With the coronavirus quickly changing our work environments, many employers are conducting business virtually. If you are a new project manager or a project manager with limited experience with virtual teams, you may be asking yourself, “How am I going to quickly transition from managing projects in person with my team, to managing them remotely?!”
Thankfully, there are several ways you and your team can meet goals remotely with a stellar success rate. Here are five tips for managing your teams virtually and keeping your projects on track, from the first brainstorming session to the endgame.
- SET THE EXAMPLE.
As a leader, your team is going to be looking to you to see how you are handling every aspect of the situation. If a leader complains about the change of lifestyle they are having to make, the team is likely to have a similar mindset. However, if a leader makes the most of the situation by encouraging their teammates, and remaining approachable and available even remotely, then the team is likely to keep a similar mindset.
You can also set an example by creating a healthy work-life balance that is often blurred when working from home. Reiterate to employees that, while projects are important, you need to pace yourself throughout the workday. Make sure that they have a designated space in their home, that isn’t their bed, where they can proactively get work done.
- ALIGN YOUR TEAM.
The current situation is unprecedented and unpredictable, but something about knowing a team is all in it together brings hope and comfort. Build rapport by reinforcing the mission behind certain projects and what you are trying to accomplish. Also, emphasize the objective of your company even amidst uncertainty; don’t let your team lose sight of the importance of what they are doing.
- COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS CLEARLY.
Timely and clear communication is going to be a major key in managing teams remotely. You are going to have to trust your employees to discipline themselves and complete projects, which can be difficult for those who are hands-on leaders. One way to communicate expectations for projects is to develop a clearly defined remote work policy. You will want to cover topics such as workflow, proper methods for interaction with teammates, and your defined best practices. There are even several free templates available on the web that will guide you through creating airtight policies for remote work and flexible schedules.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY.
The importance of using PM tools to track the status of your projects and report analytics cannot be underestimated. This list of 51 best project management tools from our friends at ProofHub gives you a variety of tools your team can use that are cloud-based, giving your team the ability to manage tasks across multiple projects. There are even systems mentioned on the list (for example, Wrike and Monday) that offer apps your team can download to their mobile devices, which takes the idea of mobility to the next level. Regardless, staying on top of your projects is more important than ever, so find the best fit that allows your team to track, collaborate, and meet goals for your organization!
- VIRTUAL FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION IS YOUR FRIEND.
While your reason for working remote is to limit in-person contact and prevent disease from spreading, there are several important reasons you should prioritize virtual face-to-face interaction with your team members. Working in isolation can cause team members to feel disconnected from the company, which is exactly what you do NOT want. (Google conducted a study showing the importance of working together, even when not together). Setting aside team meetings at least twice a week creates an environment of participation, allows team members to share thoughts and ideas easily, and can increase productivity within your team as employees engage in discussion. Take a look at some of the most popular video-conferencing software, such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Cisco Webex. There are many options, both paid and free, out there, so we encourage you to find the best fit that will allow you and your team to manage projects well.
Times may be uncertain, but your project management certainly doesn’t have to be. We hope that these tips help you and your team members build camaraderie and connect with ease.