Keep in tune with your team without being overbearing. Body language and facial expressions are huge, you cannot always tell someone's state of mind based on their voice. So some structure is very important but being able to balance work with home life is key.
The Philadelphia Inquirer - Advertising Sales Manager - Strategize to hit goals, Encourage, Motivate, Mentor, and Counsel.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
I started off with a team of 8 people. We restructured around the beginning of the pandemic into pods of 4 with a manager at the head. That brought the team count to 4 including me, the sales manager. I have an awesome team!!
Where are your teammates located?
My teammates are in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
My team reaches out to businesses within our territory who have a lot to offer but are not getting the message out to the public as well as they would like to. So we discuss their goals for the future with regard to how much they would like to grow their business as well as how they would like to be seen in the public eye, their image. We ask a series of questions to uncover what products or services that we offer would help them the most. Then we customize a plan to help them reach their goals. I am responsible for not only reaching out to businesses and working to grow our client base but also coming up with strategic plans to motivate my team and keep them sharp and on track for their goals. I analyze data from previous years to see how we can continue to grow and also handle any challenges that come up with regard to any of our accounts. Since I am also a selling sales, I have to emulate what I teach my team.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
I would say that keeping in tune with your team without being overbearing. I like zoom because it allows me to look my team in the eye because you cannot always tell someone's state of mind based on their voice. Body language and facial expressions are huge. So some structure is very important but being able to balance work with home life is key.
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 set up certain standards of work. The standards of work that I have set up isn't overwhelming, but they allow the team to reach and exceed their goals if carried out properly. One of the standards of work are time blocks. I have set up time blocks 2-3 days a week that are labeled for specific activities that are a part of what we NEED to do to hit and exceed our goals: Prospecting, planning, walk-ins….right after the time block, there is an accountability session where we get on zoom/slack and discuss the progress of the time block, how productive or unproductive we were and how we can make it better. The key is not being judgmental and being understanding if someone didn't meet their total goal during the session. We also have a little fun along the way with memes and family stories.
The key is not being judgmental and being understanding if someone didn't meet their total goal during the session. We also have a little fun along the way with memes and family stories.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
The biggest challenge is not having face to face 1:1s. Our team is very hands-on so not being in the same room can be challenging to give someone that tap on the shoulder to say great job or sometimes the hug that they may need. Screen fatigue was a problem in the beginning because we thought that we had to “see” each other everyday to make sure we were “working”. Once we were able to create a balance, we were able to cut meetings down to once a week and gradually make the meetings more productive.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
We have done a couple of lunches in person but not a ton. Sometimes we will hold meetings just to talk and not discuss work. Just having an open forum for the team to be able to express themselves without judgment is a huge morale booster!
We have played a couple of trivia games, but it is not the norm for our team. I customize activities for my team and not try to squeeze in activities that may work for other teams because it's not my team’s “personality” if you will. I used to coach multiple sports teams and one thing that I am huge on is individuality. You have to coach each person differently - to their strengths.. So games that work with other teams do not necessarily work for my team.
I do not start meetings with your typical ice breakers, however I ask each person how their weekend was because our meetings are on Mondays. I then give them ample time to talk about their entire weekend without interruption and ask them questions about it. This allows them to feel comfortable sharing and not feeling rushed. The Sunday scaries are real and knowing that you will have some time to get revved up on Monday morning without being pounced on out of the gate with questions takes a lot of pressure off. Also, since we have a close pulse on our team’s business, if I ever have to just jump into a meeting and get down to business, everyone understands what is at stake.
Products & Tools
I have a 1:1 with each person 2x per month depending on what needs to be discussed. If they are doing what they need to do to grow, I have only 1 and will cancel the 2nd one. The 1:1 covers their current tasks as well as tasks that will help them grow even when they leave our current company. The 1:1s are heavily about what they think and want as well. One thing that always sticks in my mind that helps with morale is to praise in public and correct in private.
Resources for remote leaders
I try to watch podcasts and webinars regarding management strategies and I have read a lot of books on leadership. I have been in management since I was 20 years old and have had the opportunity to sharpen my skills. I also try to stay abreast of the changing times. I assign webinars to the team based on our needs and I also make sure that they are on their own also using podcasts, training, and webinars to better themselves. If any of them watches something that is good for the team, they are able to bring it to our Monday meetings.
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"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