How to earn the respect of your virtual team

I consider myself lucky, throughout my  corporate career I have had the privilege of working some amazing leaders who have been thorough professionals.  You know, the kind who lead their companies through the good times and the difficult times.
 
Even after many years, I can still recall certain instances that made them stand out from other leaders.  When I started recalling these leaders and their characteristics it made me sit back think about what it takes to earn the respect of your virtual team and lead them.   I think this list applies to business owners working with Virtual Assistants, Online Business Managers or anyone who is working with someone either virtually or in their office.

Here is my personal list:

1.  Be technically competent to lead

Be technically competent enough to understand, manage and control your team’s project management system. You need not be highest level of expert on all of the things they do but you should be able to make sense when you assess deliverables and manage resources when managing projects for your clients.

2.  Treat your virtual team with respect

Treat them with respect even in bad situations, respect their personal time and you will have a loyal team who will step up  and support you when you need things done.

3.  Empower them

Empower your virtual team by  assigning them tasks and projects to utilize their strengths.   Be sure to give them opportunities to improve their skills and train them. For their work, trust them to handle the tasks but give them clear directions to makesure that it is easy for them to complete it to the client’s satisfaction.  Micromanaging your team is a definite no-no!

4.  Learn from your team

No one person can be highly competent or expert in all areas and you should always keep learning so that you can be a good strategist for your clients. You can also ask questions and learn from your team members, value their opinion, and praise them for their knowledge.

5.  Be a mentor and supporter

At times, your virtual team will look to you for guidance and answers.  Take the time to be a mentor and provide them with training when needed.  If you don’t have the time or the patience, then you need redirect them to right resources.

6.  Be a fair and transparent leader

Be fair and tactfully transparent when dealing with assessment of their work. Typically everyone thinks that he/she has done amazing job and deserves praise for their work. As a manager you need to be impersonal, impartial and fair to everyone on your team.

7.  There will be bad times, so protect your team when necessary

Stuff will happen.  It is important to shield your team from any negative situations with clients, afterall, this is your business and you are responsible for the deliverables to your clients.  There will be times that you need to step in and fix the situation and I have found it is important to stay as positive as possible with both the team and the client.

It is okay for you to  be transparent with them to let them know about what is happening with the project or customer if it directly impacts their participation on a project.

8.  Appreciate your team and give them higher visibility

Don’t be afraid to appreciate your team members in front of your clients. You should mention about their contribution to the project/deliverables and recognize it. You know you can’t do it all alone and you need to make sure your team members hear good comments from your clients too!

9.  Get rid of team members who aren’t working out

You need to be strong enough to remove a team member who could potentially take down team spirit and affect productivity.  We all know there is no room for unethical team members and they need to be removed immediately.   You also need to  consider making tougher decisions about someone who is hampering the team’s productivity and performance.

10.  Keep your word!

This is so important to earning the trust and respect of your team!  Always do what you say you are going to do.  If you tell your team that you are going to pay them on a certain day of each month, then by golly do it.  Not following through on your promises is the easiest way to lose the respect of your virtual team.

If you do all ten of the things I have listed above you will be well on your way to earning the status of being one of those great leaders!

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