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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Communicating More Effectively With Your Virtual Team | Follow My Voice

Communicating More Effectively With Your Virtual Team

Robert Redman here. I’m a virtual team manager, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to be an office plug. I would commute to work everyday, gobble lunch with my colleagues, attend face-to-face meetings, and if I had a question or an issue that needed to be clarified, I’d stand up from my desk, saunter down the hall and talk with my boss or a colleague
Working in a physical office and interacting face-to-face with my colleagues was great; it was very social, which made our communication strong and intimate.
This is not necessarily the case for virtual workers—where communication breakdowns and mishaps are quite common. That’s why today, we’ll discuss a few tips that I learned along the way on how to communicate more effectively with your virtual team. Let’s explore those now, shall we?
1. Communicate clearly and coherently: 
Although you may have the technology, e.g. webcams, which allows you to see another person as you’re talking with them, communicating virtually can lead to communication mishaps between virtual workers.
This has happened to me numerous times. When I first started working virtually, some of my emails and messages to certain team members were unclear and, thus, were misinterpreted. Then it got worse—those teammates would take what I had said and relay it to the rest of the team. This created a whirlwind of confusion that could have been avoided had I just focused on sharing my information clearly.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Remember: for virtual workers, it’s even more important to concentrate on communication. I made a point to communicate clearly with my team at all times, and I think that if you do the same, it will save you a slew of future headaches and wasted energy. For example, If I’m having a one on one conversation with Samia, I would ask her to paraphrase what we’d gone over. After she relays to me what she heard, I would correct anything she had misinterpreted to ensure that our communication is clear. This ensures that Samia fully understands what we’ve just discussed.
Remember: Clear communication is key! Now, let’s move on to tip 2.
2. Keep it compact:
Most of us just skim through emails—after all, we get so many each day, Show consideration for your reader and keep your emails brief. Stick to one idea per email, and put any calls for action right at the front. Use a “no scrolling rule.” If a reader has to scroll down to read an email, it’s too long.
3. Communicate frequently:
I find that when a team member and I, say, Samia, are frequently talking and updating each other, we’re usually on the same page. And being on the same page increases our chances of completing a task successfully. But whenever Samia and I stop communicating our progress suffers a little. That’s why I’ve learned to emphasize the need for my team to communicate often and, of course, between meetings.
That’s all I want to share with you today. To recap, we discussed that communicating in a virtual setting is often harder than doing so in a traditional office setting. That’s why it’s important to really focus on and foster communication between you and your team. Remember: successful virtual teams are ones that communicate clearly, compactly, and frequently. 
Do you agree with these three tips? What are some that you might add to the list? Feel free to share your thoughts/ advice in the comments below!

Communicating More Effectively With Your Virtual Team | Follow My Voice

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