Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! In this week’s episode, Jeff talks to Gina Michnowicz, CEO of The Craftsman Agency, about leading a remote team. More and more businesses are choosing to utilize employees who live across different geographic locations, focusing on talent over proximity. Jeff and Gina answer questions like, “How can you lead well when you cannot sit in the same room as your team on a regular basis?” and “What would your organization need in order to involve remote employees?”
The Benefits of a Remote Team:
Low fixed costs
You can work with the people you want without worrying about whether they can relocate or not.
To have a remote workforce you will need:
An easy conference system (Slack)
Video calling (Zoom or Google Hangouts)
To ensure your employees have a good workspace with a strong internet connection, whether that is at home or a co-working space
Employee onboarding program
To be a champion of the vision and mission of your company
New Hire Buddy
A new hire buddy is a peer to peer program where a new employee is partnered with a seasoned employee who understands their job responsibilities. The buddy not only answers any questions the new employee may have but also creates a personal connection and a friendship.
Create Ways to Maintain a Human Connection
Meet in real life 1-2x/year
Check in on tasks and projects.
Also check in on how their professional development is going, what is exciting them, and what they are learning about their industry.
Check in weekly with all of your direct reports.
Check in monthly with other employees (as your organization’s size allows).
Create a strategy for recognizing everyone’s birthdays.
Gina’s company assigns everyone a Birthday Buddy, who is responsible for making sure that their buddy’s birthday is celebrated.
Create an anniversary program.
Gina’s company gives every employee a one-month sabbatical when they have been with the company for 5 years. They are completely unplugged for a month and everyone picks up the slack, knowing that when it is their 5 year anniversary, others will do the same for them.
Remote leaders must have a strong hiring process that can identify candidates with a track record of success.
Recognize that not everyone is equipped to be a remote employee and create questions that will help you identify that during the interview.
Working with Employees
Leaders need to understand their employees’ social styles.
Then, figure out how to motivate them so that they are most effective.
Q: Do you think that you would be good at working in a remote work environment? Why or why not? What skills do you think would make someone a good candidate for a remote employee?
Q: Many of the processes used in a remote workforce can also be applied to a traditional work environment. Which of the strategies or tools above does your organization already use? Do any of the tools mentioned fill a gap your organization currently has? How could you incorporate that tool or strategy in your organization?
Q: What was your onboarding experience like with your company? What kinds of questions did you have throughout your first few weeks and months? Who did you go to for answers? Did you have a buddy? If not, how could a buddy have helped you adjust to your new company?
Benchmark your systems against the systems in this episode. How does your team communicate? How do you manage your projects? How often are you meeting? Pick one area and improve on it this month.
Evaluate whether or not a remote employee would work for your organization. Do you have the systems set up to onboard and retain the employee? Do you have tasks that can be performed remotely? Would remote employees increase or decrease your overhead?
If you already have a remote employee or a remote team, consider what you can do to create a stronger human connection. Does your budget allow for an in-person meeting or weekend trip? Can you create systems that allow employees to celebrate each other, such as the birthday buddy system? Taking a look at how you can build a more connected work environment will help increase employee satisfaction and productivity.