When My Remote Leadership Skills Took Off
4 Ways To Manage Remote Teams & Employees
The wheels hit the ground as I landed in Rochester.
Our six-person satellite office was now part of my team.
Their manager only reported to me the day before, but I had my ticket booked ahead of time.
I had managed remote employees before but this was different. Engineers dialed into headquarters for every meeting.
So when I learned about the org chart change, I knew a strong first impression would set the tone for everything else.
I was either their boss, or their boss's boss, and I needed them to know I was committed.
Managing a fleet of satellite freelancers or multiple offices requires treating others as more than just a face behind a screen.
You must comprehend each remote team member's perspective and daily interactions.
The good news is that you can start using these techniques right now to better understand and elevate virtual team members.
1. Make Visits To Other Offices
If budgeted, visit and work from offices where teams and employees report to you. Only by living alongside them can one truly comprehend their problems with communication and other aspects of modern life.
2. Have Others Come to You
• Having remote, distributed, or satellite employees and teams visit headquarters every quarter or semi-quarterly allows the main office culture to rub off on them.
When remote team members visit, more people get to meet them, which builds empathy.
If you can't afford to fly everyone, at least bring remote managers or leaders. Hopefully they can resurrect some culture.
3. Weekly Work From Home
No home office policy?
WFH is a team-building, problem-solving, and office-viewing opportunity.
For dial-in meetings, I started working from home on occasion.
It also taught me which teams “forget” or “skip” calls.
As a remote team member, you experience all the issues first hand.
This isn't as accurate for understanding teams in other offices, but it can be done at any time.
4. Increase Contact Even If It’s Just To Chat
Don't underestimate office banter.
Sometimes it's about bonding and trust, other times it's about business.
If you get all this information in real-time, please forward it.
Even if nothing critical is happening, call remote team members to check in and chat.
I guarantee that building relationships and rapport will increase both their job satisfaction and yours.
More on Leadership
2 months ago
Raising the Bar on Your 1:1s
Managers spend much time in 1:1s. Most team members meet with supervisors regularly. 1:1s can help create relationships and tackle tough topics. Few appreciate the 1:1 format's potential. Most of the time, that potential is spent on small talk, surface-level updates, and ranting (Ugh, the marketing team isn’t stepping up the way I want them to).
What if you used that time to have deeper conversations and important insights? What if change was easy?
This post introduces a new 1:1 format to help you dive deeper, faster, and develop genuine relationships without losing impact.
A 1:1 is a chat, you would assume. Why use structure to talk to a coworker? Go! I know how to talk to people. I can write. I've always written. Also, This article was edited by Zoe.
Before you discard something, ask yourself if there's a good reason not to try anything new. Is the 1:1 only a talk, or do you want extra benefits? Try the steps below to discover more.
I. Reflection (5 minutes)
Context-free, broad comments waste time and are useless. Instead, give team members 5 minutes to write these 3 prompts.
What is decent but could be improved?
What is broken or missing?
Why these? They encourage people to be honest about all their experiences. Answering these questions helps people realize something isn't working. These prompts let people consider what's working.
Why take notes? Because you get more in less time. Will you feel awkward sitting quietly while your coworker writes? Probably. Persevere. Multi-task. Take a break from your afternoon meeting marathon. Any awkwardness will pay off.
What happens? After a few minutes of light conversation, create a template like the one given here and have team members fill in their replies. You can pre-share the template (with the caveat that this isn’t meant to take much prep time). Do this with your coworker: Answer the prompts. Everyone can benefit from pondering and obtaining guidance.
This step's output.
Part II: Talk (10-20 minutes)
Most individuals can explain what they see but not what's behind an answer. You don't like a meeting. Why not? Marketing partnership is difficult. What makes working with them difficult? I don't recommend slandering coworkers. Consider how your meetings, decisions, and priorities make work harder. The excellent stuff too. You want to know what's humming so you can reproduce the magic.
First, recognize some facts.
Real power dynamics exist. To encourage individuals to be honest, you must provide a safe environment and extend clear invites. Even then, it may take a few 1:1s for someone to feel secure enough to go there in person. It is part of your responsibility to admit that it is normal.
