Things Every Remote Employee Wished Their Manager Did

As a remote employee, there is nothing quite like finding the perfect company to work with.  Being able to find a place where remote employees, like myself, can use our skills and grow feels like Cinderella finally slipping on that glass slipper. It feels as though good companies that inspire employees to stay and develop are few and far between. According to LinkedIn, the top reason employees quit is due to a manager issue. However, this can easily be avoided with just a few minor adjustments. With these little changes, every company has the potential to be that perfect place for employees to flourish. 


Here are a few things every remote employee wishes their manager did:


Practice Open Communication

In all relationships, open communication is always a key factor in terms of moving things forward. This includes the relationship that managers build with their employees. In a remote work setting, open and honest communication is especially important to ensure things are running smoothly. Encouraging your team to have a voice will not only help in clearing up any misunderstandings on tasks and processes but will strengthen your bond as a team.


Establish an SOP

One of the things that I appreciate the most, as a remote employee, is when managers take time to create a standard operating procedure. An SOP helps keep remote employees as well as the projects you and your employees are working on on the right track. Having something to look at as a guide lessens the feelings of uncertainty when doing routine and specific tasks. This will then make tasks quicker and easier to complete. 


Effectively Use a Project Management System

In line with having a standard operating procedure, having a project management system is a great addition to your remote employee’s work tools. Verbally listing tasks during a meeting is sometimes not enough. An article in Healthline discusses how human memory is often unreliable. The article further discussed that while we are able to retain the gist of the whole experience, our memory tends to lose the details. Having a project management system in place will not only serve as a To-Do list but will also help you identify what tasks to prioritize first. 


The best part is you don’t need to design one yourself. There are tons of free project management software out there today like Asana and Trello. They even have mobile apps you can easily download on your phone so you can delegate, organize, and check tasks on the go. Project management systems, when used effectively, will establish accountability for both parties, get tasks done, and push the project forward without getting the details lost in the process. 


Trust Your Employees

When all the training has been done, allow your team some space to grow. Trusting them enough to complete their tasks and make decisions without you micromanaging them. Micromanagement creates an atmosphere of uncertainty where employees are afraid to think and work outside the box due to the fear of getting reprimanded. While functioning just within the box that you set for them might seem productive, in the long run, this causes burn out and decreases productivity. 


Instead of micromanaging, strive to be a manager that employees can look to for guidance. Encourage them to make decisions for the tasks that you have laid out on the project management system. Encourage ideas and suggestions as well. After all, if you are confident that you have trained them well and set out great SOP’s why waste time monitoring their every move?


Practice Giving Positive Feedback

When working on a task, I prefer getting feedback rather than nothing at all. Giving and receiving feedback should not be viewed as something negative. People are bound to make mistakes and a little guidance goes a long way. When giving feedback, think of the delivery and how it would be received by your team. Take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Does the feedback sound more like a piece of advice to be better or is it just merely nitpicking what is wrong with the task? Aim for criticism that is constructive. Recognize the good points first, then tell them what they did incorrectly, and lastly, offer a solution. That way, next time they encounter the same issue, they will remember the positive feedback rather than recall the time they got reprimanded by the boss. 


Bonus: Provide Further Training

With the help of a good team, your company has nowhere else to go but move forward. When your company grows it means that there will be new opportunities for your team. Whenever possible, offer opportunities for further training. Allow your team to grow along with your company. This helps your employees avoid feelings of stagnation in the workplace. As an employee, further training helps me feel satisfied in the workplace and allows me to look back to where I first started and see where I am now. This will make your team feel that they are an integral part of this growth. 


Being a good manager, like all things, is a learning process. Hopefully, these tips will help you establish a good rapport with your team and build a work environment that employees look forward to and enjoy being in. Here at Hire Like Fire, we strive to help managers as well as remote employees get the best of both worlds. Check out what we do here


Budgeting Time

I’ll do it tomorrow. I still have time. Maybe later. In a bit. I am not done yet. Before you know it, you are out of time and catching your breath to meet deadlines. Sound familiar? Today, we discuss easy and realistic strategies on how we can allocate time efficiently.

“I just don’t have the time!” It’s a common statement we hear from a lot of people. The challenge is that more often than not, we feel there is never enough time for what’s important. We find ourselves running after it and ending the day feeling exhausted only to do it all again tomorrow. I have news for you… It does not have to be like that!

