I work (and live!) just outside of Detroit, MI. I’m the Head of Talent at Solvvy, where I head up our People Ops org. This includes leadership of both our talent acquisition and HR functions.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
We are a team of 5 today:
Two recruiters (Lisa Robinson and Linus Coy), who own relationships with candidates until the point of hire.
1 let’s call her an HR jill-of-all-trades (Carla Klein), whose role also bleeds over into a bit of support within our finance function as well. She does a lot in policy, compliance, and anything in the nuts and bolts of the HR world.
1 Employee Engagement Specialist (Cameo Davis), who also has a fairly broad scope that largely centers around initiatives that drive our team’s social cohesion, DE&I, and support initiatives more closely tied to what typically falls under HR’s purview.
Where are your teammates located?
We’re a fully distributed team and each is located in different states (CA, AZ, IL, MI, and ID).
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Off the top of my head, here are some things that come to mind. I aspire to master these, although we’re all works in progress!
Consistency is the first thing that comes to mind. People thrive in routine, and while we need to remain adaptable to the inevitable chaos and change that are hallmarks of startup life, there has to be some constants people can rely on to stay grounded.
Availability would be the second component - being remotely-based makes it difficult to find the resources you need when you need them. A big part of my role is to either help clear an obstacle, or simply being there to point them in the right direction.
Emotional IQ - especially since it can be difficult to read cues, and know the right time to offer solutions, support, or push back when not in person.
Iteration - we’re in an uncharted time. There’s no precedent for the experience of the last 20 months. We’ve definitely needed to get creative, try things out, and make changes on the fly.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections. Strong connections are built with Hailey.
How do you make sure your team is happy and engaged in their work?
I have always personally felt valued and engaged when I’ve been given the opportunity to be vulnerable when I’ve needed to be (after all, we’re human), dissent and have productive discussions (even if occasionally charged), and above all else, trusted to carry the torch. As a leader, I’m only as strong as my team’s investment in the work they do. We’re only able to do that work as a sum of all parts, and when people feel they have some agency over their destiny, the hope is a greater investment.
As a leader, I’m only as strong as my team’s investment in the work they do. We’re only able to do that work as a sum of all parts, and when people feel they have some agency over their destiny, the hope is a greater investment.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Much of the time, you operate under assumption and have to hope what you’re doing is the right thing at the right time. It’s difficult not to have the degree of certainty you may feel in having a centralized in-person team where you’re able to gauge the dynamic, the unspoken language, and capitalize on the energy of live collaboration.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
We’ve really developed a lot of ways to keep our team feeling as cohesive as we can! In September, the team convened for an in-person offsite in AZ, and let me say - it was so lovely to meet so many of our team members for the first time!
We also do informal team competitions (recently the Worst Candy Bracket for Halloween), have an upcoming volunteering/holiday cookie decorating event, and what we call Fika Fridays, which is a biweekly event where we pose random questions in Zoom breakout rooms for informal discussion (for instance, “Would you Rather….?”). We also have a grassroots TED Style talk series called Ignite Talks where Solvvers volunteer to share a bit about their passions and hobbies outside of the work they do every day (topics have included everything from pickleball, canyoneering, Diwali treats to magic tricks and illusions).
Lastly, one initiative we’re particularly excited about is the soon-to-be launched Solvvy Podcast where we’ll interview our fellow Solvvers as a way to both get to know the work AND the people who make up our incredible team.
Our Engagement Specialist, Cameo Davis, is our lead on the icebreakers! The most enlightening was favorite cereal. Turns out, you can tell a lot about a person by their cereal preferences!
Products & Tools
Engagement surveys (we use Culture Amp today), Slack has been a great collaborative tool for us to build a sense of community, and we’ve created a group internally called The Culture Club that develops and drives many of these initiatives.
Resources for remote leaders
HR Superstars (weekly email updates, podcasts and webinars), the True Ventures People and Culture, and the sixFifty community have all been invaluable for mentorship, compliance, and policy resources.
Make your company a great place to work
"Adding Hailey has been by far the lowest effort, highest impact thing we’ve done to bring our globally scattered team together!" - Mary Grace Reich