As a Senior Manager of Product Support at FloQast, I oversee the two teams within our Support department: Core Product Support and Integration Support.
How big is it?
Our team is 11 people today, including 7 in Core Product Support, 3 in Integration Support, and myself. We are looking to double or even triple in size next year!
Where are your teammates located?
We used to be co-located in two physical offices: our headquarters in Los Angeles and a satellite office in Columbus, Ohio. Many team members are still around these two locations, but we have been working remotely for a while now. Recently we did a soft re-open of the offices, so some employees are connecting in person again! But we remain remote for the most part, and some of our recent hires have been from all over the country. International expansion is on our roadmap too, with our first London hire set for early 2022.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
FloQast makes accounting workflow automation software that is used by accounting and finance departments at thousands of companies. We have a great product, but even the best software will behave oddly or even break from time to time. Our clients might receive an error message or ask a “how-to” about FloQast or the third-party apps that we integrate with. That’s when our team steps in to help them out, typically via email or Zoom screen share. In addition to assisting customers, our team also provides a ton of internal support. We are the foremost product experts at FloQast, so we help our Customer Success peers with numerous projects, troubleshooting sessions, and trainings.
Two of the most critical components are Trust and Team Principles.
Trust might be an obvious answer for many leaders. However, I think it’s worth elaborating on since it’s too easy to slip into a one-directional mindset. Sure, it’s crucial that you trust the individuals on your team to perform even when unsupervised.
But it’s equally important that the individuals on the team trust you right back. They need to trust that their voice is being heard even when that voice might be digital. They need to trust that you are recognizing their accomplishments and keeping their career advancement in mind, even if you don’t witness the successes in person. They need to trust that you and the leaders above you are making sound business decisions, especially in the uncertain climate we operate.
Team Principles are one of the biggest drivers of trust. Our team has a document that we call our “Pillars of Product Support.” These are literally pillars (I’m a sucker for clipart) that are filled with one-liners that anyone on the team can reference. It’s high-level, certainly not a playbook for specific scenarios. Instead, the Pillars are a set of guiding principles that serve as a foundation for behavior. Any team member can ask them self, “What would I do in this scenario based on our Pillars?” If a team member is operating within the team principles, then leadership doesn’t need to be privy to every decision. Instead, all employees can be trusted and empowered to make the right decisions.
Strong remote cultures are built on strong connections.
Strong connections are built with Hailey.
We have daily standup meetings via Zoom, and these really serve two purposes. There’s obviously a work component when you get the team together, and these meetings help digitize the “shoulder taps” of yesteryear when teammates would collaborate on a ticket. There’s also a huge social component. Some days the words, “Sorry to do this, but I actually have a quick work question...” are uttered because we’ve been bonding about the latest food adventures, last night’s basketball game, or someone’s recent vacation pictures.
If a team member is operating within the team principles, then leadership doesn’t need to be privy to every decision. Instead, all employees can be trusted and empowered to make the right decisions.
I think it’s increasingly important to set a good work/life balance example. Everybody is just a few paces away from their home office. There’s little barrier to jumping back online at odd hours or weekends. It’s also easy to neglect PTO since work can easily travel with you in a remote culture. I try to lead by example and encourage others to take time off, then really disconnect when they’re away.
We are big believers in team lunches. We’ll let everyone expense delivery/takeout and then join a Zoom together. It’s amazing how food can bring people together, and a remote environment doesn’t need to stop that.
At FloQast, we also do a ton of virtual social events. These allow us to connect outside our immediate team, and the events that our company comes up with are truly amazing. Trivia, virtual escape rooms, wine and cheese tastings, glass etching, candle making, tapas cooking… just to name a few!
Food is almost always our ice-breaking conversation. What did you cook last night? What is the family going to make for the holiday? What restaurants are you going to visit when you’re traveling this weekend? Food is a pretty universal language!
Two tools come to mind: 15Five and Slack.
15Five is an employee engagement platform that helps managers and employees connect in a remote world. Some of my favorite features include weekly check-ins, an employee pulse, 1:1 agendas, OKR tracking, and high-fives for awesome teammates. There are fewer synchronous conversations in a remote environment, so using an app like 15Five is crucial to make the most of those conversations.
I’m also a huge fan of Slack. We get a lot of business done on Slack, but we also have a lot of fun. We customize hundreds of emojis, dish out some awesome GIFs, and participate in some fun social channels such as pawffice (it’s impossible to have a bad day when scrolling through pictures of cute dogs).
Reed Hastings is a CEO that I follow. A lot of the culture at Netflix inspires the way that I think about remote work. In particular, I think any remote leader should obsess over the talent density on their team, foster an environment where transparency is exercised liberally, and then empower team members to be autonomous high performers.
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