Although there are many great time management books and tools out there, there are still many people who experience challenges with budgeting their time. Yoav Shoham, Co-Founder & Chairman of Timeful, explains that “…the tools we have to manage our time — such as the calendar and the to-do list — have not changed much in the past century. One reason is time is harder to manage than money. For one thing, it is a perishable resource (there’s no bank for time).” So true! We can never set time aside for use later. 

So what’s the answer? Here are some practical tips that can get you started with budgeting your time:

1. Identify distractions! 

The first thing is to determine where you are spending most of your time. Are you spending 3 hours in front of the TV and 1 hour doing that report? Once you can actually see and identify how you are currently using your time, it is easier to clean-up.

2. Plan ahead! 

Plan tomorrow, today, by prioritizing your tasks. When you prioritize, you know you are spending your time correctly. Explore prioritization tools like the Importance-Urgency Matrix from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Forced Choice Clarification. See more tools here.

3. Schedule your Prime Hours!

 David Ellen of Getting Things Done shares the 2–Minute Rule: If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now. Personally I like to start my day with these tasks as a warm-up. For the tasks that I don’t want to do – and I am sure you have some too – I schedule them on my prime hours. Prime Hours is the time of the day when you are most productive. Your focus is switched on and you have gotten into your groove for the day. For me, this is usually after my “warm-up” and before lunch. Identify your prime hours to help with your scheduling.

4. Stop multitasking and focus, focus, focus! 

 For the longest time, we’ve heard people say that multitasking is a good thing. To a degree, yes. Listening to an audiobook while on your morning run is one thing. However, shared the results of a study that “it is better to work on one task at a time than try to complete many tasks at once, the researchers said.” In reality, you get more things done when you focus on one task at a time. So.. focus! 

F-ollow O-ne C-ourse U-ntil S-ucessful

This does not mean, though, to forget everything for the day to focus on that one report. Remember, the importance of budgeting time. In number 3, you built your schedule so that you’d have time for your Prime Hours, now focus on that task you allotted in that scheduled block of time. If you need 2 hours for that report, then focus on that report for 2 hours and stick to it!

5. Track your time and be aware of it always!

 According to Ryan Laspina, Senior Specialist at the Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS, “This sometimes can make the day go slower, but if you constantly know what time it is, you will have a better grasp of your time management.” The key is keeping to the schedule you made.

The truth of the matter is, time is a gift that we can never get back. Whether it is to budget your time for your family, work or both, we should all feel blessed that we have time to “stress” about. Let us not waste it by throwing this gift away. Cherish and respect it by budgeting it well to achieve the life-work balance you have always wanted.

Business leaders should espouse positive leadership in their communities

Company Values and Corporate Stewardship

Business leaders should espouse positive leadership in their communities

It’s incredibly important to have a strong company culture in any business. What is company culture? Built In defines company culture as “…a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization.”

These values, goals, and attitudes tend to be direct reflections of the people who found, shape, and run the business and will be different for everyone you ask. Here at Hire Like Fire, we have a lot of things that are very important to us as business owners, but also as individuals. For myself and my co-founder, one of our defining values is good stewardship. 

In its simplest definition, stewardship is the responsible planning and management of resources (Inc). We apply this sensibility to how we manage our company resources. It drives the decisions we make and the relationships we build. It impacts critical internal decisions that we make but we also feel that our relationship with the world at large is driven by this ethos. 

Hire Like Fire wants to help the world to continue conducting business in ways that are responsible and ethical to our global community. For example, by assisting in being a driving force in the field of championing remote work, we can help reduce commuting, which contributes substantially to climate degradation. In the past decade, work commutes contributed to more than a quarter of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the US alone (WWF). By continuing to develop our business model in line with the needs of our global community, we hope to significantly contribute to fighting issues like climate change. 

We believe that as business leaders, we should also be leaders in our local and global communities. Author Edward E Lawler explained in Forbes “Today, corporations play central roles in communities, nations, and the world, and their unprecedented access to resources and power position them to become “stewards of the future of humanity and the earth,” and ethically obligated to act as such.” (Forbes)

We agree that it is our ethical duty to take a stand to ensure that the resources we use and the influence that we wield as a company is used for good. That is why we donate 5% of all net profits each quarter to charities that make the world a better place.  We have listed the charities we currently work with below:

Global Giving. The largest global crowdfunding community connecting nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country.

