The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 20

Building Remote Nonprofit Teams, with Jaime Jay

In this Episode:

As the pandemic shifted so many things to “remote” and “work-from-home”, it has created opportunities for nonprofits (like so many other businesses) to expand their talent pool beyond the neighborhood and around the world. Nonprofits have long been a leader in employee culture and benefits, but how do we translate these ideals into the new paradigm? And how do we keep our teams connected to the mission if we can’t meet in person?

Jaime Jay has been helping organizations of all types and sizes scale their workforce with remote assistants for over 15 years. Jaime and Boris discuss how you can find and hire your ideal candidates, keep everyone on the same page, and keep them connected to your mission.

Listen to this Episode

[00:00:19.910] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!

[00:00:21.970] – Boris
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of the Nonprofit Hero Factory. Today’s show is going to be a little bit different than all the others that we’ve had so far, just a slightly different genre, but something that is so valuable, I think, and so helpful to a lot of organizations today with the shift from all in-person, all the time to a hybrid. Now, if not completely remote model, I find that building teams and maintaining teams is challenging, but also has some advantages to being able to work in this way.

[00:00:52.390] – Boris
So I’m bringing on a friend of mine and an expert in the space. His name is Jamie Jay. He is the founder and managing director of Bottleneck Distant Assistants. Jamie has been sourcing DA’s, as he calls them, from the Philippines since 2006. And Bottleneck is a team of remote-based professionals dedicated to assisting ambitious leaders to identify, hire and cultivate remote team members. Jamie’s Superpower is helping business leaders who are working on tasks that are getting in the way of them doing their best work.

[00:01:24.970] – Boris
I’m going to have Jamie on to explain what that is and share a whole lot of tips and advice on how to actually do this to the best of your nonprofits’ capabilities and resources. Maximizing all the tools you have available. Without any further ado, let’s bring Jamie on to the show. Hey, Jamie, how are you?

[00:01:44.920] – Jaime Jay
I’m well. How are you doing?

[00:01:46.690] – Boris
I’m great. I’m so happy to have you on the show today. It’s always a pleasure chatting with you. But even more to extract a whole bunch of value from you for my listeners and viewers.

[00:01:56.050] – Jaime Jay
I’m excited.

[00:01:57.130] – Boris
I always like to start with a simple question, which is not always so simple. But Jamie, what’s your story?

[00:02:03.580] – Jaime Jay
So my story is, business-wise, I started sourcing assistants from the Philippines. What I mean, “sourcing” is identifying and hiring from the Philippines back in 2006. This is before Zoom was around. Websites were very slow back then. So it was a little bit more challenging. But I just fell in love with the opportunity that we could be so far apart yet get so much stuff done and be so productive. And since then, I’m so proud to say, I’ve hired over a thousand people during that time and absolutely loved it.

[00:02:42.400] – Jaime Jay
It’s just part of my life today and I consider them my extended family at this point. It’s just a lot of fun. And yeah, it’s just been an incredible journey. Ebbs and flows, ups and downs, as we all know, but it’s been incredible.

[00:02:58.490] – Boris
So as I was saying, even before you came on, so much has shifted to remote, as we call it, over the last year. Or distant, if you prefer your terminology. It feels like, whether a staff member is down the block or around the world, it’s almost arbitrary at this point because while there are some times on issues, perhaps and maybe we could even talk about that, there are no differences with technology of how we can appear in a virtual room together or how we can collaborate.

[00:03:32.930] – Boris
So I’d really love to pick your brain on that. Have you found that there is a greater shift? Are you witnessing a greater shift to remote work?

[00:03:44.600] – Jaime Jay
Absolutely. So there was a book written by Geoffrey [Moore] called Crossing the Chasm. And while this doesn’t actually relate to what happened in that book, there’s a graph in there that kind of looks like a camel’s back. And it’s about two percent of the people are innovators, you and me. People that start their own nonprofits. We’re innovating. We’re creating something new that never existed before. And when we first reach out, we’re going to reach out to those we know best, our local sphere of influence, our friends, our family members, colleagues that we trust, which is about 13 1/2 percent of the population. And they’re going to be the early adopters.

