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Ghislane Caulat was an 15 manager for many years at Daimler and Beiersdorf. Since 2003, she has been researching in the field of Virtual Leadership.

10 Tips to guide virtual teams: face to face or virtually communicate?

In the course of globalization, virtual work has become almost self-evident in everyday work. However, many managers still believe that virtual communication is the second best way to go. But is face-to-face communication really always the best way? system network

New leadership concepts are necessary

In order to achieve the best possible results in the virtual world of work, managers have to develop leadership concepts and rethink their existing management habits.

“Virtual” leadership is a new discipline that differs from traditional leadership strategies. If managers learn to use the digital opportunities effectively, they will become better managers in all areas.

The top 10 of communication in virtual teams

Managers should therefore consider the following 10 top tips to get the most out of their virtual teams.

  1. Remember: In virtual space, many areas are reinforced: In virtual meetings, the participants listen to the manager more intensively than is often the case in face-to-face communication. Weaknesses in the arguments are perceived by other participants much faster. Managers must therefore develop a strong level of self-confidence and learn how to control their emotions, react to situations and express themselves verbally.
  2. Listen carefully: Most managers are trained to pay attention to the body language of their counterpart and to take visual stimuli into account. This does not apply in virtual space. In order to be successful here, managers have to listen more carefully and have a “seventh Sense”To connect with your employees.
  3. Create a common virtual space: Each individual participant should be connected electronically to the others. A mix between virtual and other participants, for example placed around a microphone, does not work.
  4. The right working environment is important: Participants should be alone and undisturbed in a quiet room - not in a large office, an airport lounge or on the train. All participants should wear a headset that covers both ears. Telephone connections are preferable to Internet-based connections because they provide better sound quality and are more common. Participants should log 10 minutes before the start of the meeting so that technical problems can be solved in time.
  5. Consider the different time zones: Appointments should be planned in such a way that the employees can participate in the virtual meetings at humane times. If this is not always possible, the dates should be adapted to the needs of the participants. Thus, the same person does not always have to attend the virtual meetings at an unpleasant time, such as the 3 clock.
  6. Plan enough time: Schedule a time buffer before the meeting that will allow you and the attendees to prepare. At the beginning of the meeting, take the time to get used to it instead of going to the job. End the meeting by allowing the attendees to leave and ask if anyone has something to add before signing out - similar to a virtual handshake.
  7. Plan the course of the meeting: Think carefully about what the participants should have read and prepared before the meeting. Send the agenda in advance to all participants and ask for their feedback. When you use presentations, they prepare not only content-related slides but also process-specific slides.
  8. Help the participants to focus: A “concentration exercise” at the beginning of the meeting can allow participants to mentally complete the topic that they have previously dealt with in order to be fully involved.
  9. Learn to deal with silence: Most people feel uncomfortable when it is quiet and try to break through by repeating the information. Silence does not mean that people are absent. As a rule, they think about the task and think about how to respond. Give them the time to think in peace.
  10. Build relationships and maintain them: Relationships are the cornerstone of virtual leadership. Managers should spend a certain amount of time dealing with each and every team member. There are good experiences with concepts such as the “virtual coffee corners”. These are meetings without agenda to which people are invited to meet virtually and to discuss things that are currently on their minds.

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