We hear it all the time. “But isn’t it hard to manage remote employees? How can you make sure they’re actually doing their jobs?”
The truth is: managing remote employees is no harder than managing domestic ones. If you're able to manage employees effectively in the office you should have no problem managing people virtually. not good at managing remote professionals, you probably also have difficulties managing your resident employees. Because management - in any capacity - is the same at its core.
In fact, managing remote teams effectively simply requires us to implement the best-practices of management that we already know how to do. From managing output rather than time at the desk, to clearly defining objectives. If you can do these things then you will excel at managing remote teams.
It involves creating a relationship built on trust, and this trust is built through proper onboarding and training of remote employees. If you can do that, a stellar remote team awaits you.
The 3 Biggest Myths About Hiring (and Firing) Remote Staff
First, let’s crush some common misconceptions about virtual assistants and remote professionals.
1. Remote employees are less productive.
Multiple studies discount this old-fashioned stigma. We’ll simply add that, in our work, we find that employers are less likely to tolerate the learning process (and the mistakes that come with it) because they are not interacting with that employee in-person. Additionally, we find that these struggles can be solved with proper onboarding and development of your remote employees.
2. Remote employees are cheaper to fire.
Companies are indeed prone to firing remote professionals at a faster pace than they will domestic employees. Many people think that it’s less expensive to have a high turnover rate in a remote world, so it makes for quick trigger-finger firing. But if they think it’s not costing them just as much, they are mistaken.
Nearly always, the people training that remote employee are the more highly paid people in the company. If you take the trainer’s pay into account, the turnover cost is nearly identical to what it is for resident staff. Having a high turnover rate (remote or not) will affect your bottom line.
3. Remote employees cannot be developed as well as employees located in the office.
A limited mindset causes some employers to believe that effective development just isn’t possible with remote workers. If you believe that way, though, you lose the potential of these amazing people who want to learn how to be better business professionals. Remote workers want experience, increased responsibility, and training to utilize their skill-set. They want to learn.
The Real Truth About Remote Professionals
The companies that are going to succeed going forward are going to be the ones that know how to use remote professionals and virtual assistants to their fullest potential. We’ve found that making the most of your remote staff begins at onboarding.
Why Your On-Boarding Style Creates A Long-term Impact (For Better Or For Worse)
If you feel like you struggle with onboarding new employees, you are not alone. It’s easy for onboarding problems to crop, especially when you find yourself unexpectedly looking for additional help at the height of the busy season. You just try to hire and get them started as quickly as possible. But the time you save now will cost you BIG in the long term.
A disorganized onboarding sets a bad precedent for the rest of the relationship and increases the chances that that hire won't work out.
Poor onboarding is not too dissimilar from a poor move-in. A tenant moves into a new place, only to find that it’s dirty. A smoke detector is missing. They got the wrong keys. For the rest of the relationship, they will expect you to be the worst.
The same can be said for the employee-employer relationship. If the onboard goes poorly,
- The employees won't have the tools or training they need to do their jobs well.
- They’ll learn to have a lack of respect for the job right from the beginning.
- They work less hard because they think their job is waiting.
- It set a precedent of incompetence.
All those things set up a relationship for failure. If you don't dedicate time to all your new employees - remote and local- the negative effects will only compound over time. Before long, you will start to lose the equity that you could have otherwise built by investing that time in proper onboarding.
But there’s good news coming…
When onboarding is done well, you set yourself up for a fantastic relationship with an employee who rises again and again to meet your high expectations.
4 Best Practices For Successful Onboarding Of Remote Employees
Employers often don't put as much effort into the processes and procedures that they don't use as often. On a certain level, that makes sense. But not when it comes to onboarding.
Although you may only onboard a handful of people a year, it’s crucial to have taken the time - ahead of time to strategize an effective and organized onboarding practice. This is something you should put effort into writing down before the need arises. Here’s how:
1. Make a list.
Your list should include all the tools and software that your new employee is going to need access to. Having a list ahead of time means you can trust your hires are receiving proper onboarding even on your busiest days.
