Opening The Kimono On How Any Entrepreneur Can Use Virtual Teams To Start Liberating Time… Successfully!
Want the transcript? Download it here.
On this very first episode, we open the kimono on the key challenges we see people facing when it comes to how to use a virtual team.
Liberating time is really the number one reason entrepreneurs look to hire virtual assistants so they can then utilise their precious time on more high value, business growth activities.
Unfortunately, it is not as easy as people think !
Often people get tripped up very quickly and can end up getting frustrated and giving up. They throw their hands in the air and decide that outsourcing just doesn’t work for them or their type of business.
Sadly, we see these entrepreneurs and their business growth plans suffer when they try to outsource and then suffer again when they can’t get it right.
The purpose of this show is:
- To educate more entrepreneurs on how to successfully implement and maximise the use of virtual teams in their businesses
- To provide strategies, tactics and action steps that boost success throughout that implementation process
- To talk about our own experiences and those of our clients case study style
- To interview the many entrepreneurs out there that have achieved success with virtual teams both small and large – the pros and cons, do’s and dont’s.
To kick things off in this episode we dived into:
- How every business across every industry can make great use of virtual teams for business growth – even when they are convinced it wont work for them !
- Why thinking you are a great communicator and actually being a great communicator can be two very different things.
- Why slowing down to speed up is one of the most pivotal things you can do to grow your business.
- How to delegate so you gain control instead of lose control.
- How to take the guess work, misses and mistakes out of your virtual experience.
- Let us know in the comments below what your key take out has been from this episode or if you have something cool to add – also let us know.
Systems and tools we mention in this show:
In this episode:
01:04 – Using virtual teams for business growth
06:42 – Being a great communicator
08:00 – Create a recurring task list
11:25 – Use a project management tool
13:10 – Create a meeting rhythm with your team
15:35 – Build rapport
18:17 – Be direct in your communications
22:06 – Working out your communication style
26:32 – Slow down to speed up
29:57 – Wrapping things up
Do you find yourself running out of time to accomplish your work? Are you spending time doing things that you’re not that good at? There are effective ways to outsource this task so you can focus on your business.
This is the Virtual Success Show. We bring the inside scoop on outsourcing success for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs and now here are your hosts, Matt Malouf and Barbara Turley.
Barbara: Hey everyone, welcome to the show. I am very excited to be co-hosting with Matt Malouf. Matt how is it going?
Matt: It’s going great Barbara, how are you go today?
Barbara: Pretty good, excited to be kicking off our first show together.
Matt: I sure am. It just seems like yesterday that we were sitting around having a coffee talking about the challenges our clients and we were having with virtual teams, then we came up with the idea for this podcast. And here we are.
Using virtual teams for business growth
Barbara: Absolutely, yeah I know. We were just chatting and saying that one of the things that nobody is talking about is how do we solve some of the challenges that we face when you have virtual teams because it’s not easy. Let’s face it.
Matt: Absolutely. You know, I think the idea and ideal of a virtual team is attractive to a lot of people but then wading through the minefield of challenges like in most teams that you build within business, no one is talking about it and that’s the exciting part about this.
Barbara: Yeah, great. So, obviously you have teams in your business and you’ve been coaching a lot of business who are trying to put teams into lots of businesses. You’ve got wealth and knowledge of this area.
Matt: Absolutely. Yeah, I think over the last 4-5 years having employed many virtual assistants with myself and virtual teams and coaching a lot of people both Australia and around the world, coaching them how to implement virtual team. I’ve made so much plenty of mistakes and also made success around it. The exciting around me that I can run multiple businesses from my home office and have people virtually around the world working with us to help us grow a successful company. It has been an amazing journey and open mind my eyes to the possibilities around this. What is interesting is that is similar how we met, to working together and your development of your virtual hub.
Barbara: Absolutely, yeah! We are so pinnacle that decision for me. As you know, I have putting virtual assistant to our clients business, clients that I was coaching. And I had a lot of success doing that. I had a lot of success of virtual assistant myself my own business in running multiple different things at the same time. And before I knew it, as you know I was getting phone calls from friends of friends saying “ Hey can you get me some of Virtual Assistant?” before I knew it, virtual angel hub was born. But the issues I have seen with people trying to get success in this area as been ironing for me too. When we were chatting, it becomes so obvious this podcast is really needed. This show is to help people to get more successful in this area because it isn’t easy.
