One of the most important things to remember when delegating to your virtual team is that there is more than one way to do things right.
One of the first things you need to get over when delegating is the need to control every little aspect of how the task is carried out. You need to strike the balance between micro-managing and being completely hands off.
This is usually the first hurdle I see when working with a new client who is now just releasing things off of their plate and getting into delegation mode. You know, you’ve been doing this so long all by yourself and you still might be thinking nobody does it better than me. Or my way is the right way….
What I have learned from delegating to my virtual team is that there is more than one way to do things. And no two sets of eyes look at the same thing in exactly the same way. We’re all different, and each person tends to look at things differently based upon our mindset. So, when I give Susie on my team a task to set up an article on my blog, I may have an idea in my mind of how it should be and how she formats that post may look differently than what I had envisioned. One way to minimize this is to set up a Standard Operating Procedure and specify in detail how you want this task to be completed.
More importantly, you need to be able to let go and be okay with the result. I’m not saying it is okay to accept substandard work but you have to be okay with it not being EXACTLY they way you envisioned it.
Here are the best ways to get what you want (or close to it!)
1. Hire the right players for your virtual team.
Make sure you are thorough when you hire and that the person you have hired can actually do the tasks you are assigning. The best way to ensure you make is good hire is to do the following:
- Write a job description and use it for the job posting
- During the hiring process have them do a couple of practice tasks to get a feel for their capabilities
- Talk to their references and ask about their skills to get an idea of what they have been doing for other employers.
I like to be cautious when bringing on new people to my virtual team. How I do this is that I usually delegate a few things to them and closely monitor their work until I am confident in their abilities.
2. Take the time to train your virtual team.
This is especially important when you hire entry-level virtual team members or when you are super picky about how you want things done.
Taking time up front to train pays off big time!
I’ve found that my best people on my team are the ones I’ve invested time training when they start working on my team. I have also found that when handing off a new task or implementing a new system with my team that having a quick training session makes it easier for everyone.
Here are my favorite tips to train my virtual team:
- Hold your training on a Google hangout
- Screen share and walk them through the process you have outlined in your SOP
- Answer questions and make sure the process is clear, make any changes to the SOP if needed.
- Record the training session and include the link to the video on your SOP so your team can review it later.
3. Realize that nobody’s perfect!
Yes, mistakes will be made and how you handle them is important. Understanding that no one is perfect all the time and that mistakes will be made is critical.
Handle mistakes with grace and ease.
Treat mistakes as opportunities to learn and adjust rather than reacting with anger and blame. Being able to do this will make your life and your relationship with your team so much better. I always look at mistakes as sign that I need to adjust my procedures. I am responsible for the results I get and if I am not getting what I want then my directions must not be clear.
Next time a mistake is made take a look at the directions, your communication and ask yourself (and your team) the following questions:
a. What could I have done to make my communication clearer?
b. Did I give them the right instructions?
c. Did I include everything they needed to know in the instructions?
d. Did I give my team enough time to perform the task?
My guess is that by tweaking one or two of the things above will get you the results you want next time! Stuff happens and your ability to handle mistakes with grace and use them as an opportunity to learn will make your life so much easier.
Putting procedures into place to ensure mistakes aren’t repeated is effective and feels better than being angry.
4. Build your Standard Operating Procedures (aka SOP).
Having Standard Operating Procedures is the best way I know to ensure consistent results each time you delegate to your team.
Personally, I don’t know where I would be without my SOP! They are my secret to getting what I want. My virtual team is so much happier since I’ve put them into place. I find that I get fewer questions and fewer mistakes.
Here’s how to get started building your SOP:
- Build a template for your SOP – this way it looks the same each time and you can often copy and tweak them for similar procedures which saves you time.
- Set up your SOP in a central place where you and your team can edit them
- Allow your virtual team to edit your SOP. They are the ones doing the task and if they come to you and say a change needs to be made, then by all means let them edit. This gives them ownership of the process.
- Start creating your SOP’s for each of your repeating tasks. Look through your list and see which ones are the most critical and start there.
- Include step-by-step instructions along with screenshots.
5. Don’t be (or stop being) a micromanager!
Do not change everything your team does for you. I know it is tempting to change every little bit of copy they create, please resist the urge to do this.
Being a micro manager is a big de-motivator when managing teams
Show your virtual team that you trust their ability to get the job done by not changing every little thing. Nobody wants to work for a micromanager and your team will thank you by being loyal and responsive.