It doesn’t matter whether you’re an in-house or virtual employee, you want to feel appreciated, you want to feel necessary.
It’s a bit easier to accomplish with an in-house employee.
Casual comments like “You know I really appreciate the effort you put into that report,” or “I couldn’t have closed that deal without your help,” will pretty much get the job done.
It’s a little tougher with remote employees, but don’t worry – HireSmart is here with some excellent advice you can use for your business.
If your virtual employees don’t feel necessary or valued, they’re probably feeling isolated and disconnected.
That eventually leads to decreased productivity and job satisfaction.
So, as a manager or team leader, it’s important to make your virtual employees feel necessary and valued. Here are some tips from HireSmart to help you achieve that.
Connect your virtual employees to your mission, vision, and values
One of the most important things is clearly communicating why your virtual employees are important to your business.
They need to know that without them involved and playing their part, the team will struggle.
As business expert and author Simon Sinek puts it, "When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute."
Part of this is to make sure your virtual employees understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are tools you can use to help virtual staff stay on track and feel more connected to the team.
Recognize their contributions
This can be as simple as sending a quick email or message thanking them for their work, or highlighting their achievements during team meetings.
Acknowledging your virtual employees' efforts and accomplishments helps them create a positive connection to their individual work and also to the business in general.
While an email’s a little more formal than stopping by an employee’s desk for a quick chat, or while grabbing a cup of coffee, it can still be casual and somewhat frequent.
This is such a fundamental and powerful management tool – you’d be surprised how many managers and owners fail to take advantage of it.
Encourage cross-pollination through collaboration
Collaboration is essential for any team and it’s particularly important for virtual employees who may feel disconnected from the rest of the team at times.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork makes your virtual employees feel like they are part of something bigger.
Regular team calls or brainstorming sessions are good opportunities for this, or using communication tools like Trello or Slack to keep everyone in the loop.
Let your employees learn from each other and develop authentic working relationships.
"Remote workers often feel disconnected from the team and struggle to build relationships. It's important to create opportunities for social interaction and team building." - John Rampton, "How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged and Productive"
Provide opportunities for growth
Make your virtual employees feel like they’re advancing in their careers and contributing in meaningful ways.
You can offer training sessions, mentorship programs, and anything that creates new challenges and responsibilities.
This shows your virtual staff that you’re investing in them and in their future.
Occasionally a HireSmart client will ask “Do I really need to put in this extra effort?”
And our answer is always a resounding “Yes!”
We don’t consider it extra effort – it’s just good management.
When it comes to hiring excellent virtual employees who will stick around long-term, we’ve got you covered.
Let us help your business succeed with our valuable tried and true management strategies.
Click here for a free consultation.
Virtual employees add diversity of experience and perspective to your team.
Many business owners hire consultants, coaches, advisors to help them see things in a different way, to get a different perspective from a trusted source.
It’s especially common in real estate and commission sales-type businesses where outreach and messaging are critical to success.
There is value in bringing in not only an extra pair of eyes but an objective outsider point of view that isn’t bogged down by too many details.
The outsider holds a valuable perspective simply by being an outsider.
When you’re so caught up in your business, knowing all the problems, all the details – you might be missing the forest for the trees.
Consultants and coaches and advisors are usually pretty expensive – especially the ones with good reputations.
So, you might not be ready to pay for that kind of outside analysis and support.
There’s another way to get a fresh take on your business from people who are already on your payroll and care about your success.
Yes, I’m talking about your employees and in this case specifically HireSmart Virtual Employees.
Virtual employees have an outsider perspective that can be valuable if they’re encouraged to express their ideas and insights.
They’re an excellent way to diversify your team.
Diversity is a term that gets thrown around a lot.
Where I’m coming from, it’s not about showing that you have a diverse staff, so people think you have enlightened business ethics.
Diversity is valuable in business because fresh ideas, new ways of understanding, and creative approaches are born from being able to see things in different ways.
When your staff is diverse, you can benefit from a diversity of experience, cultural values, styles of education – even different ways of thinking.
HireSmart Virtual Employees are known for their high quality and low labor cost value.