Matt: Absolutely. And I guess just flowing from there. Barbara, as we talking the real purpose of what we want to achieve with this show is to first to foremost educate everyone on how to implement and maximize the use of virtual teams in your businesses. I think secondly, to provide strategies and tactics throughout the implementation process. And I guess lastly is to talk about our own experiences and case studies. And also interview other successful business owners who we got virtual teams both small and large in there companies so that everyone can hear from others on their experience. I guess the pros and cons, do’s and dont’s of Virtual team.
Barbara: Absolutely, I think one of the exciting things that I am looking for is we got bringing people to talk to us to the listeners from lots of different industries because I bet with you this one I do. Oh that won’t work for me in my industry, you know. And I what I say to people that at the end of the day business is business. It doesn’t really matter what industry that you’re in. The systems and the teams and running people leadership is all the same stuff regardless of the industry.
Matt: Absolutely, I think it was Dan Kennedy who have that phrase with the above his desk in his office that said “It won’t work for me” If I have a dollar doing that I certainly don’t work again. But the reality is as you said the underlying fundamentals don’t change it doesn’t change in this area running a virtual teams either. It’s any area or business do. It’s about learning, it’s about understanding, it’s about implementing. It’s about optimizing. So it’s exciting and I think I certainly have the belief when it comes to virtual team s that every business across the industry can utilize this some way.
Barbara: Absolutely, I have put virtual team into everything from tennis center, to swim schools, to financial advice businesses a lawyer’s office, my own online coaching type businesses and content marketing and Social media. Everything so everything in between can really work. As you know Matt, the challenges, there are couple real challenges that trip people off that you will sees this and I see this and people trip off then get frustrated but that’s when the it doesn’t work for me feeling comes out. I think a lot of clients that I am dealing as well, the can feel down of themselves because they think how is anyone else making this work. I reckon deal straight o what do you thing is the number 1, what is the number 1 challenge that you think people face When it comes to building virtual team that your saying?
Being a great communicator
Matt: As I was preparing for today, just that whole question about that number 1. Some of the areas come up. But the one that I think stood out, when I took my notes was really about communication to virtual teams that was appropriate and the best ways to communicate. What are your thoughts, Barbara?
Barbara: Oh you know, when you said that to me when we chatting putting up a show I mean just resonated as me because that would be you know there is a lot of number 1 challenge. One of the biggest one is definitely the communication. Naturally, as I was saying to you as humans we all think that we are effective communicators. We don’t wake up every day gosh I am a terrible communicator. Because we all think that we are very clear but the problem is sometimes what we say on someone us here are two different things that could cause massive breakdowns when it comes. Any team actually virtual teams even more so virtual teams I think
Matt: Absolutely, so what we explore this area of communication. You know what I was thinking Barbara we could do. What we share both of our top 3 communications tips working with virtual teams.
Create a recurring task list
Barbara: Oh yes, definitely, have 3 keywords I’m sure you do too.. Let’s get straight into it. You know, the number 1 thing that I tell clients that whether they coming to virtual hub looking to hire VA or trying to put things into base and before we go out recruiting or we do anything about that client. The first thing we sit down and say they need to document their process in their own business. That sounds incredibly going when you talk process mapping sitting down and writing step by step processes and things. It is very boring and a lot of people are saying we don’t have time for that and my response to that is really “If you invest the time and just take a little time to pause actually thing about what are the recurring task that happen every day , every week, every quarter in my business that me and my business the engine keeps running can be everything from checking email to live websites to keeping up your social media, you know booking appointments whatever. It can be inventory, it can be anything but it’s about getting clear on what are those task are and document to them. It such a way that you are creating system that we can bring a person, like a virtual team or VA to run for you and the beauty around this when I do this several businesses of my own where we are very clear and very deep recurring task list what it means that I can actually swap one of my virtual assistant and putting new one quickly with one minimal training time because it step by step is so clear and it makes my life very stress free and its actually have it running that way like a real oil machine that way.
Matt: Barb, just a quick question when you are talking about recurring task list what’s the frequency of those.
Barbara: Well I run them like this, and this is what we do in clients as well. We get them to write down the daily task list go through the full day. And actually is every single thing that happens to one day the business to keep it going that is required then weekly task, monthly task and quarterly. We actually have those different 4 different recurring task lists. I mean obviously you love this one Matt there are things in there we need to eliminated or automated not necessarily delegated. That’s the whole point the next step. Getting clear task are to keep the business running and that aside from projects. That’s just like the maintenance of the business. A lot of small business owners are doing by themselves. There is an awful lot of task that can be done anyone else they just be clear what it is they are supposed to be doing.
