One question we get asked a lot at Outsourcing Angel is, “How do you lead a remote team when people are in different countries?” Working with a virtual team can be hard to manage remote teams at times, that’s for sure. Accordingly, some big companies might even require their employees to return to the office as the world returns to a sense of normalcy.
But there are also a lot of businesses all over the world that have decided to adapt to the concept of a virtual workspace. That’s because while leading a remote team is different and while it does have its own fair share of challenges, it’s very possible and extremely beneficial too.
Do you still find it daunting to change your current work system? Read on as we will take you through the key principles that will help you effectively manage a team of Virtual Assistants even if you’ve never done so before.
Let’s Get the Cat Out of the Bag: Is Managing Virtual Teams Hard?
Managing remote teams might be hard, but so is face-to-face management. In fact, managing a remote team isn’t as difficult as most people think. You just need the right formula to build a strong remote virtual team.
For those who aren’t aware of what we do, Outsourcing Angel is a Virtual Assistant company in Australia with most Virtual Assistants based in the Philippines, but also in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Our virtual assistant team is based outside Australia, but we run like a well-oiled machine. We have successfully grown into a large team that operates from all corners of the world by sticking to our principles in managing our virtual teams.
As a virtual assistant agency, many of our clients are based in Australia, the United States, and various parts of Europe. And the Virtual Assistants they hire through us are mostly in the Philippines as well. You might be thinking of the geographical and the challenge of having different time zones, but what if we tell you that despite those challenges, we are still able to manage to run things very smoothly?
First, it’s important to know that while remote work has its fair share of hardship, there are some great benefits to it as well. Here are just a few:
- Our team members have flexibility.
- The whole team saves time and money because we don’t have to eat out and commute all the time.
- We get the best talent regardless of location.
- We’re able to leverage foreign exchange and give people in developing countries highly-competitive salaries.
- We stay agile.
- We’re forward-thinking.
- And many more!
How to Manage Teams Remotely Like a Rockstar
The key to overcoming any challenges that virtual work might bring is putting up structures for effective team management. Outsourcing Angel’s General Manager Wendy had some insights to share on how she has effectively managed Outsourcing Angel’s remote team despite the distance. Over the years, Wendy has been a rockstar part of the Outsourcing Angel family who ensures everything keeps running. She now oversees over a hundred Virtual Assistants and helps keep operations running smoothly! Basically put, she is AWESOME at learning virtual teams.
Watch the video below to learn how she does it.
Now, let us take you through some of the most important key principles when managing virtual teams so you can keep a Virtual Assistant for the long term and grow your business.
Key Principle #1: Develop a “virtual” leader mindset
Now that the world has quickly moved into a digital era, the way things used to work might not be applicable today. While many things remain the same in traditional and virtual leadership, there are stark differences. the traditional leadership approach most business owners use in the office doesn’t apply in the virtual workspace.
Just as the workplace has changed, leadership mindsets have changed now. So how do you develop the mindset of a virtual leader? Some big changes you need to learn how to manage virtual assistants include the following.
- Stop micromanaging — Just because you can’t see your team in person doesn’t mean that you can just order them around. Being a boss who likes to push and carelessly order people around might actually backfire on you later on because no one wants to work with a boss like that.
- Stay open to technology — There are so many amazing digital tools that can help us operate online teams. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Asana, Calendly, Google Suite and so on. But we keep boxing ourselves to tech because we think we aren’t “techy” people. But technology today can be extremely simple. The only issue sometimes is our mindset.
- Adopt a servant leadership approach — don’t be a dictator boss. People start a career as Virtual Assistant because they want to escape the traditional work environment. With this in mind, make sure that you help them satisfy their soul’s desire by giving them a healthy work environment. From the word “servant”, servant leadership is making sure that your people have everything they need.
- Take a “virtual first” mindset — That means that everything you do must have a virtual team in mind. As obvious as that might sound, you’ll be surprised how many times someone used to onsite teams might mis-plan things like virtual team buildings and meetings because they’ve forgotten they’re an online team.
Key Principle #2: Clear and open communication
Quite frankly, there’s more to life than just work. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. And it definitely feels good to know that someone is there to listen to you and see you as more than just another employee.
Imagine yourself as an employee and your boss approaches you in a friendly manner. Instead of talking to you about pending projects, he or she asks you how you’re currently doing in life. Won’t that feel heartwarming? Your role as the leader of the team is to make sure that you communicate with your virtual team members regularly. Keep good employees and unlock the potential to improve your business by listening to them. It is best to learn how to communicate with them as if they are your co-worker.
And in the technical side of things, make sure that you clearly communicate the tasks that you want them to do. Be very clear with your instructions and make sure to avoid ambiguity in your instructions. You’ll find that the language differences might be different, especially when working with someone from another country. But once you get used to it, it will become a small issue.
Make sure that your team is comfortable with communicating with each other because it plays a crucial part in the business. Use communication tools like Slack, Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, Facebook Workplace or any chat and video conferencing apps to keep an open line. Email should be there too, but it’s not enough to simply talk via email as you won’t be able to go back and forth as easily.
