Having a virtual team working with you has a lot of advantages. Primarily it costs less. You don’t have to pay for office rentals. Depending on your terms of agreement, you either pay only by the hour or by the project you're asking for.
However, as with everything else, it also has its cons. One of which is the challenge of successfully and effectively managing your virtual team. I should know! I’ve been managing my team for how many years now, and there are times when I wonder if they are doing their tasks as they should be. I eventually learned that it all boils down to trust between clients or managers and virtual assistants. Now, this trust is derived from effective management.
And because here in Global VA Solutions, we care about your virtual business and team, we want to help you be successful in managing your organisation. Here are tried and tested techniques for managing your virtual team.
Comprehensive Onboarding Experience
The key to effective management begins with your onboarding process. Onboarding involves job orientation and training.
When conducting job orientation to a new hire, it should cover the company’s culture, mission and vision. You should also provide an overview of what the company is and how everyone is involved with its goals. This is also the perfect avenue to set proper expectations. Let the newly-hired VA know what you and the organisation expect from them. This will give them an early heads up on how they must fulfill their role. Concurrently, you should also ask the VA what they expect from the organisation. This way, both parties have clear expectations from one another.
Another part of the onboarding process is training. Here is where you will provide theoretical and practical lessons to your VA. You have to remember that virtual training is not as potent as face-to-face training. Because of this, you have to have a carefully laid out training program. When creating your training program, ask yourself these questions:
Should I ask my trainee to read training modules, and provide an assessment after?
Should I conduct a virtual training session via video-telephony platforms such as Zoom?
Should I have a blended type of training instead?
Whatever training program you come up with, you have to bear in mind that you are not only training the VA for the role, but you are also providing training on how they would be managed eventually. Think of it this way, whatever management style you show during the training period, the virtual assistant will eventually remember that once the training’s over.
Part of managing a team, be it virtual or face-to-face, is having a solid communication process. Communication is a little trickier within a virtual team set up. This is why it’s important for you to select the most stable communication platforms, as well as having a clear process.
You have to have the right combination of communication tools and processes. It’s imperative to have a channel you can communicate with your team immediately. You should also have a channel for long form messages, where you and your team can exchange files as needed. There should also be a stable platform where you can conduct a virtual meeting with your team.
These communication platforms should have corresponding processes. That way, it will be clear for everyone which platform should be used for which situation. Having a clear communication process will give confidence to you and your team every time you need to reach out to one another.
Clear Processes And Tasks
Confusion is one ingredient to having a failed team management effort. The good news is, this can be avoided immensely!
All you have to do is set clear processes and tasks.
When laying out your process drafts, let your team check what you have created and ask for their insights. After that, try and run the process and see which areas need some tweaking. You must do these steps before deploying the process. However, it should not stop there. Once you’ve deployed the process and it went live, you still have to constantly check with your team if there are any parts of the process that need updating. Loopholes in processes can create confusion between you and your team, which can be avoided by constant checking.
As with processes, you have to be clear when assigning tasks to your team members. Indicate what you hope to get from the task, when you want it done, the steps needed for it, etc. When you make clear tasks for your team, you are hitting two birds with one stone. First, you lessen the confusion, and second, you also lessen the possibility of your team reaching out to you about the task. Regarding the second point, let me make it clear that it’s not a bad thing for your team to reach out to you and clarify a few things. However, it is your job as the manager to make their tasks as clear as possible. Lessening the possibility of a team member reaching out to you because of unclear instructions is a win since they will be more efficient in finishing the said task.
Reward Your Team
Rewards and recognition are not really mandatory. It actually is your prerogative whether you want to give incentives or not. The point here is, if your team is doing their roles effectively and a lot more, you might want to consider giving out rewards.
You see rewards can hugely increase your team’s morale. They will want to do more. This is primarily because they know they are being recognised.
Rewarding your team should not entirely be monetary. Sure, giving out monetary incentives is great, but there are other forms of rewards. You can possibly give an extra paid day off to your team if you think they’ve been working hard. You can also give out certificates for your team’s performance, e.g. Top VA of the Month, Best in Meeting Attendance etc. Moreover, you can recognise a team member by posting a thank you note or recognition on your company board.
There are a lot of ways to reward and recognise your team. It doesn’t always have to be monetary, you just need a little imagination.
Have Regular Staff Meetings
Virtual team setups can be quite alienating. Sure, you hired someone whom you expect to work independently with minimal supervision. However, your members should still feel they are part of a team.
Conducting regular staff meetings with all your team members can make them feel they have a team they belong to. These team meetings can also create and foster social engagements between your VAs. It can open up the channel for them to reach out with one another on a personal level.
During these staff meetings, minimise your participation and let them converse and speak up. As time passes by, you will notice that they will be more comfortable with you and with one another as well.
Empower Your VAs
Have you heard of the saying “great leaders create more leaders, and not followers”? One way of effectively managing your team is by letting them lead. Empowering your VAs to lead can make them more responsible with their roles.
When creating projects or tasks for the team, make sure that you give them the chance to lead. This is by letting them decide, by letting them provide their insights, etc. Your role as their manager is to listen to what they will contribute. Heed to insights that make sense and that are helpful to the project. Compromise when you think there are other ways.
Creating new leaders in your organisation can take some major tasks off your plate. At the same time, they also get to learn new skills that will be helpful for their roles.
Pay Them Appropriately
When you post a job advert with tons of requirements and prerequisites, expect that you will get experienced applicants. Most of the time, these types of applicants already know how much compensation they should get. And, if you offer them less than what they expect, then chances are they will not push through with their application anymore.
What am I getting at? When you hire for a certain position, make sure to check the market for the current rate of the position you are hiring for. Obviously, no one will want to work for someone who will give so many tasks for an unmatched pay. I’m not saying you should give a high pay rate each and every time you hire someone. What I’m saying is, you should pay a VA based on their skills, job experiences and your requirements.
With Global VA Solutions, we provide guidance on how much you should pay the VA you will be hiring. If you’re interested to know more, then book a free consultation call now.
At the end of the day, all managers have their own management styles. However, the common thing that they should have is to know how to balance the business’s interests and the virtual assistants’ welfare. After all, your VAs are the ones helping you out with your organisation.
As your business grows, your team will potentially grow as well. With this, managing them can become quite challenging. This is why effective management should be done from the start of the VA’s journey. This will instill great work ethics with the VA, which they will carry while they are in your team.
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