How to Train Your Virtual Team
Once you’ve hired your first virtual team member, the challenges don’t end there. In today’s blog post, I want to talk about the next roadblock or “new devil” that you are likely to come across whenever you are trying to delegate more in your business and work with virtual team members. This is learning how to train your virtual team.
If we think about all my blog posts as a series guiding you through the process of what you need to do, this would be the third installation in this series.
The first thing we touched upon was how to find and hire reliable virtual team members.
And then when it comes to the continuation, which was working with the team members, we’ve talked about how to set up platform agnostic systems so that you’re not tied to one particular tool or software service whenever it comes to running your business.
I then explained the dangers and risks of being tied to just one system. The second topic came in two blog posts because I took a deep dive into setting up these platform agnostic systems.
The next roadblock that you will come up against is how to train your virtual team members. The reason I’m saying this, is speaking from experience, there will come a time or a task wherein your new team member won’t know how to do the thing, or you won’t know how to do the thing.
Going Back to the WHO
If you remember back to the first blog post, I talked about the WHO First method. I was adamant about not focusing on the skills but instead focusing on the WHO aka who you work best with.
So in this blog post, we will continue with the point I am trying to make by not really relying on skill when training your virtual team members.
Because of that, it means that we are kicking the ball. In this case, the ball is the problem of how to deal with the fact that the team members we hire may not have the skill that we need.
This then means that in the future, we will inevitably have to train them because as the business grows and as tasks develop, there’s bound to be a point in time where no one in the team will know how to do something.
To throw another spanner in the works, there will also come a time where you won’t know what to do because unconscious incompetence is real. Basically, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Because you don’t know what you don’t know, somebody asking you what to do is likely to send you into a panic.
So, how do you know how to train your virtual team member in those situations?
That presents, in my opinion, both good news and bad news…
Let’s start with the bad news.
First off, if you don’t know what you don’t know, and your team member also doesn’t know, then it might seem like you’ve made a big mistake. Because you’ve hired this person to help you, but then the tables have turned and now they need your help.
And if you don’t know what to say, this will likely cause some anxiety in you as the business owner. While time passes and you’re trying to figure this thing out, tasks could be piling up because your attention is now being taken away from where it needs to be.
The bad news then compounds if the person is not the right person, in the sense that if you’ve hired somebody who is not resourceful and just wants to be spoon-fed, then the onus is going to be on you to actually solve the problem.
Alright, enough of the bad news. I wouldn’t want to scare you into not using the WHO First Method (in fact, this method is the solution to all of this).
Now, there is a good side, especially if you’ve hired the right person aka the right WHO. This being someone who is a self-starter, resourceful and likes to think in terms of the solution first. If you do find someone like that, 7 out of 10 times, that person will go out of their way to try and find a solution to the problem and come back to you with solutions instead of coming back to you with problems.
If you focus on the WHO First Method, then that kind of takes care of you not knowing what to do, because they’re going to find the solutions themselves.
Going back to the first blog, one of the things I talked about was the importance of focusing on the WHO instead of focusing on the skill. And this is because this new virtual team member joins your team as a sort of blank slate for you to mould or grow into the best way that you know how to.
Do note that this only works if you find good people. If you get low-quality people who cut corners, then you’ll need to work extra hard to avoid that trickling down into your business.
How I Train My Virtual Team
To kind of counter all of the bad news, I’m going to talk about how I train my team and what has been effective for us in the hopes that sharing that with you will give you insights into how you can think laterally about training your team and get more confidence whenever it comes to hiring someone.
There will be three ways that you can go about training and I will walk through each of these one by one.
Training #1: Teaching From Experience
When it comes to training your team, the lowest hanging fruit is training your team from experience. Now, if you train your team based on the things that you do everyday, it then becomes a hell of a lot easier for you to train from experience.
It’ll be much simpler if you already have SOPs and processes in place to show your new team members. That way, they know what to do and how to do it the way you want them to.
For situations wherein I already have standards in place, I use a tool called Loom which allows me to record myself going through the task while explaining what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
If they know why they’re doing it, when problems arise, they can come up with solutions that fit the ethos of what I’m trying to do.
In other words, rather than them coming up with solutions that I don’t like or coming up with solutions that don’t support the end goal that we’re trying to achieve, they are more likely in the future to come up with solutions that fit that because they understand the what and the why.
That’s why it’s important to create SOPs because these act as guides so that your team can replicate tasks in almost the same level that you complete them.
Do note however that things won’t be perfect even if you have all of these SOPs in place. There’s always going to be teething problems and misunderstandings. And I use these situations as learning opportunities and feedback to fix anything in my systems and processes.
From my experience, as I create SOPs, I document my processes so that there is as detailed a guide as possible to show my team members what to do and how to complete the specific tasks that I need them to complete.
Training #2: Courses
The second way is to use courses. When it comes to using courses to get them trained, I found that you can’t just buy a course and give it to your team members and say “go through this course and I want you to do what the course says to do.”
This is because with most courses (depending on the course, obviously), they are created for entrepreneur-minded people. This means that they could talk about big concepts, which in the context of training, would only serve to confuse your virtual team members.
When using courses, you actually have to put the time in to find a suitable course. And when I say find a suitable course, you need to avoid those that are filled with fluff and use big concepts. It’s a case of looking at the courses on the market and determining if you need the whole course or just segments of the course.
You need to choose only relevant courses because the last thing you want to do when training them is to confuse them. And outside of confusing them, you want them to be able to work quickly.
So there’s no point telling your team members to go through a 10-hour Facebook ads course if you want them to only set up Facebook ads and that Facebook ads course only has one lesson on how to set up a Facebook ad. In that instance, you want them to watch that particular lesson of how to set up a Facebook ad as opposed to going through the entire course.
Going through the entire course is not what you need them to help you with at that moment.
Now I’m not saying that they should never go through entire courses, but be more discerning on what you tell them to go through because that is what will help you get them trained quickly and effectively.
Training #3: Get Help From An Expert
And then the final way that I’ve trained my team is to pay for a consultant. This is relatively simple.
You’ll need to find an experienced practitioner whom you can pay for an hour or two of their time. And during that time, you want to make sure that you’re asking questions specific to the things that you or your team members don’t understand. You also want to make sure that the calls are recorded.
Which Should You Pick?
So which method should you resort to in order to train your virtual team member?
When your team member doesn’t know how to do something that you have the experience to, simply go with the first method and train them with the SOPs that you currently have. Then adjust and refine your processes if necessary.
When using courses, this is kind of like a hybrid, because this can be used in cases when you don’t know much and when your team member doesn’t know. And if you do have some experience, that’s where you have to use your experience and your knowledge to discern whether you’re going to give them the whole course or just particular segments.
And then whenever it comes to training your team by paying for a time or consulting with an experienced practitioner, that’s to be used in a situation where your new team member doesn’t know and you also don’t know.
This is the best solution for this case because paying someone for their time and paying for consulting basically shortcuts the process of you not knowing and you having to learn.
It also makes it easy for you to instruct your team because you’ll be instructing them from a place of knowledge. And it’s not just knowledge in that you read a book, but it’s going to be knowledge backed by somebody’s experience.
That’s why I recommend an experienced practitioner because they have to have complete knowledge on what they’re teaching you because that is what they do.
And there you have it. Those are the three ways that you can train your virtual team member which you can resort to depending on what the situation calls for. Just remember that you don’t need to know EVERYTHING, and your virtual team member certainly doesn’t need to as well.
If you haven’t gone to find your first great virtual team member yet, head over to my first blog in this series and work your way from there.
Best of luck and I’ll see you in the next blog post.