While today's technologically savvy demographic may assume that virtual communication is an easy task to pull off, that is not always the case. Especially when it comes to virtual management in the workplace, which has become increasingly popular.
Since no two company cultures are the same, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to pulling this off, but the following four tips can help manage the process:
Technology. It's important to spend a significant amount of time selecting the right technologies, because these capabilities are what make this entire process possible. There are many platforms to help virtually manage so study a wide variety, make a list of everything that needs to be accomplished with the technology, and then narrow it down to what works best for the company. Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts are among the popular options. Also, draft a list of possible hurdles with each technology, and note if they are things that can be fixed or worked through. The key in choosing the right platform is to streamline processes so that the manager can successfully collaborate, manage, and communicate remotely with both their team and upper management.
Communication. Managers should consider taking business writing and communication courses before the role begins. By learning and practicing concise and direct written and oral communication, tasks will be completed more quickly with fewer questions and back-and-forth.
Goals. Setting daily deadlines may work for some, but to be more efficient, set time-specific deadlines and then follow up with a phone call after. If a manager assigns a project to be completed at 3pm, managers should follow up right after via phone or video and run through the progress. It's important that managers set task reminders to follow up because if they forget, employees won't take the deadlines seriously. Also, try to have the follow-up recap live rather than via email to be sure all obstacles are discussed.
Reachability. Managers should be prepared to be on call at various hours of the day. Some may already have that work dynamic, but for others, it might be an adjustment. This especially becomes more prevalent when there are different time zones between a manger and their team, which is why flexibility is critical. Managers need to be okay with sacrificing a work-life balance, if it's something they were previously used to having.
This article is part of ICIC's Icons of Industry Growth series, highlighting the fastest-growing businesses located in America's inner cities. Small business owners are invited to join these successful entrepreneurs in Boston on October 15-16th at the Inner City 100 Symposium, a premier management education and networking event featuring leading CEOs and Harvard Business School faculty. Learn more here.
ICIC is the national outreach and selection partner for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.