According to Alvin Chia, the growing trend of remote work around the world is suggested to be the future of innovation. The workplace is changing and becoming digitised with different technologies allowing for the creation of virtual offices.
That all sounds great, so what’s the issue?
Effectively managing remote team members can be difficult. Very difficult if not done correctly. Poor communication, less than perfect time management skills and a weak support structure can not onl+9y affect an individual’s performance, but the performance of the business as a whole.
So you need to know how to improve team productivity. How to make your remote team feel included, provide a solid support structure and effectively work with all members of the team. But how?
Well let me introduce you to the struggles that I faced managing my virtual team and provide you with five easy actions to help you overcome these challenges. I’ll be able to shave years off of the steep learning curve to managing remote teams.
But who am I, why should you care what I have to say?
I had a very successful corporate career, which came to a halt in 2011 due to health reasons. At the time, I was the Marketing Director for Coca Cola, a position that taught me a lot and helped me to grow in my career. While on the one hand, I was saddened by having to leave the corporate world, on the other hand, it gave me the push I needed to finally pursue my entrepreneurial dream.
The early stages of having my own business were great and any new business owner will feel the same. The freedom to set your own schedule and work from wherever whenever, was really refreshing.
But over time, I found myself working much more for much less reward.
Not only was I working more, but I was really struggling to work with my project manager and my virtual assistant. I’m sure that most business owners know that when communication is lacking, things start to slip through the cracks. Deadlines aren’t met, team morale is low and many mistakes are made.
I decided to implement regular one on one time with my team members. This allowed me to engage directly with each team member, address any concerns and keep the lines of communication open at all times.
I suggest using these five easy actions that I successfully used to improve team productivity and efficiency.
The project manager in my team was new to a leadership role and the VA was completely new to the world of business. While this made things slightly more difficult, it only increased the importance of effective leadership.
Back in the corporate world, I had 18 years of experience leading large teams at Coca Cola. Throughout that time I learnt what makes an effective leader and I wanted to try and pass that knowledge onto my project manager.
This meant scheduling a weekly call with the project manager where they could ask me anything about leadership. Any aspects of leadership that they were struggling with as well as what they found was working.
This mentor-style role helped to build a strong relationship with the project manager while building their leadership skills at the same time.
As the rise in remote teams is a relatively new phenomenon, many workplaces don’t actually have formal policies on expectations. We’re all rather trying to figure it out as we go along.
Setting expectations, whether they relate to office hours, quality of work, or accountability are very important to have in place right from the get-go. I would suggest writing them down, putting them into a document and sharing them with all team members.
This allows your team members to refer to this document whenever they feel unsure of what’s expected of them. Tell your team what you’re expecting from them. Remember that if you don’t tell them, nobody else will.
Outline clearly what acceptable looks like, but also what unacceptable looks like. This gives your team clear boundaries to work towards and to steer away from.
Expectations are, and should always be, a two-way street. While I was telling the VA what was expected in their role, I also wanted to know what was expected of me. Because again, if this wasn’t made clear, I would never know.
Making these expectations explicit to all staff members, including myself, ensured that all team members were on the same page.
Tony Robbins, a life and business strategist, believes that self-awareness if the key to success. Knowing and understanding what drives you in the workplace as well as what holds you back, allows you to align your personality traits with others in your team.
I used the DISC index to better understand both my personality type and how this influences my behavioural style. You are required to take a 15-minute test that examines your strengths and categorises you into one of four different quadrants of behaviour.
The key takeaway from the test is that understanding your natural patterns of behaviour helps you to identify the right opportunities that you should be acting on. Knowing how and why you act, lead and work in a certain way provides you with the knowledge to understand your behaviour.
Have a look at my YouTube video, Taking action to nail your plan, where I outline the need for a clear plan to make your business a success. Taking a look at deliverables, I work through how we use Podio as a platform to monitor the deliverables that all team members are working on.
Using this platform allows us to monitor the progress of all deliverables, the budget of key projects and acts as a central place where all facts are housed. Setting up automated workflows, a list of daily tasks and then key projects to work on helps us to keep track of where we should be focusing our time and energy.
We can also monitor and update the priorities of all team members while allowing you to prioritise key projects that you need to be working on.
I’m happy to share the templates that I discussed in the video with you. If you have a look at the video I give you a few different ways to contact me and schedule a meeting to get started.
Think back to your school days where you were learning new content and skills everyday. How did you do it?
You learnt how to do things by actually doing them. Taking this ‘learning by doing’ mindset into the workplace is where you’ll see the best results.
As the business owner you need to model to your team both what you’d like done, and how you’d like it done. But once you’ve taught them, you need to hand the task over and let them have a go themselves.
What’s important here is your guidance and feedback on work done. You should acknowledge work done well and provide constructive criticism for work that needs improvement. This is an ongoing process.
Using these five actions really helped me to be a better business owner and more importantly, a better business leader. I was able to provide the support structure that my team needed and to improve team productivity.
Bringing in the right members into your team and equipping them with the resources they need will ensure that you’re on the path to success. Ask great qualifying questions and get trusted referrals for new team members.
It took me five years to join a group of like-minded people that had faced the business struggles that I was going through. After I joined, everything changed for the better. If you would like to join a community of like-minded people helping each other to fast track their business and improve team productivity, please check us out here.