How to Manage the Distinct Personalities of your Remote Team

So you think it’s time for your company to take the plunge and go remote. While you and your team begin to hammer out the details, new concerns bubble up—what if your staff burn out or fall through the cracks? Managing a team with such diverse personalities is tricky enough when you’re under one roof—you can only imagine how it’s going to be once everyone disperses.

Of course, some personalities are better suited for remote work than others. Some members of your remote team will punch the air and run home when you announce that you’re going remote. Others might glance hopelessly around at their office friends, at their favorite desk, at the cozy couch, and not know how to deal.

You can’t 100% predict who will love working remotely and who’ll flounder, but if you’re prepared, you can meet each member of your team halfway to set them up for success.

Here’s a breakdown of the different characters you might have on your team, and how to help them through the transition so they’ll thrive in your (newly) remote business.

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What I Learned From Managing an International Remote Team


Guest post by Nils Vinje of Glide Consulting. A version of this post appeared on the Glide blog.

Let me start with the good part: when I managed a team of customer success managers in San Francisco, we were really successful. We worked together seamlessly.

We met often to talk about long-term strategy and problems that were coming up, we chatted over lunch about how things were going, and when someone had a question, they came and knocked on my door.

So when I moved into managing a distributed team of CSMs, I applied the same communication strategy: always be available. It didn’t matter that my coworkers were in Tokyo and London instead of down the hall—I would be the same resource I was before.

Now for the bad part: it didn’t work. Simply put, “always be available” isn’t a system.

It took some time to hammer out, but I learned that remote teams need to be much more systematic, document everything, and communicate constantly. Our international team eventually ramped up to become one of the most productive teams I’ve ever worked with, time differences aside. Along the way, I learned that remote teams can actually be more efficient than co-located ones, as long as they adhere to these processes.

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How to Sell New Tools To Your Team

In 2013, public schools in Greensboro North Carolina received a shipment of over 15,000 iPads as part of an initiative to bring technology into the classroom. Now, those very same iPads are collecting dust because teachers either refused or didn’t know how to incorporate them in their workday.

New tools, however shiny, don’t automatically make a difference to your team. It’s up to managers to get the ball rolling.

As a manager, you might be really certain that a new tool will make a huge difference. That new CRM is going to make finding information so much easier. That communication tool is going to make everyone so much more productive. And that new email provider is going to make your data so much more secure.

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But new tools don’t make any difference at all if your team doesn’t get on board. It’s a really common phenomenon: you bring in new tools, but everyone is so stuck in their ways that they’re not willing to budge when it comes to changing how they do things. Even though you’re convinced it could help them.

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To Be More Productive, Work Less

Guest Post by Daniel Tay, Piktochart

Daniel is a Content Strategist at Piktochart, where he writes regularly about creativity, design, and storytelling. His motto in life: Always be improving, always be loving. Check out his latest articles over at the Piktochart blog.

Back in the 1800s, American author Herman Melville was facing a problem while writing his to-be masterpiece, Moby Dick. Like many famous creative people who would come after him, he struggled against mankind’s greatest nemesis – procrastination – and even had to resort to chaining himself to his desk to be productive.

That particular story turned out pretty well. Moby Dick went on to become one of the greatest literary works of all time. Sitting at our desks mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, though, it’s hard to imagine that we could ever overcome the Instant Gratification Monkey, and get to work on the ever-increasing mounds of assignments and projects ahead of us.

Even if we did chain ourselves to our desks and get started, distractions continually attempt to pry and lure us away. And unlike Melville, we live in an age of perpetual distractions which are easily accessible at the swipe of a finger. Stanford sociologist Clifford Nass says that we are “suckers for irrelevancy.”

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Each time we get distracted, we mess up our flow – defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” Not being in the flow is naturally very, very bad for doing actual productive work.

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People Management for Rookies

Most people who start their own business do it because they have a great idea. Whether they’re setting out to start a new social media site or an environmentally-friendly sock distribution company, they do it because they’re excited about the business concept. People management is usually far from their minds.

It’s one of the least sexy parts of starting your own business. And it’s also the most important one to master.


In fact, people management is one of the things entrepreneurs struggle with the most, in part because it requires such a different skill set than other entrepreneurial qualities. But new entrepreneurs often make the mistake of dismissing it as a secondary task, instead focusing their efforts on what they think are more important duties.

Managing teams—especially remote teams—is hard, but really important. Poor prioritization leads to breakdowns in communication, which lead to mistakes in your team’s work, which spell out failure for your company.

The good news is, managing teams is a learnable skill. It boils down to a handful of daily processes that you can accomplish to be a competent and successful manager.

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5 Resolutions to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Over time, teams develop bad habits that hurt productivity. They slowly stop adhering to processes. They let standards slide. They communicate less. What’s worse is that as these bad habits creep in slowly over time, you can forget that your team is even doing them. Productivity suffers and no one even notices.

The problem is only exacerbated for remote teams. It’s hard enough for any group of people to stick to a regimen of healthy team habits. But when individuals don’t see each other every day, and they’re not regularly checking in to make sure everyone is adhering to office-wide standards, the slow creep of bad habits is even more dangerous, and leads to poor productivity.

All too often, working remotely means working separately. That leaves you without regular times to check in, re-assess how the team is doing, and make the necessary changes to reach peak functionality.

Enter New Years. Here’s your chance to make adjustments and define the tone for the next 12 months. That’s why so many companies introduce a yearly theme when everyone comes back from the holidays.