Use a project management tool
Matt: Absolutely, it just add to that you know it was coaching a lot of clients this week and his got a virtual team and he was saying he’s got each member of a team a daily task list automatically comes up in the teamwork. As a project management tool.
Barbara: I’ve got a project management tool to make that work. By the way, that is what point on that. You need a project management tool.
Matt: Yeah, we both use Asana. We got success on it in our own businesses. The amazing thing was, his comment about this week was because of this daily recurring list, there is no guessing they each member of the team, knows exactly what is expected to them when its due and then they communicate through the project management tool when its done or when its stop. Inline of the theme communication today, how brilliant is that where you don’t even need to have a conversation somebody because it’s all there, and they can start working and get straight to it.
Barbara: Yeah, what is important as well, when I love system and process. I just love everything written out document very clear. The other thing is that its very clear to the person doing task what success looks like for you. So they know they doing, if you have relate them properly you lead them of the path of towards success in the path rather than allowing them pause and trying to make stuff stop. You know, think about what you might like things like that. I like the written form of communication. So I guess my key take away for this particular point would be to try to take the time as actually invest the time in thinking about your business and what task needs to be done and how exactly the steps for each task you know. So matt what would be your top tip of communication do you think.
Create a meeting rhythm with your team
Matt: My top tip is really about creating a meeting in rhythm with your directly port with your virtual team what I mean about rhythm is how frequent you should meeting with your virtual team. I give a couple of examples here, I think it is very role dependent my Virtual/Assistant Vanessa who has worked for me 3 years now we meet daily. We have a verbal conversation on skype and goes for 10 minutes is just checking in I own and operate 4 companies. So we are just checking in what is going on in each company where everything’s at, where she may be stuck. And give me an opportunity to delegate additional task if when needed. In one of our companies, we have online manager. It’s appropriate for me to meet weekly, he working with bigger projects so we have weekly meeting where we discuss each of the active projects where it at, how the rest of the team is operation, are we on schedule, behind ahead where is all at. At other times it may require meetings, to discuss issues or come up solution work together on the next steps. But I think communication perspective in choosing the most appropriate rhythm base from the role is critical. I think just to add to that as you need to visualize this person forget where they are in the world. Imagine, they are in your office sitting next to you.
Barbara: Yes absolutely.
Matt: They are in there sitting next to you and you are working in their role and yours how often you will meet with them. How often you will converse with them. How would that operate? It just take the same rhythm and apply it into the virtual assistant and utilize whether its tools like guide, goto meeting, google hangouts, whatever maybe utilize those communication channels in order to support your meeting with them.
Barbara: I think as well on that Matt, I love that I was thinking you know we all work on office environment. There’s one thing we love in office environment together its always bit a fun here and there in the work day. When I find this, sometimes people don’t when they have virtual teams they think they can have that with their virtual team but you can. You can have a bond term or a little bit fun virtual teams as well just on skype or you know chat, slap chat or whatever you are using. But you know that is how you build a lot of rapport. It doesn’t always have to be you know, every second the task can tick off. It can be just times it just as rapport building as well.
Matt: Absolutely, again regardless with where somebody is in the world people are people. And people are attracted to relationship. That is what we all desire. That is we all want.
Barbara: hmm hmm. It’s funny that point of the meeting, you know I have been working clients virtual teams without having working out virtual assistant hasn’t work out and what I dealt in you know there is one particular case where I found that the person that I have spoken VA probably 3 weeks in a way just got lost, got mistakes, having I am just really saying I mean “Minimum we created a very clear agenda and even checking that just says how is it going? You know, rather than allowing someone that they can flounder there is no leadership I guess meetings develop rapport and a sense of leadership as well for you as business owners especially if you have a clear agenda for me.
Matt: Absolutely, I think the agenda is critical otherwise it just conversation isn’t it?
Barbara: Yeah people can get lost if you know. In order to lead is something that I discover a lot of people get struggle with because trying to be nice in meeting chit chat and in chit chat goes on for too long, there’s no action steps or conclusion reach of the meeting. It’s important of having an agenda and be fluent in having an agenda. I guess my second tips in terms of communication where you at you know when to meeting I like the idea of role dependent. Because somebody is your working directly with you. You know, my VA working directly to me. I talk to her every day, I mean its constant communication.
