Setting Expectations with Virtual Teams

Setting Expectations with Virtual Teams

One of the most common questions people ask when it comes to thinking about outsourcing is “What can i expect from virtual teams?”


If you’ve never worked in a virtual environment before and are trying to make the jump then this can be a very daunting question where the answer largely depends on your ability in setting expectations with virtual teams and your ability to define these expectations … successfully!


It’s human nature to automatically assume that everybody thinks the same way you do. This has been the downfall of many a marriage and definitely many a business relationship.


Many relationships fall down with this because of our failure to realise that we all see the world differently. Our expectations of a job well done compared to someone else’s or your team’s could be totally different.


Similarly, for the team member, they might have a different view of what success looks like or what their expectations of you are as a leader.

Setting expectations is one of the key success factors for virtual teams. Click To Tweet


We don’t naturally gravitate to defining this because it is quite difficult to do (when you don’t know how!). But it is absolutely vital and one of the key success factors for virtual teams.


So, how do you clearly define what your expectations are in a way that the person can successfully meet them?

Just ‘saying it’ is not enough and will lead you down a path of failure.

Read on for the ultimate step-by-step guide to creating virtual teams that work.



Catch our Virtual Success Show Podcast on this topic. You can also listen below:

How To Get Your Virtual Team To Ace Your Expectations

by The Virtual Success Show

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Define Expectations

Being able to clearly answer the question what do you expect from your virtual teams and write it down is a must. Don’t just think about it and keep it in your head.

Setting Expectations with Virtual Teams

This falls under Three Umbrellas:

First, you have to ask yourself “What’s important to me?” as the business owner and as a leader. This is different for everyone. For some, it is important to have constant contact, constant communication, almost micromanagement. For others, it’s about having the deadline met when they said it was going to be met. For others, It’s about thinking outside the box and problem-solving.

Getting clear on what’s important to you and what’s important for your team to do is number one. Click To Tweet


Second, is understanding exactly what leads to success in a task or what leads to success in a role and being able to clearly demonstrate that so that you set your people up to succeed and, ultimately, to win.


Third, is what defines or equates to value for you when this person is performing their role at an outstanding level. What’s valuable to you? What’s going to give you the sense that you’ve got a positive return on investment and not just wasting cash?


Measure Success

Creating clear metrics about what success and what failure look like when it comes to meeting (or not meeting) your expectations.


This is really important from a management perspective both with virtual and local people. You must develop clear metrics on what success looks like and how your team will know if they have succeeded or if they are outside of the scope of success.


Setting Expectations with Virtual TeamsIt doesn’t have to be over the top and you’re not looking for fancy ways to record everything. It’s about clearly understanding what you expect, what the metric for success is and also the metric for failure.


‘Keep it simple’.


It has to be measurable. It has to be black and white. There cannot be a grey area because the grey is where this will come undone and then it makes it really hard for you and for them.


This is one of the key components of how to manage a virtual team successfully.



Catch our Virtual Success Show Podcast on this topic. 
Also Available on the The Virtual Hub YouTube Channel. Subscribe Now!


Communicate Expectations

Make sure you communicate your expectations with virtual teams in both having the written version in front of them and verbally and getting them to repeat back to you their interpretation of what you’ve communicated to them.


Communication is key. However, while it is simple, it is not necessarily easy! This is why so many fail in this area and we identify it as one of the key challenges with virtual teams.


While some people love (and need) constant communication through the day and as things are happening, others hate that and find it too distracting. They just want the outcome at the end of the day.


Which one are you? Which one is each person on your team?


Setting Expectations with Virtual TeamsYou have to create guidelines around your preferred communication style and frequency. Don’t just think it, write it down! Then go through it with your people so that they understand and you can have an open discussion about their natural style too. If they are different to you then they may need more time to adapt and get into your groove. They are not mind-readers so you need to be clear with each other (and not just verbally).


Have a conversation with a written document – allocate meetings to discuss expectations and make a list of how are you are going to meet and measure this together.


In order to set your team up to win, you need them to repeat back to you their understanding of what you expect. Their understanding of what they are going to be measured against, their understanding of what success looks like, of what is an acceptable job, what is an outstanding and what’s an outright fail at the job.


Honing communication skills in virtual teams in this way can be the simple difference between success and failure.


One thing to always keep in mind is, you are working with a virtual team dispersed in different locations. Hence, it is vital to set clear and specific expectations in managing a global team and take full advantage of collaboration technologies to stay on top of things and set you and them up to win.


Set Realistic Expectations

Making sure that your expectations are realistic for the role that you’ve invited them into your business to fill!

Are they in the right seat on the bus? Does their skillset mean they are capable of working within expectations and serving the business effectively? Get clear on that so you don’t try to put a round peg into a square hole.


What if your expectations are completely out of alignment with the level of the role? So, for example, you’ve hired a VA but what you really need is a business coach or a digital strategist to help you to create business growth. Your expectations can be misaligned with the role you have decided to hire for and so damages your virtual team effectiveness.


Setting Expectations with Virtual TeamsYou have to find and match the right person with the right skillset to what you expect and what you need. Sometimes it might be a restructure internally, sometimes you may have to let a few people go and re-employ based on what you expect from the role. This is really about learning to understand the principles of effective team working and effective team management skills.


Some people confuse a cheaper staff member with a strategist or a coach, who can think of a strategy for them. A VA can implement a lot for you (and most of our The Virtual Hub VAs can even come up with ideas in collaboration with our internal team for you) but they cannot replace a strategist or coach in your business.

A VA can implement a lot for you but they cannot replace a strategist or coach in your business. Click To Tweet


If you are thinking about going virtual, outsourcing or simply bringing a virtual assistant into your business, then it is really worth spending the time to learn how to lead virtual teams effectively otherwise you risk losing a lot of time, energy and money.


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