Rainforest Trust. Rainforest Trust purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. 

Clean Air Task Force. The Clean Air Task Force’s mission is to push the change in technologies and policies needed to get to a zero-emissions, high-energy planet at an affordable cost.

These charities reflect our core values as a business and of the people in it by promoting good stewardship in business and in the world at large. How are your values reflected in your business? Do you practice and promote good stewardship in your policies and procedures or volunteer/donate to any particular causes?

remember to show appreciation when hiring virtual assistants

3 Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Team

In our last article, we talked about some helpful delegation tips for managers and business owners to use. Today, we are going to dive a little deeper into one of the topics we covered: making sure your team feels appreciated.

Gallup conducted research of over 1 million remote workers worldwide. In their study, they found that communicating appreciation to employees was associated not only with increasing employee engagement but also with: 

  • Fewer employee absences
  • Fewer incidences of company theft
  • Reduced numbers of job accidents
  • Better customer ratings
  • Lower turnover rates
  • More company profitability

Employees want to feel appreciated at work, and it clearly carries its share of benefits. So, how can you as a manager do a better job of showing appreciation? Believe it or not, there are ways to do this that go beyond the obvious practices like offering bonuses, raises, and promotions. We’ve listed a few helpful examples below. 

  • Offer sincere words of encouragement

In the 2012 book, The Five Languages of Appreciate in the Workplace, psychologist and author Paul White shared his findings from a study he conducted of over 130,000 workers. Over half of those employees preferred words of affirmation as their way of receiving praise and acknowledgment (Fast Company). 

One way to do this – try a “praise barrage.” Dr. Bob Nelson, the author of Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies, refers to this practice as follows: “Sequentially focus on each person on the team on a conference call and ask others to say what they like most about working with that person. This might only take 10 minutes, but the feedback (and feeling) it provides each person will encourage them to do more of those things others on the team value, make them appreciative of being on the team, and more tightly bind them together.”

  • Spend quality time with your team

Don’t forget –  the members of your team are people too. So why not engage with them in a personal manner as often as you can? When starting a call for a scheduled meeting, try scheduling a couple of extra minutes to share some of the little personal things going on in your life. By doing this, you can help your team relax with you and feel more comfortable. 

White’s research found that 35% of remote employees valued time spent with colleagues, so try to make the effort and give your employees a call once in a while just to check in with them personally and see how things are going in their lives. 

  • Show acts of kindness

The research conducted by psychologist Paul White also found that a significant number (over 20% of employees polled) preferred kind acts and services as a means of showing appreciation (Fast Company). Here are a few ways you can creatively show kindness to your team:

  • Send a handwritten thank-you card
  • Mark team birthdays on your calendar and send a gift when their big day comes!
  • Surprise them with some paid time off
  • Send a member of your team on a trip somewhere (it doesn’t have to be lavish/expensive) 
  • Send a gift card in recognition of a job well done
  • Send them some company swag or merchandise

No matter what you decide to do to show your team that you care, it’s important that you do so with genuine gratitude and appreciation for the awesome team that you have. What are some of the ways that you show your team that you care? We would love to share more creative examples for our readers!

hire virtual assistant

6 Tips on Delegating More Effectively 

As a business owner, it can often feel like you have a million things on your plate. The worst part: the things that you are working on today most likely are only tasks that keep your business running, instead of driving growth. 

So, what can you do? 

Sara Blakely, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, gave what she called her best advice for fellow entrepreneurs:

“As soon as you can afford to, hire your weaknesses. What you’re not good at is usually what you don’t like.”

How many of the tasks in your workflow are things that you’re not only bad at, but are things that you honestly just wish you could hand off to someone else? 

Why don’t you? 

For many of us, it’s simply because we don’t know how. So, below, we have shared a helpful list for getting started. 

  1. Pick your teammates carefully

It’s really important to make sure you’re picking someone that is best suited for the work you need to accomplish. Make sure you do the prep work to identify not only the things that you’re handing off but what your prospective employee or virtual assistant will need to know and have to do a satisfactory job. 

The list of job requirements and necessary tools for each task you are delegating is just as important as the delegation task list itself.  You may also want to share this list with your new hire and let them choose the tasks that they feel match their skillset the best. 

