Mastering Remote Leadership

Mia Nguyen Mia Nguyen
Mastering Remote Leadership

Ryan Burke, former SVP at InVision, joined us on the Future of Work show to discuss remote leadership tactics. Ryan joined InVision in 2014 as the Head of Sales & Success when there were only 35 employees. Six years later he left as the SVP of International Sales for a company that grew to over 800 employees distributed across 20 countries worldwide. Now, he’s sharing his learnings with us.

Watch Here

To dive right in, click below to watch the 30-minute episode on YouTube.

Quick Takeaways

Ryan walked listeners through a number of elements including hiring, onboarding, the importance of team offsites, and more. With culture being the number one thing that can be negatively impacted by working remotely, Ryan stresses the importance of over-investing in these culture-building topics. As he says, “it’s the heartbeat and center of gravity for any team.”

Successful Hiring

The first thing Ryan did was filter out people who wanted to work at InVision because it was a remote company. This is because the fact that they were remote was a byproduct of their mission. Ryan advises, “when you’re going fully remote, you need to re-calibrate a profile of who you want to bring on board.” For his sales team at InVision, the characteristics he looked for were proactive, self-starter, resilient, and emotional intelligence. He would also always ask the question, “how do you manage your time?”

The Power of Onboarding

The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is a book that speaks to how important the first day at a new job is. Ryan argues that onboarding is one of the biggest detractors in remote companies. Within a remote team, you need to be very detailed about expectations and there has to be a lot of interaction. At InVision, this was executed by assigning onboarding business, having daily morning & evening check-ins, and providing the new employee with exposure to different parts of the organization. Most importantly, benchmarks need to be set so the employee can measure how they’re doing relative to the timeline of their onboarding. This will avoid the, “I’m three weeks in, am I doing well or am I behind” thought process and conversation.

Re-Audit Your Remote Meetings

Initially, in a remote company, everyone may request a 1:1 meeting and before you know it that’s all your calendar is composed of. Managers would benefit from setting a structure for their check-ins and have each week focus on a different topic (i.e. sales pipeline status, professional development, etc). Ryan shared that it’s the managers job to host these meetings in a way so they’re positioned to get to know how someone is feeling by creating the space so you can get into their mindset. Within his sales team, Ryan followed this concept he created called the “above the line, below the line.” He would begin each meeting by asking his team member where they fell on the line, and depending on their response he’d tailor the purpose of the meeting.

The Marriage Between Remote and In-Person

When working remotely, you’re often (virtually) visiting someone else’s home allowing for a more intimate relationship. However, there are some relationship aspects that can only be strengthened through an in-person experience. This is why Ryan had quarterly offsites for his sales team where employees could come together and meet - sometimes for the first time. By sprinkling in these in-person get-togethers, it gave the opportunity for team members to be vulnerable with one another through team-building exercises. Ryan shared that, “these in-person moments were necessary if a tough conversation ever had to occur in the future,” because there was trust developed.

Measuring Performance

Ryan suggested measuring performance by behavior and activities. The behaviors are the identified core values the employees should be living and breathing. It’s what they should be held accountable for, what should be celebrated, and what will be built into performance reviews. The activities answer the question of how people should be spending their time. Managers need to be very prescriptive on the activities that people should be spending their time on, and then measure this in their performance review. It the leader’s job to drive towards extreme clarity and have a results-driven mindset.

Those are just a few pieces of advice that Ryan had to share. Also, he advises teams to check out this mechanism to give feedback and incorporating a micro reward system like Bonusly! To hear more, watch the full episode here and make sure to check out his personal website.

Thanks for tuning in,

Mia & the RemoteHQ team