Five Tips for Motivating Virtual Teams

    During a 2010 survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 43 percent of HR professionals believe a larger portion of their work force will be telecommuting within the next five years. As a rapidly growing and global trend, telecommuting — a work arrangement in which employees do not meet at a central location — can pose new challenges in employee engagement and motivation. In order to help leaders engage remote employees and overcome potential time and geographical constraints, The Vaya Group, a talent management consultancy, recently released its top tips for motivating virtual teams.

    “As more companies expand globally, telecommuting is becoming a common work arrangement for many employees,” said Dr. Paul Eccher, Ph.D., author and co-founder and principal of The Vaya Group. “However, just because these workers are out of sight does not mean they should be kept out of the loop. Leaders must learn how to effectively manage virtual teams in order to improve the bottom line and sustain talent over time.”

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    Click through five tips to help build strong virtual teams, as identified by The Vaya Group, a talent management consultancy.

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    Getting to know team members is critical, even when face-to-face interaction is limited. Take time to learn about each worker’s career aspirations, strengths, development gaps and style.

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    Recognition is a powerful driver for keeping employees engaged in their work. Consider creating a team newsletter that highlights individual efforts or host yearly award banquets over the Web. For both personal and professional milestones, send employees customized gifts, whether it’s a gift card, flower arrangement or gift basket.

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    Frequent phone or video conferences with employees will allow you to present new assignments that align with their interests and strengths. Remember to use these or separate conversations as a way to gather feedback. Listening provides an opportunity to learn more about remote workers and ways their work experience can be improved.

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    Allowing work teams to engage across distances can lead to higher career satisfaction and sense of belonging. Go beyond email to develop an interactive team intranet that allows individuals to share ideas, post accomplishments and ask questions. Utilize Web conferencing, Web cameras and other virtual systems that permit more real-time conversations.

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    Schedule face-to-face team kick-off meetings and regularly scheduled subsequent live meetings. These face-to-face meetings can be incorporated with team-building exercises to give staff additional opportunities to develop a personal connection and build camaraderie. If meetings are infrequent, create virtual team-building games, such as having everyone send in little-known facts, then displaying it for the group to guess who it describes.

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