Remote working is becoming more popular by the day. Already, 41% of global businesses offer some kind of remote work. But just because people work in different parts of the country or world does not mean they will avoid conflict altogether. Managing a virtual team has its fair share of challenges too. And the key to keeping disputes to a minimum is to create workable systems that will enable everyone to do their jobs without supervision. Here are a few conflict management strategies for virtual teams:
1. Implement a cloud-based document management system
Even remote team workers generate their fair share of documentation. It’s just that their paperwork may be more digital than physical. Since it is not practical to keep on posting and faxing important documents all the time, you need an alternative. And having a cloud-based document management system is the best alternative.
With such a system, members of your team with the right authorization will be able to access the documents that they need when they need them. It doesn’t matter which part of the world they are in; they can work when they need to so long as they have access to internet services. This enables teams living in different time zones to work together smoothly and with minimal friction.
2. Create and maintain clear channels of communication
Many team conflicts are caused by miscommunication -up to 90% of conflicts may be caused by miscommunication. Where there is conflict teams falter and fail. And that’s something you don’t want to deal with when managing a team remotely.
For that reason, you need to ensure that there are clear channels of communication. First, ensure that your remote team workers share at least one common language. Language barriers can be a source of miscommunication and thus should be avoided if possible. Second, you need to ensure that there exists a forum shared by all virtual team members.
That should be a safe space where people can raise their grievances, ask questions, and receive clarifications. It would also be prudent to ensure that there are two-way messaging systems available so that if two people have a conflict within the team, they can try and sort it out privately.
3. Create detailed job descriptions
Members of a virtual team tend to spend most of their working hours without supervision. If they have no idea of what their roles are and what they are expected to contribute to the company, then there are going to be problems. Everyone must know what is expected of them.
To ensure that there is minimal friction within a virtual team, define job descriptions. The roles and responsibilities that people are required to do should be explained in the job advertisement and during the onboarding process. You should also clarify the tasks people should accomplish day, week, or month. That way, there will be no infighting concerning who is not doing their part and who is doing too much.
A virtual team can run like a well-oiled machine provided there is minimal conflict. So, take the time to implement a cloud-based document management system, create clear channels of communication, and make sure everyone knows what is expected of them. Only then would you be able to accomplish your goals as a manager.