In a panel discussion moderated by Candace Giesbrecht (Director of Engagement at Teamit), Alistair Shepherd-Cross (President and Founder of Teamit), Karan Gupta (SVP of Engineering of Shift Technologies), and Ray Kruck (Founder and CEO of Tugboat Logic) discussed their experiences managing distributed teams and their recommendations for motivating remote teams to new heights of success.
Learning #1: “Aligning the Work with Someone’s Career Goals”
– Karan Gupta, SVP of Engineering at Shift
Candace kicked things off with the meaty topic of performance management, and how Karan and Ray have equipped their team leads with the right mindset, tools, and processes to manage their teams’ performance. Karan cited fundamentals: the systems and processes leaders put in place are important. He emphasized, “When it comes to your employees’ performance, you should evaluate them to the same high standard.
While the results they produce might be different, you have to set things to be the same.” What’s key is “…aligning the work with someone’s career goals” to help them get the most out of the work they do.
Learning #2: “Encourage Leaders to Go Beyond Their Functional Roles”
– Ray Kruck, Founder and CEO at Tugboat Logic
The discussion switched gears to leading remote and distributed teams, specifically around how Ray and Tugboat Logic have adapted from distributed to remote teams in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to Karan’s emphasis on the fundamentals, Ray mentioned that he “reminds [his] leaders that they need to embody empathy to their team and clear communication.” More specifically, he encourages leaders to “be leaders beyond their functional roles” because everyone in the company sees how you lead your team and how you interact with other teams.
What’s helped Ray and Tugboat succeed is the executive team’s emphasis on diversity, especially diversity of mindset and work experience. According to Ray, hiring people from backgrounds outside of tech avoids groupthink, and more importantly, builds organizational resiliency for Tugboat Logic. In Ray’s experience, people from different walks of life and backgrounds tend to approach problems and challenges through unconventional ways and displaying out-of-the-box thinking that leads to great results and outcomes.
Learning #3: “Everyone Has to Be Bought Into the Remote Office.”
– Alistair Shepherd-Cross, President and Founder at Teamit
Once considered a perk companies offered, work from home (WFH) is now a permanent part of the white-collar world (the jury’s still out, though, on whether many people can tolerate permanent WFH with their kids driving them up the wall). And with remote and distributed teams being the norm, Alistair points out that “it really takes a big commitment from everyone” to adjust to remote work and that “everyone has to be bought into the concept of the open office” in order for leaders and their teams to excel.
Fortunately, that commitment has been easy for white-collar workers and their employers. The real commitment, though, is whether employers will recall their workers back into the office now that everyone has had a taste of the WFH life.
Learning #4: “Without Information, There’s Speculation”
– Candace Giesbrecht, Director of Engagement at Teamit
Candace actually had a fantastic quote in response to her own question “How are you actually ensuring good communication?” She pointed out that leaders now have to make an especially concentrated effort to keep in touch and stay grounded with their team.
There is a heavier responsibility on leaders to ensure communication and keep their team’s spirits positive and constantly motivated – leadership duties that were easier to follow through on when everyone was in the same office. As Candace succinctly put it, “remote workers need those visible wins in order to remain motivated.”