After more than fifty years of playing together, you’d think the Rolling Stones would have everything down pat. They could go to any arena, sell it out, and at a moment’s notice, play “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” without a hitch. What would you bet that they don’t even need a rehearsal session to jump on stage and wow a crowd of 50,000?
Wouldn’t that be amazing, to be on a team like that?
Well, guess what? The Stones actually rehearse for two months before they tour. Two months! Before they even start to perform. This amazing team understands that yes, it will be obvious if they aren’t on the same page. They know they need to reconnect in order to be the team that their fans expect. And they know that it takes effort to make a collaboration work.
We all want a team that works that seamlessly, don’t we? But if after 50+ years it doesn’t come naturally for Mick and Keith, how can we possibly expect it to come effortlessly for a new team, especially one that operates in the virtual space?
The good news is, while it may not be easy, it is certainly possible, and well worth the effort. Here are some tried-and-true tactics you need to put in place to keep your virtual team collaborating well, even from afar. Use them with your virtual assistant(s) and the rest of your team to find a new energy and drive to get things done.
1. CLARIFY YOUR PURPOSE
Knowing why your business exists–who you serve, what you are doing for them, why they are willing to pay you for it, is key to creating a sense of engagement within your team. Deep down, everyone wants to do something that matters. Seventy-four percent of job-seekers say they want to find purpose in their work.
As the ow
ner, you understand what your company does better than anyone–but have you communicated it clearly to your team? A simple mission statement, with those ideas of purpose and contribution to the world, will help your team rally behind it. If you haven’t written one, you need to do so now (get started here). And then make sure you send a copy to everyone on your team. Your virtual assistant (and the rest of the team) needs to know what the end goal is. They also need to know why it matters. But once they do, you will find they will all be more engaged and feel more urgency to get the work done. That will lead them to work harder, ask for help, and work well with others to get the job done.
2. COMMUNICATE GOALS
If we don’t know where we’re headed, we’ll get lost. Every time. But simply being pointed in a direction gets us excited about the possibilities ahead, and what the journey toward the goal will hold. It is imperative to set goals for your business and then communicate them. That may be through email, Slack, Zoom, or other internal communications. Whatever gets the message through clearly is what you need to use.
Once your team knows where they’re headed, they won’t be wasting energy on a journey to somewhere you didn’t intend them to go. When your team knows what the goals are, each individual’s contribution will increase as they fix their sights on making it happen. Certainly, goals and the plans to accomplish them change. But as long as you are communicating what the objective is, you’ll find that the collaborative effort to accomplish it will continue.
Get your team “together” on a regular basis. Talk about the overall mission, specific goals, and the various plans you’ve formulated to achieve both. Video conferencing (Zoom, GoTo Meeting, or the like) works best for this when you can’t meet in person. Find out what has worked in the past, what’s working now, and what’s not. Use that information to make or change the plan to get your team toward the goal.
Encourage the sharing of different viewpoints and perspectives. These creative discussions can get you and your team out of ruts. It also helps you to stay sharp, and lead you to innovate and set yourself apart. Now, it may also mean you have to confront some tough issues. But when you have a team that’s on board with what you are trying to do (see tip #1), then there will be a lot more room for those to get worked out.
Some of these steps may be entirely new to you, and even seem foreign. It’s possible you see them as something you don’t have time for. But when you are leading a team, it will function so much better if everyone feels united behind a common goal, understands the plans to get there and knows what others on the team are doing in order to get there. The energy in your business will increase, and you will accomplish your goals more quickly and/or with better results.
Keith Richards says that after a period of rehearsal and working together again, he finds he can anticipate another band member’s next move from a simple look at someone’s hand. A glance from eye-to-eye can lead to both of them stepping up the tempo in the song. But seamlessness like that takes the same sharing of a mission, knowledge of goals, and knowledge of the others on the team. Whether it’s on stage or in a small business, these are the tools that will help you work together, better.