Effective Management Styles for Virtual Teams

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  • 0:04 Management Styles
  • 0:47 Transactional Approach
  • 2:02 Transformational Approach
  • 3:24 Situational Approach
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

In this lesson, we'll explore effective management styles for the supervisor who works with virtual teams. You'll learn the characteristics of each style and the reasons why these approaches are a good fit for virtual teams.

Management Styles

If you were to pick up a standard textbook on management and skim through it, you would see that there are lots of different ways to approach team management. The more you read, the more you would come to realize that each management style has merit in different situations and there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to managing employees.

In this lesson, we'll discuss multiple management styles that are especially effective for virtual team environments, where some or all of the contact between co-workers is made online rather than face-to-face interactions.

When it comes to effective management styles for virtual teams, there are three that have consistently risen to the top:

  • Transactional approach
  • Transformational approach
  • Situational approach

Transactional Approach

In the transactional approach to management, the main focus of the leader is on the execution of tasks and achievement of team objectives as defined by the scope and timeline of the project. Managers who adopt this management style:

  • Clearly define everyone's roles
  • Give clear and detailed objectives to each team member
  • Ensure that each team member understands the project timeline
  • Put methods of accountability in place
  • Communicate regularly through Skype, e-mail, or another platform
  • Follow up promptly to all communication
  • Offer continuous feedback and appreciation

Because transactional leaders tend to view management as a sequence of transactions that result in either reward or punishment, they take these tasks seriously and view holding team members accountable as one of the most important aspects of leading the virtual team.

The transactional approach tends to work well with virtual teams because with clear guidelines and expectations, regular communication, and prompt follow-up, virtual workers always know what's going on, what's expected, and where they stand, which can often be a problematic issue when working virtually. With this approach, common problems occur much less frequently, deadlines tend to be met more easily, and the team is more productive.

Transformational Approach

In the transformational approach, the leader uses different mechanisms to motivate and inspire the members. This requires providing caring, nurturing, and intellectual support. Transformational leaders:

  • Help to foster a team identity through the use of face-to-face meetings
  • Build an environment of trust
  • Focus on the team-building relationships and social ties
  • Encourage collaboration and cohesion throughout the duration of the project

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