. Nevertheless, it is possible to define a series of tips to help you motivate your team, no matter which particular characteristics it has.
‘Personalize’ your team
Do not underestimate the power of an image. If it is possible for you to have a face-to-face meeting with your whole team, do it. If not, try to introduce every team member to each other, using pictures. It will help to diminish uncertainty and will eliminate the sensation of a non-human team.
Maximize the use of instant messaging tools
Make an efficient and effective use of instant messaging tools. Even though it looks like a simple tool, instant messaging could bring you a lot of benefits, providing a bigger sense of availability and collaboration, facilitating the creation of camaraderie, and contributing to a significant reduction in stress levels, due to a less formal and more spontaneous communication.
Take your time to know your team
Whether through conversations, surveys, personality assessments, or any other tool, try to know each of your team members a little bit more. Show a genuine interest in their well-being, and share every-day-life stories with them. This will make them feel appreciated, and will make your team stronger.
Send them an inspiring message once in a while
We all know that a project has a lot of stressful moments, such as a conflict between two team members, or a disagreement with the client. After those moments, people need to hear an inspiring word to return to a relaxed and stress-free state. Look for an inspiring message to send to them; it could be a prayer, a motivational phrase or movie, or even a joke. You will see how a simple action like this can boost morale and, of course, can have positive impacts on productivity.
To effectively manage a virtual team, a Project Manager must make an extensive use of her soft skills. An adequate use of those skills, in conjunction with a project management process adapted to the project’s needs, will help the team achieve the project objectives. But most importantly, it will help them create a sense of how a real team should be.