“Out of sight and out of mind” is a natural human behavior that works against the virtual manager. The challenge is to be visible and present, yet not too present. Creating an intentional and authentic virtual personality and presence is the best practice.

Finding the right balance of how frequently to communicate is one aspect of creating a virtual personality. If a manager overly communicates, it may cause important information to get lost in the deluge and convey a sense of micromanaging or a lack of trust or confidence. On the other hand, if a manager becomes invisible and not heard from for weeks, it’s easier for a virtual team member to interpret this as a lack of interest in the outcome of a project. This may cause team members to put their priorities elsewhere.

Every virtual interaction is a clue for the team members about the personality of the manager. These

virtual clues create a personality that may or may not be true to the personality a manager might display in a physical office. Team members interpret these clues to decide how to respond to management. Is the manager strict, disciplined, open, honest, political, friendly, or savvy? Do the virtual actions match the virtual words?

Creating a virtual personality requires upfront planning and a keen sense of knowing thyself. Knowing how your voice tone and sound, word choice, clarity, ability to articulate in spoken and written communication are interpreted are the first steps in creating a virtual personality. How strong are your written and verbal communication skills? What do you need to improve? Are you willing to ask for and get feedback? Can you create a voice that inspires? Can you create a sense of urgency while maintaining expectations of quality? Can you ask good questions to get specific and helpful answers? Have you created a safe or fearful virtual space?

Selecting and knowing what virtual personality is desired and how to achieve it is the next step in creating a virtual manager personality. It’s done in a conscious and proactive manner. It can be subtle and challenging. Taking and getting constructive feedback and committing to a virtual personality and presence is a best practice.

Practical Tip:

Write down your brand, your mantra, your values, how you want to be seen virtually, and post it in a visible spot while communicating virtually. Run all virtual communication through that filter. Ask for feedback from a trusted source about your virtual presence.

What do you think is the perfect virtual personality, and how is it expressed virtually?

This was excerpted from the article, Virtual Teams Best Practices.