[00:04:24.410] – Jaime Jay
And then there’s a chasm. There’s a gap between that system, that service, that nonprofit before they become known or viable. It takes some time for your friends to kind of get to know what it’s all about and understand it and work through it and be comfortable with it. And then about 34–35% of the population, kind of the early adopter, non relatable people, nonrelated people, meaning these are people that you don’t know, start buying into the program, start giving to the donating, start understanding and starting to know this nonprofit now starts to get some legs.

[00:05:05.210] – Jaime Jay
And but that chasm, that gap, can take a while. And I think what happened is because of Covid, there was a chasm, there was a gap understanding how productive or how people can work remotely where they didn’t know before. Because we were, in essence, forced into it. There was a lot of companies that didn’t have work from home policies. Now they do because we were forced into it. And because of us being forced into this area of being uncomfortable and working apart from one another as human beings, we were able to adapt and we were able to overcome. We were able to come up with unbelievable systems.

[00:05:44.240] – Jaime Jay
So now if I can go through that story and talk about the chasm of I think we’re on the other side of that chasm, now. I think people have had enough time to experience what it’s like to work remotely. And they started figuring out, well, jeez, yes, we still need people to come into the office. But there are some roles that we can still do remotely and very well. And those are the roles that I help people identify and and curate and build and learn on.

[00:06:13.680] – Boris
That’s awesome, and definitely we’ve seen on all aspects of nonprofit life this huge push into the digital space all of a sudden because, well, frankly, there weren’t a lot of other options. Right? Nonprofits lead the way in a lot of ways, and some nonprofits do have innovation built into their DNA. But many are sort of so focused on the work that they’re doing, the benefits that they’re putting out into society, that they don’t dedicate resources to increasing their digital adoption because it feels like a distraction. Whereas then an event that—I’m calling Covid a black swan event—it comes along and all of a sudden you don’t really have a choice. It’s frankly adapt or die in so many ways.

[00:07:00.930] – Boris
So what are some keys? I guess I want to walk through a few parts of the remote team aspect, and the first thing I’d like to ask you is what are some keys to finding the right fit for your organization? So we’re used to an in-person interview. We’re used to meeting people sometimes multiple times, multiple rounds. And there’s a lot that you can get in person that you can’t necessarily get on a Zoom call or something like that. So what can we do to try to, I can’t say guarantee, but maximize our odds of finding a great fit for our organization in a hiring process?

[00:07:41.520] – Jaime Jay
That’s a really good question. And we can have an episode just on this, so I’ll try to keep it as as brief but pointed as possible.

[00:07:51.360] – Jaime Jay
So the first thing I would encourage anybody to do is first understand that you identify the need that you actually have to hire somebody. And there are a couple of issues can present themselves. You are dropping the ball, you’re missing deadlines, you’re working on the weekends and you’re doing things that aren’t actually growing at the nonprofit and organizing the nonprofit.

[00:08:18.960] – Jaime Jay
You’re doing things like answering emails or the basic things or bookkeeping, whatever, whatever that is that’s not big, big idea, big picture, thirty thousand foot views, things to get the brand out there, get the message out there. You really have to figure out what that is. Find out the things that are causing you stress or causing you pain or things that simply don’t give you energy. What are those things?

[00:08:47.550] – Jaime Jay
And then do a brain dump. Literally take a Saturday morning, a Sunday morning, something like that, and just brain dump just everything that you’re doing. Just write it down. It doesn’t matter. Don’t think of it as you’re creating a job role or a job description or role or responsibilities. Just start writing down everything that you do. And what you’ll find is you’ll start—and then, with each thing that you write down, you’ll find two values. Number one is this something that I can do. I must do, I should say, or is it something I can delegate? And then the second part of that is, is it something that gives me energy or drains me of energy?

[00:09:24.600] – Jaime Jay
Now, all of a sudden you can create a sunset list of tasks that you do that do not give you energy and is something that you can ultimately delegate to someone else. Then you’ll take that list and kind of put them into different roles. This could be administrative. This could be bookkeeping. This could be technology, maybe development or design, whatever that is. And you can start kind of putting those out there and then you start looking at all the things that you’re doing that another person could come in and take over for you.

