WADE FOSTER is the CEO and co-founder of Zapier, a workflow automation tool used by over three million people to connect the work apps they use every day. Zapier is a 100% remote company with over 200 people. In this interview we talk about hiring, managing, aligning, and building a rockin’ remote team. Wade shares his experiences, challenges, and recipes for strong team building.
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Note: the sound on this episode is not the usual high-quality you’ve come to expect. The beloved Zoom experienced an outage, and an inferior back-up tool was used (ahem, Skype). But be assured, the content rocks!
Wade’s tips on working remotely:
- Some tools need to be standardized across the company, but it’s productive to allow flexibility.
- Remote working requires a certain amount of discipline around communication and documentation. Diligently document your decisions and project updates.
- You can’t retreat into a cave. You’ve got to be able to talk about your work, talk about your roadblocks, and ask for help when you need it.
- Build good work habits that help you stay productive.
- When hiring look for people who are:
- self-starters. People who default to creating and getting things done.
- self-motivated. People who leap into action and figure things out.
- good communicators, particularly written communicators. How do people correspond over emails, and are they clear with their communications? You want people who can document their work well and can articulate what they want to say.
- Loneliness needs to be managed by the person. There are different approaches to take: some people have zoom calls with colleagues, or being involved in their own communities.
- Without support from management, working remotely will be difficult for your organization. If you’re a manager who wants to transition to the remote option, try working remotely for a long enough period of time that you understand what needs to be in place structurally for it to be successful.
- You need all kinds of people to be successful. Build an organization that can be inclusive of many different work styles.
- Good management is setting clear expectations, coaching and mentoring, aligning the organization’s goals, and measuring the progress over time. It shouldn’t matter where you do that.
- As an organization, practice giving feedback to each other. Small issues tend to get swept under the rug on remote teams, so it’s important for people to know how to bring issues up.
- When giving feedback, state the behavior that you observe instead of placing blame – and ask for a change in that behavior.
- To stay aligned, consider experimenting with OKRs.
- Meeting in person can be important for accelerating and deepening the bonding on remote teams.
- Don’t wait until you’ve got everything put together. Whatever it is you want to do, just start, meet other people who do the same thing, and practice your craft.
Great quotes from the interview
“Distributed teams are the future of work.”
“Talent is equally distributed around the world, but opportunity is not; it’s good for society when opportunity is more equally distributed.”
“The power of remote work is that it tears down the facade of what good management might be.”
“One of the best ways to learn is to just run into the problem.”
Podcast production by Podcast Monster
Graphic design by Alfred Boland
Interview, Managers, Podcast, Tools