Conscious communication is pivotal. Finding the right balance to ensure you’re effectively keeping the team informed and up to speed, without drowning them with information, or inversely, providing unclear details.
Currently I’m working for OpenX as the Director of Customer Success Engineering.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
The team consists of 33 technical professionals split across four primary disciplines.
Where are your teammates located?
The teams are dispersed throughout the world, with representation on each coast of the United States, as well as Poland, Singapore, Japan, London, and India.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
The customer success engineering team is responsible for the end to end functions across every business unit of the company, and spans across sales engineering, solutions architecture, yield analytics, and technical support. In other words, we work cross functionally to ensure that as a company, we are delivering our clients what they need.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
Having the right talent. Seems obvious, but is the single biggest key to success. The reality is not everyone is able to effectively work remotely, so ensuring you have the right team members with the right mindset is first and foremost.
Conscious communication. Finding the right balance to ensure you’re effectively keeping the team informed and up to speed, without drowning them with information, or inversely, providing unclear details.
Balancing anonymity. Ensuring the team feels empowered to do their job, while also having the freedom to do what they need to do during the day. In reality one of the primary draws of remote work is the ability to have a more dynamic work-life balance.
Providing the right tools. One of the biggest keys to keeping the team engaged is ensuring the right tools are available to effectively communicate, connect, and relay information between each other. Slack, email, JIRA, etc.
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?
Seems like a simple answer, but discussing it directly with the individual. I have a weekly 1on 1 with every team member, as well as a bi-weekly staff meeting where everyone has a chance to discuss projects they’re working on, new learnings, challenges, etc.
Ensuring the team feels empowered to do their job, while also having the freedom to do what they need to do during the day. In reality one of the primary draws of remote work is the ability to have a more dynamic work-life balance.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
The biggest challenge I have been faced with is ensuring everyone is connected regardless of their time-zones. As a dispersed, global, team, there are not many opportunities to connect the entirety of the team together all at once. This is where periodic offsites are important to ensure everyone is able to connect to the greater team.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
Prior to Covid, we had a bit more flexibility in getting everyone to off-sites, in-person happy hours, etc. Now as a remote-first organization, we’ve worked to start introducing virtual off-sites, virtual happy-hours, as well as events like virtual cooking classes.
One of the missions I have in 2021 is to introduce additional games and activities for the team to connect and have some fun. Things like Pictionary, Virtual Escape Rooms, and Murder Mystery’s are on the top of my activity list.
Always. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new and really get to connect with each other in a non-work-related way. Before the beginning of our staff meetings, we spin a wheel with every attendee’s name, and then spin another wheel with a list of fun questions. Things like: ‘Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?’, or ‘If you were a wrestler what would be your entrance theme song?’. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend introducing icebreakers into team meetings.
Products & Tools
We use a lot of the standard tools to help ensure we can communicate and coordinate efforts virtually such as Slack, Google Meet, Google Docs, JIRA, and Salesforce. In addition, this year we began to experiment with utilizing Discord as a way to simulate an ‘office’ environment. One of the big gaps with remote teams is the loss of the water cooler chats. Slack can offer some of that, however it tends to be more transactional and less off-the-cuff, so we’re working as an organization to bridge that gap.
Resources for remote leaders
The beauty of the internet is there is a never-ending wealth of knowledge and information to be found, and I am always searching for ways to learn and improve my skills as a leader. I also have found some of the best resources are in the lost art of reading books. Some of my favorites include The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dare to Lead, and The Art of War.
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