Jun 9, 2020

Building remote teams, no one said this would be easy

No one said it would be easy, but not a single person said how hard it would be. Building remote teams is hard and don't let anyone tell you different.

In our 14 collective years of building remote teams, we've learned two critical lessons. We're sharing these insights in hopes that you too will build a remote team and maybe, just maybe, it will be easier for you than it was our first time.

Your First Hire Is Everything

A great remote team is just like an in-house team in that it starts with a series of great first hires. These employees set the tone and provide a base to build from. Here are a few insights we learned specifically about making those critical first couple of hires:

  • Your first hire will only be as strong as your vetting process and ability to sell potential candidates on the opportunity to join your team
  • Avoid the pitfall of settling for a candidate that "checks the boxes", but isn't a great cultural fit
  • Always overindex on your first hire, they have to be able to do the job right now and evolve to meet future needs
  • If possible, try to hire someone that has worked remotely before
  • Don't be afraid to hire someone that can actually teach you about managing remote teams

The first hire is by far and away the hardest. If you can get that one right, the rest will come easily.

Build Systems, Not Task Lists

There appears to be a shift in the way employees are perceived once they are remotely based. Rather than trusting remote employees to be able to prioritize their daily responsibilities, there is a need to over program their daily responsibilities. This challenge could be a product of losing the ability to build trust with a team member as they are working in your office, in-person. The issue is you severely hinder the team member's ability to contribute because they are limited to the bullet points on the task list.

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” - Patrick Lencioni

In building high performing teams you should invest in designing and implementing strong systems:

  • Start by asking your own team members for best practices or systems they've seen be successful at prior jobs
  • Align tasks and responsibilities with the optimal roles and team members
  • Create a circular feedback structure that allows your team to continuously deliver insights and proposed changes to the systems
  • Nothing is sacred, be willing to eliminate any parts of the system that create friction or hinder productivity

The world of work is quickly adopting and shifting to remote models. If you have any questions or need help, please let the good folks at Hireframe know.

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