Leading a team, it is always an exciting and challenging experience. Add to the mix that the team is sitting in different time zones, and you find yourself up to quite a ride. You will need to put special focus on your team, on what they are doing and how they are doing to ensure your path to success.
It is all about the people.
Acknowledge and embrace culture differences.
Differences matter and differences are important. Your assumptions and expectations are not going to help you. Instead use the opportunity to learn and share. With respect and genuine interest, the opportunity to work with people across the globe is an enriching experience. In your one on ones, or when appropriate, take a chance to learn from your team and share your own background.
Make distance shorter.
As the leader, it is on you to make distance seems as short as possible. Not only between you and them, but between the whole company and your team. Create routines and use tools to bridge the gap created different time zones and locations.
For dealing with the time differences, find time slots that work as well as possible for everybody. And if somebody needs to make an extra effort to make the meeting happen, that should be you by default.
Communicate, communicate, and then communicate again.
There is no such thing as over-communication. Be clear and find ways to confirm that the message got across. Then communicate again and keep validating. Communication goes beyond the ask for the task of the day, but it needs to include sharing about the context of the company. Weekly team meetings, Daily stand ups, one on ones and written follow up are part of your arsenal.
Get to understand your team.
Each individual in your team is unique. It is on you to understand not only what motivates them but how to communicate effectively with them. Keeping track of the dynamics that sprout among your team is also key to identify any potential issue early.
What we are doing matters
The importance of direction
Most people do not enjoy getting in a car without knowing where they are going. Same thing applies when building a product or doing a project. Everybody needs to be able to answer where is this going and why. Making sure everybody can it is on you.
Devil is in the details.
Document each task and each assignment with as much detail as possible. Invest time during your planning or nurturing sessions to find out what is going to take to get things done. Keep a clear and detailed roadmap or project plan. Do your part to have most technical challenges solved before coding actually start.
Painless development experience
It is 2021 so there is no excuse for engineers to waste time. Invest, as early as possible, in the right tools and automation. Development environment provisioning, automated regressions and builds must have to maintain productivity.
Nobody benefits from an isolated engineering team. But you are also missing on the potential opportunities that a close environment between customer, stakeholders and developers can bring.
Use the right process
Do not micromanage.
Ok boomer, nobody likes micromanagement. Nothing says “toxic environment” as having people check in and out or tracking when they go to lunch. Yes, of course you need to ensure that everybody remains productive but focus on time will backfire. Instead, provide clear achievable goals and put all your effort in supporting the team to achieve them.
Make asynchronous communications effective.
Find ways for to communication to keep flowing even it is nighttime for you or your team. Collaboration in your wiki and meaningful comments in Jira are good examples as they are efficient and provide context. Leverage your toolset capabilities to allow you and your team to get the right information at the right time. And yes, conscious usage of email is still valid.
Guidelines and oversight
Your team needs clear understanding of how things should get done. Code organization, branches management, extensiveness of your testing code and merge strategies, among others, are topics that need a clear definition and ongoing oversight. It is on you to make sure these stay well communicated, enforced, and improved after week.
Foster opportunities and collaboration
A good leader is the one that does not need to be involved in everything. Delegate and encourage team members to take ownership and lead initiatives. Promote team members to join forces to solve challenges and reward those. This creates a more enriching and exciting environment and at the same time set you up for to scale your operation.
Leading a diverse remote team, it is for sure challenging, but for me had been part of the highlights of my career. When done right, you will be rewarded with great products, nurturing experiences, and loyal relationships.