Team management is challenging in the context of a virtual workplace

By February 27, 2013
Business man drawing dots on a digital map of the world

Connectivity and cloud technologies have "virtualized" the workplace. But employees working remotely are having a hard time trusting their managers to maintain motivation and efficiency.

Connectivity and the growing number of cloud-based collaboration tools have made remote work much easier, at least on paper. Indeed, remote team management also comes with unique issues and challenges. A Forrester survey cites effective communication as the top concern for the managers of these remote teams, 49 percent of whom responded that this concerned them most about their work, as well as managing projects and deadlines successfully, selected by 43 percent of respondents. PI Worldwide’s whitepaper, “Managing the Challenges of the New Virtual Workforce,” highlights the complications that arise from the current 20 to 30 million people working from home at least one day per week. Significantly, trust is an issue for the employees that are embracing this development towards their managers.

Building manager trust with data-backed personality management

This new workplace structure raises concern among employees that despite more connectedness, managers may not be able to effectively develop and oversee teams effectively and efficiently. This system of distributed collaboration may occur over multiple time zones, countries and cultures, and the virtual workforce will require new skills in ensuring that remote-team management can compete with or even excel compared with local teams and non-virtual workforces. One trend that is being developed to address these needs is “personality management,” which hopes to assuage the key concerns of communicating effectively and creating consensus during decision making. Additional concerns include “difficulty in building a shared sense of purpose,” “low team cohesion and trust,” and “less satisfaction with the team experience.”

Behavior profiles can lead to better team performance and combat management concerns

The strategy behind personality management is based on discovering how team members behave naturally, and making decisions based on assessments that affect management processes. These decisions recognize the uniqueness of individuals, and include how to assign workflows, identify how to best communicate with them, and “gain insight into how to support, coach and motivate the team.” This more nuanced manner of interacting with team members is built to combat the concerns that employees have concerning management competency and connection to individuals, which hopefully will increase their trust in team leaders.

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