Q. For my new startup I have partnered with talented people all over the country. What tips do you have for managing a successful remote team?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council. Founded by Scott Gerber, the Y.E.C. is a nonprofit organization that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.
A.Lay a solid foundation before starting
To avoid miscommunications and confusions that may result from being remote and unable to check in constantly, write up a comprehensive, checklist-based guide for your remote partners. Laying this solid foundation will make your phone/skype/email communication much more efficient in the future.
Annie Wang, HerCampus.com
A.Meet Face to Face
Somewhat contradictory, one of the most effective ways to manage a remote team is to organize meet-ups, if at all possible – either as a group or individually. While getting to know someone online is entirely possible, nothing can replace spending actual face time with new partners. It can prevent misunderstandings and give you insights you’ll struggle to get from a purely online relationship.
Lea Woodward, Kinetiva
A.Mind Your Time Zones
It’s the simple things that can trip you up, and there’s nothing simpler (and more oft-forgotten) than time zones. When you have a deadline, be sure everyone knows when it’s due in THEIR area, as well as your own. Make sure your customers and clients are aware of the time differences, as well, so you can schedule meetings and launches accordingly.
Colin Wright , Ebookling
A.Office Hours Can Make Everyone’s Life Easier
I manage people on 4 different continents and just as many timezones. By setting up office hours three times a week for an hour, we know that we can always count on those times to talk with the team and handle any major problems that have come up.
Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC
A.Find the Right Technology
My team has been using 37signals and Citrix products since we started nearly 3 years ago. We use a chat room every single day to stay in touch and I encourage my employees to share any great content they find. Email is great, but not for keeping up with day-to-day operations. A group text messaging service like Beluga can also be helpful for any urgent tasks.
Jason Sadler, IWearYourShirt.com
A.Create a consistent communication schedule
Reliably email your team or individual team members on the same day(s) of each week with the same sort of email, so that they come to understand the way your company is structured and when deadlines are, what happens when, etc. Do not deviate from this system. This creates stability and structure where there would seemingly be none.
Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus Media
If you have a team you must know how to keep them driven. In the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink he talks about how bosses can help their employees feel as motivated for the company’s success as the founders. Shockingly, this is NOT with monetary rewards. His main principles are encouraging autonomy, rewarding with praise not money and using carrots and sticks wisely.
Vanessa Van Petten, Science of People
A.Collaborate & Communicate!
A. Use a web-based project management application where everyone can collaborate. There are many available in market, so try a few until you find one that fits your team’s working style the best. I like 37Signal one! B. Communication is the key to success of any remote team’s project. Left, right, up, down, & sideways – Communicate. Focus on communicating right, and don’t get hung up on tools.
Devesh Dwivedi, breakingthe9to5jail.com
A.Delegate A Communications Manager
Choose one person to oversee the flow of communications to avoid fragmentation. Even if you’re using a project management application, one person needs to ensure that all of the people in the partnership are plugged in and on task.
Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group
Remote workers are far cheaper than a central headquarters, but you lose the personal connections that can make or break a business. I’ve found that rewarding for success helps motivate these remote workers and wonderful websites like Edible Arrangements, Omaha Steaks and Joe’s Stone Crabs make for great surprise gifts for excellence.
Timothy Sykes, TimothySykes.com
A.Daily 15 minute meeting
Try to arrange a time every day for a very quick team meeting. Just share what each team member is going to try to achieve for the given day. This is a great way of making each team member accountable to their work, and reminding your team about the other virtual members present.
Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT
A.Have tools, systems and other mechanisms in place to measure performance
The first way is simply through the numbers. What is being produced? How are the financials holding up? Is the data complete or are there cracks in the records? Communication is also a great way to ensure that things are getting done. No need for drawn out meetings when a 2 minute conversation can get a project moving.
Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
A.Define Everything Clearly
Make sure every task you give your team to do is well defined. You do not want any loose ends. Spend an extra 20 minutes on your emails to make sure everything you wanted accomplished has been laid out clearly, concisely and without any guess work.
Brad Kendall, Digihedron
A.A Chain Is Only As Strong As It’s Weakest Link
I don’t care how “talented” you think your new start-up partners may be – In a new start up, we all begin with a 0 on the scoreboard. When you are managing a remote team, it is essential to rule with an iron fist. You do not have the luxury to waste time listening to excuses via email or Skype.
Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
A.Hire A Leader
I have managed a team in Moscow from NYC and the key is having a leader in the remote office you can count on and communicate with. You need another you to be successful. Now the hard part, find that person.
Michael Sinensky, Village Pourhouse
Make it a point to have regularly scheduled virtual meetings, with video cameras and computer sharing software. These technologies will allow you to work just as effectively and without miscommunication.
Zach Cutler, The Cutler Group
A.A Strict Schedule and Manage Expectations
Managing exceptions is a key to any employer employee relationship. When your team is remote you must clearly set schedules and expectations with documentation and codified procedures. If your team doesn’t see you everyday they need to see your branded documentation and correspondence to keep their focus.
Lucas Sommer, Audimated
A.Regular Communication & Feedback is Key
To keep your team on the same page, use Skype to chat about important company tasks throughout the day. If necessary, hold regular meetings to get smaller groups of employees together. Feedback is an important aspect of communication, too. Microsoft Word and Google Docs let you leave comments and highlight changes on documents, which is a helpful way of leaving feedback on an assignment.
Heather Huhman, Come Recommended
Working in the same location has the intangible benefit of built in accountability. Upfront, everyone needs to be on the same page about expected effort levels and deliverables. Create reports for each person to report back to the group and hold the team responsible. The more communication the better.
Anderson Schoenrock, ScanDigital
You’ve hired a talented team so let them use their talents without constant supervision. Allow them to make choices and decisions without you overseeing everything. Only when you step back and give them personal responsibility for projects, will you see their talents maximized. This will also free up your time. Of course, this will only work if you have hired the right people.
Nick Cronin, ExpertBids.com
A.Stay as close to virtual as possible
When you have a team that’s all over the place making sure that everyone feels connected is key. Do video chats andconferences and/or skype– make sure you actually see and hear your team as much as possible. Follow-up with a standarized way of ensuring accountability-create a template or format for receiving weekly written recaps via email from your team members that comes to you in 1 simple form
Lauren Maillian Bias, Luxury Market Branding