How to manage your team when working from home

Managing Employees Working From Home

Many small businesses across Canada have had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes having everyone work from home. If you’re new to managing a team of remote workers, here are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind.

How to manage a remote team

  • Be flexible and understanding. Many entrepreneurs and employees alike have been thrust into the work-from-home life in this unprecedented time, and are doing their best to manage their work responsibilities while managing family and their own mental health. Of course, your employee should be as considerate of their deadlines and schedules as in a traditional office. But it’s important to remember that most people are adjusting to this new way of working, while at home potentially with other family members who have their own schedules and needs too. You may have to be extra flexible to account for this, and cut your team a little more slack than normal.
  • Check in on a regular basis. Whether it’s weekly group chats or one-on-one check-ins, make sure you talk to each of your employees on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. They may need an extra day to complete a project, or may be in need of community resources to help them. Don’t pressure them to talk, but make sure they know your virtual door is always open.
  • But don’t jam-pack the days with meetings. Back-to-back meetings are often distracting even in a regular office environment, let alone a working from home during a pandemic environment. It’s important to make sure that everyone is kept up to date and knows what’s going on, but it might be a good idea to scale back the amount of meetings you have, to ensure nobody gets overwhelmed or falls behind. Instead, try quicker messaging options like Slack.
  • Trust in your team. A huge part of running a virtual office is trusting that your team is working. You can’t stroll by and chat with them like in a traditional office. Of course, you should be monitoring their overall progress and how they get there, but don’t make checking their social media and constantly asking for updates a regular part of your day. Many of us have seen reduced productivity during the pandemic, so take that into consideration as well.
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Entrepreneurs Get Strong By Recognizing Their Weaknesses

entrepreneurs get strong by recognizing their weaknesses

It takes a lot of confidence and ego to start a business. Although these attributes are major components of success, ego and confidence can lead to failure if they blind entrepreneurs to their own weaknesses.

A common trap for entrepreneurs is trying to do everything; delegation requires trust (a legitimate concern), a willingness to involve others in strategic and tactical decision-making, and recognition that someone else has greater expertise in a particular area of operations. These latter two requirements can be high hurdles for the entrepreneur to get over.

If entrepreneurs take a cold, hard look at their abilities and interests, they will soon realize outside help is needed somewhere, somehow — and probably, right away. Here are several typical situations; perhaps you see a bit of yourself in one of them:

  • Entrepreneurs with a passion for sales are often weak in detail management. Selling requires high-powered multitasking, risk taking and terrific communication skills. Detail management requires focus, patience, and methodical and repetitious work activity. These two mindsets are seldom found in the same person. A sales-minded entrepreneur needs a reliable and skilled operations manager to steer the ship and make sense out of the chaos this type of entrepreneur is bound to create.
  • Entrepreneurs who are technical wonks — creative geniuses in the design and application of a particular product, such as software — sometimes have little understanding of basic business finance. All small businesses need to button down financial operations, but in particular, startups launching a new product must be very careful in how they project and manage operating costs, as well as in raising capital and structuring debt. Brilliant, innovative product ideas that could produce millions of dollars in revenue sometimes go unrealized because the startup couldn’t get out of the gate financially.
  • Not all entrepreneurs are high-powered, extroverted sales and marketing stars. Some (and potentially successful) small business owners are rather reserved and more comfortable behind the scenes. This is fine if such an entrepreneur finds someone to be the organization’s “front person” in terms of sales and marketing. Many, many entrepreneurs dislike sales and are quite uncomfortable networking, pushing their products or trying to create a personal brand on social media. Get help! It’s not a fatal weakness.
  • When a business grows quickly, entrepreneurs who handled all facets of the business in the early days now find themselves in over their heads — and refuse to accept it. This situation, becoming a victim of one’s own success, is perhaps one of the most widespread killers of potentially successful small businesses. The key here is to develop a middle management function; a group of trusted managers who can both oversee critical areas of operation and work harmoniously under the owner’s direction. Accomplishing this very hard mission requires several components, including:
  • Being an owner who is ready, willing and able to learn how to delegate — and then actually delegates.
  • Selecting managers who are trustworthy and competent. A great way to find managers is to look for people who have been where your company wants to go in terms of scale of operation.