They also have value because they bring their own unique cultural approach to business, work and life.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of highly skilled, dependable and motivated virtual employees who can also see your business from a fresh perspective, click here for a free consultation.
Disaster preparedness is a crucial component of success for all businesses, including community associations and their management companies. From mundane scenarios like planned water shut offs or unexpected loss of power to natural disasters like coastal hurricanes and midwestern earthquakes, it’s important to plan ahead.
But that planning and the interim preparation that should come with it (consistent training and plan updates) can be a huge time commitment – for your boards and your managers. Finding the time to schedule plan reviews, training modules, and document maintenance is tedious. Virtual Employees (VEs) can be a big help to you before, during, and after disasters.
A Virtual Employee (VE), or virtual assistant is a great asset when it comes to organization and maintenance. So, it makes sense that for a long-term project like a business continuity plan, a virtual employee is an ideal solution. VEs can help with planning by:
You know how your board members can be – many are in their golden years, galivanting off on trip after trip. Sure, they get together occasionally for the required board meetings, but even those can be held remotely now. Scheduling between multiple concurrent vacations can be dicey, and when your team is spread across the country (or worldwide!), it can be challenging to find time for extra meetings.
Still, maintaining a disaster plan is an important step for the company's overall safety. A VE can create a schedule that outlines when each community’s disaster plan will be reviewed and updated and ensure that all board members are made aware of the schedule once it’s finalized. That way, your boards can either plan ahead and schedule travel time around those meetings or work with the VE to negotiate a new meeting time.
Having a plan is important, but so is maintaining that plan safely and consistently. A VE can attend each of the scheduled review meetings that the plan to help facilitate any changes that need to be made and streamline the document maintenance process.
They can also be tasked with ensuring the documentation is accessible by all necessary parties – that’s not just board members. Any sort of information that residents might need can easily be generated by a VE:
Ensuring that someone has eyes on this information and is diligently keeping it as updated as possible is the best way to guarantee accurate information and assistance is available when an emergency occurs.
Virtual Employees or virtual assistants are often very efficient at helping you plan ahead so that any disruption to your business as a result of a natural disaster will be minimal.
This starts in the planning and preparation phase. Not only can a VE maintain business continuity documents, but they can also help create some of them. For example, a VE can create checklists of assigned duties that each board member needs to handle in the event of certain emergencies.
This can be as simple as making phone calls to residents reminding them of scheduled maintenance that could impact their electricity or water, or as complex as coordinating with local energy providers due to dangerous downed power lines. Whatever the task lists look like, knowing which person is responsible for what tasks will be critical in keeping the community calm and progress moving when a disaster happens.
Also, because they are remote employees, VEs likely won’t be impacted by localized crises like natural disasters, making them ideal to assist in ways those in the thick of it cannot. When a community is forced to evacuate due to flash floods, a VE can be available and ready to field phone calls and emails from scared residents, removing that burden from equally frightened board members.
Being prepared for a disaster is vital to any business. It's also something that can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you're just starting out on a board and have never had to deal with emergencies before.
But VEs aren’t just great for your board members’ disaster prep planning – a VE can help management companies in the same ways. That's why we suggest using virtual employees for ALL your disaster preparedness plans, whether they’re for your communities or for your management company.
A virtual employee is there to keep everything running smoothly during an emergency event – for everyone. Click here to schedule your 30-minute consultation today to learn more about how a HireSmart Virtual Employee can streamline your next disaster prep meeting.
For a manager, setting performance goals is the tool of alchemy – turning regular employee productivity into solid gold.
I’ve written a lot about Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in the past and how they’re a powerful tool for setting up virtual employee success.
They allow you, as a manager, to identify the indicators that are most valuable to you and to your business.
When you communicate those indicators to your virtual employee and make sure they’re being met, you secure the value of your labor dollars.
Really, if there’s only one management strategy you use, it should be KPI.
But even when you set and manage KPIs, there’s another step to elevate your virtual employee into higher achievement levels – setting performance goals.
According to the McKinsey organization blog, setting performance goals directly benefits the employee –
“Encouraging employees to set performance goals helps push performance and serves as a motivator for ongoing development.”
