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For many entrepreneurs, people management can be our Achilles heel. Having built my own company with 150 team members worldwide who work 100% remote, I’ve learned a few things about building a virtual team.
Running a business with team members in different locations, time zones and cultures can definitely be a challenge. When I tell other entrepreneurs about my ever-growing remote team, they always ask me, “How are you able to manage your virtual team?”
First off, I failed a lot. People are one of the most challenging things to scale in every business.
I hope you can learn from my failures and value these four takeaways to help manage a virtual team.
Make sure your hires are on board with your vision
Have a very clear vision of your company and make sure that that person actually wants to be a part of that vision. In my company, we do something called “job-crafting” to make sure that not only do their abilities and experience line up with their role, but it’s something that they can stand behind.
Think about it: If you don’t have a clear vision for yourself, how can your virtual team buy into your vision? Sadly, many entrepreneurs mistakenly overlook the value of their vision.
Have a clearly defined role for your remote team members
Make sure that you have processes in place. Now, a lot of times people say, “I don’t have time for that. I’m busy.” Well, you’re probably doing this yourself anyway, right?
You can download a free app like ScreenFlow, QuickTime or Loom. Just record what you’re doing and document it using your voice. Some call these kinds of documentation a standard operating procedure, but I call them Freedom Recipes. The only way to start being free and to get out of your own way is to start creating processes so you can delegate your work to other people.
Have a proper communication platform
There are many instant-communication apps out there. Some companies use Slack or Discord, while others use Skype. Use the one you think will best fit you and your virtual team’s needs.
You may also use a project-management application to manage the workflow in your business (think Asana, Trello, ActiveCollab et al). These tools can help you create projects and tasks, assign due dates and assign people to these tasks, allowing you to set timelines and keep everyone on the team accountable.
Create an experiential application process
Eveyrone seems to be an expert these days. Resumes are looking the same because “B-Players” have learned how to make “A-Player” resumes.
There is a simple way to discover which applicants know what they are talking about: Let them show you. The purpose of an experiential application process is to provide applicants with an actual exercise for them to demonstrate their ability to perform. For example, we have our applicants listen to a 15-minute conference call and ask them for important details from the call to test their ability to take notes and determine what the important details from the call are.
We have a motto that if someone is adaptable, has a strong work ethic and actually cares about their work, you can teach them to do almost anything.
I want to leave you with a final word of advice after eight-plus years of building virtual teams: It takes a different type of person to work happily and consistently from home. They must be self-motivated, they must know how to manage distractions, and they must have the willpower to open up their computer when they may want to just stay in bed. That’s why it’s so important to align your employee’s work with your vision, and ultimately, their own vision. If you do that, it doesn’t matter if they work at home or in your office.