Delegate, Focus, and GROW Your Business

Virtually Managing or Managing Virtually

Elsa Diner

Last week I wrote about what a Virtual Assistant does. Then I read this article on Yahoo, ‘25 Hot Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years Ago’ and found that our firm performs five of these Hot Jobs. Isn’t that something, I thought to myself. And then promptly sent the link to those family members I mentioned last week.

I promised this week I would talk about managing a virtual team. I’ve been asked this question many times, and in fact did a whole podcast on just this topic.  I have found my managing style to be the same when managing a successful team of in house or virtual employees. The tools I use are totally different.

There are definite challenges, don’t get me wrong. I would bet that any experienced manager is probably a fairly decent judge of an employee’s potential when meeting them for the first time, face to face.

But how do you translate this to virtual?

We never get the opportunity to meet face to face. And even though I make it a point to call every Virtual Assistant that starts with CVA, how do you tell over the phone what type of employee they will turn out to be? So my questioning has to be specific. I’m listening more to what they don’t say, than what they do.

How do you build a true team rather than just a bunch of folks sitting at home working?

This has been a challenge, too. We don’t have a water cooler or a coffee pot to hang out around and talk about last night’s episode of the latest TV show. And we don’t have a cafeteria to hang out in and gossip about our kids starting school and how glad we are that summer is finally over. But over time, we’ve figured out how to accomplish some bonding. We hold weekly trainings and monthly meetings through a webinar program. We chit chat before the start of them (just like a “real” meeting room) and catch up with each other. We have a monthly newsletter where we brag about our achievements and how much our customers love us.

Communication can also be a real challenge.

And is in fact one of my absolute musts for any of our Virtual Assistants. We use instant messaging, emails, and phone calls to stay in touch. I lay out expectations during the initial conversation with the new Virtual Assistants about the level of communication needed for them to be successful in our firm. No excuses.

I’ve now been with Contemporary VA for well over a year. Our client list has grown from around 40 to over 100. Our team of employees has grown from about 10 to nearly 40. The challenges keep on coming. And I am having the time of my life!!

photo credit: Torley

Posted on August 25th, 2010 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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