12 Most Advantageous Tips To Help Manage Your Remote Team Efficiently
One of the biggest advantages technology has afforded small to medium sized businesses and startups is the ability to work with teams remotely. In my case, I am running a design company and several successful websites with a remote team of thirteen people. This remote kind of working relationship can be a challenge to manage effectively, so it may not be for everyone. Many business owners and managers feel they need to have workers in one place to insure maximum productivity. From my experience, I can tell you that’s not always the case.
The benefit of having a team that works remotely is huge. The diversity or background and culture of my team has helped boost creativity and allowed my company to scale easily. If you are contemplating running your business with a remote workforce, here are my 12 most tips to work efficiently and get results.
1. Hire people who will compliment your skills and your business objectives
One of the biggest challenges for business owners is hiring the right people for the job. The first step is to determine what your strongest skills are and areas in which you need help. Set clear business objectives. Hire people who will compliment your skills instead of just hiring people who have similar skills as yours. Do they share the same passion and energy for your business as you? Will they be able to help you reach your goals in terms of output and revenue?
2. Get to know your team members to optimize the use of their skills
Once you have your team complete, it is also good to get to know them personally and observe carefully how they work. There might be hidden skills that they have not revealed during your initial conversation or interview. Once you have determined the skills you also want to optimize your business goals — talk to that team member and discuss their potentials in depth and figure out if they will be willing to grow further than just the task initially agreed upon.
3. Set goals early on with your team
As a manager or business owner, you need to have a clear strategy in place. Working with a distributed team requires a different mindset than working all together at an on-site office. Will you decide to hire remote employees for only certain projects and maintain a small team on-site for other projects? Every business is different so make plans based on your needs. Sharing your business goals with your team is essential to your business growth. Make it clear to everyone on your team that they have an important role and have a direct impact on the company’s success.
4. Communicate important tasks in writing
Miscommunication is a huge challenge for any business owner whether you have an onsite or offsite team. Once you have chosen the person to work with, make sure you communicate the tasks and projects that they are expected to perform and what success looks like. Put this in writing especially when you’re dealing with a remote team. Get good at communicating through writing as a lot of your communication will be done via email.
5. Have regular video calls with your team at least once a week
As I mentioned earlier, communication is key. Conduct a regular video call with your team whether it’s everyday, once a week or some other regular frequency. There are many tools you can use such as Skype, Google Plus and Google Voice. It does not have to be a long meeting. Talk about what each team member has accomplished that week and what their goals are for the following week. You can share important announcements as well. This will give you the opportunity to bond with each other on a regular basis.
6. Don’t let problems linger
Problems can cause work to slow down or come to a complete halt, especially if it involves decisions that need your approval. Make sure you encourage your team to contact you anytime and quickly address any issues your team is experiencing. It’s important your team feels comfortable they can approach you with any question or concern when it happens.
7. Never be afraid to complement team members
Aside from giving your team financial bonuses to recognize accomplishments, another great way to show your appreciation is by letting your staff know they did a great job or went above and beyond what was expected of them. Not only do you demonstrate that you value them as key contributors to the success of your business, but you also encourage other team members to do exceptional work as well.
8. Use online tools to monitor productivity
There are many tools available for entrepreneurs to monitor their team’s productivity. One long time favorite is Basecamp. Basecamp is a project management tool that will allow your team to share files, discuss projects and schedule tasks in a secure online environment. The beauty of this tool is it allows you to also loop in your clients to offer their input on a per project and as needed basis. Another tool we use is Time Doctor. Time Doctor allows you to accurately track your team’s time remotely. You can see what they are doing and how they are utilizing their time. Not only will this encourage your team to remain productive but you’ll improve your profitability as well.
9. Be available to your team via email, instant messenger or mobile phone
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being “present” for your team. Even if you are not in your office, you can be available via IM, email or mobile phone. There are many tools available to allow your team to engage with you remotely, especially for projects that require quick check-in or discussion. This is especially true in situations when a team is working on a project that requires a tight deadline. Decisions can be made quickly and issues can be addressed right then and there to keep the project on schedule.
10. Give your team members the power to make decisions
In order to build your team’s confidence, it is also crucial to give your team members the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf. This will of course be dependent on the kind of structure you have built. This is why I mentioned that you need to really know your team on a deeper level. You’ll be able to see who you can trust and who will need more time to develop. You also instill leadership and trust amongst your workers.
11. Be open to training your team as needed
As your company grows, there will be opportunities to train people within your organization to handle leadership roles. There may also be developments within your business when the people in your company may need to learn new skills to help advance your business forward. Training may mean some financial or time investment on your part; but when done right, you as an entrepreneur will benefit.
12. Monitor productivity and be open to adjust strategies
If your team is already productive, then you are on the right track. If you see you that your client base and revenue are growing, then you should continue with your strategy. If you’re not experiencing the success you expect, never be afraid to make changes when necessary. Hire slow and fire fast. This may seem mean and drastic to some, but you as a business owner need to be maximizing your resources. You are not in business to lose money. You also owe it to your team members who are doing really well to hold everyone accountable for their contributions and performance.
Keeping your business profitable is challenging enough, but working with a remote team can add to the burden if you do not manage your workforce efficiently. Do you manage a team remotely? Do you have any of your own efficiency tips you can share with us? Please share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you.
Featured image courtesy of cindy47452 licensed via Creative Commons.