4 Secrets to Building and Managing Successful Remote Teams [Webinar Recap] - Part 2

Maile Waite

In part 1 of our recap of the webinar, 4 Secrets to Building and Managing Successful Remote Teams, we covered:

  1. How to recreate “watercooler” moments remotely to maintain personal (and professional) relationships.
  2. How to set expectations for hours working, availability, and communication.
  3. Tools for managing and communicating remotely.
  4. And how to motivate a remote team.

If you missed it, you can read part 1 here

We’ll wrap up our webinar recap with part 2 below where Joe Martin, John Knightly, and Gaetano Di Nardi answer the top questions from the audience. 

Let’s get into it.

What do you screen for in a successful remote candidate?

Remote candidate presenting on laptop
Hiring remote candidates involves a number of factors.


John

One is culture fit.

Gaetano mentioned that he works in the middle of the night. So the candidate has to be able to fit in with an organization's culture and get work done regardless of when someone else is working, for example.

Another factor to consider is, does the candidate’s career goals align with your organization’s goals?

And something else I look for is the candidate’s “power zone,” or key skills, and whether they interlock with other people on the team. 

You can hire a candidate similar to an existing team member and end up with two people who are really good at one thing and they both have opportunities for growth in another area and neither of them are going to fill that gap.

Or you can hire a candidate who's strong in one area and pair them with someone else who is strong in another, and together they’re able to get the job done better as a team.

So, part of it depends on what “mix” you're trying to create. 

I find that using video helps you run effective remote meetings and is a great way to establish what it will be like working with the candidate, what their sense of humor is, what they’re passionate about, and what's gonna keep them focused when there are ups and downs.

Do you know any remote work organizations to learn from?

Gaetano

A few remote cultures come to mind.

Zapier has led the way for remote teams. 

NerdWallet is another one in the financial space that leverages remote teams in a big way. 

Of course, CloudApp uses remote hiring to great effect. 

Nextiva has a hybrid approach to hiring. 

At Sales Hacker, my last company, we were fully remote.

You can find other remote companies on LinkedIn. Look through the hashtag #remote and you'll see tons and tons of discussions on this. You'll see companies who are building remote teams all the time.

Joe

I would say remote work is definitely an exploding topic. 

Zapier is a great example. 

There are a couple of cloud app customers who are fully remote and awesome at it, Envision and GitLab. And I think they put out quite a bit of information about how they've done it.

How Do You Transition to “Remote-Forward” Practices? Organically or Intentionally?

Remote employee working at desk
Transitioning to managing a remote workforce doesn’t usually happen organically.


John

I think it helps to be intention-led in the sense of setting up processes, toolsets and policies meant to hire, promote, and engage remote workers.

After working for both big and small companies, one of the benefits of purposefully building remote work into your orientation is, you can hire people and give them a great economic circumstance.

They don’t have to live in an expensive city with heavy commutes. They can reside in a place where they want to live. 

There’s a lot of great talent out there you can access with remote work. 

My saying is, “let’s ship the work to the talent, not the talent to the work.”

There’s a lot of great talent in a lot of places and you can make it worth it for both the employee and company economically speaking, by having a pro-remote work policy. If you’re intentional about it, you’re more likely to attract those people. 

How Do You Build Trust and Let Remote Workers Complete Tasks Without Being Micromanaged?

Gaetano

Here's really what it comes down to:

You gotta have a culture that says, “we give 100% trust upfront until you do something to lose that trust.”

And you know what? Luckily, that hasn't happened here.

One example that would cause me to lose trust in a remote worker is if they lied. 

For example, an employee might say, “Hey, I have a doctor's appointment” or something like that, and then you follow the person on Instagram and they're out partying.

That would be one way to discover if an employee is lying. But in these types of situations, I would just tell them, “If you need a day off, take a day off. Let me know so we have an open trust policy.” 

I try to treat people like adults.

I think John had a lot of good tips on recruiting. You need a lot of those people out that you feel wouldn't be able to be part of the culture or fit the culture that you're trying to build. The hiring process is definitely a part of that.

You have to reinforce all the time that this is an open trust culture. We're not here to conduct witch hunts or creep on your social media just to see what you're doing. 

You have to make it clear that this is a culture that says, “Let's be adults, let's get stuff done, and let’s be mature about it.” And that’s just better. 

People know that “life happens.” Maybe your kid is sick and you have to sign off early. Just send a note out to the rest of the team saying, “Hey, my kid is sick, and I have to take the rest of the day off” and log out early. And then move on with your day.

It definitely starts with the manager. And the cool thing about the way that I run my team is, my CMO and my CEO aren’t breathing down my neck about how I got to manage people. At the end of the day, if the results are there, and results are coming in, it's all good.

So hiring culture must be led by example from the management level. Then, of course, if the results are there, there shouldn't be any questions. 

How Do You Manage a Remote Team Spread Across the Globe?

Remote workers connected through mobile phones
Managing remote workers is different for every company and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you.


Joe

For me I was leading a team in the US as part of AIPAC and also had a matrix into Europe.

We had to communicate asynchronously for the most part. It was too hard to host real-time conversations. 

Initially, we used email. Then I discovered CloudApp. We used that a little bit more. But we had to build a lot more lead time into projects because a lot was getting done a day off from one another.

For example, if you're working with Australia, or the people I worked with at AIPAC, you're sleeping when they're working, so you're always a day off from each other.

The truth is, there’s no silver bullet to this stuff. It’s difficult, but all you have to do is create a process that works for you.

What Are You Looking For in a Candidate During a 20-minute Phone Interview? How Can the Candidate Impress You?

John

If you’re a remote worker, you’re not going to be able to casually walk to the cubicle or office next door and get an answer from someone - you have to figure out how to get that answer and solve the problem on your own.

So I usually ask them about some of the challenges they've faced and how they've had to be resourceful to solve those problems.

Something else I always ask for is work samples. But I don’t stop there. I also ask them to explain their process because sometimes people coming from big companies may have contributed to a PowerPoint, but then you drill down and find out there were five employees working on it.

I try to really understand what that person's core skill set is and how they contribute to projects. If they’re good problem-solvers and engaged or not.

I also look at whether they’re asking good questions of me. Are they thinking about what lies ahead for this company that they'd be joining and how they can contribute?

I think it's a two-way dialogue.

Are they trying to figure out if your company is a good fit for them just like you’re figuring out if they’re a good fit for your company?

If it's not a good two-way fit, then it won’t work.

The Best Way to Interview, Hire, and Assemble Successful Remote Teams

Earlier, John said “I find that using video helps you run effective remote meetings and is a great way to establish what it will be like working with the candidate.”

We couldn’t agree more. 

If you can’t look at someone in the eyes sitting across the interview table, at least you can see them through your computer screen. 

Actually looking at a person can dramatically change the interview. 

You get to read their body language, see their smile, and connect in a genuinely human way which is much harder through phone, or email. 

At CloudApp, with its near 5 star ratings across multiple review sites, is a video collaboration tool that provides you with the most efficient screen recording, webcam recording, GIF creation, and image annotation tools available.

So not only is CloudApp an easy-to-use tool for hiring remote workers, it’s an enterprise-grade app that allows you to create and share visual content with workers long after they’ve joined your team.

Plus, we’ve been ranked by G2 Crowd as one of the top sales enablement tools.

Find out how CloudApp can help you build and manage remote teams today.

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