Join Jeff Handy and Tanner Cash. Jeff shares tips on how to manage a remote team from his experience working with offshore teams.
If you’re already managing a remote team, you understand the value that it can bring your company. In order to attain the value that remote/offshore teams can bring, we recommend fully understanding the following. First, focus on knowing your team and how they work. Second, know your product today and focus on the product’s future.
Know Your Team
The first way to begin building rapport with an offshore team is by understanding what they want, what they can do, and what they don’t want to do.
Understand What They Want
I cannot overemphasize the importance of knowing each individual on the team and how that contributes to the collective success. That being said it is also important to realize that the sum total of each team member together makes a different entity. Thus, as a leader, understanding what your team wants, coupled with understanding each team member will help you know where the team wants to go.
Once you know where the team is wanting to go you can balance the needs of the customer and the goals of the company. Without that team knowledge you can find you, your team, your company, and customers on different pages.
Understand What Your Team Can Do
Know exactly what your team can do today. This can be their skills, both technical and personal, their ability to solve problems, their experience, and what they are willing to learn. Once you assess what they can do from your perspective, seek to learn how they feel about what they are capable of.
Understand What They Don’t Want to Do
Now, all of us have to do hard things in our jobs and these are often monotonous or boring tasks that we know are important but struggle to be excited by. Those aren’t necessarily the subject of the paragraph. It’s when a team member doesn’t want to take the product in a certain direction. As a manager, it’s important to know what your team doesn’t want to do because this will help you know how to respond to apathy or miscommunication. Understanding what someone doesn’t want to do and why they don’t want to do it, provides a greater capacity for compassion. Filling this communication gap will save a lot of frustration and contention between you, the customer, and the team.
Know Your Product
Most product managers think they know their product better than anyone, but allowing yourself to reflect on the following questions will be helpful to do periodically throughout your product life cycle. True familiarity with your product will lead to accurate evaluation of your team’s progress.
Why Was Your Product Made?
Using the example of our team at TestRamp, why did we make our QA solution? We saw particular holes in QA around test management and crowdtesting. So we built a simple and free test case management platform with a crowdsource service back end. Never losing sight of your company’s reason for building a product is going to be very important when managing a team, guiding you in your managing efforts.
Why Are Your Customers Using Your Product?
Rely on your data. What are customers doing with your product today? What are they clicking on? How are they interacting with your products? Are there features that they’re using and other features that they don’t know about? These questions can help you ascertain the level of customer satisfaction and what your product needs to continue to sustain these customers. This is something that I rely heavily on when making strategic decisions.
Why Will Customers Keep Using Your Product?
Customers don’t always know what they want. You know generally what the customer needs, because you understand common market pain points. Understanding the above question, using AB testing, leaning on your own experience, and understanding the next problem to solve will help guide the next round of stories for your following epic.
Treating your remote team like an in person team is a good rule of thumb. However, since we aren’t together physically, regularly and intentionally reviewing the above points will make sure your team, your company, and your customers will get the product you manage in the best possible team destination.