During a recent meeting with clients in Utah, someone asked me about what it's like to have a virtual team. For me, the fact that my team members don't work at a physical location with me and aren't payrolled employees doesn't change what I expect from them in terms of performance and sense of responsibility. There are, of course, legal and accounting details to abide by that make contractors different from employees. Aside from those differences, I treat—and put the same level of trust in—contractors to help my business succeed.
Know that I do see value in face-to-face interaction for building rapport, hence my trip out west last month. However, I also have found that mutually beneficial business relationships can be forged, strengthened, and maintained without ever meeting in person.
Half of #Strella’s customers are across the nation (some across the globe), and the independent contractors that work with us reside in various parts of the United States and Canada. I haven’t met face-to-face with all of them, but we’ve achieved some remarkable results regardless.
Accountability – An Absolute Essential for a Successful Remote Team
As you might imagine, having a remote team requires that all individuals on the team commit to their responsibilities and meet deadlines.
They must hold themselves accountable and take pride in delivering a quality outcome.
In my experience, most of the contractors I’ve worked with have been more reliable and accountable than some of the employees that I’ve hired in the past. Several of the contractors own their own businesses, and I believe that the entrepreneurial mindset is a strong indicator that a person has the “accountability gene.”
Shared Values – A Must Whether Team Members are Near or Far
Regardless of their innate powers of accountability, team members (whether remote or on-site) need something else: shared values.
One of the things #Strella leadership focuses on developing across our organization is an understanding of our core values. At the top of the list are clear and timely communication and follow-through, and we are careful only to bring on team members who share those priorities. No matter an individual's geographic location, we ensure that we are on the same page. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having alignment of values throughout a company. Without that, people will lack direction, they won't fulfill your expectations, they'll feel alienated, and mission-critical initiatives will fail.
I know some business owners who shy away from using remote team members because they think employees will have a higher degree of accountability and a better sense of the company’s values.
They are missing out because they’re caught up in a myth.
I had employees on the payroll in the past—some for several years—and I thought they would be more accountable and available than contractors because I had more control over their work schedules. However, I found that not all payrolled staff demonstrated the same level of accountability and dedication to our core values as many of our contractors have.
The reality is, as my husband Nathan says, “People who want to be accountable will be accountable.”
A wise man, that Nathan! Accountability doesn’t stem from a job title or working arrangement; it’s a characteristic of the individual. Some people are driven to hold themselves accountable while others are not. Whether they receive a W-2 or 1099 form at the end of the year doesn’t matter.