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3 Small Ways to Make a Big Impact on Your Virtual Team

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As businesses have adapted to working from home, many advisors are encountering challenges on how they plan their days and manage their teams. And despite many states reopening, several firms are choosing to maintain a remote workplace that favors more flexible cultures and cost savings.

This all begs the question: How do you manage your team virtually over the long-term?

Of course, every advisory firm’s culture is different, and there’s no one “right way” to manage your team remotely — except for what’s right for your firm. Our firm has been running virtually for four years, and there are many things we’ve learned in the process.

Our top takeaway is that the small things really matter; they often make the biggest difference in employee management.

Here are three small steps to help your “remote” advisory firm be as productive as possible.

1. Say “Good morning.”

This may seem silly, but it has been the most powerful small action I’ve seen in our virtual environment. When people are working outside of the office, it can sometimes “feel” like they are out there all alone.

In the virtual environment, getting the day started on the right foot is critical to the success of the team. We have learned “good morning” is the way we’ve come to know that everyone is working and that they are there for each other.

That simple act truly makes a big impact on our virtual platforms and/or text messages.

Over the past four years, our rule of “say good morning” has turned into other ways of encouraging each other early in the day. Of course, there are different renditions, such as “I’m here to help!” or “Let’s rock and roll!” or even praise for the success of the previous day, like, “Yo, great work yesterday — let’s do it again!”

To us, “good morning” is our way of ensuring that support and encouragement happens as part of our team culture each and every day. In the virtual environment where people don’t often “see” you, inspiring words make a world of difference.

2. Remember that compensation reviews are critical.

Humans, by nature, get energy from being around others. When people are working from home and alone, they may find it is hard to keep up the energy level.

To overcome this challenge, some people may subconsciously turn to snacking, eating and/or, to say it bluntly, reaching for “things” that relieve their short-term pain. Most often, they reach for “stuff,” and that means, they are wanting more money to help them fill that need.

Assuming you’re paying your people fairly and within reasonable salary ranges, the first sign your virtual employee is dealing with an “energy/feeling alone” problem is if they start complaining about their pay.

Heed this advice: Make sure every employee knows exactly when their compensation will be reviewed, and then keep their trust by ensuring that this action takes place when planned.

To earn deeper trust and respect, it’s best not to talk about money when someone makes demands. Instead, listen and remind them when their pay will be reviewed.

3. Get rid of performance reviews.

I’m a long-time advocate of getting rid of performance reviews, a position stemming from my college degree in family studies and human services, as well as lots of research on the topic. In fact, much of Corporate America has taken steps to get rid of performance reviews over the past decade.

There’s something you should know about human behavior: Pointing out someone’s imperfections only maximizes their flaws. In the virtual world, it is 10 times harder to see what people are doing right than it is to see what they’re doing wrong.

Instead, replace performance reviews with a review of successes. When you focus on people’s successes, they feel valued and cared for — rather than put down or insecure.

For most people working alone at home with little encouragement, the internal monologue is critical enough. One core job of a leader is to be the positive voice that lifts people up.