I work remotely for Spokeo which has, among other products, a vertical search engine for people’s digital identities here in the US. We’re around 200 staff, privately-held, work with about 2-3 petabytes of searchable data, 18M monthly customers, and continue to grow.
Tell us about your team!
How big is it?
Four full-cycle recruiters and two recruiting coordinators.
Where are your teammates located?
For my immediate team, we're located in Arizona, California, and Wisconsin. My fellow Spokeans are also in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
What does your team do? What are you responsible for?
We ensure that the company has all open positions filled with outstanding talent. Almost all talent is very technical: software engineers, data scientists, data engineers, etc.
What are the components of a strong remote culture?
I think there are competencies that make working together better. These become more crucial when an organization moves to a hybrid or full-remote footing. Here is my slant:
Ownership: Not accountability, no this is beyond the area of what I manage or what I am responsible for. When I own something, I’m thinking about the two or three links away that can impact what I do and vice versa. I care about those challenges and want to help solve them - even if they aren’t in my purview because we all win when things work together well.
Clear communication: I’m spending more time making sure folks understand what I’m doing and that I understand what they are working on. Examples: a) It isn’t just stating that a change has occurred in an area, it is sending out a prep-for-the-change email and then memorializing the change in Confluence (our Intranet) for future reference. b) Don’t just communicate “what” - you need to be equally clear in your communication about the “why” of what is being done.
Alignment: When your company runs cross-functional teams, it is super important to align on expectations and outcomes upfront. You can formalize these understanding in Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). This makes the experience of working together more positive and the achievement more likely.
Curiosity: When someone is doing something they find fascinating, they ask a lot of questions. They are learning all the time. When you’re learning, you’re growing, challenging the status quo and assumptions - and ultimately leading to improvements and making things better!
Grace: Text, memos, email, and, yes,, even Slack (and all of its emojis) are devoid of key visual cues and tone. You can read a message in one hundred different wrong/bad ways. Clear communication isn’t always delivered in such cases and you have a choice of how to initially respond. I’ve learned that giving the benefit of the doubt and asking a question go a long way in giving the other party a chance to land the message they originally intended to deliver.
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?
We have a Culture Team at Spokeo. Yes, a separate team focused on the employee experience and culture of Spokeo. Aside from the primary role each person has on the team, I ask team members to take on projects together with others in the team and outside it - the results of the projects benefit all and range from research to social media to change recommendations for an opportunity or challenge.
Giving the benefit of the doubt and asking a question go a long way in giving the other party a chance to land the message they originally intended to deliver.
What's your biggest challenge as a remote leader?
Making sure my team members have the best tools, training, information, and context to make smart decisions, invest their time wisely, and how to achieve their goals with confidence.
My Remote Manager Toolbox
Pre-COVID we went to an alpaca farm with wine tasting. Since COVID we’ve done Pizza making via video, Remote wine tasting has been a huge success with our team.
At our last team event, one of the Culture Team members hosted a remote lunch for us with a game of Pictionary and a trivia game - so fun.
So generally, I try to keep the number of recurring meetings to a minimum. You can see an inverse relationship between having more meetings and the slow, horrendous sucking sound of the lifeforce/joy being drained from your teammates’ souls. I ask for unique (good or bad) stories of the week, which could stem from work or outside of work. Also, we all seem to have four-legged kids of the canine kind. So the latest antics and adventures with them are fun to share.
Products & Tools
Slack, Slack Huddle, the screen share option, and Zoom integration into Slack have been live savers. For us to be available and accessible to teammates, we use these options pretty seamlessly.
Resources for remote leaders
Sharing what you have heard, tried, or read is incredible. Fostering curiosity and helping your teammates become what they aspire to be is rewarding in and of itself. A lot of what we do in recruiting is not visual. So I try to make sure my team sees the latest reports, graphs, and charts to see data and have a better context of our work. One website that does inspire me to keep at this (visualizing data) is the Visual Capitalist.
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