We suspect that much of what you’ve read or considered thus far in the e-commerce world has been how to make the most of your time and maximize your marketing efforts, whether that be through better content, better SEO practices, or other considerations. Yet in this piece, we want to address your role as a manager of an organization that will hopefully grow even further in the coming years.
You won’t be able to do it all yourself forever, and as your e-commerce business grows it would be unwise to do so. Your time will become more valuable, and you will be able to hire experts that can do a better job than you in their fields by the simple fact that have put more hours into their chosen field. The greatest part of your job will eventually be making sure your team’s needs are met.
For most of you, this will be a remote team, and that means engagement won’t happen on its own. You will need to put in the effort to keep everyone on the same page, so read below to learn more about circumventing those unique challenges.
Treat Them as You Would Treat Office Employees
Many owners and managers make the mistake of forgetting their remote employees even exist when they aren’t directly interacting with them. We expect that in most cases you will be working with an entirely or mostly remote team, so everyone will get equal treatment, but the pitfall remains. You don’t want to focus on the next project so much you forget about the human element, and remote employees, independent as they might be, don’t want to feel forgotten.
We don’t necessarily mean asking them to commit to specific hours unless it’s necessary or having certain guidelines that would only make sense in an office environment. Instead, we mean that you should check in with what they’re doing regularly and making sure that they are getting the resources they need, much like a good manager would do in an office. You can easily notice when an office employee is struggling, but that’s not so simple when they aren’t physically around.
Emphasize Regular Communication
On a similar note, communication is the backbone of any team and any business. Without it, you are bound to run into unacceptable levels of redundancy and inefficiency that will hamper if not outright kill your business.
Regular company or team meetings (whether weekly, quarterly, or somewhere in-between) are key to keeping everyone on the same page. If those would be impossible or impractical given the nature of your business, then a regular newsletter-like email can still work wonders and is relatively inexpensive when compared to the benefits gained. Whatever you can do to keep employees in the loop will help in the long run.
Additionally, encourage employees to contact each other directly about projects or any issues that might come up.
Regularly Remind Your Team of Company Goals and Values
To keep your team focused on and engaged with the core goals of the company, those goals must be clearly stated. Have an easily acceptable mission statement with goals for each quarter or year for everyone to work towards. At least once each quarter make it a point to remind every of your company’s goals and values and the reasons for them. Furthermore, make sure that your decisions and interactions reflect those goals and values, lest your team not take them seriously in the future.
Be Creative and Have Teambuilding Exercises
While most engagement ideas are tailored to office environments, there’s nothing saying you cannot repurpose most ideas into something that would work for a remote team. Pour over a few lists of employee engagement ideas and see what might work for your team dynamic. Consider what your budget might allow and remember that the core objective is bolstering teamwork and communication.
Scheduling can be a hassle (especially between many time zones), but everyone getting to know each other better can build a sense of trust that prevents conflict, reduces miscommunication, and allows for better problem-solving. Many remote employees expect to not care about or even remember the names of their coworkers under the expectation that they’ll be at the next job soon enough. Be the business that breaks that mold and creates a core group that will launch your business higher together.
Invest in Your Team
Many online business owners might view their freelancers and even employees as replaceable. While the turnover rate might be high, investing in training or even a small bonus when it might be appropriate will reap immediate benefits for your company and help to ensure that your team puts in more than the minimal amount of effort. Would you put in extra effort for a boss and team that don’t seem interested in your needs if you were an employee?
Every team will be different, and we expect that you will want to emphasize certain strategies of those listed above over others. Some teams will be mostly contractors who will mostly want to do their own thing, and this is fine so long as they are on the same page. Other workers will be used to a team environment and as such will want more collaboration. The balance is in finding what works best for everyone, and it’s something you will determine with time.
Also, if you are ever out of ideas, don’t be afraid to reach out to your employees. They know what they want more than anyone else, and they’ll be likely to have ideas you wouldn’t have even thought of.
We hope that the above information gets you, your business, and your employees right where they need to be. Are there any other strategies or ideas you would recommend to others? Do you have any questions? Please leave a comment below, as we would love to hear your thoughts.