Curiosity and self-disclosure are crucial. Most leaders have received training to present themselves as the authorities. However, you will both benefit more from the dialogue if you can be open and honest about your personal experience, ask questions out of real curiosity, and acknowledge the pertinent sacrifices you're making as a leader.
Honesty without bias is difficult and important. Due to concern for the feelings of others, people frequently hold back. Or if they do point anything out, they do so in a critical manner. The key is to be open and unapologetic about what you observe while not presuming that your viewpoint is correct and that of the other person is incorrect.
Let's go into some prompts (based on genuine conversations):
“What do you notice across your answers?”
“What about the way you/we/they do X, Y, or Z is working well?”
“ Will you say more about item X in ‘What’s not working?’”
“I’m surprised there isn’t anything about Z. Why is that?”
“All of us tend to play some role in maintaining certain patterns. How might you/we be playing a role in this pattern persisting?”
“How might the way we meet, make decisions, or collaborate play a role in what’s currently happening?”
Consider the preceding example. What about the Monday meeting isn't working? Why? or What about the way we work with marketing makes collaboration harder? Remember to share your honest observations!
Third section: observe patterns (10-15 minutes)
Leaders desire to empower their people but don't know how. We also have many preconceptions about what empowerment means to us and how it works. The next phase in this 1:1 format will assist you and your team member comprehend team power and empowerment. This understanding can help you support and shift your team member's behavior, especially where you disagree.
How to? After discussing the stated responses, ask each team member what they can control, influence, and not control. Mark their replies. You can do the same, adding colors where you disagree.
This step's output.
Next, consider the color constellation. Discuss these questions:
Is one color much more prevalent than the other? Why, if so?
Are the colors for the "what's working," "what's fine," and "what's not working" categories clearly distinct? Why, if so?
Do you have any disagreements? If yes, specifically where does your viewpoint differ? What activities do you object to? (Remember, there is no right or wrong in this. Give explicit details and ask questions with curiosity.)
Example: Based on the colors, you can ask, Is the marketing meeting's quality beyond your control? Were our marketing partners consulted? Are there any parts of team decisions we can control? We can't control people, but have we explored another decision-making method? How can we collaborate and generate governance-related information to reduce work, even if the requirement for prep can't be eliminated?
Consider the top one or two topics for this conversation. No 1:1 can cover everything, and that's OK. Focus on the present.
Part IV: Determine the next step (5 minutes)
Last, examine what this conversation means for you and your team member. It's easy to think we know the next moves when we don't.
Like what? You and your teammate answer these questions.
What does this signify moving ahead for me? What can I do to change this? Make requests, for instance, and see how people respond before thinking they won't be responsive.
What demands do I have on other people or my partners? What should I do first? E.g. Make a suggestion to marketing that we hold a monthly retrospective so we can address problems and exchange input more frequently. Include it on the meeting's agenda for next Monday.
Close the 1:1 by sharing what you noticed about the chat. Observations? Learn anything?
Yourself, you, and the 1:1
As a leader, you either reinforce or disrupt habits. Try this template if you desire greater ownership, empowerment, or creativity. Consider how you affect surrounding dynamics. How can you expect others to try something new in high-stakes scenarios, like meetings with cross-functional partners or senior stakeholders, if you won't? How can you expect deep thought and relationship if you don't encourage it in 1:1s? What pattern could this new format disrupt or reinforce?
Fight reluctance. First attempts won't be ideal, and that's OK. You'll only learn by trying.
24 days ago
A Comparison of Amazon, Microsoft, and Google's Compensation
Learn or earn
In 2020, I started software engineering. My base wage has progressed as follows:
Amazon (2020): $112,000
Microsoft (2021): $123,000
Google (2022): $169,000
I didn't major in math, but those jumps appear more than a 7% wage increase. Here's a deeper look at the three.
The Three Categories of Compensation
Most software engineering compensation packages at IT organizations follow this format.
Base salary is pre-tax income. Most organizations give a base pay. This is paid biweekly, twice monthly, or monthly.