Either way, once you have completed this step, you need to…

  1. Give very clear instructions

Take some time and think about your workflow. You most likely have spent enough time trying to pull all the strings in your business by yourself long enough that you know the best way to tackle these specific tasks so that they don’t take all day. This would be your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Once you have clearly laid that out, arm your assistants or employees with clear targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Make sure they understand what success in this role looks like. Remember that this is the real focus. At Hire Like Fire, we typically recommend making simple training manuals or videos. This can be something as simple as a desktop recording that you use to show your SOPs, with a companion guide that you’ve thrown together in a Google Doc. Remember: if you were in the shoes of a new-hire (which you probably have been before), you probably would want some kind of reference that you can rely on if you get stuck or have a question. 

This is also really important because these resources will be things that you can use again if you ever need a new person to fill that position, or if you end up bringing on another person to help. 

Once your team understands what is required of them, step back and…

  1. Get out of your team’s way

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be managing or supervising your team, but you also should be careful to avoid micromanaging your team. 

Hopefully, as part of your initial training, you remembered to give your team enough authority to make certain decisions without them needing to constantly check in with you. Otherwise, you haven’t really delegated much of anything.

This doesn’t mean that you scold or reprimand your team for asking questions, but it also means that you have thought ahead and worked through these SOPs with your new hire in mind. They are seeing these tasks for the first time, and there are sure to be certain stumbling blocks that you would do well to take careful consideration of. 

For example: are you delegating a task that requires your virtual assistant to pay for something? Did you give them a way to accomplish this like setting up a secured virtual payment card? A simple system like this ensures that only a specific amount can be spent on specific tasks on specific websites. In the past, you may have whipped out your business credit card and paid for something required for a task without giving it a second thought. Imagine if you hadn’t thought about the ramifications of this for someone besides the business owner. You’d constantly have to be giving your approval for spending when you could have simply set up a basic system for your virtual assistant to use. 

This is only one example, but you get the picture. When you’re certain that your SOPs are airtight and devoid of any major pitfalls…

  1. Provide feedback

Delegation is not a set it and forget it process. Sure, you worked really hard on all the systems and resources you put into place so that your team can succeed, but they aren’t cogs in a machine. Your team is made up of humans performing tasks in a system created by another human (you), and they are just as fallible as you (and your systems) are. 

This means that it’s necessary to get and give feedback. Check in on the work your team is doing, see that they understood your instructions, help them find better ways to get things done, and make sure they are doing things the right way. Just as importantly, be receptive to feedback from your team. If they find any flaws in your SOPs, it’s in your best interest to listen and adjust as necessary. 

With good communication and regular check-ins, you can ensure a culture of optimization that flows both from the top-down and bottom-up. It’s a 2-way street.

With that spirit of constant improvement in mind, it may also be a good idea to…

  1. Empower your assistants with further training

Ideally, the people that work with you will be inspired by your leadership and company vision and want to stick around. If you’re really doing your job as a leader, you’ll not only be fostering that as part of your company culture, but you’ll also be providing resources in the form of training to help your teammates gain more skills so that they can enrich themselves, and ultimately your business. 

In the past, we have seen clients that allot a certain amount of time during the workweek for their virtual assistants to spend on training. This can be accomplished by using a website like Udemy or Skillshare. Your team can use sites like this to gain really useful skills and talents that will help you to delegate an increasing number of higher-level tasks. 

No doubt, your virtual assistant will really appreciate the opportunity to not only learn, but to get paid while doing so. So finally…

  1. Make sure your team feels appreciated

If you’re like many of the entrepreneurs that find themselves working to become better leaders, you probably have read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. 

If you haven’t, we highly recommend it. However, if you don’t have the time, just check out this summary.

One of the key tenets of the book is to make sure you show and give genuine appreciation – especially for a job well done. Make sure that when you show this appreciation that it is honest and sincere and not just flattery. 

Don’t ever take your team or the people on it for granted. Remember where you came from, and what it was like when the team was just you. 

It takes a lot of work to become a good leader and delegator. You have to make sure that you fully understand all the ins and outs of what you’re delegating, as well as being dedicated to your team.

However difficult this may be, it is the true key to unlocking more success for your business and all of the people in it. 

If you’d like to learn more about delegating and working with the people in your business, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and check us out on our website