Just before COVID-19 hit, I kicked off a podcast production company with three other guys. Pretty cool, right? Here’s something even cooler—our team has grown to about 30 people around the world!
We have team members from Colombia, Indonesia, Canada, the Philippines, and the US! And tomorrow, I’m interviewing a video editor from Costa Rica for a new company we are launching. But the most impressive part of all this is that our team members around the world THINK LIKE OWNERS instead of employees! These are extremely talented people who love working with one another.
The main reason our small company has continued growing is because of the team culture we established early on. I’m constantly asked by friends, clients, and even competitors how we’re able to foster this positive company culture despite being thousands of miles apart.
I give away our secrets!
Because we will put in the work to establish great virtual COLLABORATION, but others won’t. If you are the kind of person who will do what it takes to win, then the following is for you.
Here are the helpful tips you need to build a strong team culture even through a remote set up.
1. Define your values and the characteristics of the culture you want to develop.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. If you are going to tell your new team members what is most important to you, you must do it clearly and unashamedly. Then they get to decide if this is the kind of company they always wanted to join, or if it’s not a good fit for them.
2. Communicate these BEFORE your interview, DURING your interview and at YOUR TEAM MEETINGS.
Write down your values and articulate them and communicate this to your team during a vision meeting. Be completely transparent and fill your team in on your vision for the company culture.
This is critical if you hire people from different cultures globally. This document will be the basis for culture, ethics, expectations. Our team members know that we will love them and that we will “love them enough to say something” if we see any problems.
Our values include loving each other enough to hold each other to a standard of excellence. Celebrating when a team member says “I forgot how to do something” or “I need help with this.” (In our company, the humble employee who asks for help is our hero!)
3. Encourage a safe environment of open communication and feedback. In our company, we believe that there are no stupid questions (only stupid people who ask them). Just kidding! I was seeing if you are really reading this…
Every other week in our team meetings we have a session called “Ask Any Question.” If they have enough guts to ask it, we’ll have enough guts to answer it! As the co-founders we want to set the standard for vulnerability and openness.
4. Give time to REALLY get to know your colleagues.
At our team meetings we have people answer questions like these:
Remote teams flourish or fail depending on the amount or quality of communication. Since there are no face to face interactions, we find you must put in double the effort to get to know lovely human being on your team. When we can be honest about ourselves, we trust others and everyone benefits.
5. Have a virtual “water cooler.”
In a physical set up, the water cooler or the break room is the place where people tend to have informal conversations about the latest shows, cool websites, who won what game, etc. It’s a venue for people to know one another on a level outside of work. In our remote setup on G-Suite, we have a chat room called “Break Room” where the team sometimes talks about anime, or food, or workout routines. It gives us a glimpse of the rest of the team’s characteristics aside from what we know about their work.
Great in-person companies genuinely care about their employees. They want them to love their company, make good money, and love the team. It’s the same for virtual collaborations. It takes more effort, but I’ll put our team against anyone’s! We built a team from scratch with the help of my incredible VA. Every single team member knew what we believed, how we would measure their success, and what would get them fired before they were ever hired. We set the standard high, and we maintain it. And it works!
I hope these tips helped you—and if you have any other questions hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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