Be direct in your communications
Matt: Yeah. How do you feel weekly meeting should go forth?
Barbara: I think half an hour, if just got a clear agenda you should be able to tick through quite a lot of stuff in just 30 minutes. IT depends on the size of the business. It is also depends on the complexity of the roles. You know I don’t think 2 hour meeting is warranted but you know half hour to 1 hour with the clear agenda and get to the point. And building rapport but gets to the point and have action items at the end of the meeting so that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and after meeting. I also think be very direct. I Guess my 3rd point will be people avoid, I find business owners avoiding direct conversation when issues come up. So dancing around issues causes things to fest faster and resentment grows. And then, when resentment builds with your team you can. We are all guilty of this, you know we can your tone can change let people know that you are annoyed without saying. I think its better to be upfront or be direct mistakes happening, if work is sloppy, if things are slipping call a meeting and very direct but nice. You can be nice and direct. You know what I am saying. Do you find that on your clients you are working with?
Matt: I Certainly do. Do you have examples this direct communication you’ve been experience for the last 4 months.
Barbara: Yes I do, I do. So for example we have issues for the last forth night you know particular in. It was not in my business, it was my client business. They are really struggling because the VA was they weren’t there when they supposed to be there. It was this issue that she is supposed to working for me during this time and although the task been done. I don’t know when they are being done. In the end we actually 3 of us got in the call together. I was very abdoment I wanted the VA on that call, otherwise it turns around between client and me. Its better everybody on the call lets address the issues. We actually got one of my assistant manages the account call saying look here is the issue, we understand task has been done; we know you are not available during the times when you need to be available. What actually transpired was its actually personal issue going on that particular VA and we got the bottom of it and we resolved the issue but it wasn’t that about bad employee or they are personal issue that is going on that we were able to help resolve and work around an everything everyone is happy. Everyone felt good about themselves and the whole issue got resolve and everyone is happy in the end.
Matt: How long those meetings go forth for?
Barbara: half an hour
Matt: Get straight to it.
Barbara: Yes get straight into it. Everybody, thought the meeting was going to be bad.
Matt: I think that just a great example and I think that direct communication is critical in any relationship in any business relationship whether it just sitting next to you
Barbara: Even in the marriage
Matt: Hundred percent in the marriage, is my wife sitting next to you telling me the say that.
Barbara: Yes, she emailed me earlier (laugh)
Matt: Yeah I think that absolutely, direct communication is critical. Its easy jump ahead Barb and take 2 and number 3. That is ok,
Barbara: I am sorry I am out the line Matt
Working out your communication style
Matt: That is ok, when you are in the roll you are in the roll. My second one is I really think about that is really in line what we are talking about here in direct communication is being critical of your own communication style. Understanding what preference is. Let me give you an example, my preference is verbal communication. I am not very good and I don’t have the patience for large emails lots of typing lots of list, a lot are able to just jump on the skype call and quickly download what I need and have it done. The challenge with that though is that a lot of that will get lost because you know recorded there’s no record of it. So one of the ways around this that we use our business, we use Asana is that lets say I jump in the call with Vanessa with my personal assistant. We will have asana open and throughout that call I may download half a dozen tasks that I need done. What I can do in real time, I can watch input into Asana with due dates on them. There is a record of it, it works for Vanessa and works for me.
Barbara: She writes it you get her task that means she is writing she understand it that is very effective.
Barbara: That is a great idea, then you are using verbal communication that works for you and she can also see that she’s interpreting what you’re saying and how she writing her task herself and be done. That’s great idea.
Matt: And then if I am on the run, when I am then also doing I use a little app called drobvox with the V. It enables me to have voice recording that get uploaded into a dropvox so Vanessa have access into it. SO if I am out about up I think task to be done, again rather than trying to type out messages. I will leave a quick dropvox message with bullet points. When I leave that message it’s critically important that you speak slowly that they can capture everything that you’re downloading to them. Again, we have process along with your first start point, we have a process when a dropvox message comes in which is transcribe, if its task attached to it they get put in asana. The audio is also uploaded to Asana as a record. So again, there is no he said, she said. It’s all there. It’s all very transparent. It’s simple.
