By Simki Dutta
You were a one-person army when you started working as an independent freelancer. From finding clients to executing projects and sending invoices, you had to do it all.
But things have changed now.
Owing to your expanding business and growing list of clients, you’ve finally built a remote team of your own.
Making the transition from working independently to managing a remote team is a tough one. While some get it right, many others struggle to lead.
Remember: the success of your freelance business hugely depends on how you manage your team. So, if you’re micromanaging or not communicating enough, it’s likely to hamper performance and eventually affect client retention.
Here’s how you can effectively manage a remote team and grow your freelance business in the process.
As the leader or business owner, you need to ensure your team is spending their time effectively. What’s more, the lack of face-to-face interaction in a remote setup makes this all the more difficult.
A good way to arrest this problem is by maintaining activity reports. Get your team members to submit activity reports on a weekly basis and categorize their tasks into:
- Completed tasks
- Ongoing tasks
- Upcoming tasks
This practice will give you a clearer picture of the projects everyone is working on, identify tasks that are taking longer than expected, and improve time management.
Use collaboration tools
Communication and collaboration are some of the biggest problems remote workers struggle with. So, if you’ve been solely relying on emails to communicate with your team members, you’re doing it wrong.
What you need is a collaboration tool. Not only does this help you streamline workflows and boost productivity but it’s also effective in maintaining transparency and open communication.
Here are some tools you can use to manage your team better:
- Project management: Monday.com, Trello, Asana or Basecamp
- Team communication: Chanty, Slack or Telegram
- Video calls: Lifesize, Google Hangouts or Zoom
- File sharing: Google Drive or Dropbox
It’s also a good idea to set up communication guidelines that establish how and when to use the various communication and collaboration tools. For instance, Slack can be used for asking questions or giving updates whereas official information can be shared via email.
While email and instant messaging platforms are great for staying connected, none of them can replace a productive team meeting.
Pave the way for direct communication by running weekly virtual meetings where you can discuss roadblocks, brainstorm ideas, talk about complicated tasks, and address concerns.
The key to a successful meeting is setting a clear agenda that defines what you want to achieve from the meeting.
Make sure you share this agenda with your team prior to the meeting so they come prepared. It’s also important to document minutes of the meeting so that everyone leaves with a better understanding of the next steps.
With performance reviews being an integral part of the traditional office setup, there’s no reason why the same shouldn’t apply to a remote working environment too.
Performance reviews are a great way to keep team members engaged and motivated while improving performance and driving growth.
Conduct quarterly performance reviews as a one-on-one session and use this opportunity to give and receive useful feedback.
It’s important to set clear expectations of the job function when the employee is hired, letting them know how they’ll be evaluated at the end of the quarter. Make sure you offer clear, specific, and unbiased feedback.
Offer growth opportunities
Not talking about career goals and personal growth is one of the biggest mistakes remote managers make, according to a Gallup study.
Remote or not, every employee wants to know what’s next for them and how the company is helping them advance in their careers.
So, don’t be that remote manager who is just focused on assigning task after task. Instead, also take an active interest in understanding what each of their career aspirations is and how you can help them grow.
Whether it’s getting them enrolled in training programs or involving them in other activities, give your remote team members growth opportunities that build trust and keeps them motivated.
Let’s face it: you can’t grow your freelance business single-handedly. You need to build a solid team that backs you up and serves as your support system.
Implement these five tactics to manage a remote team effectively and grow your freelance business.
Simki Dutta is a content marketer at Venngage, a free infographic maker and design platform. She writes about all things marketing and communications. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.