[00:09:57.120] – Jaime Jay
And if—you’ll start seeing how many things that you’re doing that aren’t really tasks that you should be focusing on, you shouldn’t be spending your time now. If you’re in a nonprofit, hopefully you’re very passionate about that project, but there are stressors in every single role, right? So as long as you can maintain that 80-20 percent… 80 percent of the time you’re doing something that you’re super passionate about, 20 percent of the time you’ve got to grind through it. But you’re doing it because there’s a vision or a mission that you’re obtaining. There’s objectives and goals out there that you want to do. So that’s one of the things that I would do to really help people understand what roles and how you can find somebody.

[00:10:41.470] – Boris
Jaime, I want to just pause you there for a second, because I think that is absolutely invaluable for people to know. It sounds, though, like you’re focusing on a nonprofit leader, perhaps that needs an assistant or anybody in the organization that needs to delegate certain tasks. Recently, for example, a lot of organizations have had to start entire new programs and or expand based on needs that they found in their community. So I don’t want it to just focus on bringing in someone at a lower level of tasks that you no longer want to do or don’t get joy from from doing.

[00:11:21.820] – Boris
But it’s also people on a senior level. You might need a new marketing person because suddenly you’re more focused on digital. So I just want to be sure that we’re focusing on a broader range of the type of people that you might want to hire.

[00:11:35.470] – Jaime Jay
Yeah, that’s a really good point. No matter who it is, you still need to do that brain dump. You still need to plan for the tasks that need to be done by that role at whatever level it is. Because if you don’t take that first step to actually plan it and think about it, just do a brain dump, it’s really hard to find somebody. Because you talk about finding the right fit. And in order to be able to do that, you need to first do a brain dump to kind of get your thoughts out there.

[00:12:04.720] – Jaime Jay
And then when you’re creating the job description, which we call a job role and responsibilities, now all of a sudden you’re a little bit more targeted on who it is you’re looking for. Of course, you want to allow for vision and mission and search for that right fit. And we can do that by all kinds of different profiles, assessments like a DISC assessment, or there’s a bunch of different personality profile tools out there that you can use that are super. I absolutely love them. Because there’s a cultural fit that needs to happen here. So you have to be really intentional about that. But that brain dump is going to be is going to really, really reward you well to start that process off.

[00:12:47.060] – Boris
All right, great. So we have our job description, which I think a lot of organizations they’ve hired before, and they know how to create a decent job description. Now, how do we translate that to something that, well, how do we take that then and start meeting and interviewing candidates? What should we be? Is there anything different that we can or should be doing in a virtual meeting setting when we’re when we’re looking for a candidate that we can’t or don’t need to do and in person?

[00:13:21.230] – Jaime Jay
So I’ve gotten so comfortable with with the virtual meetings that it’s it seems strange to me that there’s actual real meetings in person and stuff like that. I don’t… obviously you want to make sure that these people are dressed the part and present themselves well, because they’re going to be representing the brand that is the nonprofit.

[00:13:43.220] – Jaime Jay
But I think it’s all about knowing what questions to ask. And one of the best questions, I think, is an incredible question for figuring out whether or not a person is a really good fit, is asking this person, what are you going to be doing next after you leave our nonprofit? What is your dream? Where do you want to get to?

[00:14:02.960] – Jaime Jay
And what’s really neat about that is you’ll find that when you ask this question, there’s usually a pause like, “I’m sorry, what?” Or something like that, because they’re applying to work at this organization. Right? And this is a really good thing for setting the tone that we’re going to talk about here for vulnerability and stuff like that. But what’s nice about that is you find out what really drives this person, where do they want to get to?

[00:14:31.820] – Jaime Jay
And hopefully you can be the mechanism, the vehicle that either gets them there or provides the role for them that they want to do in the future in your organization. And that’s a really strong tool because sometimes what you’ll find is when you’re hiring for a certain role, they might fit in another role even better. So it’s a really good question to ask and I think, you know, I know this is kind of aside from your question there, but I don’t see a big difference between the virtual and in-person. But I think asking the right questions, are really going to help.

[00:15:08.920] – Boris
I think that’s a totally fair answer. And their technology has come far enough along that the differences between an in-person and a video meeting like this one are getting reduced. It does still, of course, we connect differently when we’re in person than we do in a virtual space. So I was just wondering if you had any tips for forming a connection, testing a connection?

