How to manage a virtual team
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, there’s one thing you’re sure to be short on time. When you run your own business, time can be your greatest asset or your biggest enemy. What you do with it defines your future and ultimately your income.
Military strategist Sun Tzu once said: “ The control of a large force is the same in principle as the control of a few men.” What this means if you find yourself apathetic and unproductive, adding a virtual assistant won’t kick start you into productivity. However, if you’re able to be organized and able to plan well, a virtual assistant can help you maximize your business efforts and become more productive.
Getting a virtual assistant is more than just getting someone to do something for you. It requires you to be a leader and take the time to grow a business relationship with your assistant. When used properly, a virtual assistant team will help make time your greatest resource.
This article will take a look at how to best manage your virtual team. We’ll look at how to motivate team, how to optimize communication, how to find team members and how to create a sense of unity amongst your team. If you can find ways to apply the techniques discussed in this article to your business, you’ll find yourself and your team to be a productivity powerhouse.
Working virtually can be lonely, even when working as a team. Humans are naturally sociable, so despite the temptation to keep it strictly business between yourself and your team, it can be to your benefit to get to know your team.
Humans tend to assume the worst when communication is poor; it's just the way we are. Informal conversations with your team will help you find common ground with your staff and make it easier for them to ask you questions.
Another tip to become easier to approach is to encourage video calls over text chats. Again, it can be tempting just to send quick, to the point messages, but this can come off as cold and reduce how comfortable someone feels asking clarification questions.
A quick video call with your team, at least once a week, will also help you connect on a more personal level. Video calls also create a more relaxed environment where both sides can ask questions and make sure they’re on the same page.
Be meticulous in your search for team members
There are a lot of factors that go into picking the right fit for your team. Even if someone can perform the task adequately for you, not just anyone will do. As a business owner, you're in control of who you work with on a daily basis. You should be willing to do what it takes to find exemplary employees, even if it takes you longer than just choosing the first acceptable applicant.
This is especially vital if you’re looking to add someone to your existing team. Whoever you hire has to be able to mesh with how you and your team work. You’ll need to look for skills that fit as well as a personality that fits. Don’t be afraid to try out new team members on a trail basis. This gives both sides to see if this is a relationship that will work out.
Establish what the lines of communication will be
Ideally, you and your team should have two main lines of communication. Having just one way of communicating leaves you susceptible to technology problems and can cause confusion if issues happen to arise. Having the main communication avenue and a backup one will help reduce miscommunications.
At the same time, you don’t want to have too many communication channels. We’ll look at how to motivate workers, even if you’re working with multiple virtual workers for different projects, the lines of communication should stay the same to reduce confusion. Trying to manage 3 or 4 different ways of retrieving information is bound to create confusion.
Having two clearly defined communication channels also creates a sense of togetherness, as everyone knows what each channel is for. Try and keep everything in one place as much as you can.
Meetings may seem tedious, but they can help increase your team’s efficiency in the long run. Quick briefings throughout the week will go a long way in making sure everyone is on the same page as well as encourage fluidity throughout your team. Meetings create a routine that will motivate your team by creating a "real job" feeling that virtual assistant positions can often lack.
Try and pick team members who can be all online at the same time. If you’re working with people from multiple countries, try and find time zones that overlap. Having all your team members online at once makes having meetings easier and further inspires a team feeling.
When all your team members are online, it's a good time for you to acknowledge their efforts and share rewards with the team. The more you can make your team members feel like they’re in a real office, the better your operation will flow. It's also important to acknowledge your team's efforts and let them know that you appreciate them.
Make things simpler by providing detailed descriptions
Simple, clear instructions will be your best tool when managing your team. The clearer and easier your instructions are to follow, the less confusion and mistakes there will be. Any instructions you give to your team should be as detailed as possible.
If it’s appropriate, you should also provide a step-by-step process for them to follow. A step-by-step process is especially crucial if you have multiple freelancers doing the same job. If you have different people doing the same job, you can get mixed results, which defeats the purpose. Being extremely detailed can seem tedious, but you’ll only have to go through the explanation once and the time you save will be well worth it.
Try and find ways to make your instructions as clear as possible, you don’t always need to rely on conventional word documents to convey instructions. Instead, you could give instructions by video, which is an interactive way of getting your team engaged with the task.
Another option is for you to use screen-sharing programs that allow you to show, in real time, anything on your screen to your team. You can also take screenshots and quickly add your thoughts on the image via an editing program. You have plenty of options when it comes to how you explain tasks to your team.
As you can see, working with a virtual assistant is more than just asking to get something done and waiting for it to be delivered. Remember to think of hiring a virtual assistant, not as a freelancer, but as someone you hope to build a profitable business relationship with. Good virtual assistant relationships are mutually beneficial and can lead to astonishing results. Remember to look for team members that match your personality and the way you like to do things.
Be as clear as possible when giving directions and create processes that preserve the quality of the work that’s done. Follow the tips in this article and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a dynamic business.