Key Principle #3: Focus on making your Virtual Assistants’ lives easier
Okay, this might sound a bit weird especially if you are an executive. You might be thinking, “I hired people to make running my business easier,” and while that’s true, it’s a two-way street.
As leaders, most of the time we think that our employees are there to make our lives easier. We have this mindset of putting ourselves first, neglecting the needs of the people under our organization. But remember, our goal here is to focus on building a remote team. Instead of focusing on making your life easier, try doing it the other way around. So how do you make your employees’ lives easier?
Make time to ask your team what they might need to succeed in their roles. Yes, you outsource to virtual assistants, but you also need to provide them with the tools and resources they need to do their job well. What we tend to do is keep adding to their workload, resulting in a bottleneck of pending tasks on their part without thinking about what they might need to get the job done.
What we have to do though is ask ourselves the question, “What are the things I can provide my team in order to make them more productive?” Those things could be tools, training materials, additional instructions, or something else. These are all little bits of support that could go a long way for your virtual team.
In the corporate world, we are taught to make our bosses’ lives easier. But once you transition to making the lives of the people who work for you easier, you get the benefit of happier employees. As a result, they enjoy coming to work, they’re more excited to take on tasks. A productive business operation is the result of a happy and empowered team.
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Key Principle #4: Give more than you take
We at Outsourcing Angel have found it’s super helpful to apply Gary Vee’s principle called “The 51/49 Principle” when we manage our Virtual Assistants. What it basically says is that in every relationship that we have, may it be personal or business, we must give at least 51% of the value. By doing that, you’re able to push and motivate people to give their best at work because they know that you would do the same for them.
Always think about giving more than what you get from people. People will love you more when they know that you are putting in more value for them. As social beings, we instinctively create ways to give that value back. Moreover, it builds more trust, removing any form of a hindrance— even proximal ones. What we love about our team in Outsourcing Angel is the level of trust and respect we show each other despite not seeing each other face to face. That’s because we know we’re part of a team that always seeks to serve one another.
So when you start giving more to your employees, it is likely that they would return the favor along the way. When this principle is applied, everyone wins. Because you have set an example of giving more than what you ask for, people around you will subconsciously follow that work ethic. As a result, your team members will significantly start excelling, doing more than what you expect them to do.
Feel free to ask your team members how you can serve them. Go out of your way to know more about them and bring value. Sometimes what they might need could be a little encouragement or some words of gratitude. Small gifts of appreciation when people do a good job or celebrate special occasions— like birthdays and anniversaries— can go a long way too. But those small acts of kindness and generosity will go a long way.
Key Principle #5: Promote resourcefulness
And finally, this principle tackles the very reason why you hire Virtual Assistants. Hiring a Virtual Assistant frees up a lot of your time because the mundane tasks on your plate are now managed by the Virtual Assistant. But what if a Virtual Assistant is faced with a problem that he/she may not be familiar with?
The tendency is that they will seek your advice as their leader. Oftentimes, when you ask them what solutions have they tried for the problem to be solved they will simply answer you with things like, “I don’t know… I have no idea… just tell me what to do.” This defeats the very purpose of why you hired a Virtual Assistant. It’s as if nothing’s changed because your presence and decision-making are still needed for the small tasks which still take up your precious time.
This is why it is very important to promote resourcefulness in your team. Whenever your team members have problems with their tasks, push them to do things on their own. Guide them, coach them through, teach them how to take responsibility and own their work. Just like what Ray Dalio said, “Recognize that everyone has the right and responsibility to try to make sense of important things.”
The more responsibility you can provide to your team members, the more ownership they have over their tasks. Take note of this, a sense of ownership allows people to take pride in their work, which is really important. So the next time they ask you to tell them what to do, don’t just spoon-feed them with the answers. Instead, try to create an environment that gives people the space and freedom to have ownership in their projects. Train them well so that they can make decisions by themselves and still keep your business running without you around. When you learn to pass down to your team the principles such as work habits, problem-solving techniques, and the ability to make decisions, it allows them to do things on their own–this sets your business on “autopilot”.
On top of serving the purpose of hiring a Virtual Assistant, it also increases your team’s job satisfaction because they are in a good work environment. Everybody loves a workspace that acknowledges and gives them credit for the projects that they have accomplished. This is the kind of culture that we must establish if we want to build a long-term virtual team.
Effectively lead your team and set up your business for the long term
A large part of your success is how you empower your virtual team. Leadership is not about them making you feel like you’re important. What you have to do is shine the light to them so that they shine brighter than they think that they ever could.
Instill to them that belief that they can be amazing. This is how you effectively lead a team even if they are working remotely.
These are the things that we at Outsourcing Angel continue to promote. We want our clients to grow so they can also grow their teams effectively. When the team grows, the business grows. If you successfully manage to build a high-performing virtual team, it frees up your time so you can focus on making BIGGER decisions than small day-to-day decisions. That’s how you get time freedom by hiring Virtual Assistants.
The question is, do you have what it takes to lead a remote virtual team? If you want to take on the challenge but don’t know how feel free to book a FREE discovery call with us today and we will help you get started right away!
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