[00:15:35.300] – Jaime Jay
There are a couple of tips, too. And we do this a lot of times before our interviews and will send out to our candidates and we’ll say make sure there’s no animals in the background. Have a good quality mic. And the reason why we do this, because I want to make sure, number one, can they follow instruction? But number two, also, I want to see what their presentation is like. And if you pay attention to the presentation, obviously I’m not a great example of that, I’m bearded up and all that stuff.

[00:16:03.200] – Jaime Jay
But I’ve shown up and I’m here. My devices are turned off. And you kindly reminded me in the beginning of this, which I thought was awesome. But I’m here, I’m focused, I’ve got a background. There’s not a lot of distraction. There’s no outside noises coming in right now. And I think I owe that to you based on the invitation that I received to be on your platform. I want to present well. And I think in much in the same way they want to do that.

[00:16:28.460] – Jaime Jay
So when you go to an in-person interview, you’re usually in the setting that you cannot control. But it’s in an environment that’s chosen by whoever that person is that’s interviewing you. In the case of being remote, you don’t have that. So you don’t have that luxury. So you have to present yourself as professional as you possibly can, according to the vision, mission, core values of the organization that you’re meeting with.

[00:16:51.710] – Boris
I think you touched on a neat I don’t know if it’s a trick, but tip, which I’ve hired remote assistants, distant assistants several times. And when I was trying to learn how to do it best, if you will, someone I read somewhere advice: give people not a task per se, but some kind of instruction in your job description, even on how to apply. “Include this in your subject line,” or something like that, which just shows is this person detail oriented enough? Do they care enough about the minutia to read all the way through?

[00:17:27.590] – Boris
It’s like those tests that we took when we were kids. I don’t know if you ever had one of these Jamie, but my teacher would give a test and say the first thing is read all the directions before you begin and then it’s one do this, two do this. And then you get the ten and it says disregard one through nine.

[00:17:44.450] – Jaime Jay
I never had that before. But we do have on our applications, we have a little section there where it says, tell us a joke. And so what we see if people tell us a joke based on whether or not they . . . you know.

[00:17:58.870] – Boris
Excellent yeah, that actually tests two things at once. One. Are they paying attention? Two, it actually does show off some of their personality, what they think is funny, what they think. . . it humanizes them.

[00:18:09.230] – Boris
We all want a human connection. Well, as much as the Alexa devices in my house, like to talk like they’re human. We don’t actually want to bond with them. We want other people.

[00:18:20.170] – Jaime Jay

[00:18:21.490] – Boris
So then, all right, we’ve found a candidate. We’ve made some sort of connection. They’re, the right person for the job. In a traditional environment, they would then have someone, a supervisor of some sort, usually walking in through the paces, sharing—it used to be entire books of of processes. Right? And walking them through things, showing them around the office. What’s the virtual equivalent of that, if there is one? How do we properly on board someone into a distant situation?

[00:18:54.930] – Jaime Jay
It depends on the level of complexity and how established an organization is. You might be a lot more systems process driven than someone else that has been around. Maybe you’ve been in business a little bit longer. Maybe this is a brand new nonprofit, just starting up. There’s not really a lot of systems in place right now. What we would encourage people to do is to, one of my favorite sayings is “document, document, document,” do something as if it’s the last time you’re ever going to do something.

[00:19:27.550] – Jaime Jay
So in every single role, perform certain tasks. And on these tasks, they should be recording them and documenting them every single step of the way. And now that we’re remote, there’s a lot of mouse clicking going on because we’re always on computer. So it’s down to the mouse click every time that somebody clicks on the mouse button to advance themselves forward in completing a certain task, that should be documented, the how to’s. And that can start on day one.

[00:19:56.260] – Jaime Jay
And what I would encourage people to do, leaders or managers or just people that are that are going to be bringing somebody on board, is walk with them and encourage people to ask questions. Specifically when there’s a task that we’re going to be delegating. We need to define that task. We need to name it. You can’t just say do this or do that. And because other people may call that same task something else, it’s really important to define all of the tasks so that everybody on board is using that same language. Because there’s a little bit of a different language in the nonprofit world. Right?

