Thanks to the Internet, we now have the ability to move entire businesses into the virtual world. This gives business owners a chance to connect with new people, hire the very best individuals from around the globe, and provide work-from-home opportunities that many employees crave.
That said, far too many business owners have made the switch to a virtual team without entirely thinking the decision through. This has led to a large number of failed businesses and unhappy teammates.
Fortunately, your business can avoid this fate by following the simple steps below.
1. Hire Smarter
The first step to ensuring your business is successful is to be mindful about whom you hire. While you want your team to be diverse and a virtual team might seem a good idea, it’s also important that the individual team members are able to relate to one another. Here is a tip.
Additionally, those who are self-motivated are much more likely to be successful in a virtual work environment. You can discover whether potential employees are self-motivated by looking at the types of work they’ve done in the past and consulting with their references. I suggest that you use predictive science vs. “gut feel” to help select successful future employees.
2. Communicate Often, Using the Right Tools
Communication is key when it comes to managing a virtual team. Therefore, it’s crucial that you have the proper tools to engage in such communication.
As far as quick questions go, a proven collaboration program such as Slack can be invaluable. This will allow your team to communicate in real time without making a phone call or sending a formal email for every question. It’s also searchable and allows the entire team to see conversation threads in case they might have other questions.
In addition to necessary work communication, it’s also important to offer some way for your team members to bond on a personal level. This can be done through an assigned “chit-chat” channel in Slack or another similar program. A great investment is to physically bring your entire virtual team together for quarterly meetings. Social time builds teams.
3. Set a Regular Meeting Schedule
It’s crucial that all members make it to meetings on a regular basis. You can ensure this happens by setting a regular meeting schedule for both the team and one-on-one sessions. Most importantly, you’ve got to be sure to stick to your plan.
When making this schedule, be aware of the various time zones you may be working with and plan meetings in an overlapping time that make sense for everyone. This will also help ensure everyone is present.
4. Ensure Clarity in Details and Expectations
When handing out tasks to individuals on a virtual team, it’s important that you very clearly dictate your expectations. Your explanation should include deadlines and defined details about the task itself. This will ensure you are not disappointed in the finished product as employees will be less likely to ask for your input when they aren’t seeing you on a daily basis.
Programs such as Smartsheet or Trello (my favorite) can help with this by allowing you to communicate changes to project details and send deadline reminders when needed. That said, it’s highly important that you don’t use these types of programs to micromanage, as this is sure to lead to resentment.
Managing offsite workers doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact, you can easily set yourself up to run a well-oiled virtual business machine. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to managing a productive and inspired virtual team.
Are you looking for more tips on working with an online team? I can help with that! Please fill out my contact form for more information.