A Virtual Guide To Hiring The Right Virtual Team
This is a guest blog post from Chris Ducker, author
By Brandon Olson April 1, 2014
This is a guest blog post from Chris Ducker, author of the new book “Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business.” Chris is a successful entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his thought-leadership about building businesses and lifestyles that thrive with virtual teams.
Are you in love with the idea of outsourcing your most tedious and repetitive work so that you have more time to be creative and grow your business?
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners are and for good reason – surrounding yourself with talented virtual team members is a smart and proven way to accelerate your business growth while building a happy lifestyle.
Why My Assistant Manages My AWeber Account
Email marketing is one such important business operation that many business leaders choose to outsource.
They may remain engaged in the email campaign strategy and creative angles, but the operational end – setting up the list in AWeber, configuring the metadata, adding the AWeber signup form to the website, populating the creative assets into emails, schedule the campaigns to send – is perfect to delegate to a virtual team.
Lots of entrepreneurs I know that run successful businesses and that use AWeber for their email marketing choose to delegate the operational stuff to their virtual staff members. It’s a proven approach.
In fact, I myself have Michelle, one of my General Virtual Assistants (GVAs) manage my AWeber account for me.
Not only does she set up new lists for me, she also handles the auto-responder emails as well as taking care of all the broadcasts that I do to keep my lists regularly engaged and up to date with everything that I’m doing, both from a content and an event standpoint. Once a month she’ll do a ‘clean up,’ too!
The result of this is an average of 4 hours a week saved from my workweek, so that I can continue to focus on the content marketing that drives the growth of my lists, which have gone from approximately 9,000 to just over 22,000 subscribers in the last 18-24-months, thanks to this process flow and the robust list building activities that AWeber supports.
Why It’s About Team-Building, Not Outsourcing
Coherence is key, so what you don’t want to do is simply delegate important work like email marketing management to just any outsourced person that may come and go. That risks knowledge loss, costly turnover, and general headaches.
Instead, the best results come from building your own virtual team you can get to know personally and that is in place to be reliable. That’s the difference between outsourcing and team building: You benefit much more from a team-based approach because the virtual staff becomes trustworthy and predictable. And in the realm of email marketing, those two qualities are very valuable.
So, as you look to staff a virtual team to help you with mission critical business operations like email marketing, be sure to consider these important hiring factors.
What Are The Company’s Current Goals?
Is the most immediate goal simply to get consistent with your email marketing schedule? Are you consistent already but are experiencing low open rates on your email campaigns? Maybe your campaigns are consistent and popular, but your list size isn’t growing as fast as you want. What do you do?
Well, you need to define these business objectives clearly within the larger business strategy so that you can leverage them in recruiting the proper caliber of talent for your virtual team. Simply recruiting for “email marketing coordinator” or “AWeber expert” may yield some value but won’t be as optimal as being explicit in your intentions.
You want your virtual team members to share the commitment to the business goals as that fosters greater intrinsic motivations and personal connections. Again, recruit a team, don’t just outsource work.
What Does Excellent Performance Look And Feel Like?
Going into a hiring decision, you should know full well what your performance expectations are from the virtual staff you’re recruiting. This helps you ensure that you’re effectively targeting qualified resources at a caliber level you can be confident in.
Also, clarity of expectations does a good service to staff members being recruited as it alleviates any ambiguity in their minds. That’s a winning combination that produces rewarding results for both you and them.
Thus, as you compile a description of what excellent performance looks and feels like, be sure to include the following parameters.
Good communication and collaboration are essential.
But just how good? Fluent English? Years of experience with Basecamp or some other project collaboration tool? Ample work history working in multi-member teams? These communication details are essential to define up front before you get too far into the recruiting and hiring process.
Similarly, identifying the requisite technical skills is a must.
In the case of hiring for email marketing help, does the candidate need to be an expert in AWeber, or will merely a working proficiency be enough? Is it okay if the individual only has experience with AWeber, or would you prefer that the person have diverse experience with other email management software so that they have greater context to what you need them to do?
Just listing “needs to work efficiently in AWeber” is likely not enough detail to make an effective hiring decision.
Punctuality is paramount to successful email marketing campaigns and most other business pursuits. Thus, how available is the person and how does his or her time zone affect that availability? In the case of configuring and scheduling emails to send to your list, time is a core variable to success.
Ensuring that your virtual staff are clear about time zone expectations can make or break the effectiveness of an individual email campaign or an entire email marketing strategy.
Further, if you have a few virtual team members contributing different levels of expertise to your email marketing program – perhaps one person does all the upfront configuration of campaigns while another responses to any inquiries that result – the availability of these resources is even more critical.
So get get clear about what workflows you envision the virtual staff to join so that any weak links are identified early before they cause problems.
How much self-motivation do you feel is required for the virtual staff member or all members to perform their work effectively and to your standards of quality?
Err on the side of finding as motivated staff as possible. The trick here isn’t to only assess for general motivation to do good work. Get specific.
Ask them how much they enjoy email marketing and working with AWeber software, or whatever it is you are specifically recruiting them to do.
If you’re conducting the interview over Skype, does the person’s voice showcase genuine enthusiasm for the opportunity to be a linchpin in your email marketing program? And is AWeber a tool they’ve enjoyed working with in the past?
These insights into enthusiasm can be instrumental forces that affect the individual’s level of motivation for the work, both immediately and over time.
What’s The Shortlist Of Hiring Tips?
The value of a concerted and thorough recruitment process cannot be undervalued if you truly aspire to build a team and not just outsource work in piecemeal style.
To do your job well as the hiring manager, be sure to leverage this list of hiring tips:
- Have detailed instructions and an idea of how long the tasks take to complete.
- Be clear with what help you need and hire accordingly.
- Have milestones and company goals in mind.
- Train your new member of staff better than he or she expects.
- Be honest about expectations from the very beginning.
- If a problem arises, be polite and attempt to find a way to find a solution before giving a bad review or firing the person.
- Apply the same due diligence to hiring part-time staff members as you do full-time staff members.
- Keep your long term vision in mind and as assess the talent and personalities of virtual staff candidates.
- Go above and beyond to make the virtual staff members feel welcomed and a truly valued part of your team and business.
- Give virtual staff members the responsibility you feel they deserve, and challenge them with more senior levels of responsibility if they prove themselves interested and when the opportunity arises.
It is important to establish where your company is heading and exactly what skills you require if you hope to recruit a team of strong virtual team members devoted to you and your business.
Think in terms of building team rather than just outsourcing some tasks from the very first moment you begin to define job descriptions. That’s the path to not only business success; it’s the path to virtual freedom.