How To Onboard A Virtual Team


The employees you hire as an entrepreneur play a big part in the success or failure of your business. Having the right people on your team who really care about your business and your mission is so important.

In a previous episode we talked about how to hire people and build a virtual team, but in this episode we are going to expand on that and talk about how to actually onboard the team members once you’ve hired them.

We both have virtual teams for our businesses, so we have gone through the onboarding process several times over the years. We have found that it really makes a difference when we take the time to onboard employees thoughtfully and with intentionality. Setting the tone on day one has a huge impact on the experience your employees will have working with you.

Here are some of the best tips and advice we have when it comes to onboarding new team members.

You can watch the video of our full discussion below or just listen to the audio version as a podcast. If you want more content like this you can subscribe to our Youtube channel.

 Creating a good first impression

Think about a time when you first started at a new job. How did you feel on your first day? Were you excited? Were you second guessing taking the job? First impressions matter and as an employer it is up to you to create a great first impression for your new hires.

What would you want to experience on your first day of a new job? Create documents that you can give new hires to help them get settled into their new role. Let them know right away what your brand is and what you expect from them. Make sure they know what resources and tools are available to them and how they can access them.

You may want to record yourself doing the tasks you are going to be outsourcing so that new hires can have access to the video as they are learning. First of all, it is helpful for the person to have access to the videos so they can watch a process as much as they need to. But it also could come in handy if you onboard someone and then they quit or you fire them. It takes a lot of time and effort to onboard someone, and by recording videos you wouldn’t have to explain the same process all over again, you could point them to the videos.

Don’t be afraid to open up and let people know who you are, why you started the company, your mission, and why the business means so much to you.

Test the waters

It can be helpful to give new hires a few test tasks to see how they do. If you are hiring a social media manager you can have them post to different social channels for a week and see how it goes. Or ask them to write sample tweets or posts to see how they do.

If you are hiring a web designer or a graphic designer ask to see some of their previous work or give them 1 or 2 projects to work on. Or maybe you are hiring an assistant and you want to see how they would respond to a client email or a scheduling conflict.

Giving them these small tasks or projects up front can help you see the quality of their work and it can help you catch red flags early on.

Wait a bit before introducing a new member to the team

This is a lesson we have learned over the years. It can be tempting to want to introduce a new hire to your team on the first day. It’s exciting, you are looking forward to working with them, you want to make them feel included. But if for some reason it doesn’t work out during that initial test period it just isn’t good for anyone to have to introduce someone and then a week later let everyone know that person is gone.

It can cause the rest of your team to feel uneasy or insecure. In big companies the hiring teams take weeks or even months to hire someone new. They put new hires through tests, assessments, interviews, background checks etc...But as entrepreneurs we can sometimes hire a new person within 24 hours. We don’t have the same rigorous processes.

So waiting to introduce a new team member can help you protect yourself and your team.

Ensure team members have the right tools and resources

It is extremely important that you check in on a regular basis to make sure your team has access to the right tools and resources to get their jobs done. You want great people who produce quality services, so it is up to you to make sure nothing is standing in the way of them doing that.

Check in to see if there is anything that would make their jobs easier and be willing to help provide those resources for them.

Give frequent feedback

Providing your team with constructive feedback is critical so they know what they are doing well and what they can improve on. But there is an art to giving feedback in a productive way that also doesn’t make people feel bad about themselves. It really helps to provide things they are doing well along with the things they are not doing so well so it balances out.

It is also important that you explain why something needs to be fixed or improved upon. Don’t just tell them that what they did is bad. Explain why the task wasn’t done to your satisfaction.

You will have to be patient with people in the beginning because everyone needs time to get settled, to really understand your brand, and to know exactly what you are looking for. But providing constructive feedback along the way and effectively communicating what you are looking for is crucial in order for them to get the hang of things.

What to do if someone is not a good fit

When hiring someone new it can be helpful to have a set time frame in your own mind that you can use to figure out if that person will work out or not. It should be realistic, as we said before, everyone needs time to get settled and up to speed. But set a period of time in your mind and if you come to the end of that time and the person still is making a lot of mistakes or isn’t keeping up then you need to let the person go.

It is important to keep things professional, just let them know it’s not a good fit, you wish them all the best, but it’s just not going to work out. Even if they get angry and call you names or lash out, don’t let it get to you and don’t stoop down to their level.

The biggest mistake you can make is to keep someone on even though you know that they are not a good fit. We have fallen into this before because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find someone else quickly to do the job and I knew it would take quite a bit of time to find someone to take their place. But what we realized is had we let that person go earlier, our businesses probably would have scaled faster than they did. We let them hold us back for too long. Don’t make the same mistake.

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