The core of your success is your goal; how clearly your virtual team understands it and how committed they are to reaching it. So that is what you need to ensure from the start, when it comes to goals, the twin “C”s – Clarity about the common goal, and commitment to reaching it.
You also will need the twin “D”s in place to ensure this happens:
Your projects should operate like World War II bombing missions: Everyone knows the protocols and their parts; they are given their tasks and told what the target is. Then off they go, focused like modern-day missiles in reaching your goal.
To achieve all this, however, you need to choose the right team. Knowing exactly who you need, what you want them to do and taking into account how they are going to work together is vital to everything else working.
And then you need to clearly communicate your goals and set out parameters for reaching these.
Build your team carefully. Think about how they will work together and if they will work together. (Many marketers run their teams “blind”, with each member having zero knowledge of the other members; or even that other members exist.)
You also have to have an idea of what team dynamics you want to create and what those dynamics are going to be like.
One of the other problems in running a virtual team: Putting a face to a name. When you are working together in person, you soon get to know the other person, and being able to put the face to the name helps create bonding.
Yet there are advantages to running a team that is totally task-focused, with minimal interaction. But everyone needs a modicum of human contact – even confirmed, dysfunctional but technically-brilliant “loners”. And if your business involves technology or coding, you may run into a few of these. (Just look at the tightly-knit community of hackers in Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”. Even though the members had never met and exchanged only minimal banter on logging on with each other, they became a tightly-enmeshed community willing to go to great lengths – one member even coming out of seclusion and running a risky surveillance, way past his comfort zone – to help another cell member who was in grave trouble.)
You need to know which type of set up – personality-based with disclosure and inclusion in your business process, or task-oriented with the focus strictly on component completion – works best for you and your business.
Once you’ve determined your team dynamics, you need to know how to get around the inherent problems in both models and head them off at the pass.