We will be going into detail about one of the elements of virtual engagement. The element that will be focused on is communication.

With the constant bombardment in the media about the global movement of transitioning businesses or a part of businesses virtual, you might be wondering what is next. Well, the next step is to effectively manage your virtual team. The most crucial aspect of managing your virtual team is to ensure that your team is engaged.

Psychologist Tom McDonald stresses the need for engagement and thinking out of the box in an article in Successful Meetings. “Ironic as it may seem, virtual teamwork starts with a high emphasis on individual responsibility, rather than on group thinking,” McDonald argues. “Team members are very clear about what their individual jobs are, and, frankly, want to be left alone to do them. Achievement is uppermost in their minds. They take their jobs seriously and expect each team member to do the same.”

This type of behavior creates a pitfall for disengagement among team members where they start to only do what is told to them and nothing beyond expectations. However, this issue has exponential ramifications on a virtual level.

What is virtual engagement? If you were to ask that question to a sample group of ten, I assure you that each response will be completely different from one another. However, if this were to be asked to a group of IT members, the response would likely be vastly different to a team of HR professionals. There are many elements that affect engagement including accountability and trust, employee and manager relationships, the opportunity for growth, the nature of the job itself, the company size and pride, and communication. Keep in mind that these are only a few factors that affect engagement. Let’s focus and concentrate on communication. At the virtual level, communication becomes even more of a crucial matter to handle due to the fact that all projects, deadlines, schedules and tasks requires constant and effective communication. There are three essential aspects of effective communication. They are:

1)Clarification: This is one of the biggest issues that people are facing. When you assume that you know what a person is saying, even if you know them well, it can create misunderstandings which can lead into major problems in the future. You can avoid these issues by repeating what someone had just said in order to clarify the message that they were trying to convey. This eliminates confusion among the team as well as clearly defining the objectives for the team members. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

2)Feedback: Giving open and honest feedback to each team member is important. This allows each member to share their opinion. It engages each member by making them feel as if they are contributing and that their input is making a difference. This will in turn bridge that geographical gap between your virtual team members and it could potentially solve any rising issues before they occur.

3)Building Trust: Contractual trust is the stepping stone to a successful and long-term team. Fundamentally, contractual trust is doing what you say you will do. You need to honor your agreements, delegate appropriately, and maintain expectations. This type of trust enables the birth of a well-synchronized virtual team by building a comfortable atmosphere where your co-workers become both your teammates and friends.

With these aspects taken into consideration, it becomes crucial to follow these guidelines to successful communication. With successful communication, engaging your virtual team is naturally simpler to accomplish. Think of a company, team or even organization as a living organism, where each member operates and contributes to function as one. However, the whole organism is only as strong and effective as its weakest component. Effective communication will engage each member and strengthen the organism as a whole.

Claire Sookman is a professional speaker and trainer on Virtual Teams. Virtual Team Builders specializes in helping geographically dispersed teams reach their maximum potential through training, coaching and consulting.To find out how your company can survive and grow in this new economy please contact Claire Sookman at 1-866-497-7749 or csookman@virtualteambuilders.com or visit our website at www.virtualteambuilders.com.
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