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Don’t Worry About Managing Offsite Teams—Just Use Solid Deadlines

Don’t Worry About Managing Offsite Teams—Just Use Solid Deadlines

There is still a lot of anxiety about working virtually or from home: Yahoo’s CEO has demanded that all employees work in the office from now on, yet a study has shown that by 2016, 63 million Americans are going to be working virtually to some degree. A whip doesn’t need to be held over your employees to watch if they are working—properly calculated deadlines and good management practices will weed out the low performers by making them starkly visible.

In a regular 9-5 office job, how is productivity proved?

  • Deadlines
  • On-the-spot progress discussions
  • Meetings

That’s all.

So if it’s a question of having evidence of what the workers are up to, take a look at this list of why managing a virtual team is better.

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    Reasons why managing a virtual team is better:

    1) Managing interactions with colleagues

    How often has the wrong thing popped out of your mouth on a whim? I’m not saying that using IM totally solves the problem of conveying the incorrect emotion (in fact, in some cases it’s worse) BUT there is the opportunity to give a moment’s pause and re-type your thoughts. IM does not demand an instant answer and hides your facial expression from the recipient. This gives a measure of control over the situation and can be used to an advantage.

    2) Check the team’s progress with shared access to the tools they use

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    Sharing documents via Google Drive or Dropbox, or similar service, allows the opportunity to see real action happening. It’s hard for an employee to bluff if there is no hard, fast evidence in the folder to show work in progress or problems solved. Some may argue that this is problematic because of trust, but that’s ridiculous. If you’re getting your work done, why not let people see? It also allows for great opportunities to advise and assist as the project is in development, rather than having to backtrack later on. Live management = awesome.

    3) Track your management style by the interactions online

    Reflexivity is great. Reflexivity means looking at your own actions and assessing them. Having a record of your management style and the quantity of interactions with the team can give insights that may otherwise be take for granted, or go unnoticed. Did you really notice how often Jonas pops up as the go-to guy for advice? Why don’t you talk that much with Heather? Why is your tone rather hostile towards Frank?

    4) Your time is better managed by having less on-the-spot distractions

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    Although it feels good to keep the rapport with your colleagues alive by dropping by for a chat, this affects productivity. Distractions are all around in the office. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that time spent asking Laura how the concert was is important for team spirit, but these minutes lost turn into hours and days accumulated over the year. It’s not to say that casual interaction should be stamped out—au contraire, it is essential! But in virtual management these interactions can be timetabled and controlled so that time use is maximised.

    5) Less time wasted on meetings

    Meetings are famously badly organized, by including people who really don’t need to be there and having poorly designed agendas. In fact, the entrepreneur’s bible Rework says: “If it only takes seven minutes to accomplish a meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you should spend. Don’t stretch seven into thirty.” Use video conferencing (people get to remain at their computers, on task, rather than disrupting their flow by moving room). Have the agenda posted in a shared platform in advance and allow workers to make suggestions to tighten up the process, or elect that they have no need to participate.

    Let people be where they need to be

    The trust engendered by allowing the team to work virtually, either partly or fully, is a great motivator. Staff become loyal to those who treat them well, and feeling like they have control over their working life rather than it having control over them is a huge step in the direction of happiness.

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    It’s pretty easy for managers to see if the work is getting done or not by virtual teams. If a manager is afraid of being hoodwinked by the team, then there is a problem with the manager, the team, or both.

    The more we operate globally, the more that time differences impact working. 9 – 5 is becoming a myth; there is nothing special about those hours. It’s about getting the work done and using your time to the max, because you never regain time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

    More by this author

    Andrea Francis

    Andrea loves being productive and getting things done. She shares practical tips to help people achieve what they want in life.

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    Last Updated on October 8, 2020

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

    To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

    What do you need to do to learn how to succeed in business? Here’re 10 important skills that entrepreneurs need to become successful.

    1. Digital Savviness

    As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

    Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, whether by utilizing cloud applications, organizing websites using content management systems, or collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

    For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

    How to Develop This Skill

    For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

    From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will slowly but surely garner more traffic.

    2. Financial Forecasting

    Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business, so make this skill a priority when learning how to succeed in business.

    Forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done.

    However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

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    How to Develop This Skill

    Generally, it’s easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It’s a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how close your operations are to what you have forecasted.

    Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

    3. Video Production Skills

    The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

    If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

    In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, after 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5].

    With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Some ways to get started using videos for your business would be:

    • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
    • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
    • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

    4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

    As far as you get into achieving endeavors on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place, even when your focus is learning how to succeed in business.

    Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

    Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly.

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    5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

    Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

    Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

    For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it aimed at consumers tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

    Solidify your place with your business’ advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region or unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that is more viable than others.

    6. Honing Pitches to Investors

    Stand out in a broad mix of entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch. Make this a focus if you want to learn how to succeed in business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

    The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

    You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

    Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

    7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

    In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition[8].

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    Define your personal brand to succeed in business.

      Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned with these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction.  By knowing what makes your target customers tick, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

      8. Automating to Your Advantage

      The need for efficiency is often a general problem new businesses aim to resolve. As you’re learning how to succeed in business, assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to inspire the need for it.

      Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

      9. Managing Millennials

      Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

      In leaner, small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

      Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[9]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised, and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing T-shirts to work.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

      A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

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      Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

      Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates, but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

      Offer Constructive Feedback

      Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

      Being constructive with feedback ensures that you don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

      10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

      When learning how to succeed in business, instead of proposing a model that’s disruptive to an industry, build connections with other companies that serve the same target customers, as long as they provide a different service.

      By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously.

      Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

      As the African proverb goes:

      “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

      Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

      More on How to Succeed in Business

      Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

      Reference

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