Question: For my new startup I have partnered with talented people all over the country. What tips do you have for managing a successful remote team?
Question by: Kal
Lay a Foundation
"To avoid miscommunications and confusions that may result from being remote and unable to check in constantly, write up a comprehensive, checklist-based guide for your remote partners. Laying this solid foundation will make your phone and skype calls, and email communications much more efficient in the future."
Meet Face to Face
"Somewhat contradictory, one of the most effective ways to manage a remote team is to organize meet-ups, if at all possible -- either as a group or individually. While getting to know someone online is entirely possible, nothing can replace spending actual face time with new partners. It can prevent misunderstandings and give you insights you'll struggle to get from a purely online relationship."
Mind Your Time Zones
"It's the simple things that can trip you up, and there's nothing simpler (and more oft-forgotten) than time zones. When you have a deadline, be sure everyone knows when it's due in their area, as well as your own. Make sure your customers and clients are aware of the time differences, as well, so you can schedule meetings and launches accordingly."
Office Hours Make Life Easier
"I manage people on four different continents and just as many timezones. By setting up office hours three times a week for an hour, we know that we can always count on those times to talk with the team and handle any major problems that have come up."
Find the Right Technology
"My team has been using 37signals and Citrix products since we started nearly three years ago. We use a chat room every single day to stay in touch and I encourage my employees to share any great content they find. Email is great, but not for keeping up with day-to-day operations. A group text messaging service like Beluga can also be helpful for any urgent tasks."
Create a Consistent Communication Schedule
"Reliably email your team or individual team members on the same day(s) of each week with the same sort of email, so that they come to understand the way your company is structured, when deadlines are, what happens when, etc. Do not deviate from this system. This creates stability and structure where there would seemingly be none."
"If you have a team you must know how to keep them driven. In the book "Drive" by Daniel Pink he talks about how bosses can help their employees feel as motivated for the company's success as the founders. Shockingly, this is not with monetary rewards. His main principles are encouraging autonomy, rewarding with praise instead of money, and using carrots and sticks wisely."
Collaborate and Communicate
"Use a web-based project management application where everyone can collaborate. There are many on the market, so try a few until you find one that fits your teams working style the best. I like 37signals. Keep in mind, communication is the key to success in remote team projects. Left, right, up, down, and sideways -- communicate. Focus on clear communication, and don't get hung up on tools. "
Delegate a Communications Manager
"Choose one person to oversee the flow of communications to avoid fragmentation. Even if you're using a project management application, one person needs to ensure that all of the people in the partnership are plugged in and on task."
Daily 15 Minute Meeting
"Try to arrange a time every day for a very quick team meeting. Share what each team member is going to try to achieve for the given day. This is a great way of making each team member accountable to their work, and reminds your team about the other virtual members present."
Personally Responsible Equals Fully Engaged
"Set specific deadlines, and make all team members aware of them. Publish updates, and include every team member in the list, showing whether projects are bein completing as expected. Require delinquent team members to explain to the rest of the team the delay and how it's being remedied, as well as the new completion date. Making it public implies personal responsibility. Cut weak links quick!"
"Remote workers are far cheaper than a central headquarters, but you lose the personal connections that can make or break a business. I've found that rewarding for success helps motivate these remote workers and wonderful websites like Edible Arrangements, Omaha Steaks and Joe's Stone Crabs make for great surprise gifts for excellence."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business's development and growth.