So, my question for today’s post is:
“What’s your management style?”
There are probably two ends of the spectrum, when it comes to management style. It’s really a sliding scale, but there are two extremes. On one hand, there’s the micromanager. The micromanager is highly detail-oriented. He watches over his employees’ shoulders all the time. He wants to make sure his people are always being effective. The other extreme is the laid-back manager. This kind of manager is very relaxed and informal. His mantra is, “I’ll let you get on with the job.” His measurement of success is the final output, and he cares little about how it gets done.
It’s very interesting to see how, throughout the pandemic crisis, so many business people had to shift to working at home for a long time. Even I’ve been working from home, although my office is just a kilometer down the road. It’s interesting now that everybody’s getting used to it now. And they’re finding it’s very effective.
There are all sorts of debates going on at the moment about the post-covid environment, whenever that’s going to be. Are people going to flood back to their traditional offices? I think we’re going to see a very different work style, post-covid. Of course, there will be some businesses that will want their staff to return to the office. For some, the collaborative approach they can achieve in an in-office environment is very valuable. But, at the same time, there are some quite big businesses who are saying, “forget it, we’ll get rid of the office, we don’t need it. We’re working very effectively from home.”
So, that raises a really interesting question in my mind, because a lot of small business owners have been using virtual assistants, or remote staff, for years. I started down that road about 10 years ago, and I thought I was slow coming to the party. It’s really interesting, because now everybody’s doing it. And with that change, the whole scale of management styles has been brought along from the traditional offices. Even in our own business, there are very different styles. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, I don’t know.
When it comes to management, some people will do it through online systems. I know people who have screen-capture systems where any time during the day, they can see what’s on their VA’s screen. They have clock-in and clock-out systems. They intricately manage task lists using tools like Airtable.com and others. If that’s you, that’s fine. And if you have a virtual assistant who works well with that kind of system, that’s great. But that’s what’s important. If you have that kind of management style, you’ll need a VA that can thrive in that kind of environment. Because not everybody can.
As for me, I’m not like that at all. We’ve had some really interesting debates about it. I’m not saying one way is right and one way is wrong. I’m just saying you need to be aware of what your management style is, and make sure your VA is compatible.
Quite honestly, I think if you’re using screen-recording systems to drop in at random times and observe your VA, then there’s a trust issue. And if I was that employee, I wouldn’t be staying long. I’d be asking, “Do you not trust me to do anything?” No, I think you’ve got to have rust in a relationship. But that’s my style.
But the truth is, there really are some great online systems that can help you manage your VAs to whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with. There are plenty of them, and most of them are wonderfully effective. Even in our own office at Virtual Done Well, we use a system where people clock-in and clock-out, so we know they’re there on time and that they’re departing on time. But beyond that, I don’t micromanage.
But, how can a laid-back management style work? Well, some people would say that I’m too much of a hands-off manager. But, just because I’m laid-back, it doesn’t mean I don’t manage. I simply delegate. I have huddles with my team of seven VAs. We get together remotely, about once a week, and talk priorities, about what’s coming up, and who’s working on what. One of those remote staff, my executive assistant, is the team leader. She looks after the rest of the team. She makes sure that everybody’s doing the right thing. It’s very collaborative, so they help each other out. I chat with my EA, probably three or four times a day, just about day-to-day stuff. It’s like she’s sitting in the next office. Beyond that, I might catch up with other team members occasionally, maybe to check-in on some video editing or other special projects. But, for the most part, it’s very hands-off for me. I trust my people to get their work done. And I measure the value of their work by their output, not by monitoring their hours and every little step of every task they’re working on.
Another thing I do is to encourage my people to study online. So, if they have an hour free during the day, they can invest it in new skills from useful YouTube channels or other resources. I recently bought a couple of online training programs for members of our team because they expressed interest. So, I support that, because it’s good for the business.
In conclusion, I’m just painting a picture for you. I want to show you that there are a couple of extremes in management styles. There’s the micromanagement style, and then there is the laid-back style, which I personally find to be a more collaborative and trusting relationship. The difference that I find is that, using a laid-back-approach, our remote staff step up and take ownership, take responsibility, and come up with ideas, much more effectively than if I were micromanaging.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect VA to match your management style, or if you want more information on how to get the most from your remote workers, click here. We look forward to hearing from you!