4 Practices That Will Absolutely Explode Growth With Your Virtual Team

The company that I have the honor to lead has a staff that is “virtual”.

We are basically a pirate ship full of mad hatters. Roaming the seven seas of commerce, hacking and stealing every great business practice we can so we can serve our customer better.

Matter of fact, I’m not even in the same state as the staff…

…Heck, we’ve got people all over the place. Literally.

Our team is in every time zone of these United States of America.

Have we been successful?

Well, we’re not perfect. I’d say we’re about as successful as any pirate ship would be. Scrappy. Devious. Havin’ a good time.

By outside standards, we’ve succeeded. The company listed three years consecutively on the INC 5000 list. A complete honor.

We recently went through a successful financial event too, and it’s not hostile. The acquisition will likely double the company now thanks to it.

Anyhoo.

I often get asked, “How do you guys do it? What makes a virtual team successful?”

Here are a few things that you can borrow from us(that we’ve “pirated” from other companies).

1. Discover, Assign and Display ALL Key Metrics…Company Wide

Ambiguity is the enemy of progress.

Somebody won’t do anything. You have to create a team of owners. That means you have to recruit a team of leaders who thrive on key performance indicators.

We have a digital dashboard that has a physical replica.

It holds all team member names and their respective metrics out in the open. It’s how we know what’s working and who is driving growth.

As the company president, I live off of it. When I look at it, the more I do, the more we grow.

Why?

Because you can’t grow a company if you don’t know what actually grows it. You have to identify the activities that create results and convert them into metrics.

Literal barometers measuring progress in fractional pieces of your company on an hour by hour basis…

Remember those leaders you recruited? Assign them the metrics that will grow the company.

If they can’t cut it, they are either assigned the wrong metrics or they are on the wrong bus(thank you Jim Collins).

2. Know Thine Core Values

Everything you do. Everyone you hire or contract. Every goal you set.

Your core values inform them all. Think long and hard on what you love, stand for and want to see out of those around you every day.

Put them on paper. Nail the to the wall. Make a creed.

If you every wonder why people are getting sideways with you on staff, or why they aren’t performing, it is likely a core value conflict.

Many times the roadblocks we face when a team isn’t firing on all cylinders is due to core values….

…or the lack of clarity around them.

We have core values at The Rocket Company.

  1. We do what we say we’ll do.
  2. We build others up.
  3. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
  4. We take initiative.
  5. We approach life with optimism.

Here’s the full product from one of our quarterly retreats(after months of hammering this stuff out).

Seem simple? Like we’re a bunch of bumpkins in Mayberry?

Like it or not, these values have protected us from many bad hires.

They’ve also helped us transition people to better places where their values match up.

3. Frequent, Clear & Gracious Communication

When leading a team that has geographic differences, you gotta make sure people are talking.

Frequency in communication is paramount. Remember, we’re not all sitting in a big room or just down the hall.

Consistent communication keeps confusion down and focus in tact.

Every day I’m texting multiple people on my team to check in, ask them to tell me something good, see if they need help thinking through roadblocks.

Also…

I make it a point to use video conferencing as much as possible. It’s simply better for relationships. It breeds trust and respect.

It also allows you to poke and jab at each other when they wear a really ugly sweater…

Fire up Facetime or Zoom.us(our video conference software of choice). Be intentional about it.

As a leader, it helps your team know that you know. That is, they know you can see their body language and understand their roadblocks. Emotional roadblocks. Professional roadblocks.

It’s our job as leaders to get those obstacles out of their way so they can perform.

Sometimes, that’s as simple as them being able to see us smile.

Voices over a phone are singular in dimension. They work, don’t get me wrong.

But when it comes to sustaining a culture by virtual means, you need to look at people whenever you can.

Also, we use Slack to help mitigate the tidal wave of internal email communication.

Get it today if you don’t have it. Just do it. Then send me flowers or a massive block of milk chocolate to thank me:).

4. Establish A Meeting Rhythm

A meeting rhythm will help you drive major priorities in your company. It keeps people accountable and it helps teams collaborate.

A rhythm also helps to not have meeting fatigue, which is something that will creep up on you if you don’t watch it.

The last thing you need is a bunch of performers huddled around a huge question and answer session that they perpetuate for hours.

Meeting rhythms, when aligned with key metrics, are powerful.

Here’s our meeting rhythm in a nutshell:

Annual Retreat — Once a year to set annual priorities. Usually one or two priorities.

Quarterly Retreats — Four times a year to set quarterly priorities that roll up into the Annual priorities.

Monthly Meetings — Once a month, usually a Monday, to tackle big rocks that need lazer beam focus from key team members to push quarterly priorities.

Weekly Meetings — A one hour meeting on Thursdays at 2pm eastern. The goal is to elaborate on core values and successes for half of the meeting. Then address “Big 3's” which are activity and result based metrics assigned to each team member. We also rotate each week between quarterly priority discussion and Big 3's.

Monday Metrics — Every Monday at 10AM eastern we gather virtually for a 10 minutes “stand up” to report on our key metrics. You’re either green, yellow, or red. 10 minutes. In and out.

This keeps us fresh and on point.

So…

Do you run a virtual team?

Thinking about it?

Are you on a virtual team?

I’d love to hear about your experience and if you do anything like we do.

I’m ALWAYS learning, so please share what you do to ensure success happens for your company.

Fist bump ya’ll.

Josh “where’s my dashboard” Rhodes

President, The Rocket Company

P.S. We’re always looking for talented folks to join our team. Especially unicorns. Check out our career listings at therocketcompany.com/careers