Leadership and Management

How to Lead Your Virtual Team For Business Success

Remote work was on the rise even before the coronavirus pandemic. But it has now become the norm. Given the second wave of the pandemic, 99% of employees would prefer to work from home if given a choice.
Remote work is a reality of the future of work, and it’s something that all leaders must be prepared for in the post-pandemic world.
But as a leader, you must have discovered by now the unique challenges of leading a remote team.
What are the challenges of leading a remote team?
There are more challenges in managing a remote team because of infrequent face-to-face contact, various time zones, and technological differences.
There are more chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings in a remote work setup if one is not cognizant or has a remote work process in place. Building positive work relationships based on mutual trust and increasing motivation levels have also been reported by leaders as some challenging virtual team leadership areas. Observing individual performance, having accountability, and training has become more complex in a remote work setup.
The top challenging areas, as reported by leaders, are:
  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Engagement
  • Result-oriented meetings
  • Accountability
  • Training
The good news is that there are ways to overcome all the challenges and lead your virtual team with effectiveness. Hope this blog helps you. Let me share the details below about Crossover’s approach to managing virtual teams using the RAMP model.
What is Crossover’s RAMP Model?
The best leaders know the four key areas to focus on improving their team’s performance. It is also the basis of our model to improve your virtual team leadership.
At Crossover, we have a systematic, proven model to help leaders succeed in the virtual world. Let me share the details of the RAMP model in this article and how it can help improve your virtual team leadership skills.
The RAMP Model for Virtual Team identifies four major areas as shown below:
R – Relationships
The first step to virtual team success is building relationships based on mutual trust, conflict management, and enhanced collaboration. Our model helps all remote employees feel less isolated and more an integral part of the team by facilitating open communication across all organization levels. Communication is a focal point for collaboration for leaders to manage remote relationships.
A – Accountability
Even though many employees report improved productivity when they work from home, many leaders find it challenging to hold their virtual team accountable. The RAMP model helps leaders to set clear goals that are accessible and shareable. It ensures that all team members commit to and achieve them. There are provisions for self-scoring, improved evaluations, mentoring opportunities, etc.
M – Motivation
It isn’t easy to motivate the team without frequent face-to-face communication. The RAMP model defines how leaders can overcome these challenges, and inspire, influence, and engage every member of their team. Our model increases the visibility of all successful tasks and project completions, along with positive reviews and self-evaluation stories. It motivates your employees to look at failures as learning opportunities, keep trying, and celebrate every accomplishment – small and big successes. It further provides opportunities for rewards, recognitions, awards, feedback, and collaboration.
P – Process
The final aspect of the RAMP model is business processes. Leaders will need to establish clear processes that use technology effectively to foster relationships, hold team members accountable, and motivate individuals. The RAMP model helps your team adhere to your organization’s processes by providing virtual working protocols, enables you to measure compliance, respond quickly to divergence from the protocols, and review and modify the work policies and procedures.
How to use Crossover’s RAMP model to improve virtual team performance
The RAMP model can help you achieve virtual leadership success. It enables you to develop the right attributes, habits, processes, and culture to support remote work and collaboration. The model offers practical ways to help you to –
  • Build relationships
  • Keep your virtual team accountable
  • Motivate remote employees
  • Manage virtual processes
How to build virtual relationships
Building relationships takes time and requires mutual respect and trust to succeed. It can only happen by regular interactions, which are naturally conducive in a physical office setup over coffee and lunch breaks, fun sessions and meets, and simply catching up at each other’s desks.
Remote work makes such organic and informal interactions almost impossible. It’s why as a leader, you have to develop processes, habits, and culture that focuses on developing relationships in a remote work environment.
Some of the ways you can do this are to initiate and encourage fun virtual interactions such as virtual birthday parties, coffee breaks, and having non-work virtual meets. You can use video chatting to host informal sessions that feel more like in-person conversations. You can make calls to your team members to check on how they’re coping during the pandemic, and it doesn’t need to be work-related at all. You can encourage work collaborations among different team members and forums to express themselves, resolve conflicts, and connect.
