Two top remote-first company founders & CEOs explain how results/performance-based management gets the best out of their remote-first teams.
Janet’s persistence and entrepreneurial drive to achieve the lifestyle she wanted have been paying off big time over the past couple of years. Alex has been successfully exploring and developing the remote-first landscape for almost two decades - and he loves sharing what he’s learned!
Measurable and traceable
“Not everyone is happy with performance-based management,” Alex points out in episode 7 of the Remoter Podcast, “but I believe that most creative people are because it helps them keep on track and push themselves to be the best they can (be).”
Key performance indicators (KPIs) and objective & key results (OKRs) are good ways to measure performance. Depending on the type of platform, product, services, etc. that your company produces, each team, sub-team, etc. should have their own KPIs and OKRs to work towards, always iterating while keeping these metrics in mind.
“At Torre, we calculate how many times a member of the team hits their goals the previous day during the week. We’re able to use that data to calculate weekly and monthly averages. For engineers, we systematically measure the number of sign-off rounds and that’s reported on a weekly basis as well. This is just one example of how those numbers work as a basis for us to gain a snapshot of how someone is doing, and if any remedial actions might need to be taken.”
Things are done a bit differently at Aimtal, says Janet. “We’re a small but mighty team so we haven’t implemented an OKR or KPI process yet and haven’t had the need at this point. Since our work is very creative and collaborative, it’s easy to analyze how well the team is performing at any given time.”
They do that by mainly using Trello’s kanban structure to visually keep track of projects and tasks. Each client project has its own board and within each board, they have lists that outline internal content creation, review, and approval workflows. It makes it very simple to trace which members are completing which tasks because “anyone on the team can see at a glance who’s working on what by referring to the client boards.”
Alignment and (over)communication
One thing that’s definitely difficult to control is how focused your team is towards achieving your company’s mission goals. Of course, the assumption is that the members of your team were hired because of their understanding and passion for working towards a similar goal - one that your company is striving for. However, it’s humanly impossible to have everyone 100% motivated and driven every single day.
“We choose to prioritize our daily stand-ups at Torre as our main alignment tool. Every morning, the team answers daily questions: goals for the day, achievements completed yesterday, etc. We write and send them through our #dailies Slack channel. Everything is sent before the meeting starts, then we spend about 10-15 minutes reading what everyone wrote. When that’s done, we bring up whether or not we have topics to discuss with specific teams or everyone.”
Communicating clearly is one of Aimtal’s core values, Janet affirms. They’ve started to adopt some aspects of agile marketing into account and project management. Every Monday, they start with an account team meeting to update and list out weekly tasks. In the meeting, the team goes through all the tasks per client, giving them the opportunity to chime in if they need additional support. For the entire week, they work on everything in a one-week sprint. At the end of the week on Fridays, they conduct a meeting that resembles a retrospective to wrap everything up, review outstanding work, discuss room for improvement and celebrate wins from the week!
“If you’re chatting on Slack for more than 10 minutes about a problem or task, then you hop on a Zoom call to discuss it,” says Janet. “We also request that everyone make an effort to be online between 12 pm to 4 pm ET since we don’t all work in the same time zone. This ensures we can all get some time to work together and hop on a Zoom if necessary to collaborate.”
Management by walking around isn’t going to cut it anymore
From RescueTime’s State of Work-Life Balance in 2019 report, a very eye-opening statistic reported was that “workers average just 2 hours and 48 minutes of productive device time a day” and “26% of work is done outside of normal working hours.”
Statements such as these make a very convincing case for remote being the future of work. More and more people are realizing that traditional ways of working might not be suited to the life and work styles of future generations.
Are you managing a remote-first team? How do you measure your team’s output and results? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!