Sign-On incentives are one-time rewards to new hires. Companies need an incentive to switch. If you leave early, you must pay back the whole cost or a pro-rated amount.
Equity is complex and requires its own post. A company will promise to give you a certain amount of company stock but when you get it depends on your offer. 25% per year for 4 years, then it's gone.
If a company gives you $100,000 and distributes 25% every year for 4 years, expect $25,000 worth of company stock in your stock brokerage on your 1 year work anniversary.
Tech offers may include yearly performance bonuses. Depends on performance and funding. I've only seen 0-20%.
Engineers' overall compensation usually includes:
Base Salary + Sign-On + (Total Equity)/4 + Average Performance Bonus
Amazon: (TC: 150k)
Base Pay System
Amazon pays Seattle employees monthly on the first work day. I'd rather have my money sooner than later, even if it saves processing and pay statements.
The company upped its base pay cap from $160,000 to $350,000 to compete with other tech companies.
Amazon has no performance bonus, so you can work as little or as much as you like and get paid the same. Amazon is savvy to avoid promising benefits it can't deliver.
Amazon gives two two-year sign-up bonuses. First-year workers could receive $20,000 and second-year workers $15,000. It's probably to make up for the company's strange equity structure.
If you leave during the first year, you'll owe the entire money and a prorated amount for the second year bonus.
Most organizations prefer a 25%, 25%, 25%, 25% equity structure. Amazon takes a different approach with end-heavy equity:
the first year, 5%
15% after one year.
20% then every six months
We thought it was constructed this way to keep staff longer.
Microsoft (TC: 185k)
Base Pay System
Microsoft paid biweekly.
My offer letter suggested a 0%-20% performance bonus. Everyone will be satisfied with a 10% raise at year's end.
But misleading press where the budget for the bonus is doubled can upset some employees because they won't earn double their expected bonus. Still barely 10% for 2022 average.
Microsoft's sign-on bonus is a one-time payout. The contract can require 2-year employment. You must negotiate 1 year. It's pro-rated, so that's fair.
Microsoft is one of those companies that has standard 25% equity structure. Except if you’re a new graduate.
In that case it’ll be
25% six months later
25% each year following that
New grads will acquire equity in 3.5 years, not 4. I'm guessing it's to keep new grads around longer.
Google (TC: 300k)
Base Pay Structure
Google pays biweekly.
Google's offer letter specifies a 15% bonus. It's wonderful there's no cap, but I might still get 0%. A little more than Microsoft’s 10% and a lot more than Amazon’s 0%.
Google gave a 1-year sign-up incentive. If the contract is only 1 year, I can move without any extra obligations.
Not as fantastic as Amazon's sign-up bonuses, but the remainder of the package might compensate.
We covered Amazon's tail-heavy compensation structure, so Google's front-heavy equity structure may surprise you.
Annual structure breakdown
33% Year 1
33% Year 2
22% Year 3
12% Year 4
The goal is to get them to Google and keep them there.
This post hopefully helped you understand the 3 firms' compensation arrangements.
There's always more to discuss, such as refreshers, 401k benefits, and business discounts, but I hope this shows a distinction between these 3 firms.
6 months ago
Improving collaboration with the Six Thinking Hats
Six Thinking Hats was written by Dr. Edward de Bono. "Six Thinking Hats" and parallel thinking allow groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, improving collaboration.
In order to develop strategies for thinking about specific issues, the method assumes that the human brain thinks in a variety of ways that can be intentionally challenged. De Bono identifies six brain-challenging directions. In each direction, the brain brings certain issues into conscious thought (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). Some may find wearing hats unnatural, uncomfortable, or counterproductive.
The example of "mismatch" sensitivity is compelling. In the natural world, something out of the ordinary may be dangerous. This mode causes negative judgment and critical thinking.
Colored hats represent each direction. Putting on a colored hat symbolizes changing direction, either literally or metaphorically. De Bono first used this metaphor in his 1971 book "Lateral Thinking for Management" to describe a brainstorming framework. These metaphors allow more complete and elaborate thought separation. Six thinking hats indicate ideas' problems and solutions.
