In last week’s post, I wrote about what it takes to become a virtual CEO, after speaking with Chris Ducker of Virtual Business Lifestyle. During our conversation, Ducker also shared his tips for keeping a virtual team happy and motivated.
As Ducker says, “I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference between motivating someone from a virtual standpoint and motivating somebody […] where you’re working in real time with each other under the same roof. It just comes down to simple things, like being a nice guy, being understanding, being flexible, [and] wanting to spend a bit of time with them, above and beyond just giving them tasks.”
Here are a few things Chris recommends to help build stronger relationships with your virtual team:
- Have an open door policy. “I always make time for my management,” Chris explains, “My management fundamentally run my company for me, and I’m well aware that without them, I would have to come in and start working ridiculous hours every single day. If they need to speak with me, all they have to do is pick up the phone, and I’ll make time to speak with them.”
- Provide opportunities for career growth. Chris says, “I never want to hire externally, unless I truly have to. I’ll always look internally to try to promote people, if possible. That creates a great culture within a company.”
- Provide opportunities for education. “I think there [are] other things you can do,” Chris says, “not only spending the time with somebody and giving them career opportunities, but also investing in them. I regularly put my management on different types of courses, training and things like that. It’s developing them as employees, and it gives them the opportunity to better themselves, and they appreciate that.”
- Provide support resources. “We created our Live2Sell library, which now has just over a hundred books on everything from self-help to how to get over issues and problems in the workplace,” he explains, “People can come up to the HR department and borrow the books, just like in any other library.”
- Spend time together as a team. “We do one yearly team-building weekend,” Chris says, “where we go out and stay the night at one of the resorts here, and everybody is together.” The purpose of the weekend is to build stronger connections in a fun atmosphere. He adds, “I’ve found that I have a lot in common with [team members]. We enjoy the same things. There is a lot more in common with workmates than a lot of people think.”
- Treat your team members like family. “We have ten core values, and the first one is, ‘Treat everyone as family.’ That’s really important for any company,” Chris says, “We recently launched our company culture website, Live2Sell Family. It’s open for the public, but it’s all about us, [and] we’re now giving out little mini birthday cakes to everybody on their birthdays.” Another example, he adds, one of his assistants is a big music-lover, and every so often, he emails an iTunes (s aapl) gift certificate, because as Chris says, “The little things make big, big differences.”
“Above and beyond monetary gain,” he adds, “the fact of the matter is that, as long as you give opportunities to people, you’re nice, and they enjoy working for you, they’re not going to go anywhere. As long as you’re treating them well and with respect and paying them what they’re worth, you don’t need to lose people, unless you’re not managing your company properly.” By establishing these little connections, you’ll build better relationships with your virtual team and build a greater sense of unity and purpose.
How do you keep your virtual workforce happy and motivated?
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):