3 Rules to Build a Winning Team (Even if it’s 100% Virtual)

By Colleen Taylor (w/ an Introduction by Ezra Firestone) | July 22, 2020

Do you want to create strong company culture — even if you have virtual employees?

Colleen Taylor is the Chief Operating Officer of BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, and she’s the woman responsible for helping me scale the business to over $20 million in yearly revenue.

She’s also part of the leadership team at Smart Marketer, and all combined, she has helped me hire and manage over 80 full time virtual and local employees across the country.

In this post, Colleen is going to give you our top strategies for how to build a winning team, including:

      1. How to select your leadership team
      2. How to protect your company culture
      3. How to help new hires succeed

Whether you have virtual and/or local employees, you can use these leadership guidelines to better support your team and create a company culture you love.


Hey! Colleen here. Thank you so much for joining me for the 3 Rules to Build a Winning Team (Even if it’s 100% Virtual). Let’s dive right in.

1. Hiring a Leadership Team

Your leadership team should be made up of people you already trust and who you are willing to give autonomy.

The goal here is delegation. As CEO, you want leaders who are capable of running the business without you, not ones who require your constant oversight.

So here are some character traits we look for in candidates for leadership roles:

  • Values Relationship Management: Above all, you want someone who values personal relationships. They should be great at relating with other employees and also willing to navigate difficult conversations for the sake of the entire team.
  • Takes Ownership of Mistakes: Great leaders “take one for the team.” When their team makes a mistake, you want a leader who’s willing to take ownership over that mistake so it won’t be repeated.
  • Leads by Example: The best leaders inspire other employees with their actions. They should embody your company values and be an example for how you want your team to behave. In other words, it’s a losing strategy to ask people to act in a way you aren’t willing to act yourself.

2. Protect Your Company Culture

“Culture” has become a buzzword ever since businesses realized how important it is in the fight to attract and keep talented employees.

And while “flex time” and other perks sound really attractive, the most important element of your company culture will always be the people on your team.

It’s the responsibility of leadership to support these people even if it means firing a “toxic” employee before they ruin the rest of your team.

No matter how talented they are; removing an employee who undermines the culture you’ve built — even if they’re your best salesperson — is more profitable in the long term. You will pay the price in team performance and the energy it takes to replace the other employees they’ve driven out.

As seen in this cartoon from Gary V.:

3. Set Clear Expectations for Success

People want to win. When a new hire enters your organization they want to succeed, and you can help them by providing clear expectations for what that success looks like.

If you don’t, then you’re setting them up for failure.

So here are 3 ways we set expectations in our company:

1. Detailed Job Descriptions

This year we made it a priority to create documented descriptions for every team member so they understand exactly what their responsibilities are for a given project. And for new hires, this starts with the initial job interview.

The goal is to make sure there are no misunderstandings up front so that your relationship with employees gets off on the right foot.

We learned the hard way that if you ask someone to work on projects they don’t enjoy, eventually they become resentful and that toxicity grows until it hurts the rest of the team.

2. SOPs and Scripts

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are like instruction manuals for every task in your business. Not only do these create clear expectations within your company, they also speed up onboarding and reduce time spent training new hires.

SOPs create consistency within your organization and make it much easier to delegate responsibilities and eventually scale your team.

“Scripts,” on the other hand, are saved responses that your customer support team can copy and paste to answer frequently asked questions. If you create a library of scripts then even new employees can be successful with very little effort.

3. ORG Chart

This may seem obvious at first, but creating a visible organization chart to go along with the job description has really helped us improve our onboarding experience.

An ORG chart eliminates the confusion of who an employee should report to when they have a problem or a question. It also helps virtual employees learn who their peers are in the company.

Keeping it “R.E.A.L.”

The last thing I want to leave you with is a bit of bonus content on how your leadership team can keep good employees from leaving the company.

R.E.A.L. stands for Recognize, Elevate, bring your “A” game, and be Likeable.

    Recognize: It’s the leadership team’s job to look for the high performers on the team, and when they do they should find ways to publicly recognize their achievements.

    Elevate: If you have a high performer on your team, look for opportunities to elevate them to roles of greater responsibility and opportunity within the company

    Bring your “A” game: This is again in reference to leading by example. If you want to inspire your best employees and show them that they’re hard work is appreciated, your leadership team needs to bring their A-game as well.

    Be Likeable (or even Loveable!): Try to put yourself in their shoes; be the person that you would want to go to if you needed help or if you needed to have an uncomfortable conversation. If your employees are afraid to speak their minds, you’re putting your business at risk.

I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years, and I’ve learned these strategies from my own experience project managing both virtual and in-house teams. I know the dream is possible.

With these strategies and a little bit of structure, you can build a winning team of happier, motivated employees even if your team is 100% virtual.

This has been Colleen Taylor. Thanks for reading!


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