Similarly, his CoRT Thinking Programme introduced "The Five Stages of Thinking" method in 1973.
|BLUE||"The Big Picture" & Managing||CAF (Consider All Factors); FIP (First Important Priorities)|
|WHITE||"Facts & Information"||Information|
|RED||"Feelings & Emotions"||Emotions and Ego|
|BLACK||"Negative"||PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Evaluation|
|GREEN||"New Ideas"||Concept Challenge; Yes, No, Po|
Strategies and programs
After identifying the six thinking modes, programs can be created. These are groups of hats that encompass and structure the thinking process. Several of these are included in the materials for franchised six hats training, but they must often be adapted. Programs are often "emergent," meaning the group plans the first few hats and the facilitator decides what to do next.
The group agrees on how to think, then thinks, then evaluates the results and decides what to do next. Individuals or groups can use sequences (and indeed hats). Each hat is typically used for 2 minutes at a time, although an extended white hat session is common at the start of a process to get everyone on the same page. The red hat is recommended to be used for a very short period to get a visceral gut reaction – about 30 seconds, and in practice often takes the form of dot-voting.
|Initial Ideas||Blue, White, Green, Blue|
|Choosing between alternatives||Blue, White, (Green), Yellow, Black, Red, Blue|
|Identifying Solutions||Blue, White, Black, Green, Blue|
|Quick Feedback||Blue, Black, Green, Blue|
|Strategic Planning||Blue, Yellow, Black, White, Blue, Green, Blue|
|Process Improvement||Blue, White, White (Other People's Views), Yellow, Black, Green, Red, Blue|
|Solving Problems||Blue, White, Green, Red, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue|
|Performance Review||Blue, Red, White, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue|
Speedo's swimsuit designers reportedly used the six thinking hats. "They used the "Six Thinking Hats" method to brainstorm, with a green hat for creative ideas and a black one for feasibility.
Typically, a project begins with extensive white hat research. Each hat is used for a few minutes at a time, except the red hat, which is limited to 30 seconds to ensure an instinctive gut reaction, not judgement. According to Malcolm Gladwell's "blink" theory, this pace improves thinking.
De Bono believed that the key to a successful Six Thinking Hats session was focusing the discussion on a particular approach. A meeting may be called to review and solve a problem. The Six Thinking Hats method can be used in sequence to explore the problem, develop a set of solutions, and choose a solution through critical examination.
Everyone may don the Blue hat to discuss the meeting's goals and objectives. The discussion may then shift to Red hat thinking to gather opinions and reactions. This phase may also be used to determine who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions. The discussion may then shift to the (Yellow then) Green hat to generate solutions and ideas. The discussion may move from White hat thinking to Black hat thinking to develop solution set criticisms.
Because everyone is focused on one approach at a time, the group is more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat), another is trying to be objective (White hat), and another is critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat). The hats help people approach problems from different angles and highlight problem-solving flaws.
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3 months ago
Facebook is going away. Here are two explanations for why it hasn't been replaced yet.
And tips for anyone trying.
We see the same story every few years.
BREAKING NEWS: [Platform X] launched a social network. With Facebook's reputation down, the new startup bets millions will switch.
Despite the excitement surrounding each new platform (Diaspora, Ello, Path, MeWe, Minds, Vero, etc.), no major exodus occurred.
Snapchat and TikTok attracted teens with fresh experiences (ephemeral messaging and rapid-fire videos). These features aren't Facebook, even if Facebook replicated them.
Facebook's core is simple: you publish items (typically text/images) and your friends (generally people you know IRL) can discuss them.
It's cool. Sometimes I don't want to, but sh*t. I like it.
Because, well, I like many folks I've met. I enjoy keeping in touch with them and their banter.
I dislike Facebook's corporation. I've been cautiously optimistic whenever a Facebook-killer surfaced.
Why? Two causes, I think:
People couldn't switch quickly enough, which is reason #1
Your buddies make a social network social.
Facebook started in self-contained communities (college campuses) then grew outward. But a new platform can't.
If we're expected to leave Facebook, we want to know that most of our friends will too.
