Hiring a team can be… well, scary. Hiring a virtual team that you never meet in real life? That might be even more difficult to wrap your brain around. What if I told you that the majority of my team worked for me for years before I ever got to hug them in person? What if I told you the women on my team are some of the closest people to me and I count on them day in and day out from afar? What if this virtual team is what I attribute so much of my businesses success to?
Hiring the right person for the job and then stepping away and letting them do their thing has been how I have freed myself in my business to be able to take a month sabbaticals with my family, take a 3 month maternity leave, and step out of the day to day and become the visionary leader my business needs.
So if the idea of managing a virtual team has you hung up on making the decision to outsource, I want to cover the ways I’m able to stay connected with my team, keep a pulse on their projects (without micro-managing) and create a team culture even though we’re miles and miles apart! It’s time that you find the freedom that comes with a virtual team, if that’s what’s right for you, too.
The Tech To Help Connect You
Slack – the number one tool in team JK. We all hang out on it daily and it has absolutely transformed how we work together as a team. Think of it like the AOL instant messenger but grown up and for your business. It has eliminated our need to email and can just slide a message in for each other that will be ready and waiting for them when they are back online. You can seamlessly upload files, create topic-specific channels and even start group chats to make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s a game changer, and if you are adding people to your team, you need it!
Trello or Asana – a project management site. When there’s more than one set of hands in the mix of a project, often a project management site to keep everyone organized, assign tasks and keep a pulse on where you’re at with your deadline can be a huge benefit. Now, I’ll be honest and say that I don’t personally use a site like this, but my team does and it’s really kept them organized and on task. If you’re nervous about what’s getting done in your business, setting up a site like this so that you can monitor progress (without having to bother your team) can give you the peace of mind you need to let go of some of the work.
Zoom – when you don’t work together in an office, often a face to face meeting virtually can be the next best thing! Before a big launch or new project, we’ll all connect for a video conference call and pow-wow live together. It really makes a difference to see each others smiling faces every once in awhile!
Keeping Your Priorities Straight
One of the biggest things I’ve learned through the process of expanding my team is that it’s so important to give them ownership in an area of your business. This is beneficial for a few reasons: it gives them the freedom to bring their unique skills and gifts to the business, have true ownership, and allows them to be in charge of how they will complete a project or task. I’ve found this really makes my team treat the business as if it were their own, take pride in their work and ownership if something needs to change or improve. Plus, if you’re truly going to free yourself up, you need to take yourself out of the equation and let them do their thing.
Now, just because I’m releasing ownership, does not mean I don’t keep a pulse on how and what is being accomplished. I try to consistently check in and say “Hey, what are your top 3 today”. I talk about the top 3 priorities quite a bit and they’re the best way I’ve found to make sure my team is working on what is most important for that day. (I choose my big 3, as well, so this works for CEOs too!) It can be easy to get caught up in the biggest fire drill or the seemingly most pressing task, but often those are not what is going to move the needle and move the business forward. It’s important to stay in touch with what your team sees as their top priorities and make sure they are aligned with your overall vision for the business and priorities.
Creating a Team Culture
Team culture is just as important for a virtual business as one that works together in an office (and maybe even more so!) I focused on investing in my team last year and did some very intentional things that were helpful in creating an open and honest culture that everyone is happy to be a part of.
I started with asking for honest feedback on how things were going and asking questions like: what do you love most about your job, what isn’t your favorite, what could you use help with and how are things going. Sometimes these conversations can be uncomfortable, but if you are consistent with your team and really listen and take action on what they say, it will get easier and the result will be teammates happier with their work that feel heard and loved. We’ve made some major role changes in my business based on these conversations and I’d encourage you to keep these check-ins as part of your weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly ritual.
The next tip would be to really lean on your team when you need them! If I’m struggling with something in my business, I’ll often post in the group channel and get everyone to weigh in. This has been not only hugely helpful to me in navigating things in my business, but it allows us to all work together and talk about a common problem, connecting us and pitching in for the team when needed.
And finally, if you can, try to connect in person even if it’s really infrequently. Last year I flew my entire team to Waco for my mastermind and it was amazing to be able to hang out, strategize, dream, and connect in real life. There’s nothing like those late night chats, dinners out and collectively being together to dream and talk about our vision together.
Managing a virtual team sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is and if you’re ready to expand your team, my advice is to just go for it. Take my tips and incorporate them into your own business and you’ll be on your way to more freedom in your business, doing what you love most.