As an online entrepreneur and a digital nomad at the same time, there is one “thing” that my business can’t live without: my team.
While I used to do everything myself (working inside my business instead of on my business), I’m truly happy that I started building a good team a few years back.
It’s called a “virtual team” since they’re all at other places – meaning all our communications are digital. We don’t see each other in the office, like most teams do.
So how do you manage a virtual team like that?
Well, there are no strict rules in managing a virtual team; I have my own approach while you might have your own. My approach is to keep it personal (by connecting with every team member on a personal level), while also have very clear processes and systems in place to prevent unnecessary going back-and-forth about everything.
For me the biggest breakthrough was to let the team be a team. Empower them to work together, instead of trying to be the center in your team.
In other words – trust them to do it right – and let them send their work to the next person (e.g. from the copywriter to the designer) without double checking every little detail.
However.. instead of focusing how I would manage my team, I wanted to change it up a bit. I’ve asked my team to write this post for me to find out what they think is most important to manage a virtual team successfully.
So… the rest of this article is written by one of my team members. Go for it!
1. Hire the right people.
“Considered as one of the most important aspects for every manager, hiring the best people for the team should not be overlooked. Interviewing people without even seeing them in flesh is not at all easy (we know this for sure since we feel the same to a manager/interviewer we don’t see personally), but you can always tap into your other senses to search for that certain gut feeling. As they say, first impression lasts, and this is so true. If you think you have a connection with an applicant (let’s say they’ve done well with the tests and interviews), then go for it. If you think the feeling isn’t right from the beginning, then don’t. It’s like in the real world, you usually spot that in no-time.”
2. Always be available.
“You are still the boss – always remember that. And we will always look up to you for ideas, confirmation, and, more importantly, inspiration. Even if you are a thousand miles away or live in a different timezone, it is important to create a virtual presence – just like how you would do it if you have a physical office. Be sure to have time to converse with us on a one-on-one scenario. Also, try to be personal. Even when it’s way too different than seeing each other at the coffee machine, do make the occasional chat and simply ask your staff how they are. Trust me, we love whenever our boss does that!”
3. Implement a “Time-Overlap” Rule
“Being available does not work if the staff aren’t. Yes, you live in different countries and you have different a timezone too. A good way for things to work out smoothly is to set a time during the day where you and your staff can communicate with each other. Our boss implemented a time-overlap rule (not iron-clad, no), as some of us are more productive working at a particular time of the day. He wants us to spare a little to overlap at some point on the entire duration of the shift so we can communicate about the tasks that we are doing or have finished during the day.”
4. Embrace technology.
“If you’ve read the blog “7 Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Have”, you will understand exactly what my point is. There are various tools out there that you can take advantage of in managing a virtual team. The thing about these tools is that they don’t only help you organise the tasks involved on a day-to-day basis, but also allow you to communicate with your team and disseminate the instructions properly. My boss recently added a tool that is helpful for everyone when it comes to communication – Slack. In fact, we are using Slack for real-time messaging.”
5. Run effective virtual team meetings.
“Running effective virtual meetings is an important aspect too. Communicate with the staff the day before and tell them that there is something that needs to be discussed and you want them all to participate. Again, remember that you may have different timezones, so you should tell them in advance – when they are all present. Also, be sure to get their response.”
6. Create a system.
“Our team has 8 members as of the moment, and we follow a systematic approach. This has proven to be very effective in designating tasks without consuming most of your time. Make sure that your staff follow this system so you don’t have to instruct them on what to do after they’ve finished their tasks. My boss uses Trello to do this effortlessly. By just posting the tasks on the board, the members who are working on the same project can just refer to them every time they go online. That’s saving a huge lot of time.”
7. Empower your team.
“I personally noticed some team members greatly improving not just in what they do and what they are hired for, but also in some areas of online marketing as well. And this is empowering for everyone. Give them tasks that they are not really familiar with. Trust them, as they’re smart people too. They’re there anyway because you hired them and you put them in their respective places. If you as a manager can do it, chances are, they can also do it too. It’s just a matter of trust and guidance.”
8. Express your appreciation.
“Finally, learn to appreciate. You should put yourself in the shoes of your members from time to time to understand and appreciate their efforts. Even the littlest appreciation can take you anywhere. Value your people and we will value our work and boss in return.”
Interesting, right? I thought it was, at least.
Based on what you read above, do you have any suggestions or thing you agree or disagree on? Let me know in the comments below!