Slightly delayed holiday musings, in an easily digestible top seven (plus a bonus three I picked up along the way!)
I’ve spent a large portion of my 20+ year career as a marketer being managed, or managing others (surprise, surprise!). I’ve had some amazing, and sub standard experiences, both of which I’ve learnt a ton from. What makes my story a little more interesting, is for the past five years, I’ve been managed, and managed others remotely (both locally in Australia and throughout APAC). This has been both an amazing pleasure and challenge – building, motivating and supporting a diverse and dispersed team, especially through the digital marketing transformation we’re experiencing today.
I certainly don’t profess to having it all together – I’m still learning (and very open to doing so!) I vividly recall my first visit to Japan where I’m sure I broke every cultural expectation from being quiet in the elevator, to not speaking boisterously in the office. I’ve adjusted, and I’d say the local teams have also adjusted to my personality and style. Diversity and inclusion are all about achieving mutual understanding and embracing our authenticity. I love working for a company that is striving to achieve this in our day to day.
Here’s some ideas I’ve found helpful and learnt along the way as I build out my awesome team – I’d love to hear yours!
Clearly articulate team charter and values
It took me a little time to learn this, but I see clearly the absolute priority that should be placed on being clear about where we’re sailing together. Yes, it’s likely we’ll have a greater vision to align to, but what are OUR team goals and value? What will WE commit to doing together? What do we want our reputation to be within the larger organisation? Once we’ve aligned, agreed and are moving, we can keep each other accountable and drive together towards the day to day goals and position the marketing organisation super positively within the wider business.
Onboard the right team
The key has been finding the right team who are self motivated, comfortable to work in isolation from a direct manager and strong communicators. I also learnt quickly as a remote ‘report’ it’s important to ‘own’ your visibility and take proactive action to ensure you’re performance is recognised. You may have to work a little harder on networking within the business and ensuring you get airtime with your key stakeholders. Don’t hold back setting up 1:1’s and ensuring coverage for yourself!
Invest in patience and listen closely (understand and appreciate cultural nuances)
Perhaps this is a personal learning, but I’ve had to measure and adjust my approach, expectations and working style to suit different cultures, language and interpretation of delivery. It doesn’t mean I expect different outcomes, but the journey to get there may take a slightly adjusted route (in some cases it’s resulted in performance improvement!) For me as a manager, it’s being comfortable not having all the answers, being open to new ideas and fresh approaches, and working through options together.
Enforce communication tech
This is one of my passions! We have so many communication tools at our finger tips including all manner of video conferencing – turn those camera’s on! The only way I truly understand the nuance of a situation or mood of the team is to see those smiling/frowning/grimacing faces.
Reward and celebrate
This should probably be point 1 – as a generalization we know that our happiness at work is directly linked to our feelings of ‘value’. It’s therefore crucial as a remote manager that I take the time to celebrate the smaller things, ensure the team feel valued and thought of even if I’m not physically available. Practically, we celebrate successes, anniversaries with cakes, cards, balloons, whistles and bells, and birthdays are never a quiet affair. When a new hire starts, I send a Swarovski pen with a personal note about the great things I’m looking forward to them delivering to the business.
Communication, Communication, Communication
I’ve quickly learnt that when you don’t see the team often, there’s a risk for gaps and misalignment to fester if you’re not in regular communication. I commit very seriously to our team communication – 1:1, team meetings, extended team connects, and predictable travel to meet face to face.
Get there quickly with a little Radical Candor
I recently discovered a neat read called Radical Candor. I’ve always been fairly direct in my feedback, but this really challenged me on improving communication with already thriving team members. How do I take a top performer to the next rung? It was a great lesson and I recommend if you’re looking to ‘level up’ an already strong team. www.radicalcandor.com/the-book/
Bonus 3 ideas for making it this far – turns it into a neat Top 10 (thx @Bhupesh Lall)!
Clarity in purpose
People are inspired when they know the “why” behind the “what” they are asked to do. When they understand and believe in the big picture, their motivation levels are incredibly higher, and their contribution to the bigger goal can be hugely rewarding to them and to the team.
Let (and trust) the team to solve
As a manager, you know (kinda!) where you need the team to go; you know what needs to get done. But involving the team in the solutioning process; making the ideas theirs, rather than yours, drive a much greater sense of ownership. Then recognise them, give them visibility and celebrate their success.
It trumps everything. It’s not about being weak or timid. It’s not about being subservient. It’s not about being any less aggressive than you would otherwise be. But, when you approach any job (including that of leading a team) with humility, you are approaching it with a mindset that I don’t know everything, and I am open to learning. There is a better way of doing something than I have tried before, and I am hungry to learn what that may be. As a leader, your job is also to make decisions (and coach/ empower others to make decisions); but then the decisions you and your team make are probably better considered and more inclusive.
I’m sure this list could go on and on! What would you add and why is it important to your list? I’m always on the lookout to expand my point of view if it will help optimise, empower and enable my team for stellar performance.