How to successfully build and manage a team distributed around the world
No matter how educated, experienced and motivated you are and determined to run a successful business, there is one scarce resource which will make it impossible to do it by yourself and right now, I’m talking about time. Being an entrepreneur means you are constantly under pressure, working with very short deadlines and you are going to need help whether you like to admit it or not. As many investors and successful entrepreneurs will say, business idea is nothing without a good team who will make things happen.
Building a team can be very challenging task especially if you don’t have experience with employing people. Finding the right people, talented people, who will help you accomplish your business goals is hard enough as it is, and if you add management of the team into the equation, things can become even more challenging. Assuming you are still at the beginning of your business venture and you don’t have money to get help from professional human resource agencies, let’s set out some guidelines on how to approach the building and management of the team. As a small bonus, I’ll even share some tips about running a team that is distributed around the world.
Building a team
First of all, let’s rule out some of the most common mistakes people make when starting a business. Starting a business with your close personal friends will cause more problems in running a business than it will help. Entrepreneurship can be a really scary thing considering you are taking a leap of fate in the unknown and putting everything at stake. Because of that, people tend to start a business with close personal friends in order to find support and understanding and even to share stress with people they trust. On the other hand, friends usually avoid giving real feedback which leads to dealing with the wrong information and the wrong assessment of your business situation, and this is exactly what can lead to failure.
Another common mistake in building a team is to hire people who think just like you. Your teammates need to share the same enthusiasm for your business, but the way of thinking and solving a problems needs to be different to achieve progress and overcome problems you will face in your everyday life.
Now that we ruled out the most common mistakes, let’s talk more about positive examples and tips & tricks for building and managing a great business team:
1. Identify your needs
Depending on the industry you are doing business in, you will need different types of team members. It is your job as a company founder to determine what types of people and skills you need in your team and create very accurate job descriptions. Remember that multidisciplinary leads to innovation and better business performance, so focus your efforts on finding people who are talented in areas you require in your team.
2. Think about your company culture
Finding a person with the right qualifications doesn’t mean that they will add the best value to your team. I have experienced a lot of time that very talented people get fired or leave the team because they just don’t fit company’s culture. You should always look for people who outline the business culture you are trying to promote and transfer it to the work with your partners, customers and other team members.
People you employ need to get on well not only with you, but with the rest of the
team. When you build a team that gets along, they will do better work and it will be
much easier to go through challenges your team will face.
3. Set clear expectations
To optimize your team’s work, you need to set a list of guidelines and procedures your team members will follow. A set of guideline can help new employees catch up pretty fast on the new job and also, they will help you minimize spent time on standardized activities.
On the other hand, too many rules can poorly affect productivity and block the creativity. The key to finding the right balance between too many and just enough guidelines and rules is setting clear expectations. Give your employees any necessary resources they need and well-defined guidelines and goals so they know what you expect from them, but leave them enough space to improvise and use their creativity. Celebrate small victories, keep an open communication and organize company events with all employees so they feel that they are part of the team and understand their impact on the company’s success.
4. Value each team member
As we mentioned before, multidisciplinary is a secret ingredient behind many successful teams. In order to gather a strong team, choose people with specific skill sets that will help you go the extra mile. Don’t ever hire somebody if they don’t add a unique value to your team. In addition to choosing the right employees, as a CEO, your job is also to make sure that every person in your team is fully aware of their unique value to the team. This will help them gain a sense of purpose and motivate them while boosting their performance.
The hardest part of building and managing a team is not the process of hiring people, it is the process of constantly motivating employees and keeping the enthusiasm high all the time. So, the question here is, what really motivates people. The traditional approach is the more you pay your employees, the more motivated and satisfied they are in their job. The truth is that money is only the first step and it brings only short-term motivation. In order to explain this, let’s take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in the picture below. Money will only cover basic needs -psychological and safety needs. When somebody is able to afford a decent living and cover standard expenses, they need to satisfy their psychological and self-fulfillment needs. You can help your employees gain a feeling of accomplishment with words of affirmation and celebrating small victories every time your team members reach another milestone. By setting clear expectations and leaving room for creativity, the thing we discussed before in the second paragraph, your employees can achieve their full potential, which reflects greatly not only on the progress of your employees but the progress of the whole company as well.
The best way to establish and carry out the first five guidelines of building and managing a team is communication. All employees must have access to information about the company, strategy, current situation and other team members the whole time. Keeping a level of transparency whenever possible is very important, even if information doesn’t directly relate to every person on your team. To help you with communication among team members, use applications such as Slack, Teamwork, Zoom and set up your own CRM system:
- Slack will help you organize your team conversations in open channels. You can make a channel for projects, topics or any relevant subject you need and everyone participating has a transparent view of the information. You can even create private channels whenever you feel like the information is sensitive. Learn more about Slack: https://slack.com/
- Teamwork is a project management app, chat app and helpdesk software you can rely on. By using Teamwork you can keep all your tasks in one place, run the helpdesk to handle customer support queries and enable real-time communication between your team members. Check out Teamwork at https://www.teamwork.com/. For smaller teams that don’t need all the bells & whistles of Project Management, a very popular solution today is Trello, available at http://www.trello.com.
- Zoom is currently the world’s most popular video conferencing service, and it is a god-send if you wish to have healthy communication within your distributed organization. Although a much younger player than the famous Skype or Google Hangout, it offers superior video and audio quality which is especially noticeable when having a conference with more than a few people. Highly recommended, more details at http://www.zoom.us.
- If you’re working with a lot of high-paying customers it is advisable to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is a strategy for managing all your company’s interactions with customers. Good CRM will help you increase your company’s profitability and keep your sales force up-to-date with all important information about customers.
CRM will help you keep track of everything – calls and emails sent to customers, held meetings and even personal information about customer. A full history of all communications, documents and meetings is stored in one place and available to your employees.
An example of good CRM software is Hubspot CRM, but also for online businesses Intercom Platform is very popular, a full-service platform that helps you onboard & retain customers, create & share content, support customers at scale and live chat with customers. For more information visit https://www.intercom.com/ and http://www.hubspot.com.
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