Victoria Rayburn explains why every small business owner needs a personal brand.
Episode 147: Why Every Small Business Owner Needs a Personal Brand & How to Build Yours
June 4, 2024

June 11, 2024

Episode 148: How to Build & Lead a Healthy Remote Team with Amanda Garcia


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The way we work has changed drastically since 2020. Now, more and more employees prefer to work remotely or in a hybrid model. However, the transition from in-person to remote work isn’t always seamless. For many small businesses, it happened in a whirlwind, leaving little time to strategize the long-term implications for workplace culture.

With this in mind, we are thrilled to have the privilege of hosting Amanda Garcia, a luminary in the realm of marketing and nonprofit communication, to break down how to build and lead a healthy remote team.

 

What does a typical day and communication look like for a remote team?

As with any small business, no two days ever look the same for Amanda. But, there are a few consistencies in her team’s day-to-day communication schedule.

 

Check-Ins & Instant Messaging

Amanda kicks off her day with a morning check-in call with her accounts manager. This call is designed to help guide the accounts manager on what needs to get done that day and to answer any questions she may have.

Communication doesn’t stop there. After this morning call and throughout the working day, all team members are constantly messaging and communicating with one another via Slack, their internal communication system.

However, they are also quick to recognize that too much communication can be distracting. Amanda shares that her company values deep work, or projects and tasks that require undisturbed focus. With this in mind, Amanda and her team instituted a system where if someone is trying to do deep work, they put a specific emoji on their profile so other team members know not to message them.

 

Other Regular Meetings

Amanda and her team also have other regular meetings. The first of these is held at the beginning of the week to touch base and go over the current calendar and client projects.

Before they get to that though, the team does an exercise known as “cherries and pits.” In this team-building exercise, everyone shares one thing they’re happy about and one thing that’s bumming them out. It can be work-related or personal, big or small.

The point of this exercise is to see how people are feeling before starting the week. Amanda shares that because of their remote structure, there’s no real way to read body language or subtlety in communication, meaning you don’t know where someone’s head is unless you ask directly. By sharing this little snippet of their lives with the group, everyone is better able to see where people are and have the opportunity to support one another.

Likewise, they always end their meetings with one person sharing something they love. This can range from someone’s favorite podcasts and books to a person’s specific skincare routine and favorite products. Both of these exercises are ways that Amanda’s team are able to gain a better understanding of one another and create the kinds of connections you normally would in an in-person setting.

On top of this Monday morning meeting, Amanda and her team have smaller meetings such as a weekly leadership meeting to discuss business goals and one-on-one meetings where Amanda touches base with each team member to see how she can better support them.

Overall, the typical workday changes drastically depending on the projects people are working on and who you ask. But there is always a constant thread of reliable communication between coworkers.

 

What are the disadvantages and advantages of having a remote team?

Amanda acknowledges that just as with any small business structure, you’re going to have advantages and disadvantages associated with shifting to a remote team.

 

Disadvantages

While it has increased in popularity over the past few years, the remote working structure isn’t for everyone. In fact, when Amanda first shifted over to a completely remote working environment, one of her employees decided to part ways with the company because the style didn’t work well with her mental health.

This was likely because there’s a lack of organic social interaction in a remote setting. Whereas in person you may be able to have “water cooler conversations” or little talking breaks here and there with coworkers, working remotely means you don’t get those natural conversations as much.

Amanda shares that it also tends to take a new person longer to become acclimated to your business when you’re strictly remote, and can be more challenging for new employees to get to know their coworkers and company culture because that culture is spread out.

With this in mind, communication and connection become a bit more work. You need to be extremely intentional with reaching out and making sure people—especially your new hires—have everything they need to do their best work.

 

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of learning how to build and lead a healthy remote team is the lower overhead costs. You don’t have to worry about paying for an office space and all the extras that come along with it. So long as your team has what they need to do their jobs, you’re set!

Speaking of your team, Amanda says that some people simply work better in the remote setting, specifically those who thrive in autonomy. The lack of constant supervision or micromanaging allows them to get their best work done.

This also builds an incredible amount of trust between coworkers. Since you aren’t seeing everyone every day, you have to trust that the work is going to get done. Otherwise, you’re stressed all the time and trying to micromanage people across the world—which is never a productive use of your time.