And also benefits the business –
“Goal-setting can help improve employee engagement in a way which elevates performance and benefits organizations overall.”
Not every employee will want to set high reaching goals – they may not have the time or energy to invest more of themselves in their jobs.
That’s fine, they can continue to meet their performance indicators and stay in that lane of steady, solid performance.
But, maybe you have a virtual employee (VE) who seems excited by the opportunity to learn new skills, take on additional responsibility and improve her position by helping to grow your business?
This person has the potential for solid gold employee performance using the alchemical power of setting goals.
Harvard Business Review offers four helpful approaches to setting goals that supercharge employee performance:
Now, Harvard is fancy and all that, but we’ve helped our clients improve virtual employee performance through goal setting for years.
If you’re looking for a staffing company that knows how to maximize productivity from virtual employees, click here for a free consultation.
Do you depend on the person or the process? Many times when there is a breakdown in the virtual staff’s performance, the issue is not the person, but in the process. The good news is that there is hope. Developing a process for your virtual staff member can seem daunting at first, so we are going to break down the steps for you. Even better is you can task your virtual staff member with helping to document the process by making checklists and other helpful guides. Once you have a solid process, anyone should be able to complete the task making it less dependent on the person completing it.
The only way to develop a process that your newly hired Virtual Employee can follow, especially if it involves a complex task, is to execute an accurate and comprehensive training session. We have a 4 step process for creating processes in our office.
HISTORY & CONNECTIONS
One effective way to help your new hire absorb the task is to share how it fits into the business and why it is important. Understanding how the task fits into the overall business and who is involved helps for understanding.
Before the start of the training, you can arrange a brief introduction that covers the history of the task, how it fits into the overall business, review the business objectives, and some other facts about why this task is important. Think of it as you’re providing them the backbone of your business and sharing them the importance of their role.
If you don’t already have a written process or checklist, we recommend recording yourself or other staff member doing the task from beginning to end. If you don’t have a screen capture software like Camtasia, then you can at least take share screens of the steps. Ideally, you are doing this while you are working on the task anyway, so you don’t have to create additional work for yourself.
If you need to know your best options for applications with share screen feature, check out our previous topic about Tools for Your Virtual Employee.
Once you have the screen capture, label it properly and place in a location that everyone who may need it can access it. I like to set training folders up based on the overall process. For example, if we are preparing lease documents for renewals, I would have a folder called Lease Preparation and then under that have New Lease Set Up and another folder called Lease Renewals.
After I have the training video done, I have my virtual professional create a checklist of either items or questions and sources of where to get the data required.
Pull together a list of complete resources. Things like where to find the data, which team member is available to assist with this task if there are questions, and where completed work should be sent for review, all need documentation as well. Ideally, they should practice the task while under your supervision several times before they work on a “real” file.
It is perfectly acceptable to have your virtual professional pull these things together for you while you are teaching the task.
Finally, always remain patient. While you have done this task many times, this is very new to your Virtual Professional. Remember that it’s natural for anyone to get confused or frustrated when they are in learning mode. Make yourself available, check in and encourage your new hire to ask questions until they have completed the task with no errors several times.
In most part, depending on the gravity of the tasks. It takes approximately 7 to 10 times of doing the activity before true mastery can even begin. Depending on the time between completing the task, this could take days, weeks or months. In the end, the more comfortable you can make your employee feel in his/her new environment, the more accurate and reliable he/she can become.
Without proper guidance and education, your virtual staff member will not be able to perform at the level you expect. Therefore, it is an investment in your business to make the tasks as repeatable and replicable as possible. A written process makes that happen. I know as busy business people, we tend to keep everything in our heads, and it is not natural to write these things down. However not doing so keeps you a slave to your business and will not allow you the freedom to grow.
We all know that starting a new position can be stressful to anyone, but as a manager, I often make the transition a whole lot smoother by following these guidelines whenever a new hire comes in. Should you need more tips and information on how to get your Virtual Employee for your business, feel free to book an appointment with me today!
Motivating virtual teams doesn’t have to be challenging. Having virtual staff members in your business can generate favorable results as discussed previously on how virtual employees can make you healthier and my 7 reasons to hire a virtual employee.
