Running a business often also means managing a team of staff or contractors who work for or support your business. And in today’s business world, increasing numbers of small and medium business owners allow their staff to work remotely and also use the services of virtual assistants.
This calls for skills in not only managing a team, but in particular managing a virtual team who you do not have the ability to see face-to-face regularly, if at all.
To learn from the experience of someone who successfully manages a virtual team, we turned to Kirsty Wilson, founder of Interim Business Solutions. Operating for more than eight years, Interim Business Solutions provides virtual assistants to small businesses. Kirsty’s large team of virtual assistants all work remotely and are managed by her virtually.
Here is our interview with Kirsty.
What advice would you give to business owners who manage a virtual team?
Set up and document clear systems and processes is one of the first things I would recommend. A documented manual not only assists in the contracting process but also clearly identifies work-flow and allows processes to be constantly revised and improved. Next, ensure a contractor/employee contract is in place so there are no misunderstanding with your expectations of the team/staff member.
What have been your most successful strategies to hand over tasks to your team effectively?
The strategies have come more in the way of tools. Without the cloud tools, working virtually would be impossible. Some of the tools I rely on every day to manage the team and get clients work completed, include:
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- Dropbox – for file syncing and sharing.
- TeamWorkPM – for project management.
- Wunderlist – for management of minor tasks (and for managing my life!), and
- Skype – for communication across the lands and seas.
How do you balance checking on your team with giving them autonomy?
Communication is one of the most important factors when delegating tasks to a team. From the point of engaging a contractor I tell them how I like to work. It is expected of them to do the following so I am not left wondering:
- Confirm receipt of a task.
- Accept deadlines are the deadline.
- Ask questions and clarify any instructions which are not understood, and
- Advise of any delays so the client can be advised immediately.
What tips do you have for motivating your team?
The people I am most happy to engage to be part of the Interim Business Solutions team are those with a similar work ethic. This is not so hard to find within the Australian Virtual Assistant industry. They too are small business owners and are generally motivated – they would go hungry if they weren’t! I also make sure my instructions to the team are clear and I make sure I pay them well within their trading terms – so they love working with me!
How do you efficiently manage a big team of workers while still running your business and growing it?
It’s called juggling! It has probably got to the stage where I could consider a Project Manager but that takes the business to a whole new level. I also believe the success of Interim Business Solutions is because I am the sole contact and manager of all jobs. From feedback I have gathered over the years from clients, this is what they love. They pass tasks this way and know it will be completed in a timely manner.
What are your tips for managing a virtual team?
Kirsty Wilson is the owner and founder of Interim Business Solutions, a multi-VA business offering experienced and reliable virtual assistance and social media services to the time-poor business owner and solopreneur. We’re your virtual administration and social media support partner!