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Dispersed but Undivided: 5 Tips to Manage Decentralized Teams

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Managing a team within the same office can be quite challenging, but managing a decentralized team composed of individuals who are in different geographical locations can be a whole different level of difficulty.

Cross-city/state/country teams are no longer exclusive to huge corporations, and there are organizations and smaller companies that have units operating under the same setup. Luckily, advancements in technology, particularly in business, project management and communication software have made it easier to do so.

But even with these tools, the most seasoned project manager may still find the task of doing so to be very demanding. As such, we’ll be taking a look at different tips and ways you can manage your decentralized team effectively and successfully meet your targets.

#1 Centralize and Minimize

The best way to manage a decentralized and dispersed team is to find a way to make it centralized through the use of software and communication platforms. Instead of having your team open multiple applications and websites to discuss, view tasks and share updates and documents, try to minimize it with only a handful of software or websites.

The fewer tools they need to work with to collaborate, the fewer issues they’ll have along the way. So you may want to consider using a cloud-based document management application or software for all the files you’ll be sharing and utilizing as a team, and also a cloud-based project management software where you can interact, post updates and feedback, and assign individual tasks.

#2 Clear Responsibilities and Deliverables

To avoid any confusion, duplication of output, and other issues when each member or unit is working on their individual tasks, everyone must be clear as to what their role is in the team. As a project manager, it’s your job to properly communicate what each team member’s roles and responsibilities are.

This is to avoid conflict and misunderstandings and so that each individual stays on track. When assigning tasks, it’s also important to provide as much detail and specifics as possible.

#3 Promote Communication

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You have to consider the fact that this isn’t like any office setup where your team member can walk up to you and ask immediately, but this is exactly what you should strive to achieve, even with a decentralized team.

There should be a constant, quick and accessible means of communication so that if any team member wants to report an issue or have something clarified, you’ll be able to address it as soon as possible. You should let your team know that all communication channels are open.

Tell them they should never hesitate to contact you or the concerned team members if needed.

#4 Minimize Meetings

Many experts would argue that regularly scheduled meetings are important when it comes to managing decentralized teams. However, this may be difficult when it comes to different time zones. Lengthy meetings can be inconvenient and counter-productive.

Instead, have your team provide regular updates in your platform; instruct them to provide regular updates on the tasks they’re assigned to work on, and also to post any issues that may come along the way. However, if regularly-scheduled meetings work for your team, then you should continue doing so.

Properly managing a decentralized team means coordinating and uniting diverse talents to work on a project or deliverable despite limited to no physical interaction. While it’s certainly more challenging than managing a team within the same office, these tips can definitely help out in achieving unity and synergy in an otherwise (geographically) divided team.

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