Few Notes on How to Manage Remote Analyst Team
How to Not Manage A Team, Personal Tips, and Notes for My Future Self
For the last 4 months, my manager trusted me to lead a small Growth team consisting of 3 people. I felt that this responsibility is both exciting and worrisome at the same time. I'm a believer that the future of work is remote, but I thought I needed a much better way to approach this new task. I know that it's hard to lead a remote team, even for senior executives. To help me, these working notes will be my go-to resource and I'll use it as a knowledge repository.
I will start this note by following Charlie Munger's simple advice: instead of seeking brilliance, first try to avoid stupidity. I'm aware that I'm new to this, so I'll try to avoid making silly mistakes instead of being a great manager at my first assignment.
How to Not Manage A Remote Team
Not setting up any good communication channels. In practical terms, the team has no 1:1, no update around business result via Slack or email, and has no allocated meeting for alignment.
Grab already has a strong culture for this and thankfully we are less likely to encounter this problem in our division.
1:1 was just another status check and didn’t discuss personal matters at all. This makes the 1:1 less engaging for the team and it shows that you didn’t really care about them.
I try to avoid this by having another meeting for status update and give a clear context if we want to do 1:1 by sharing some framework or videos. My personal favorites: Jeff Su’s videos and this thread in Hacker News.
Team has no clear understanding on why they’re doing the task that they’re doing. This is the recipe for a bad remote team.
I personally found this to be the hardest part when leading the team. Unlike normal office environments where you can poke somebody to chat, in a remote setting you can’t just randomly chat them via Slack all the time. To avoid this, I try to documented every information that possible to be used by us numerous times in the future.
Not having a clear growth area for every team member. I learned this in a hard way from my previous company. It was a small start-up and my team only consisted of 3 people including me. We’re doing two projects parallel at that time. I was really hesitant to talk about my career aspirations because the supervisor has created this weird atmosphere to talk about stuff like that. 6 months passed, I was feeling exhausted and thought that I don’t have anything to learn anymore in that team. Then, I quit.
It was personal lessons to me and I decided that I need a better approach in the future to make sure this doesn't happen in my next company, either for me or my team members.
Not having a routine health check and too slow to react when any member gets sick.
I was really grateful that in Grab there’s a Health Check on a biweekly basis and the company really encouraged this. In my team, I try to create such an open communication culture and show my own vulnerability to the team (“Hi teams, I caught a cold yesterday and it seems to worsen today. So, I'm gonna take a day off today because of this, but if something happens and it’s really urgent, you can call me”.
Now, some personal tactic that I’ve implemented to my team.
Using team Slack’s group to announce some new initiatives, update on things that are important, or create a long thread to solve issues.
Use a doc for a biweekly update about achievement & miss from the last two weeks and what we have to do for the next two weeks. My own format can be seen here.
Most of our works are shown on slide, especially around insight and experiment. I decided to create a template and framework for this slide (insights and experiment) so we can focus more on the content rather than the structure.
These three tactics already capture a quite huge bandwidth on my attention, so I’ll try to stick to this while constantly looking for things that can be improved. Again, the goals is to make this a habit, not just a catalogue.
Appendix - Few Relevant Resources to be Read (and Reread)
Few nuggets from @Jobvo. Some interesting nuggets: use 1:1 to coach, strategize and tactical. Always have an agenda for 1:1. More strategic in setting a 1:1. Document things yourself, no one is too big to write documentation. Make time for everyone.
Andreas Klinger mentioned some great nuggets also. Interesting one: either fully remote or not.
Zapier, one of the most successful companies that have been built full remote from day one, shares some insight. Few interesting ideas: “hire people who can write”.