Managing Virtual Team – One Manager’s Experience

Below is a Facebook blog from Dan Lee, Senior Staffing Manager, Microsoft China. Dan is based in Singapore and manages a team in PRC. Obviously, he travels a lot.

I thought this blog post is poignant where we are working increasingly in virtual teams. This requires additional people skills to keep a remote or virtual team in sync and moving forward.

This is Dan’s LinkedIn Profile.

Managing Remotely. Future Tense.

I have done this for the last 3 years and in the last 8 months i have gone totally remote, me sitting in Singapore and the team in China.

There are key lessons learnt so far and let me share this with you:

One important element to be able to manage a team remotely is trust. Not just trust, but a very high degree of it between the manager and the employee, and where this is lacking, it is likely that this is going to be problematic on both sides.

The other important element when managing remotely is to ratchet up one’s powers of listening and reading clues. (You have to do this if you sit in the same office, but sometimes things are so subtle that when you are not directly seeing someone the subtleties can be missed.)

There is also a greater need to recognise, measure and reward output, to plan meetings both with the individual and for the team, and to communicate effectively on a regular basis. (my team member highlighted this today that he ‘misses’ our team meetings) This is something which will slip very quickly when you are all tied up on meeting timeline and you forget on the most important part of working as a team – sync up.

Being a good people manager is definitely essential, not just the ‘normal’ abilities in motivating, coaching, planning, team building and communicating, all at a distance as well as face to face.

A structured approach to managing by outputs and being flexible, tolerant, open -minded and trusting are important. Know when to spare the rod and when to use the rod.

These are just some key learnings so far before i head out for dinner.

The reason i wrote what i wrote now is – we have the first major kick off event in China this evening. Both my team members called me in the same venue over a different spot, both wanting to update me that the turnout has been great (that we have to turn people away sooner then we expected), and knowing how much I worry about things, they both called, one RIGHT AFTER the after, to let me know they have everything covered.

I adore my team.

Past. Present. And Future Tense.

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