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How to manage virtual employees?

Why hire and manage virtual employees in your organization?

To effectively manage employee????????s in a virtual environment it becomes critical to understand traditional management as well as barriers to communication in order to overcome these hurdles. Managers can expect difficulties when working with virtual employees due to time zone differences, cultural differences, and technical difficulties. These may seem cumbersome when one is not familiar with managing these systems, but the benefits derived far outweigh the complications. These benefits include reduced real estate expenses, increased productivity, access to global markets, lessened environmental impacts, increased employee engagement, better knowledge transfers, and corporate flexibility in terms of team assembly. While many people understand why it makes sense to hire and manage virtual employees, many business owners don’t fully understand how to manage virtual employees.

 

As a Manager, how do you handle virtual employees?

To prevent the common problems faced with virtual employee management, managers must be explicit about expectations and objectives for their goals and tasks. Being clear and precise with your expectations prevents misunderstandings when working with an employee who may not speak English as a first language and whose morning may be your midnight. It also becomes necessary to establish comprehensive milestone deliverables and communication channels for feedback on unclear role guidance to foster an effective working relationship without the need for face-to-face communication. The manager must also monitor all members for changes in objectives, goals, and tasks to keep the team updated on expectations and deadlines. The lack of which would ostensibly leave the team ???????in-the-dark???????? as they are all separated by time, geography, and culture. From an employee standpoint, a trust relationship must be generated with the manager. Trust is something that takes a lifetime to build and a second to break so nurturing its continued growth is critical for a successful team. I believe that even if every other aspect of the virtual team is correct, it still takes individual initiative to garner that trust relationship. Additionally, the best method for overcoming cultural barriers is simply understanding that it will be different, and that different isn????????t a bad thing. All of this can be mediated with good, continued communication practices. Due to the nature of communication in a virtual environment virtual teams may miss non-verbal communications completely so accurate feedback is very important.

 

Manager Key’s to success:

  • explicit expectations of your virtual employees
  • speak simply and plainly
  • Setup feedback channels
  • garner a trust relationship
  • keep the team up-to-date on all changes

 

Virtual Management Tools

As a manager in a virtual environment you have many electronic resources and software to ensure effective performance. Knowledge management technologies such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Electronic Mail (e-mail), video conferencing, telecommunications, and groupware are all designed to make the sharing of information between two (possibly vastly different) parties possible with relative ease. As well, key performance indicators (KPI????????s) also allow insight into team and individual performance. A good manager will align himself with these technologies and utilize them to manage a virtual team. As a business owner your main priority is corporate success so contact us today and find out what technologies are available to better manage your virtual employees.

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