Motivating virtual teams is very similar to motivating internal teams. The most common complaint is the feeling of disconnect between the virtual team members and in-house staff. One of the best ways to motivate your virtual team is to include them in virtual meetings and make the group interactive. I have personally been included in many virtual meetings with other colleagues across the globe.
Virtual meetings have become a more common method to effectively communicate with a dispersed workforce. It allows you to hire the very best talent, regardless of where you are in relationship to where your workers. In essence, allowing your business to operate at anytime and anywhere.
Technology and fast-changing tools have equipped business managers to conduct communication in a much more convenient way through conference technologies and mobile access. Business huddles now transcend global boundaries and has transformed into a common practice even in the small to medium sized businesses where as before, only the larger companies could afford such a luxury.
To help you in having better communication between internal and external workers, I have come up with 3 effective strategies to make virtual meetings productive.
Plan in Advance
As a business manager, part of my responsibility is to create and provide the entire backbone strategy of each meeting. Preparing and distributing the agenda before the meeting provides my staff the opportunity to understand business objectives and to plan their ideas and concepts for sharing in advance. This allows for much better dialog and ideas to flow.
Collect Everyone’s Input
If possible, make sure it’s an interactive experience for everyone involved when conducting a meeting. It might be difficult when participants are connected via keep track of who is actively engaged. This is another reason having an advanced agenda can help. You can then ask others to take a role allows for a more collaborative meeting. This also gives you an opportunity to learn from your staff and see what insights they have based on their perspective.
Stay On Track
It may be necessary to intervene if a participant or the group gets off-topic or end up discussing information that is out of sync with the meeting objectives. Although everyone’s input matters, as the chairperson of the meeting, you should control the meeting flow. If a certain topic goes a different way it is best to get back on point and schedule that topic in a future meeting.
Keeping meetings on point and fairly brief allows the meetings to be more meaningful. It also keeps the feeling of being “meeting to death”. I highly recommend shorter meetings weekly with a set agenda to keep everyone apprised of pertinent information. Monthly there should be slightly longer meetings with the objective of training, interaction, and feedback. You should also have someone on one time scheduled with your direct reports. This can be accomplished with some quick IMs or quick video chats. This helps everyone stay plugged in.
Want to know more about how you can enhance your business through using global staff? Book a call to set an appointment and find out more.
Sometimes, you have an issue with your Virtual Employee. How do you handle it?
Your mother said there would be days like this…
There are some days when nothing seems to go the way you want it to. For me yesterday was one of those days. People let you down. It is part of being a business owner. Whether you have internal or external staff, there will come a time when someone drops the ball. It is inevitable.
The question becomes, how do we handle these situations? What can we learn and how can we grow from it.
First, evaluate what is really the problem:
Was it a training issue?
Personnel performance issue?
Is the system broken & inefficient?
Training Issues are the easiest to fix.
I use training issues to strengthen my systems and policies. We create a training library and just add to it as needed. The main thing is to have a filing and naming convention so that trainings can be easily referenced and found.
Personnel performance issues are a little bit trickier.
Let’s face, we can’t be on our “A” game every day. There are days when I miss the mark as well. If your virtual employee is just having a less than stellar day, but overall has been amazing, then maybe you have a heart to heart and call it a day.
If however, the problem is more systemic, follow this simple evaluation:
Ask a question to determine the root of the issue. Sometimes, your virtual employee is in over their heads and are embarrassed to tell you. While it may seem silly, there are times when your virtual employee just doesn’t know what to do next and ends up either doing nothing or doing the wrong thing.
Are they overwhelmed? Ask what needs to happen to help them get it resolved. A lot of times, we have high expectations of our staff, but honestly don’t equip them well enough to meet those expectations. Having an open communication can often time lead to better expectations and procedures.
Are they communicating regularly? Force your virtual employee to communicate with you. Most problems arise when you allow communication to slip. Your virtual employee has been trained to provide you with a daily recap of their work. When clients allow that drop, it almost always ends up with an issue. Your virtual employee should be reporting on the most important tasks of the day. Take a minute or two to review it.