How to develop accountability in your virtual team
It begins by setting clear expectations from each team member from the start. Involve your team members when you plan your projects, set expectations, goals, and deadlines. Also, as a leader, you can define your expectations not just in terms of numbers and results, and explain what good work means and looks like to you and how your team members can achieve it. It will help you and your team to be on the same page.
Then, you have to ensure that they make those commitments and set them up for success. You can develop a framework and context for success where your employees have more autonomy in accomplishing their goals. You can be a mentor and guide your team members towards success. Periodically check in on your team members and their progress on their tasks and goals.
It can be a challenge for any leader to observe each team member, keep up with their progress, and have visibility on how everyone is tackling their projects and accomplishing their tasks.
You can use Google Drive and software like Asana to share files, assign tasks, check the due dates, communicate, and track progress. You can make work visible by setting visualization boards, action plans, and meetings, so everyone in the team knows what they are doing.
How to motivate remote employees
Motivating your team members is the next step after building relationships and facilitating success. Encouraging your team members is about inspiring, influencing, and engaging them. It can be tricky in a remote work setup where there are frequent disruptions and distractions, with many employees reporting they feel isolated and struggle with unwinding after work. Making your employees feel positive, relaxed, and motivated during the pandemic work from home situation is not easy. But, there are ways you can motivate your employees, even in a virtual office setup. Below are some of them.
  • You can set an example by being upbeat about your job, projects, tasks, and goals. Positivity is infectious.
  • Make your team members’ realize how valuable their contribution is to the organization, and encourage them to take on more responsibility and effort in every task they undertake. You can enlighten them on how their work matters more than just business metrics and make them understand and see the purpose of why they are doing what they’re doing. It creates a sense of community, belonging, and improves productivity.
  • Encourage your employees to find the time to relax after work by reading a good book, watching a movie, listening to a song, TED talk, or spending time with loved ones.
  • You can provide regular feedback so they know how they’re performing and what they can do to improve their efficiency.
  • You can use video conferencing to communicate and connect with your employees to inspire and motivate them.
  • Empower your employees by giving them all the necessary tools and access to anything they need to succeed in their work.
How to manage virtual processes
Sharing information and decision-making is not the same virtually as in-person. It is more time-consuming and prone to misunderstandings, miscommunication, poor resource use, etc.
But managing remote work processes is crucial for success. The more your virtual team members understand the company’s processes for goal accomplishment, collaboration, information sharing, and communication, the better it is for the organization. Even if they miss one of these elements, it could mean your work is not done, there are no profits made, and goals are not accomplished.
As their leader, you can state the expectations at the outset and how your employees can meet those expectations. You can manage virtual processes by doing the following:
  • Develop an action plan where all your team members can access the same resources of tools and technology to achieve their goals in any given situation.
  • Create common communication and interaction methods, outlining which resource, tools, and platforms are used for which tasks – relationship building, conflict management, holding and summarizing meetings, etc.
  • Provide regular training on remote resources and the use of technology so that everyone can use them effectively to accomplish their tasks.
Final Thoughts
Virtual teams pose unique challenges for leaders who have to stay on top of management daily. Virtual leaders constantly look for new and meaningful ways to build team relationships, engage, keep them accountable, motivate team members, and manage processes seamlessly. It’s not easy but critical for business success.
The good news is that now you have Crossover’s RAMP model to help you lead your virtual teams with confidence. The RAMP model breaks down the remote work landscape and makes it easy for you to decipher and manage the various complex aspects. You can see what’s most important for success in a bird’s eye and how you can lead your team towards it.
With Crossover’s RAMP model in place in your organization, it will help you bridge the gap between working in an office and virtually by leveraging technology and adjusting behaviour to replicate the characteristics of face-to-face work culture in a physical office setup.
Our team can help your organization thrive during the pandemic. We can be your partner in the virtual work environment, helping you lead your team like you did in-person. Learn more about Crossover’s RAMP model for virtual teams by contacting us today.
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *