Top Tips on Managing your Remote Team
You’ve now hired your Virtual Filipino Practice Assistants (VFPAs) and they started working. Have you ever thought about what the next objective would be? Our suggestion is to develop a long-lasting work relationship.
One of the remarkable things about Filipino workers is their loyalty. If you train and manage them properly, they’ll never leave. The way you manage your worker will either build or ruin that relationship. Let’s talk about how to work with your VFPA so they’ll stay around for a long time.
In managing your VFPAs, it is very important to understand things about working with people from the Philippines. Culture plays an important role in one’s life. Not just by the fact that it drives and leads the people to their way of life, but it is also the key to one’s identity. Filipino culture is unique due to the influences of hundreds of years of colonization and the surrounding countries. The better you understand Filipino traits, practices, and characteristics, the easier it will be to successfully work with them.
1. Always keep in mind that you are building a remote team composed of human beings
Some people that outsource to the Philippines think their Filipino workers can replace the work of three people from the United States. They’re humans, just like you and me.
Working with your VFPAs requires kindness, respect, and consideration. Like anyone else, Filipinos have personal challenges and can make mistakes. When productivity declines, don’t be too quick to fire them. Instead, find out if there’s an underlying issue. Recognize this and show concern and care for their well-being and success.
Take the time to give them compliments when they do something good. Occasionally, ask about their families or other aspects of their life outside the work he/she does for you. Try to remember their birthdays. Doing these simple things will do wonders for your relationship with them. Here are a few other things you should keep in mind when working with your VFPAs (or any member of your team for that matter):
- Avoid berating them
- Be mindful of your words and try to avoid sending “yelling” emails
- When something goes wrong, try to sound that you are part of the reason (at least initially)
- Treat them the way you would like to be treated
- Be patient
If you feel something seemed to be misunderstood, ask questions. Sound interested and concerned about finding a solution if there seemed to be a problem. Know the reasons why something turns out to be wrong. Avoid making assumptions and do not resort to the blame game. Tell them how you want things to be done, and during the training or when you are working together – show them how it is done. That’s the beginning of how you can develop a connection with them.
2. You need to build trust with your remote team
Will you believe me if I say that in this relationship, it’s more important that your VFPA trusts you than you trust them? When they trust you, they’ll be more productive and will do excellent work (even without you monitoring them). When they don’t trust you, they’ll disappear. They will simply stop reporting to work, make excuses that they can’t be available for you, and you will constantly be replacing them.
It is worth emphasizing that from Day 1, you can gain their trust by:
- communicating effectively,
- being responsive and
- giving effective training.
3. Make it a habit of giving feedback and positive reinforcements (a few good words go a long way! Remember that.)
Keeping in mind that when you hire VFPAs, they will not be perfect. They’re going to get stuck somewhere and will need your help. And if you don’t let them know how they’re doing, there is little improvement to expect. Positive feedback gives them confidence and builds trust. Constructive criticism helps make course corrections and changes behavior. Not giving feedback might give off the vibe that you’re totally disengaged and don’t care.
When giving feedback, use the sandwich method. Give positive feedback first, followed by any criticism, and end with some praise. Always acknowledge something good before you point out the flaws. Saying something like, “Thanks for your hard work on this project” or “I can tell you put a lot of time into this” can help minimize feelings of inadequacies when you list their mistakes.
Build on the positive and you’ll be pleased with the effect it will have on their performance going forward.
4. Generally, Filipinos are obliging
Filipinos have a strong desire to please people. It’s simply not in their nature to intentionally do anything to disappoint the people around them. It is important for them to gain approval. This attitude serves Filipinos well. It motivates them to work harder.
But the need to please can have potential drawbacks. Sometimes, because they’re so concerned about doing things right for you, they’ll disappear when they feel their work won’t be up to your standards. Rather than come to you with concerns, they’ll just leave, assuming the worst. Explain to your VFPA from the very beginning that you’re available for help and disappearing isn’t an acceptable option.
We suggest that every day, your remote worker should send you an email that answers these three questions:
- What did you do today?
- What problems did you run into?
- What help can I give you?
First, develop accountability. They’ll know you expect a daily report on the work they’ve accomplished. This alone should motivate them to be productive and do what you’ve asked.
Second, maintain open lines of communication. This is so important when you’re working with someone on the other side of the world where time and cultural differences can be an issue.
Lastly, the daily email gives you a perfect opportunity to assess your VFPA’s progress and provide training as necessary.
A daily email does much more than making sure your worker is always busy and productive. This relieves you of some of the mundane details that would otherwise weigh you down. The tasks you outsource will no longer occupy your precious time. This lets you focus on making money for your business.
Communication is key. There are other ways to do this aside from daily email (it all depends on your preference). You can reach out to your VFPA via video chat or call as you see fit. Other great ways to communicate are through project management systems such as Monday.com, Asana, Basecamp etc.
Constant communication is essential for boosting your worker’s confidence and success. Filipinos need this type of interaction as it reassures them they’re on the right track and makes them feel good about what they’re doing.
By communicating frequently and effectively with your VFPA, you:
- can clear up confusion or immediately answer questions,
- resolve concerns timely despite the time differences and
- gradually build a trusting working relationship.
Some things you should ask your VFPA include the following:
- Do you understand?
- Do you enjoy your job?
- Do you know how to do this?
- What do you think about this strategy?
If you don’t bother communicating, your VFPA will think you don’t care what they’re doing. There’s little incentive to work hard and follow through on projects because nobody cares. You don’t need to micromanage your VFPA but staying completely out of the way won’t help either.
5. Knowing how to handle the good and bad
You didn’t hire a perfect person, so be prepared for mistakes and missteps. If you train your VFPA the right way, you’ll be amazed by their work ethic and abilities. Still, like everybody else, there will be good days and bad days. How you respond to this will have a huge impact on your worker. When your VFPA does great work, acknowledge it. Give them praise and express gratitude. These help their performance continuously improve.
On the flip side, when something goes awry it’s important to not overreact. Try these approaches instead:
- Assume it’s your fault. (Maybe they didn’t understand the first set of instructions you sent. Ask them what they didn’t understand and work with them on a system to avoid mistakes like this in the future.)
- Don’t yell or insult them. Treat them the way you want your employer to treat you.
- Be patient (always think this is a long-term relationship).
- Allow them to correct their mistakes. Realize they want to do things right. They didn’t mess up on purpose. They probably tried hard to do what they thought you wanted.
- Provide constant feedback—both positive and negative, if needed.
If you look at this as a long-term relationship instead of something that only going to last a few weeks or months, your attitude, mindset, and outlook will change. Investing in their success is an investment in your own success. Recognize that with time and training, they will be able to do all the things in your business you want them to do.
6. Respect the culture
Working with Filipinos is different from working with people in the U.S. There are definite cultural differences between the two countries that you must pay attention to. If you ignore the customs and traditions of the Philippines, you’ll only alienate your VFPA. (And it’s fun to know them too! Trust me on this.)
Learn about the Philippines and be aware of how they act, think, and feel. In many ways, they’re just like you and me.
Also, Filipinos will address you as “Sir” or “Ma’am.” At first, you may not be used to this. When I first started outsourcing to the Philippines, I was caught off guard by being called “Sir.” I really didn’t like it. But I understood it was a cultural thing, so I got used to it. Allow them to address you formally like this, and you’ll build a lot of trusts. It stems from their culture of giving respect to elders, authorities, or head man/woman.
7. Keep things realistic
There’s nothing wrong with challenging your VFPA and giving them tough assignments. Doing this helps them grow and improve. But don’t set impossible standards. Don’t come up with unreasonable rules and policies. If you do, you’ll set yourself and your remote team up for failure.
Create an environment where they can thrive. Don’t stifle their growth by requiring unnecessary regulations or steps. Be fair and reasonable. You want your VFPA to progress and be an asset to your business for years to come. Do everything you can to help them succeed.
What it all means…
To successfully scale up your practice, you need a long-term remote assistant who can confidently take on day-to-day business tasks. Carefully managing your worker is key to getting there. Invest in them and they’ll invest themselves in your business. The more you put into managing them, the more you’ll get out of them.