[00:20:29.350] – Jaime Jay
There’s some things, there’s some nuances that happen different than in the business world. And so you need to be able to define that. But also encourage the person coming on board to ask questions. And so when you’re doing a task, identify it by defining it, identify a start point and create signals create signals that will say this particular task is finished. This will really help people set their expectations and expectations will be managed effectively as long as… because everybody understands, if you say, “hey, I need you to do this.” Well, somebody might think, OK, “this is good enough”, whereas somebody might think, “why didn’t they finish this?” Well, they thought they had finished, but they hadn’t. But there was no signal identified. A great example of this is when we build websites, we used to build websites, I know you are really good at building websites.

[00:21:20.770] – Jaime Jay
But when we were done with that website, oftentimes people there’s a terminalogy, a term called scope creep and they would keep adding on to the end of it saying, “hey, could you do this?” “Can you do this?” And we were like, “wow, we’re done with the site and they keep adding stuff.” Well, we decided to come up with a signal so that both our clients, our team and our organization were on the same page. And what we did was we tell them right off the beginning, we say, OK, when we’re done, we’re going to send you an email. You’re going to say, it’s done. We’re going to send you a deployment kit.

[00:21:54.100] – Jaime Jay
And in this kit is all the color codes that we used. It’s kind of like a brand profile, how-to instructions and how to log into your website. When you receive this deployment kit, that project is done. So if you need any work past that, then it’ll be a separate charge. It’ll be a separate project. And so if you take that extreme example of how we finished our websites to each task, it really helps organize how you are onboarding somebody and make sure that you’re setting up for them to succeed instead of fail, by giving them clear-cut instructions so that they know how to follow them and how to live up to your expectations.

[00:22:33.550] – Boris
So are there any specific tools? I work with a lot of different systems in terms of project management. I’ve worked with Asana and Trello. And was it Marvin? And I don’t know, there’s there’s seemingly new ones every single day. Is one any better than another or are there any checks and balances or things that you could implement on any of them that you think are valuable?

[00:23:00.570] – Jaime Jay
So I think it’s your personal preference. I’ve worked with a lot of them to Trello and Asana, Basecamp really resonated. And actually, the team picked Base Camp, not me. I asked them which one they like best and they chose Basecamp. So for us, Basecamp really works well. And what I really like about it is you have one area where you can assign to-do’s or tasks and then you can tag different people on there. You have another area in Basecamp called “Pinging” where you can just kind of have a chat with somebody.

[00:23:30.420] – Jaime Jay
And then we also have another area where people say, “hey, I’m here, I’m ready to go.” And “OK, I’m logging out now.” So it’s a really well structured and it works for us, what we do here. But there’s certain areas where we can have login credentials here and just forms here and workflows here. So there’s all that kind of stuff. Plus we can manage independent projects so that I’m not getting pinged every time a project is going on.

[00:23:58.300] – Jaime Jay
So we have people assigned to different areas, but that works really well for us. Again, you have to find what works for you. Trello, I know it’s a free service, so Basecamp is paid, but Trello is a free service and I’ve seen people just absolutely love and thrive with Trello. So again, there’s ton of them out there and I think it’s just personal preference.

[00:24:18.750] – Boris
Asana actually has a great free plan for nonprofits and nonprofits get great discounts on a lot of deals out there and that’s my go-to. But there are so many similarities and overlaps. I think that’s an excellent idea to put it out to the team. Which way of working do you prefer? And some of these tools might adapt better to them than others? One thing that you said earlier sparked a thought as well, which is. You’re documenting these processes. Where do they all live?

[00:24:49.530] – Boris
Is there some sort of a knowledge base that you compile for your organization? And I think that would be a really powerful tool for people to have. I know whenever you go on a website, for example, and you’re searching for help, you’ll oftentimes wind up on their knowledge base. There could be public facing ones, but there are also internal, private ones that are a great resource so that if you can’t just walk down the hall and ask so-and-so, “oh, by the way, where do we keep this or that?” Now you have a virtual version of that and then maybe even be able to ask questions as well. Do you guys do something like that? I think you actually do that in Basecamp as well, don’t you?

[00:25:25.710] – Jaime Jay
We do. And we have a place it’s called workflows. And then the workflows are broken down and we created what we have is a workflow manual. And I highly encourage people to do this. Case in point, I worked at a Fortune 100 company and I turn to the person next to me. I tapped on the shoulder, “hey, how do I do this?” We had Act! If you remember, Act! back in the day we had Act! it was like a CRM is like a database tool.

