How to Manage Remote Project Teams - Tip #4

Introduction: In the current times of globalisation and international competition, project work at many international companies is often carried out by virtual project teams which are distributed across multiple locations, countries, and time zones. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis the trend of remote project work was boosted even further, as companies in various industry sectors, such as in the IT industry, had to adapt and enable their project teams to work remotely in order to keep their businesses alive. The following series provides some concrete and practical advice based on experience gained from the daily project management work. 

Recommendation #4 - Engage everybody, especially passive team members: It is important for the project manager to make sure that everybody is actively involved in the project work. As project teams consist of various personalities and characters, it is quite common to have some team members who dominate the discussions and some others who are more restrained, shy, or passive. The virtual project setup and the fact that there is no co-location with personal communication entail the risk that passive or shy team members could restrain themselves even more and become isolated, or even hide completely and participate only formally but not effectively in the project. These situations are problematic and should be avoided. For this reason, the project manager has to pay special attention to these project team members and engage them actively and on a regular basis. This can be achieved by showing empathy, by asking specific questions in the one-on-one meetings in order to activate their initiative, and by listening carefully. Generally, it is also a good idea to establish a more personal exchange with the team, apart from the formal project work, which will make all the team members feel emotionally and socially as part of the team and less isolated. This will gradually increase the trust between the project manager and the team and reduce the likelihood of team members isolating themselves from the team or hiding. 

Author: Paraschos Pentas, Date: 29 March 2021