One of the advantages Amanda loves most about having a remote team is the flexibility. In a remote setting, you and your team can work from all over the world. And, if you can work from anywhere, you can also hire from anywhere—giving you a bigger talent pool to choose from and a better chance at finding the perfect fit for your business.

Earlier we mentioned the disadvantage of how difficult making meaningful connections can be in a remote work environment. While this is true, Amanda also sees this as an advantage. Because those organic conversations don’t naturally happen, you need to be incredibly intentional with your communication to make those connections. And that allows you to get to know your team at a deeper level than you likely would’ve been able to in person.

 

What are some practical ways that small businesses can build and lead healthy remote teams?

According to Amanda, creating and leading a healthy remote team starts with the hiring and onboarding process. When it comes time to hire someone for your team, it’s important to be very clear on exactly what you need—starting with the job description.

Because remote culture is hard to build, take some time to consider what kind of company culture you would like to create and include that in the job description. If you know your core values and key characteristics or the type of person someone needs to be in order to thrive in that position, add it to the description. Being as specific as possible will help you find the exact right person for the job.

Also, when onboarding a new employee, it’s important to overcommunicate. Otherwise, the new hire won’t know what to expect or who they need to talk to about their role. Amanda explains that having an onboarding checklist is a great way of ensuring you share everything with your new hire. This checklist should include everything they might need to know, including things that may appear obvious to you like dress code and meeting expectations.

 

What are some tools a remote team can use to stay connected and productive?

Amanda and her team use a variety of tools to stay on track and connected throughout their day. As we mentioned earlier, communication is key for working remotely. Because of this, you need to have a messaging or communication-based tool. Amanda’s team uses Slack, which allows them to easily message each other throughout the day and set up specific chats for different conversations.

You will also need a project management software to keep track of your daily operations and client projects. At Treefrog, we recommend every small business use a project management software, but this is especially important for a remote work environment. For this, Amanda and her team use Asana which keeps important conversations and tasks in one central location that is accessible to the entire team.

If you want or need to track employees’ time, Amanda recommends using Toggl, a free, online time-tracking software. This helps her see how long certain tasks and projects take her staff so she knows exactly what they can accomplish in a given time and doesn’t overbook anyone.

You may also want to look into other helpful programs such as Loom—which allows you to record tutorials you can later use in onboarding—and Figma—a whiteboard program where your team can work and brainstorm together.

 

How do you encourage and track the productivity of a remote team?

To Amanda, the answer to this question isn’t about productivity; it’s about leadership.

If you have a clear company culture and expectations and get the right people involved, you shouldn’t have to worry about their productivity because they’re doing work that they love and they’ve bought into your vision. If you hire people who want to do their job, then you don’t need to worry about productivity.

However, if it becomes a regular pattern of you setting expectations and someone not meeting them, you may have the wrong person. And, sometimes that changes over time. Maybe one of your current team members is a perfect fit now, but later their priorities change and they can no longer keep up with what is expected of them. That’s okay. You just need to be willing to recognize and change things when those shifts happen.

 

What are some other things to keep in mind when considering switching to a remote work environment?

One of the biggest pieces of advice Amanda can share about switching to a remote work environment is that it will take time. This is a transition, and transitions always take more time than you likely think they should. It won’t be perfect right away. Because of this, you need to have patience and grace for both yourself and your team.

Likewise, it’s important to be self-aware. You have to be able to look at your processes, see what’s working, and fix what isn’t. If you can’t admit that something is wrong and needs changed, your system is going to be filled with flaws that could cost you team members and business.

Amanda asks that you give the remote work style a real chance before deciding it’s not right for you. Sometimes, things take longer than a week or a quarter. Create a metric and a deadline, and if you’ve given it all you’ve got and find it’s still not working for you, then it may be time to rethink things. But, give it a real chance first because it won’t happen quickly or be perfect.

With all that in mind, you need to remember that the way it is right now is not the way it will always be. Things will shift and get better as you go along. For now, focus on gratitude and your wins as you work through the process.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to build and lead a healthy remote team, be sure to listen to this whole episode (at the top of the page or wherever you listen to podcasts) to hear more about Amanda’s experience with leading a completely remote team. If you’d like to connect with Amanda, you can check out ColorWord Creative on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook or visit their website https://colorwordcreative.com/.

 

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

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The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

 


 

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On “Priority Pursuit,” Amanda Garcia breaks down how small businesses can build and lead healthy remote teams.

 

 

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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