To help in the effort to assess weaknesses, a small business owner is wise to establish an outside board of directors — friends, business associates, referrals with solid track records in marketing, sales, finance, etc. An outside board (with no voting rights) that holds quarterly meetings imposes a bit of discipline on the entrepreneur, but more importantly, provides a mechanism to expertly review and evaluate the business’s progress, strengths and weaknesses. Whether annual revenues are $10,000 or $10 million, such a process is the best insurance against self-inflicted business wounds.

Brad ShorrAuthor Bio:

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing firm that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, Moz and Forbes.

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The characteristics of effective small business managers

Your small business is booming, and before you know it, you’re at the head of a small team of eager employees. How do you manage your employees effectively? Here are some top tips for effective small business management.

Planning and organization

Planning and organization are two very important traits that small business managers possess. Set both short term and long term goals for the company and plan how your company will achieve them. As well, punctuality and time management skills are a must.

If you were told to set an example for siblings as a child, business is no different! Model to your employees the characteristics that you’d like them to have. For instance, showing up late for a board meeting and not remembering the topics to be discussed can set an unwanted tone, and can cause your employees to lose respect for you. Demonstrate superior planning skills not only to your staff and team, but also to clients and suppliers by always being properly prepared and up to date.

Controlling and monitoring

Controlling and monitoring the processes within your organization are very important. If you’re not overseeing company activities and making sure that they’re done properly and effectively, who is? Be sure to monitor results and compare alternatives constantly. You should always be looking for areas of improvement and finding ways to make that improvement happen. Compare performance with your previous predictions and with competitors and industry standards. Revise goals and objectives and measure how well they’re being accomplished.

Controlling is an ongoing process that’s closely linked with the planning process. You should not only control and monitor your business’ processes, but also the people that it involves – staff, suppliers and customers. Collect feedback on your company’s performance from these people so you can identify areas where control should be improved.  If you’re unable to monitor daily activities yourself, consider hiring an additional supervisor whenever possible to assist with the controlling responsibilities.


Successful leaders are teachers, learners and visionaries. Your employees will look up to you for motivation, guidance and also as a model for their own performance.

Effective leaders have strong ethical standards and emotional stability. Stress and frustration are just part of the entrepreneurial life, so it’s important to be able to deal with issues effectively – without flying off the handle or taking things personally. Leaders are practical and logical even in stressful situations, so decisions are made rationally. These decisions must also be made in confidence, with little need for approval from others.

As a leader in your company, you must have high standards for yourself and for others and recognize the potential of your team. You should always strive to do your best, and should encourage your team members to do the same. You want your employees to be satisfied with the jobs and their workplace – try to make them feel good about themselves and their work. Enthusiasm is contagious – be energetic and passionate about your work  and you’ll encourage staff to be the same way.

Being thick-skinned and confident are other important characteristics. Learn to take criticism well, and show assertiveness in your attitudes on the job to help you gain respect and motivate others. However, don’t hog all of the leadership – delegate tasks and responsibilities when required. This proves you recognize the value of your team and the superior results that teamwork can often produce. Show maturity in your daily activities by putting your own recognition secondary to that of your employees and company. We know this business is your baby, but without happy and productive employees, you might find you won’t have any business at all.

Think strategically and always consider what’s best for your company as a whole, instead of your own personal preferences. Your colleagues should be able to rely on your planning skills and trust that arrangements and preparations will be performed effectively. You should be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and view situations from multiple viewpoints to gain a clear understanding. Sound like a superhero yet? You can definitely get close to being one. In order to be the best leader you can be, work hard to improve and strengthen these skills so that you can effectively motivate and lead your team.

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How to be a great manager of your small business

Being an entrepreneur is about more than acting on your great small business idea. Often, you have to hire employees to help you run your small business. And, of course, you also have to be a great manager, inspiring your team to the great things you know they’re capable of.

Managing your small business is a multi-faceted thing, with many variables to consider. With that in mind, we’ve written four quick articles to help you along the way:

Want more small business advice from entrepreneurs just like you? Our Entrepreneur Library has loads of small business advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Let us know if you have any suggestions, and we hope you enjoy!

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