HELPFUL TIP: One pretty big game-changer for our company has been a software called Keeper. Keeper serves as a super-encrypted central location for housing all your company’s usernames and passwords. No longer will your employees need to know ANY of the passwords, so you can make them as difficult as they need to be and you don’t have to change certain ones every time an employee is fired.
2. Assign roles in the software.
Assigning roles (and, thus, privileges) means being in direct control of what each employee can and can't see. This includes the dashboard, the ribbons, and the filters. For instance, if they don’t need to see the financials of your company then don't give them access to the financials of your business.
How it works: Whenever you hire somebody for a position, you assign them to the role and they will automatically have access to everything that they need (and nothing that they don’t.) If they change roles (get promoted), you can simply assign the new role for the additional privileges of that role, and everything is done for you. Simply assigning privileges on an individual basis is more than time-consuming - it’s risky and creates more opportunity for security breaches.
Note: If your software doesn't let you have privileges, we suggest getting a different software package.
3. Refer back to the job description often.
The job description should serve as your checklist of all the processes and procedures that person will be responsible for. Do they agree they're proficient in applications? Check it off the list.
The description will also come in handy if they quit abruptly. It’s easy to allocate each part of their job to different people when you're sure of what they did and didn't do.
4. Outline topics that need to be covered.
These topics will help the new employee better understand how the company works. Having organized this information on the front end will inspire confidence in new hires. Some good things to mention in your onboarding include:
- the history of the company
- an organizational chart of the company
- company culture and values
- employee expectations (being on time for meetings, dressing for success - even remotely, honesty, being prepared for meetings, work-life balance, and dependability)
If your new employees don’t know their expectations from the onset, they will likely fall short. But if they do, they will rise to meet them.
Pro Tip For Direct Managers: Admit your weaknesses on the front end.
One way to avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings that can snowball into bigger problems is through honesty with yourself and your new employees about a weakness you have. This might sound like…
- “I suck at email management, but I’m quick to reply through instant messenger.”
- “I'm not super organized, so you may have to remind me more than once.”
- “My emails can come across as rude because I just get straight to the point.”
This will not only help your new employees avoid stress, doubts about their job, or feelings of frustration with you, but also create an invaluable culture of honesty within your company.
How To Implement Traction and Quarterly Goals For Team Development
As owners, it’s impossible to do everything ourselves. That’s why every single person at the company should feel responsible for moving the business forward.
We do this through Entrepreneurial Operating Systems’ (EOS) tool, Traction, but there are other methods for managing your business’s cadence as well. We ensure each person has a quarterly goal of at least one 1-3 things that they are responsible for. Their projects include milestones and timelines for meeting those milestones.
This not only helps them personally develop their business acumen, but they also become more valuable to you through the process. When you have an employee that later asks for more money - and they deserve it - that's a success.
Never underestimate the power of weekly meetings. They keep remote employees engaged in what the company is doing, ensure progress on big projects, and move the business forward.
The Importance of Virtual Meetings For Remote Teams
Meetings are one important way to develop remote staff and to ensure they are just as connected and successful as any domestic worker. Organized meetings help remote workers become an integral part of your business in a way that they can't be otherwise.
Sample Meeting Cadence
- good news from personal lives (and any disagreements among attendees)
- headlines (any big news about clients or employees)
- rocks (quarterly goals) and progress
- nitty-gritty (issues you need to identify, discuss, and solve)
- score the meeting (On a scale of 1-5, how did we do?)
The Bottom Line: It’s All About Relationships
Developing and managing a remote staff requires as much work as any other relationship. Organizing and being prepared from the onset will speak columns to them about how invested you are in their success.
In turn, they’ll be invested in yours.
How We Can Help
At Anequim, we continually aim to be the best company focused on remote assistance professional staff. Often that involves introducing game-changing services. We’d love to help you learn how virtual agents can help your business to grow and generate more revenue.