Barbara: So this is great way for people who were yawning talking write process. A lot of people hate doing that. I totally understand that. Here is a way where you can actually get one of your Virtual Assistant or one of your team to actually help you create processes in your business for you. You can do this dropvox idea or verbal communication and have them as a role, it could be a project they can do when they build the system and process for the business without you actually write down with yourself.
Matt: Absolutely, I will add to that one of the methods that I use. I am one of these people, I love system I hate creating them. I don’t have the patience for them. For me the number 1 tools business for me is white board a3 pen sharpie markers.
Barbara: Ah you are one of those
Matt: I am very tech tile. I will literally have voice recorder open and I will be drawing a mind map while talking out the process. I finished that I take a photo of the whiteboard and sent the audio with the whiteboard to someone of my team and will then create a flowchart using the flowchart software as well as transcription what just I talked about in the system, Right there.
Barbara: Fantastic I love that idea, Will do that immediately. (laugh) I love that idea
Slow down to speed up
Matt: I think that as I said appropriate communication style but fit you and for them except. I don’t think it’s fair with any person of your team communicate that solely works for you. You have to work with them in what they need as well. My third and final point is a really quick one but I really do think it’s critical. I think many business owners has so much going on that we are going such hyper speed that often our communication is really fast. When you are doing with a virtual team particularly where you working people overseas where English is there second language. You got to remember that they have to listen in English but translate it from there to understand it as well. So one of the things, whenever that we got virtual teams both domestically and internationally whenever I speak to very international team. I have to send to myself prior to the call and slow my speech down in order speaks clearly so that I don’t need to repeat myself.
Barbara: In the language, you will find yourself in the industry juggle; I have a client that fell into this trap. Using industry jargon and then task goes completely wrong because somebody don’t really understand what work. Even I don’t understand jargon, I wasn’t in the industry but yeah clearer simple language to the point.
Matt: if industry jargon is relevant you need to train with them that you need to educate them in that. So absolutely, I think simple, clear, slowly spoken in communication is critical. I talk about this one not just for my theoretical perspective but it works. Every time, I still formally half of it. Even half of my virtual teams for many years now where I on the run, I quickly done download something to them, and gets lost because I am talking too fast.
Barbara: Yes, I supposed I tend to lean towards for me that my communication sounds. Probably I have a tendency to speak way too fast and I got this funny accent sort of this. That is written work is better for me in that way.
Matt: I think it’s that combination, and I working through it. One thing to that I am just working with this I know the dictation devices becoming more or more accurate. I know the phone I use dictation quite a bit in sending messages in the like to the team also. SO that’s another way to combine both. In the upcoming book in the process that I am writing which is on theme around we are doing is podcast. 90% of the writing on the using dictation software though it’s becoming very powerful and it solves that problem of written and verbal communication. Isn’t it?
Wrapping things up
Barbara: Absolutely, absolutely, you know Matt I think the key thing we told so many times that we bringing virtual teams, bringing team on board in the business is not as easy as people think but it’s so worth it if you are making it work. It can work on does work. It just put a little bit focus a little bit time and investment against in making it work. Would you agree Mat?
Matt: Absolutely. And you know what just to add I think may not be easy, but it’s simple. It’s simple quick principles. If you think about the 6 points we are talking about today. These are simple principles and not isolated to virtual teams success it’s in all relationship that you have. And keeping them in mind the simple fundamentals don’t shift whether you got local or international teams.
Barbara: Absolutely, you know so many things in right mind is buzzing with all the topics we can cover flow on this and the next few weeks and the all different shows that I am pretty excited.
Matt: Absolutely, it’s been a blast I really enjoyed this.
Barbara: Looking forward to next week. Hey guys make sure you join us every week this virtual success shows we are really deligate this issue on. We are make sure we will get you guys really success with your virtual teams and they will work for you because when it does its explosively good for your business. Would you agree Matt? I’m sure you would.
Matt: 100 percent. Barb, you have a fantastic week and I look forward to the next episodes.
Barbara: Absolutely, you too. Thanks everyone
Matt: Thank you
Thank you for listening to the virtual success show. If you found this show helpful take a moment to share it with a friend so that we all grow together. Find out more with the insides scoop in outsourcing success by going to our website, virtualsuccesshow.com. Until next time! Thanks for listening
Barbara Turley is the Founder & CEO of The Virtual Hub, a company that specializes in recruiting, training and managing superstar ‘Virtual Assistants’ in the social media, digital marketing and systems automation space.
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