[00:25:50.910] – Jaime Jay
And I asked them how to do this. And he said, “oh, do this and this and this.” And then about a week later, I said, “I am so sorry. How did you do that again?” And so wasted time. And I didn’t realize how valuable that little interaction was as far as time is concerned. So what we do is we document everything and put it into a manual and so that we can go with a table of contents, you can click on it and say, how do I do X?

[00:26:18.020] – Jaime Jay
You can click there and it’ll give you a step-by-step. And then for certain things, that’s the what if, the workflows, the how-to. So this is how you do something. One, two, three. We also have where there’s decision making and those are the what-ifs. And we do those in another program called Lucid Charts. We kind of mind map out things. Where, if for some reason this instant occurs here, do this, if it doesn’t occur here, do this.

[00:26:48.320] – Jaime Jay
And so it helps us with making decisions so we don’t have to ask people constantly, what should I do here? Now that takes time to put in there. But every time someone asks me a question, I’m able to present an answer to them and then immediately after that say, “Let’s make sure to update our process on that.” So it’s always going because processes, systems are living, breathing document.

[00:27:14.640] – Boris
I think that’s amazing that you guys do that. And I do think that every organization really should. Even as an entrepreneur, solo-preneur, I find that is increasingly important and partly thanks to you and in the way that you’ve helped me systematize some of the things that I do.

[00:27:32.130] – Boris
So now that, let’s say we’ve on boarded someone, how do we keep that team mentality, that sense of camaraderie going, right? We don’t have our happy hours. We don’t have our water coolers, although there are some apps that I think are actually really great for simulating a water cooler environment or a communal environment. What do you guys do that or how do you advise organizations to keep that sense alive when we’re all in a remote or hybrid world?

[00:28:04.140] – Jaime Jay
Well, if anybody knows me, they know I’m a huge fan of creating and maintaining a positive company culture. And so there’s a lot of things that you can do. Number one is: get people involved. Get people feeling motivated by participating in what the company does, the directions the company moves. And the first thing you can do is have them be OK with making decisions. So give them the authority to make their own decisions. If they make their own decisions, they do it in this way: Is it good for the company? Is it good for the team? And then and only then, is it good for the clients?

[00:28:44.760] – Jaime Jay
And if they can make a decision and give them power to make a decision without having to be micromanaged in order to do so, it really helps motivate them. There’s people that have created things in this company. We have a little robot now that after they fill out the applications, an animated robot and they called it Bottleneck Bobby, and they created this whole thing on their own.

[00:29:06.360] – Jaime Jay
And they came up with the little animation and the chat and they did the voiceover. They did it all themselves. And they took such… they were so happy to do that. And it turned out to be fantastic. They talk about it all the time. It’s really great. Little things like that can really motivate people because you can be remote from anywhere and still be creating a value and doing things for the company than otherwise wouldn’t have been done.

[00:29:32.490] – Jaime Jay
Another thing you can do is when you have your meetings, make sure that you have your mission and your vision and perhaps even your core values—if not your provocative point of view—on the top of every single meeting. And every single meeting we have, it’s run by a different person every time because they get a chance to read the mission to the vision. They get a chance to lead the discussions.

[00:29:55.890] – Jaime Jay
And every time we do a meeting as well, whoever leads that meeting, there is a brief five-to-ten minute training at the end. And what’s really neat about that, it shows the pride for their work that they do. It also shows everybody else, “Hey, maybe creating a graphic is not as easy as you think it is.” Like if you’re requesting a graphic from a graphic team, they have that to me in an hour. That’s not going to happen because you see the amount of work that they go into.

[00:30:21.420] – Jaime Jay
The other thing that I think is really good is in Zoom’s meetings, you can have breakout rooms. And every once in a while what we’ll do, probably once a month, we’ll do breakout rooms. And I just post five to ten questions have nothing to do with work, but I’ll put different people in the rooms and mix it all up so that people can meet people and talk with them normally outside of the departments that they don’t normally talk to. And they get to learn a little bit more “do you like a dog or a cat more? You know, just goofy stuff like that.

[00:30:49.440] – Jaime Jay
And it’s amazing when you see when they come back into the room, everybody has a smile on their face because it’s goofy. It’s fun. It has nothing to do with work. So those are three ways that we do it here and other people can do it to have fun.

