Updated: Nov 25, 2022
These techniques will ensure that everything is running smoothly and that you are not wasting time trying to explain what it is that you need:
01. Communication is bliss
02. Having good systems and processes in place
03. TATs (which is test, assess, and trust)
My entire team is based remotely. We all have different time zones. Therefore, it's very important that we create and maintain effective communication throughout the week and that we have a reliable system in place.
If you've been following me on Instagram you know that I've been onboarding two very capable girls to take my position as project manager. Having proper and effective communication systems will ensure that I'm not wasting time checking on everything that they do.
As the CEO of the company now I want to move away from managing all the projects. This takes a lot of my time and I just want to focus on sales, marketing, nurturing my clients, talking to prospects, and understanding what my clients' needs are. This will help me to improve my services, my company, and my team.
It is absolutely essential whether you work with a remote team or with the team in your office. If you don't have clear communication then you might waste a lot of time redoing what someone else has already done, or nobody will know exactly what they're supposed to do because you haven't communicated clearly what it is that you want. I recommend that you check in daily with the team.
My operation manager does most of the communication with the clients while the project manager is in charge of checking in with the designers to make sure that they do the projects on time. I checking in with the operation manager and the project manager daily to make sure that everybody knows what they're doing.
Every time we have a new client, I'm responsible for starting this relationship. Therefore, I need to make sure that the operation manager understands who they are, what they need, and what they're expecting. This is why it’s critical that we communicate regularly, but you have to be careful about not micromanaging.
When it comes to briefing, I've created a few resources to help you understand what we need from you when you brief us and what are the fastest ways to do so. To sum things up, try to think about what you would need if you didn't know anything about the project (which can be difficult because some things make sense to you and it's not always easy to put yourself in a position where you don't know anything about the project) and you needed to get the job done. Send as many photos of the space as you can, inspiration images, and any documents that you may have about what the clients want. If you have any drawings or sketches, they will help the design team understand your vision.
A handy technique some of my clients use is loom video recording, allowing you to record your screen while you go through the files you are sending; it can be much faster if you like to talk things through with someone else.
02. HAVING AN ORGANIZED SYSTEM
Even if you're working by yourself, it's critical that you set up your systems and processes early on.
The folders you have shouldn't make sense only to you but to everyone, because when you start hiring people - even if it's a year or two from now - you should have a system that's designed to make sense to them.
I created a Google Drive folder called KVM Design and, under it, I have several folders for all sorts of SOPs, team marketing, clients, and admin.
SOPs are standard operating procedures. It's a set of step-by-step instructions meant to explain how to do a specific task. You could have 'onboarding' SOPs for your new hires to ensure that they understand how to carry on specific tasks.
I generally get my team to do SOPs for their own position as they are the ones who do the job the best. For instance, my operations manager did her own SOP, allowing me to hire a second one who will be able to perform the tasks for this role the exact same way for consistency.
The good thing about Google Drive is that you don't have to share everything with your team. I have some folders that I share with my operations manager or my designers but the rest is private.
03. T.A.T (TEST, ASSESS, AND TRUST)
When you onboard someone you should always do a trial with them just to see how you feel about communication: Is it easy to communicate with them? Do they understand the requirements? Do they send you work that matches your expectations?
I never recommend testing your new remote team with a tight deadline as the chance of you worrying about turnaround, quality and communication is going to be high.
Pick a project that's due at least a week or two from now. Give them a few days to get to know you, your needs and your way of working.
It'll give you plenty of time to review the quality of their work, communication skills and turnaround time; noting that it might take a few projects for your new team to work exactly the way that you would. Just like it would take a new hire in your own office.
Lastly, trust the process!
Micro-managing anyone is a recipe for disaster. Once you have briefed your team and explained your expectations, deliverables and timeline, let them do the work.
Checking in once in a while to ensure that they are on track and don't have questions is absolutely fine; reviewing their progress every five minutes isn't going to give them the space to show you what they can do. Trust that the team you selected is capable and will provide the work you need!
These are the three key points to having a successful relationship with your remote team. I hope it was helpful. If you have any questions just let me know!
See you next time!
Kristell Valentina Mouriès
Director, KVM Design