As Online Business Managers, it is our role to manage the team we are working with. (Let me clarify that the Client is part of the team.) There is a saying: a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I believe this is true for teams as well. If any one member of the team is not functioning at the same level as everyone else, then you have a weakness in the team dynamic and essentially in the operations of the business.
It is important as OBMs that we understand our roles as leaders in the business… that we take ownership of the development of the team we are working with and ensure that we are creating the environment in which everyone on the team can produce at their strongest ability. The leader (you) should be the inspirer of the team… the person who creates the wind that everyone is soaring in on to perform their tasks in the business.
How do we do this?
We must understand the difference between motivating and delegating.
Motivating someone is all about inspiring them to show up and be the person they want to be… not just to complete a task, but also to feel good and empowered around the way they serve every element of their business and their role in the business you are managing.
Motivating is purposeful and thoughtful. You have to take the time to know your team’s goals and desires to effectively motivate them.
For example, by knowing what is on Tina’s YES list (the priority tasks she wants to be doing on a daily basis in the business), then I know how to motivate her to keep only those tasks on her plate and get the rest of the tasks off to the rest of the team. On team calls, that may look like keeping the conversation going toward what is coming up next or the vision she has for the business. When she gets bogged down in the details (which she is brilliant at but doesn’t really want to be in them), then I try to motivate her toward the big-picture stuff and reassure her I have the daily details handled.
With a VA, it’s always trying to encourage them… beyond the efforts of the business, but into their lives, their personal development or business development. I think of it as sowing and watering seeds of encouragement and power into their lives to ensure they desire to do their best work with us and for themselves.
I hope you can see the difference in this type of interaction over simply delegating a task… “here do this, here do that… thanks.” No one wants to work on a team where they do not feel cared for. There is a saying in our house (around raising our teenage kids): rules without relationship = rebellion. The same is true here… if you are not purposeful in building the relationship, then the request, processes, “rules” of your client’s business will be less important to the team member, specifically in comparison to the client that is taking the time to motivate and empower them by building a relationship with them.
When I talk to potential OBMs who have been in the VA community, their #1 complaint is not feeling valued! OUCH! As OBMs, it is our role to ensure our support knows the value they bring to the business… that we are developing their ability to continue to offer us great support. Here are just a few ways we can do this effectively:
1. Communicate Clearly – Expectations and Encouragement
I am so guilty of this… just sending out partial requests. Unfortunately, what this does is create a confusion and frustration in our team’s ability to fully perform the task at hand… therefore robbing them of the power they hold to do great work for us. We must be clear and decisive with the expectations we need from our team. That goes both ways too… let the client know what you need to be fully engaged in what ya’ll are creating together, as well as ensure you are fully communicating what the team needs to accomplish to be successful.
- First thing you want to do is ensure there is a role description for the position they hold in the business. This is the easiest way to create a measurable for both you and them to ensure the partnership is a success.
- Second, make sure you have a fully functional SOP that will lay out the expectation of each task so your team is not playing the guessing game with their obligations to the business, as this is frustrating and time consuming.
- Thirdly, ensure you are scheduling out tasks in a timeframe that allows them to know what is going on. Nothing more morale-breaking than planning to go to lunch with a friend and have a task hit your inbox or virtual office that has to be done within a few hours.
Encourage, encourage, encourage… it only takes a moment to say “I appreciate your commitment” or “thanks for always having my back, you make my work so much easier.” A little bit of encouragement will go a long way when creating an environment of success.
2. Develop an Attitude of Ownership
Give people the opportunity to show you what they can do. By empowering them to make decisions based on their level of experience and expertise, most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised by the creativity and ingenuity of your team. This is an Attitude of Ownership.
Now with any opportunity to be creative or take ownership of something, until they have proven themselves, they will need you to mentor them more closely through the process. But be there to watch for obstacles for them while allowing them to soar. Give people projects within their strengths that will help them build confidence in their ability to take ownership and have the pride of accomplishment.
For the VA who has an eye for detail, you could ask her to skim through the website to ensure all the links and grammar are as they should be. Or someone who loves formatting, let them take some of the client’s articles and create an eBook. These are projects they can work on in their own timeline that take little instruction, but will give them a great sense of ownership. If they need a great deal of instruction around it, it might not be the best project for that person to own. Consider that, but then you can see their potential and motivate them to that next level if needed.
3. Be Grateful – Say Thank You
Honestly, gratitude, when offered sincerely, is one of the greatest rewards we can get in this industry… to the client as well as to the support team. A truly heartfelt “thank you for what you do” is rare… a quick “thanks” is everywhere.. but really who receives that? If you take the time to tell someone thank you for how they make the business a better place, that motivates people to continue to do great work.
When you say thank you, be descriptive in what you see is the greatest asset the team member brings to the table. Tell them what you are most appreciative of in the support they offer, and if possible send them a token of appreciation.
Closing thoughts… be the leader OBM! Develop and motivate your team… step into the shoes of empowerment to ensure your team knows the value of their efforts and the appreciation of their commitment. When you do, everything in the business will begin to soar on the wind of your leadership.