[00:31:04.140] – Boris
So we’ve touched on a few of these already naturally in this conversation. But I know you have three keys to effective remote teams. One of them is the vision, mission and core values. But can you just go through them real quick for us? How how you frame the three things that are integral to having a great team?

[00:31:28.200] – Jaime Jay
So first and foremost is what we talked about, vision, mission and core values. Vision is what you aspire to do. Mission are the daily objectives that you need to do every single day to achieve that vision. And then the core values. How do you make your decisions? And the core values can extend… we don’t believe in work life balance. We believe in life balance. So the core values that I use at work are the same core values that I use in my personal life, and I even use them to make a decision on to buy a truck.

[00:31:53.250] – Jaime Jay
We stopped at one place, not only four checked off Yes. We went to the next place. I loved it. All four core values checked off on that particular person we were dealing with. We bought a truck. It’s the same way we make decisions here. From me, from my wife, from the team.

[00:32:07.520] – Jaime Jay
At any position we make decisions based on our core values. This also gives an opportunity for people to align with a goal or an objective or a vision, something that they can, which is really important in the nonprofit sector.

[00:32:21.980] – Jaime Jay
You really should be passionate about what it is that you’re doing at this place because you’re helping people’s lives. You’re doing something. There’s, you know, something is really important to somebody to create a nonprofit in order to give back so much. So vision, mission and core values are extremely important.

[00:32:42.170] – Jaime Jay
Second is accepting vulnerability. There’s a certain point to management, but effective management allows people to feel vulnerable. Allows for them to say, you know what, go ahead and be honest with me. What do you think about this? And instead of brushing something off for some, and not allowing somebody to feel vulnerable, which is probably one of the worst thing you can do. That would take something from a positive culture to a toxic culture and toxic environment. Because now people are going to be talking behind people’s back and they’re going to be saying, well, he should have done this and they didn’t do that. And you get that kind of stuff going. That’s about the worst thing you can have for an organization.

[00:33:24.020] – Jaime Jay
So why not just embrace vulnerability and say, “You know what? Nothing, off— anything you say, any ideas you have” or collaborate on decisions. “Hey, this is what I’m thinking to do this and this and this. Does anybody see any challenges with this? Are there any problems?” And if somebody brings something up that doesn’t necessarily make sense at the moment, don’t shame them for that. Take it off… “You know what, that’s a great idea. Let’s take that offline for right now and circle back to that later, because I really want to focus down this track.” Now, you’ve disarmed this person in such a way that they still feel effective and a part of the team. And their ideas are—and while it may not be relevant to that particular conversation, it’s still something. And here’s the important thing, do circle back to that later. So carry through with that promise.

[00:34:13.590] – Jaime Jay
But they know that, “OK, he heard me or she heard me. She understands. And this is a good idea. It’s just not relevant right now.” So little things like that in creating vulnerability. And then the third thing is it’s OK for people to make mistakes. We even go over this in our meetings. We have everybody talk about missteps. We call them missteps, not mistakes. And when I first started, it was a little challenging somehow.

[00:34:40.080] – Jaime Jay
Ok, we’ll do missteps, sure. “Hey, what’s wrong? I’m so sorry.” To give you an example. “I didn’t finish this task this week. I just didn’t do it. I dropped the ball on that one.” Instead of everybody going, “Oh, my gosh, again?” Or rolling their eyes or somebody chuckling under their breath or something like that… we have people rise up and say, “You know what, I’m really good at that. How can I help you? I’d be happy to help bring you and lift you back up.”

[00:35:04.920] – Jaime Jay
And when you do stuff like that, it really brings up the whole team. And the culture is just… it makes things a lot of fun and it makes you feel comfortable and it makes you feel that you’re actually part of something. So those are the three things, the vision, mission, core values, accepting vulnerability and allowing people to present their missteps.

[00:35:26.540] – Boris
Awesome, I think that’s invaluable, whether you’re meeting in person or online. But I think increasingly so online because, again, we want to feel like humans. We want to connect with other humans. So it’s all of those things will help us align ourselves and connect on a personal level. So I love all those things. Thank you for sharing that.

