Because of globalization and business projects that often span across the country or across the globe, coaching virtual teams can bring its own set of challenges. Here are some guidelines for effectively coaching a virtual team:
1. Develop a common focus or purpose that aligns with the organizational goals. This includes clarifying tasks, processes and milestones to ensure team and individual accountability.
2. Create a unique identity for the entire team such as a special name for the team, a logo, or a Facebook page that defines the overall team purpose.
3. Establish communication guidelines for the team. Be clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate given the dispersed locations of team members. For instance, holding team meetings at the same day and time each week provide some structure for all team members.
4. Establish frequent individual connections with each of your team members to show your engagement and involvement with them as individuals. This could include using Facetime or Skype to communicate with them.
5. Provide constructive feedback both to individuals and the team through regular virtual coaching sessions. Holding regular virtual team building exercises keeps the team engaged and helps to create a productive and fun environment.
6. Clarify and track individual and team commitments through project management software like Basecamp, Work Zone and Wrike , so everyone on the team can see how their efforts link with the rest of the overall project.
7. Be available after regular business hours for questions or concerns. Different time zones make this critically important.
Remember, coaching virtual teams brings both challenges and opportunities to connect in different ways. Effective coaches understand that frequent communication is critical to the success of the team and its goals.
Learning Dynamics’ popular “Managing Virtual Teams’ webinar expands upon these topics.