It’s not at all easy to build remote teams, and especially those that will lead you to success. If anyone told you it was easy, he just didn’t try. Balancing various projects, setting right priorities, remotely controlling employees, upholding high motivation in your team, and making clients happy at the same time – what can be a bigger challenge?
There are many tips and guides on this subject, so it’s difficult to cover everything in just one piece. But here are three interesting points from the book “No Excuses” by a prominent entrepreneur Dave Nevogt.
This works equally well both in a shop and in business. When creating a virtual team, it’s crucial to find highly and self-motivated people. How can you tell that someone is exactly such a person? He or she doesn’t have it written in the resume (maybe written, but this is, you may guess, commonplace). So use testing and probating procedures heavily.
You might create a list of easy things to give to your prospects as a test. For example, if you’re looking for a designer, ask him or her to remake your logo, develop a header or email template. Allow some reasonable, but not very long time for it. You can manage time tracking with the help of software like TimeVizor.
A test should be built around your job opening and its description. You can post it online on freelance or job search sites. But don’t forget that you pursue two goals: find someone with skills and self-motivated at the same time.
Now you need to make your prospects compete for your vacancy. Let them offer their ideas, create a plan, show what they have already done in the past. At this step you can assess their professional and communication skills, creativity, and value for your team.
Now the next step: even if you’re looking for just one contractor, hire two or three people at one position on probation (certainly paid). Look at how they work by giving them relatively easy tasks. Yes, it will take some extra bucks, but be sure it’s worth it.
You will likely find that one person is better than others in terms of motivation, output, interaction with peers, and value for your team. Start slowly integrating him or her into your team by giving more serious tasks. You may now amicably part with the others. It’s very likely that you’ll use them for other projects in future.
This approach works equally well with virtually all remote workers: developers, designers, writers, SEO people, PR people, etc. Probation may be troublesome in regular, full-time work, but it still works well in remote work with its flexibility and larger focus on self-motivation.
Don’t try to change people: you can’t
You won’t face much trouble problems if you have a band of honest, motivated, and skilled people. But sometimes you need to face the bitter truth: some people just won’t fit into your team. Even if you developed a good hiring process, it may (and will) fail, and you are the one who has to act on this.
It’s difficult emotionally but also financially: you built relationship with people, put money in their training and HR. But if something went wrong, you have to realize that it’s virtually impossible to motivate people to do more than they do now. If a contractor lacks motivation, it’s difficult to change it. You could raise his or her pay, but it’s likely that you already have a reasonable compensation plan that other team members find sufficient. So, the earlier you understand it’s time to say goodbye, the better for all of you.
Certainly, instead of tackling this issue when it arose, it’s better not to create it in the first place. How? By investing in your hiring procedures we've outlined earlier. The goal of these procedures should be finding highly-motivated people, and also self-motivated. Take time and money to find them. It’s highly probable that controlling work time of such people won’t be a headache for you.
Nobody is irreplaceable
You should have two or more people that know how to do any job in your team. Nobody should be irreplaceable (well, except for you). Here are three reasons why this is important.
Firstly, people may get sick, take a leave, lose an Internet connection, or quit. You don’t want the job to halt. Someone else must be ready to take up the work load with minimum hassle.
Secondly, if you have multiple people that know how to do a job, they will compete for it and progress faster. They will see there is no monopoly, there is always someone else to take their job. It creates competitiveness, and competitiveness always leads to better quality and professional growth.
Thirdly, it makes for a better teamwork. Someone may have ideas that nobody else has. It creates a pool of ideas and approaches that you can choose from.
This advice is built on years of experience, and it will surely help you in building your teams.