Qualities You Need To Look For In Your Virtual Team Members

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Qualities You Need To Look For In Your Virtual Team Members

By Mainak Biswas August 20, 2014 - 1,140 views
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There are a number of challenges that clients encounter while hiring remote workers and virtual team members. In order to avoid problems in the future, you might want to look for some important qualities among possible recruits. Before that, let us take a look at common problems that clients encounter when dealing with virtual team members.

  1. Incomprehensible communicationCommunication is a major challenge among global virtual teams. People belonging to different cultures have their own way of communication. Since most of the interaction is devoid of face-to-face contact, team members often miss out non-verbal cues like body language, voice tone and facial expressions.

    Emotions are completely cut-off from the day-to-day interaction and people react mostly on the basis of electronic messages passed between one another. Moreover, time zone differences make it difficult for the members to conduct frequent video conferences.

  2. Recording every task onlineSince there is no common office place for the team members, every task they perform has to be updated in the online directory. Whether it is critical or not, the tasks have to be recorded online on a daily basis for the perusal of the managers. Such data-filling tasks consume extra time and discourage the team members. Though, much of it depends upon collaboration potential of the team using effective collaboration tools.
  3. Tracking and improving WIPTracking the work-in-progress of individual team members is crucial for the team leaders to establish their performance level. Setting up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and measuring them becomes challenging with increasing complexities of the project. Since, the team members are working in aloof environment, straight-forward and cold feedbacks from managers are quite discouraging for them & their KPIs suffer.
  4. Lack of social interactionVirtual team members work in solitude. So, they miss out on office chit chats and friendships. They have limited networking opportunities due to which they feel insecure of their growth prospects. There is no one to celebrate their professional success or motivate them in their downturn. Though there are social media tools incorporated by the companies to encourage casual interaction among the employees but nothing can fulfill the emotional satisfaction generated by face-to-face contact.

There are many companies that hire employees who can work from the comfort of their home but considering these inevitable challenges, virtual team members need to have certain qualities that make them fit to work in a virtual environment.

Qualities desired in a virtual team member

  1. Self-motivationSelf-motivation is the most important trait required in a virtual team member working from home. Their performance, ability to meet deadlines and productivity are all dependent on their motivation levels. Usually, in an office environment, people discuss their personal and work-related issues with their colleagues.

    This gives them some kind of emotional relief so that they can focus on their work. But there is no such case in a virtual environment. Though work-related issues are addressed from time-to-time by virtual team leaders, nobody brings up their personal issues.

  2. Well-equipped and thorough with technologyMost of the time, small companies set a criterion for selecting virtual candidates to be well-equipped with the required hardware and software. In exceptional cases, companies set-up a home office for their virtual employees. In any case, you are required to be thorough with the online technology that helps you to collaborate and communicate effectively with the group.

    There are many tools and applications that you need to set-up yourself to be able to do that. A person who feels uncomfortable in dealing with technological complexities offered by virtual environment is deemed unfit for a virtual job.

  3. High intelligence quotientVirtual team members are required to work in time-bound projects with continuous pressure from the employers. Moreover, there is no physical support available to them, which means they have to handle the entire pressure themselves.

    If all the team members are able to use their cognitive abilities faster, then it proves fruitful for boosting the performance of the team. Though, IQ level is not related to talent, personality or application but it surely adds to their productivity.

  4. Collaborates effectivelyThe team members need to have adequate experience of working in large teams. They need to know whom to collaborate with by excluding people irrelevant to the task. In large teams, members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

    Ability to collaborate effectively will help save a lot of time of fellow team members by preventing confusion and incongruity. Members need to be aware of collaboration using social media tools that help in sharing knowledge and best practices with their colleagues.

  5. Efficient communicatorCommunication becomes a challenge when there is no face-to-face contact. Whether it is e-mails or instant messengers, communication needs to be seamless. Team members working in global teams need to possess cross-cultural communication skills. They need to have the ability to work together with people from different nationality and religion.

    Every person in the team needs to know how to communicate effectively besides language barriers. They need to be active listeners while communicating through video chats.

  6. TrustworthyTrust is build through consistency and efficiency of task-completion in virtual teams. In office environment, colleagues, usually, hand-over their task to each other during personal urgency or other priorities and they understand each others’ problems.

    But as there is no social bonding among the virtual team members, ongoing commitment towards the task is what develops trust. Make sure that the team members have proven track record of meeting deadlines and commitment. They need not be habitual of giving excuses. Check their references.

  7. AccountableAccountability of tasks is critical to virtual environment. Virtual team members often hesitate to rely on each other as they have never met in person. Most of the work is interdependent. Completion of one task is dependent on the completion of the other. If one member fails to accomplish his task, it affects the whole team.

    The whole team becomes responsible for project delay. This causes feeling of distrust. Accountable team member is always dedicated to finish the task irrespective of any challenge he faces. Complex projects have no room for failure. If a team member messes up something, he needs to take complete accountability for the failure.

  8. Time management skillsTeam members belonging to different environment work together in a virtual team. Each member has his own way of managing time according to which they schedule their tasks. But to succeed in a virtual group where real-time work happens among different team members, one cannot function in a secluded manner.

    The priorities have to be set rightly. Same amount of time is allocated to complete a particular task to every team member. This helps in equivalent resource allocation. But when responsibilities differ, time management skills are measured by the degree of task and the corresponding standard of performance levels.

  9. Comfortable working in unstructured work environmentGlobal virtual teams are quite different from conventional hierarchy found in collocated teams. In a collocated team, a group of team members report to a team leader. While in large virtual teams, though the team leader is present but the team members report to different managers by forming sub-groups.

    Team members have to be flexible in their approach as there is no set hierarchy and stability of managers. Many people are rotated on a project basis. Temps are hired for getting a specialized task completed. For instance, they can be hired to lead a particular project as well. So, there is a constant shuffling of people and relationships in a virtual environment and the team members need to be prepared to work in this unstructured world.

  10. Quick at Resolving IssuesWhile working online as a programmer or a developer, virtual employees are continuously faced with technical glitches. If the team member is just good at his task but not in resolving the issue, then the work schedule starts suffering.

    Virtual team members work remotely without any assistance. They need to have adequate training in problem diagnosis and resolution. Well-trained members are able to offer technical support to each other and the issues are timely resolved.

Final Thoughts

You need to carefully identify and verify the ten qualities mentioned above, before hiring a virtual team member. It is very important to check references before inducting them in the team. As a small-scale company, you don’t afford to lose money in hiring and firing an inefficient person. Working in collocated team and virtual team is radically different.

A person who needs constant supervision with their bosses peeping over them is not fit for virtual environment. Moreover, people who like to socialize regularly with their team members feel suffocated in this kind of environment. Weigh your options carefully without compromising on the desired skill set.

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