Lessons Learned from a Boss in Bunny Slippers

What is a boss in bunny slippers? Well, it’s someone who leads (or wants to lead) a virtual team from the comfort of home in order to support their business.

I have had the opportunity to lead virtual teams all around the globe for the past decade and want to share my lessons learned to help you be the BEST boss in bunny slippers as possible.

Here are the Top 10 things that I have learned in the past 10 years:

1. Embrace Technology.

If you want to work virtually with a team, technology should be your best friend. Technology is a major factor to leading a successful team because it helps you communicate effectively among your team members. My favorite communication tech tools are: Skype (talking and instant messaging), Snag-It (because a picture is worth a thousand words), and GoToMeeting (it’s reliable and professional).

2. Get Out of the House.

As a business owner, it’s important to stay inspired. To do this, you should get out of your bunny slippers at least a few days a week. Even if your team members are scattered all over the world, you can gather up a group of local, like-minded business owners to share ideas. Take it a step further and meet up in an interesting location to really help spark creativity.

And…since you are an amazing LKR fan, for a limited time, you can get a FREE copy of my e-book, “Think Outside the Coffee Shop: 47 Interesting Places to Host Meetings” ($17 value). I hope this book gives you a lot of creative ideas for your next meetup.

3. Lead by Example.

Treat your team members the way you want to be treated. Be quick to answer questions. Be reliable. Be available. Trust me, your team members will follow your lead.

4. Over Communicate.

When you are leading a virtual team, it’s no secret that there is a lack of personal interaction. No one wants to be out in ‘la-la land’ all by themselves when working on a team. To be an effective leader, you need to stay connected with your people. Make sure you touch base at least a few times a week with your team members…even if it is a short email. If you aren’t using a project management app like Basecamp, have team members send you a daily recap of:

  • What they accomplished today
  • What they will work on next
  • What questions they need answered to move forward

5. Document Everything.

Do your best to document as much as you can and require your virtual employees to do the same. This includes your business processes, passwords, ideas, and work-related files. You can use free cloud-based apps like Dropbox and Google Docs to make sharing documentation easy. Think of documentation as your company’s asset and insurance policy.

6. Help Mentor Your Team Members

Embrace the opportunity you have to be an influential leader to teach what you know to other team members. Ask team members what they want to do in the future and help them achieve their goals. You will feel great making a positive impact in their lives.

7. Find Ways to Connect…Virtually.

Think of creative ways to connect your virtual team. Share music playlists or connect on social media. I have even had a virtual cup of coffee with an employee over Skype. Never stop building your relationship with your team. Building loyalty pays rewards time and time again.

8. Get Together Face-to-Face (when you can).

At least once a year, try to get everyone together in one place to talk about the goals of your business. Use this time to really connect on a personal level and have some fun. Afterward, watch as the team dynamics and productivity skyrocket.

9. Give Praise.

Take the time to give thanks to the people that are helping you. The management philosophy of “a compliment is the most affordable gift you can give someone” still applies in the virtual world.

10.  Learn Continuously.

When you open up your mind to new ideas, technology and processes, amazing things happen. Never stop learning, keeping in mind that some things are best learned by trial and error.

In my experience, the benefits to working virtually far outweigh the downsides. There is a great sense of freedom that comes with working virtually. That being said…I will definitely be staying in my bunny slippers. Now it’s your turn… Share what you think is the best (or worst) thing about working virtually.