Are you providing regular feedback? Positive and negative feedback are a key component to overall successful communication and a positive relationship. Everyone needs a pat on the back in addition to constructive criticism. Make it a point in the first 90 days to devote the time to building this into your meetings with your virtual employee.
Is your system broken or inefficient?
There is no doubt that having a virtual employee will make your systems stronger. However, there are times when the system really needs to be evaluated. What works on a small scale in the office, doesn’t always work with a remote staff member.
I have found that there are a lot of times internal staff make do with inefficiencies rather than fix a broken system. People are naturally resistant to change. When you are using a remote staff member, they aren’t as “plugged in” to the “fixes” and therefore the problem is highlighted. Unfortunately, often the problem is blamed on the virtual staff member rather than the broken system.
Evaluating your systems regularly allows for innovation and efficiency.
Every time my virtual employee makes a misstep, I look at it as an opportunity to grow. What can I do to improve? I rarely blame my virtual employee. I either use it as a learning opportunity, training opportunity or an opportunity to better my systems.
If in fact my virtual staff member made a mistake, I take the time to discuss it with him or her, make them part of the solution for the next time. I demand daily communication so that I can feel good about the work they are performing for me.
Overall, I remind myself even on the most frustrating of days, that having my virtual staff handle the tasks that I don’t want to do is a huge blessing for me. They are efficient, kind, and want to do a great job for me. Because I am willing to put in a little effort, I get to do more of the tasks that I prefer.
To your success!
P.S. If you have ever thought about hiring a virtual employee, I would love to have a conversation with you - Book your appointment today!
If it’s your first time hiring a virtual employee, you might be asking what tasks can you assign and furthermore, how to delegate tasks. Task delegation is necessary as it helps boost the productivity of your business. It also helps to make sure your staff is maximizing the use of their time and your time as well. By delegation, you are also helping to develop the skills of your staff and bring out the very best in them.
Before you start assigning tasks to your staff, make a list of all duties that you feel you need help with. You need to determine the relevance and the difficulty of the duties at hand. Is it of low-level difficulty and relevance or is it a high-level difficulty-and –relevance task? This will enable you to efficiently assign the tasks to the right staff.
We have outlined 5 crucial steps to follow in the delegation process:
2. Have a talk with your staff. The tasks you will assign will be part of their KPI (Key Performance Indicators) so you have to give them detailed instructions on how you expect the job to be done. Be clear with the outcome and make it measurable.
Example: If you want your staff to write an article for you, you have to give him/her an editorial calendar where she will have access to the topics you need to be written or you can teach her how to come up with the topics. You’d also have to be clear with the number of words per article and when you need each article to be done. Then you need to clarify the frequency and turn around that you expect.
3. Get agreement from your staff. Discuss with them the details of the project and set a deadline.
4. Be open for feedback. As part of their learning process, it is very helpful to let the staff know that you are open for suggestions and questions. There are times that your staff will have a very insightful idea or different way to approach something. Allowing them to have some latitude will encourage their best work.
5. Avoid micromanaging. Give full responsibility and accountability to your staff. Virtual employees always give their close-of-business reports every day so you can always quickly check if the work has been completed or are still in progress. There is minimal need for you to check the progress of the tasks you have assigned as doing so will only add to your current workload. Micromanaging forfeits the purpose of task delegation. It also does not encourage accountability on the part of your staff. Unless it is a critical task, allow your staff to finish it by the deadline and if it is a routine task you’ve assigned, you can have bi-weekly feedback with him or her to check how things are going.
Do you find yourself swamped with tasks that you don’t know which ones to give priority to? Your business cannot reach its full potential if you are missing deadlines. Why not start delegating your tasks? Contact us and we will help you get started.
There are different approaches when creating strategies that can help you and your virtual employee become more productive and efficient working as a team. The goal is to establish better results with consistency for the benefit of a successful and long-term work relationship.
So here are a few tips on how to effectively strategize with your virtual employee:
We recommend having a short weekly meeting with your virtual employee. This will help you provide a comprehensive overview of your weekly objectives or review with them some areas of improvement to help you stabilize your timetable as time progressed. Also, having your virtual employee to manage his/her weekly report can also help them understand your strategies and become more familiar - especially with important or advanced procedures - making them amenable to other tasks in the long run.