[00:35:47.990] – Boris
I know that you have a lot of tools that you guys use, some of which we touched on today, some others that you recommended. And we’re going to put them all out in our show notes so that people can quickly jump off and check out the types of tools that you use and other remote tools that are out there. If nonprofits haven’t started down the path of working or hiring people remotely, what’s one thing they could do to start today down that path?

[00:36:18.240] – Jaime Jay
I would say going back to my earlier comment would be to do a brain dump. And part of doing that brain dump is preparing for that brain dump. So take it, take some time. If you’re going to do it in your office, let people know, “hey, do not bother me.” Schedule yourself an appointment. If you’re going to do it at home, let your family know. Let the kids know. The wife, the husband, let your siblings, whomever is there, let them know, “during this time, from this time to this time, I just need some silence. And I’m doing some work.” But this does two things. Number one, it lets people know that, “Hey, you’re letting me know in advance. So this is a plan. There’s no surprises.” You know, I’m not going to make anybody upset. And number two, it lets them know how important it is for you. And since you’re planning this in advance, people will be more accepting of that.

[00:37:09.060] – Jaime Jay
But take this time with your glass of orange juice or a cup of coffee or whatever it is, and just brain dump on what it is that you think can make things better for this organization and start putting that list together. That’s probably the number one thing you can do right now. Schedule yourself some time to start planning for the position.

[00:37:31.600] – Boris
Awesome. And if people want to get in touch with you, how should they follow up?

[00:37:37.510] – Jaime Jay
You could just go to That’s our website there. And everyone anyone would be happy to chat with them, answer any questions. And I really appreciate it. Thank you.

[00:37:48.130] – Boris
That’s awesome. Jamie, thank you so much for coming in and dropping all that knowledge and wisdom on us on how to work with remote teams. And really, it applies whether your team is remote or not. All of these core—at their core—are just sound management and community principles that I think a lot of nonprofits already strive for. And I think what you are recommending is going to help take them to the next level. So thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:38:15.760] – Jaime Jay
Thank you, Boris.

[00:38:17.350] – Boris
Thank you, everybody, for tuning in to another session of the Nonprofit Hero Factory. We’ll see you again next week. Have a great week. Bye bye.

[00:38:45.510] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • Covid pushed nonprofits to adapt and bridge the gap in understanding how teams can work remotely. (05:05)
  • The first step an organization should take to find a good candidate for their team is to do a “brain dump” of the tasks and responsibilities currently overloading you. (07:51)
  • One of the best questions to ask someone in an interview to help determine if they’re the right person for your team is “What are you going to be doing next after you leave the organization? What is your dream? Where do you want to get to?” (13:43)
  •  Give remote candidates a test task or instruction, and ask them to share something that reveals their personality, like telling a joke. This achieves two things: 1. Tests if they’re paying attention. 2. Humanizes the applicants in a virtual setting. (17:44)
  • Record everything that you do from day one onwards. In every role in an organization, remote workers should be recording and documenting their processes every step of the way. (19:27)
  • Always be updating your documentation and processes. Systems are living, breathing documents that evolve as things change. (26:48)
  • In team meetings, have your mission, vision, core values and provocative point of view at the top of every agenda. (29:32)
  • We make decisions based on our core values. Giving opportunity to people to align with a goal, objective, and vision is particularly important in the nonprofit sector. (32:07)

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Resource Spotlight

    In this episode, the following resources were mentioned:

    • Canva – The online graphics and design platform offers their Pro level free for nonprofits
    • LastPass – Cloud-based password manager
    • Basecamp – All-in-One tool for working remotely.
    • Asana – Project management tool
  • Start implementing!

    Do a Brain Dump!

    Block out some time to think about the things you need to improve your organization. What are the items that are currently overwhelming you or aren’t the most effective use of your time? What skills would supplement your current team and make things more productive?

    Connect with Bottleneck Distant Assistants!

    If you may need a team member for your organization or you simply just wanted to reach out to Jaime Jay, just go to Bottleneck’s Website and let them know what help you might need.

About this week’s guest

Jaime Jay

Jaime Jay

Founder and CEO of Bottleneck Distant Assistants

Jaime Jay is the founder and managing director of Bottleneck Distant Assistants. Jaime has been sourcing DA’s from the Philippines since 2006. BNDA is a team of remote-based professionals dedicated to assisting ambitious leaders to identify, hire and cultivate remote-team members.

Connect with Jaime Jay