Most of the modern organizations suffer from the pandemic of low motivation and the level gets worse off, if you are in a virtual team. Virtual team leaders face substantial challenges when it comes to motivating from a distance. Lets look at the top challenge manager’s face when they have to keep the virtual team motivated and what you can do about it.

Having a compelling vision

Research proves that having a compelling vision is the precursor to keeping the team motivated. Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001 says “ Good business leaders create vision, articulate the vision, passionately own it and drive it to completion.” The team leader has to vividly convey the team’s ultimate purpose so that it motivates the team members.

Given that we have evolved in face-to-face social situations, non-verbal cues may be irreplaceable sources of motivation.  To connect the dots, it is of little surprise that the emoticons don’t convey the richness of real smiles. A big challenge for the virtual team leader is to convey the inspiration without having the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting.  In transcribing a passionate speech into an email, a lot may get lost in translation. The difference is due to the communication mediums richness, which is the capacity of the medium to provide immediate feedback, convey cues and transmit personalize messages. The experts opine that in case you are leading a virtual team, its best to use richer mediums of communication like video conference or telepresence to set the vision for the team, its unrealistic to expect team inspiration to result from a list measurable objectives send via an email.

Manage divergent goals

Goal setting is a time tested tool for motivating the team members, typically a leader is bestowed with the responsibility of developing the teams overall goals and conveying it to all the members. Thereafter the task of the leader is to ensure the team member’s individual goals are tied to the team’s goals. Research states that goal setting works when goals are clear, challenging, consequential and regular feedback on the performance is provided to the team members.

In comparison to face-to-face teams, virtual team members are more likely to be involved in multiple projects and teams, this at times them in a tight spot to balance potentially competing assignments. This could result in ambiguity, stress and loss of commitment to the assigned tasks. Therefore In a virtual team having clearly defined goals leads to higher commitments levels of the team, in fact the impact on team commitment and cohesiveness is higher than the face-to-face teams.  As a team leader while setting goals for your team members who are virtual, pay special attention to their individualized requirement by appreciating their additional responsibilities outside your teams domain. This can be accomplished by having individual chat sessions at start up and at regular intervals thereafter.

On time feedback

On time feedback allows an employee to adjust his/ her behavior to progress towards goal accomplishment. Spontaneous face-to-face encounters also provide an opportunity for conveying unofficial feedback; these unplanned opportunities to observe and interact go missing in a virtual working environment. To compensate for this, additional planned feedback sessions must be put in place. Remember to start the feedback session, with brief non- work related discussion, followed by acknowledging the positive aspects of the person, before giving constructive feedback. This will ensure that you establish an open and trustworthy atmosphere for the feedback session, which is being done virtually.

To be a great manager you need to overcome the challenges experienced by the virtual team, you can do this by providing a compelling vision, clear goals and timely feedback to your team members who are working remotely.

Jappreet Sethi

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