In connection to weekly updates, one crucial piece you should keep in mind is the consistency of your benchmarks. It is essential to maintain quality results by observing the necessary elements handled by your virtual employee. For this, management tools to help remote workers is a must. Whether it be through a form of call recordings, weekly reports, or daily tasks, monitoring specific enhancements can preserve a feasible control over time.
In a business perspective, being able to stay ahead of competitive changes in your industry is always important. Allow your virtual employees to be a part of the creative process by researching new industry trends, reporting on your competitors’ advantages/disadvantages, and then discussing the findings in your weekly meetings. You will be surprised at the collaboration and ideas that can come from these sessions. There are times to get all the team members involved in this process as well which promotes teamwork and a closer team dynamic.
PROVIDING CLEAR DIRECTIVES
Most of the successful business owners have studied how to communicate as a leader. At some point in your life, you must realize that significant advancements in your career, in any given direction, would depend on your leadership skills. Take some time to find your answers and set a goal to be that leader. Perhaps, you can consider finding a mentor or any volunteer opportunities that will allow you to widen your horizon which can strengthen your skills as a great leader. Being able to communicate your expectations is a key part of having great teams.
Should you need a multi-skilled and experienced virtual employee to help you with your business, feel free and schedule an appointment with me today.
Remote team building activities is a great way to enhance your relationship with your internal and external staff. We have talked about building an atmosphere of trust to effectively manage remote employees in our last article and team building activities is a great way to build trust and rapport.
It is easy to talk and connect to a colleague when they are just sitting right next to you. You can see and hear them and it makes the interaction more personal and relatable. With virtual colleagues, all you see in front of you is a computer, text messages via IM or emails. So how can we promote camaraderie and “team spirit” despite being only virtually connected?
First Impressions last. Before you flood your remote employee with the tasks-to-do, we recommend that you take the time to welcome his or her to your team. You can hop on a quick video call to perhaps give them a quick tour of your office and the rest of the team or if you are all working at home, you can set up a group call for everyone just to break the ice and get everyone introduced to each other. As a newbie, it is always helpful to know that your colleagues have taken the time to welcome you and thus, they will also be there when the tough gets going at work to assist you somehow.
A few software programs you can use for screen sharing and teleconferencing are: Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx and GoToMeeting.
Never underestimate the power of chat. There is software like slack and glip that is great for team messaging (and they can also be great for a lot of things too). You can create a group chat intended solely for the team’s non-work related messages or random shares. Team members can then share some funny moments, photos or express some random rants about a difficult customer. You can make use of a variety of funny memes or animated gif to make the conversation lively (or not lively) as if you are all just in the same workspace. Simple things that can definitely help lighten up the mood of the day.
Weekly Meetings. Because you are worlds apart, communication is very vital even though there are no work updates or issues that need addressing. You gather the team together in a video call and give each team member a time to speak out. They may share their difficulties at work or impart their best practices to the others. Meetings like this show that the “team” cares for each and every one.
Kudos emails. Occasionally, send email blasts to all when one of the staff does an exemplary work. For example, if a customer has commended your business because your staff has delivered above and beyond service, create a kudos email announcing that deed and allow the other team members to reply and congratulate the performer for the job well-done. The team’s enthusiasm will boost the staff member’s morale and can greatly encourage productivity.
Be creative and think what makes the team engaged. As you all don’t have a physical office and can work anywhere, you can designate a “show-your-office day” where your employees take a photo of their workplace (whether it is) and share it with the group. This doesn’t take so much of time to do and helps everyone to get to know each other a bit.
Have a book club. When several people are reading the same book, and sharing knowledge, powerful things happen. Discussing chapters and exchanging ideas and concept can have a very power effect and provides insight into how team members think and interact.
These may not fall under the “normal” team building activities like we are all used to in the corporate world but they work quite the same – the goal is to build relationship despite being in the same physical space.
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Need some help with your staff? Reach out to me and let me help.