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In 2016, resolve to take on these fundamental problems that plague teams at work—especially remote teams. They’re what Patrick Lencioni calls the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, and they lay out the main reasons teams aren’t as productive as they could be, why so many aren’t aware of them, and what they can do to fix them. Here’s how.

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The Ultimate Guide to Email Standups

If your startup needs a dynamic communication system, daily standups might sound like a great idea. So you pitch it to your team and get everyone on board with the daily 9:30 a.m. meeting where everybody stands and gets straight to the point.

Each person shares a few key updates about what they’re working on and what’s blocking them from completing important tasks. Everything is going great, and the company is growing.

But as you keep hiring, the daily standup becomes a chore. The more people who have to speak, the longer the meeting lasts, and the less productive it feels. Then one day you forget to do something that Jill from product management asked during a standup because nobody was taking notes. It was your idea that nobody should take notes! You read about it on a “How To” startup blog.

Daily standups are supposed to be an efficient way for teams to stay updated, but all of a sudden yours has turned on you. The barrage of information doesn’t seem as useful, and the meeting itself is a time-sink. It requires everyone to drop what they’re working on every day just to gather round and hear updates. It’s time-consuming and disruptive.

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Progress, Plans, Problems: Sync Your Team with Updates

If the daily challenge of communicating with your co-workers is driving your crazy, you are not alone. Between all of the different tasks and moving pieces on your schedule, keeping your team members informed about your progress can be a frustrating challenge. It’s equally overwhelming trying to stay up-to-date on what your co-workers are doing. There is a huge amount of information to sift through.

Some companies implement strategies like progress reports and extra meetings to facilitate communication. But these are often time-consuming and they only add to the white noise. It’s time to clear your head. The key to successful communication is clarity, not buzz.

If you want to maximize the efficiency of your team’s status reports, think about using PPP.

PPP Streamlines Communication

Progress, plans, problems is an approach to communication that enables you and your team members to share what you are working on in a friendly and efficient way. The three P’s stand for “progress, plans and problems.” This technique is used by companies like Skype, Ebay, Facebook, and Seedcamp to streamline communication channels between managers and co-workers.

Every week, people report their top 3-5 achievements, goals and challenges in an email memo that is easy to read. It saves time and it helps keep everyone on the same page. The template looks like this:

  • Progress: What were your three biggest accomplishments this week?
  • Plans: What are your top three priorities for next week?
  • Problems: What are three problems you are facing? Problems usually require the help of other people to solve.

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It’s important to encourage your team members to give each other updates about their progress on assignments because it allows everyone to see the larger picture. These updates can happen daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your company’s needs.

The three P’s outlined above provide a de facto template to start from. Depending on what your company does, you might decide to add extra categories as you go along. The point is to keep everyone on the team informed and in sync, without wasting a lot of time with lengthy progress reports or meetings.

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The Definitive Guide to Daily Standups


When the business world seeks new productivity tools, it often turns its gaze to Silicon Valley, an industry famous for its ability to eliminate the cruft of the workday. But there’s one productivity tool that has its roots not in open-plan offices, but in military strategy boardrooms: the daily standup meeting.

The daily standup has its instructions in the title. It’s a daily meeting where participants stand. That’s it.

Ideally, the lack of chairs promotes a quick and effective meeting. If the conversation prompts a deeper discussion about a specific topic, it’s tabled for after the daily standup.

It’s a technique that American General William Pagonis used during the First Gulf War, where he served as director of Logistics. Each morning, he had 40 officers meet together in a conference room without a table or chairs. It minimized the need for pleasantries and unnecessary comments. Even military officers, it turns out, have a tendency to digress. Pagonis found that the format maximized productivity crucial to military success. Norman Schwarzkopf, in fact, salutes Pagonis as the “logistical wizard” of the Gulf War.

After hanging up is uniform, Pagonis brought this military precision to his corporate job as a Sears executive. He brought workers into a conference room sans chairs and had a quick run-down of the day. Under his leadership, Sears streamlined its business model, cutting delivery times in half. The standup, Pagonis says, was crucial to Sears’ success. When asked why the daily standup was so effective, he said, “When you sit down, a meeting goes for over an hour or an hour and a half, and you lose everybody. When people are standing, they talk faster or they say I don’t have anything to add.” It’s that simple.

The daily stand-up takes a lot of forms. Some offices do it once a week—others, twice a day. Some use chairs, some do it electronically. Some, as it turns out, are more successful than others. This guide looks at how and why daily standups are so effective, and the best way to implement one into your workday.

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Why Google Got Over Brainteasers

You’ve probably heard stories about Google’s interview process. The web is littered with examples of brainteasers interviewers have posed, including “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?” and “How many piano tuners are there in the world?”

Brainteasers were another one of Google’s trailblazing company culture quirks essential to its “Googlieness,” like casual dress or napping pods. These head-scratching puzzles were touted as a meritocratic way to hire. The logic was, no matter where you went to college or what your SAT score were, if you could solve one of these questions, you deserve to work at Google.

But Google’s brainteasers are a thing of the past.

“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time,” Laszlo Bock, senior VP of Google’s people operations stated. “They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.” In fact, the people who succeeded at brainteasers were often the opposite kind of employee Bock wanted to hire.

While buzz-worthy, brainteasers have been abandoned for straight-edge processes and questions. Interviewers ask boring questions that you might hear from any other company. And they get better results.

Bock overhauled the quirky interview process in favor of hiring policies that yielded employees who would work hard and work smart. Here’s what he did.

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