Most Facebook-killers had bottlenecks. You have to waitlist or jump through hoops (e.g. setting up a server).
Same outcome. Upload. Chirp.
After a week or two of silence, individuals returned to Facebook.
Reason #2: The fundamental experience was different.
Even when many of our friends joined in the first few weeks, it wasn't the same.
There were missing features or a different UX.
Want to reply with a meme? No photos in comments yet. (Trying!)
Want to tag a friend? Nope, sorry. 2019!
Want your friends to see your post? You must post to all your friends' servers. Good luck!
It's difficult to introduce a platform with 100% of the same features as one that's been there for 20 years, yet customers want a core experience.
If you can't, they'll depart.
The causes that led to the causes
Having worked on software teams for 14+ years, I'm not surprised by these challenges. They are a natural development of a few tech sector meta-problems:
Lean startup methodology
Silicon Valley worships lean startup. It's a way of developing software that involves testing a stripped-down version with a limited number of people before selecting what to build.
Billion people use Facebook's functions. They aren't tested. It must work right away*
*This may seem weird to software people, but it's how non-software works! You can't sell a car without wheels.
Startup entrepreneurs build new things, not copies. I understand. Reinventing the wheel is boring.
We know what works. Different experiences raise adoption friction. Once millions have transferred, more features (and a friendlier UX) can be implemented.
3. Cost scaling
True. Building a product that can sustain hundreds of millions of users in weeks is expensive and complex.
Your lifeboats must have the same capacity as the ship you're evacuating. It's required.
4. Pure ideologies
People who work on Facebook-alternatives are (understandably) critical of Facebook.
They build an open-source, fully-distributed, data-portable, interface-customizable, offline-capable, censorship-proof platform.
Prioritizing these aims can prevent replicating the straightforward experience users expect. Github, not Facebook, is for techies only.
What about the business plan, though?
Facebook-killer attempts have followed three models.
Utilize VC funding to increase your user base, then monetize them later. (If you do this, you won't kill Facebook; instead, Facebook will become you.)
Users must pay to utilize it. (This causes a huge bottleneck and slows the required quick expansion, preventing it from seeming like a true social network.)
Make it a volunteer-run, open-source endeavor that is free. (This typically denotes that something is cumbersome, difficult to operate, and is only for techies.)
Wikipedia is a fourth way.
Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites and a charity. No ads. Donations support them.
A Facebook-killer managed by a good team may gather millions (from affluent contributors and the crowd) for their initial phase of development. Then it might sustain on regular donations, ethical transactions (e.g. fees on commerce, business sites, etc.), and government grants/subsidies (since it would essentially be a public utility).
When you're not aiming to make investors rich, it's remarkable how little money you need.
If you want to build a Facebook competitor, follow these tips:
Drop the lean startup philosophy. Wait until you have a finished product before launching. Build it, thoroughly test it for bugs, and then release it.
Delay innovating. Wait till millions of people have switched before introducing your great new features. Make it nearly identical for now.
Spend money climbing. Make sure that guests can arrive as soon as they are invited. Never keep them waiting. Make things easy for them.
Make it accessible to all. Even if doing so renders it less philosophically pure, it shouldn't require technical expertise to utilize.
Constitute a nonprofit. Additionally, develop community ownership structures. Profit maximization is not the only strategy for preserving valued assets.
Nobody has killed Facebook, but Facebook is killing itself.
The startup is burying the newsfeed to become a TikTok clone. Meta itself seems to be ditching the platform for the metaverse.
I wish I was happy, but I'm not. I miss (understandably) removed friends' postings and remarks. It could be a ghost town in a few years. My dance moves aren't TikTok-worthy.
Who will lead? It's time to develop a social network for the people.
Greetings if you're working on it. I'm not a company founder, but I like to help hard-working folks.
5 months ago
What is this Fed interest rate everybody is talking about that makes or breaks the stock market?
The Federal Funds Rate (FFR) is the target interest rate set by the Federal Reserve System (Fed)'s policy-making body (FOMC). This target is the rate at which the Fed suggests commercial banks borrow and lend their excess reserves overnight to each other.
The FOMC meets 8 times a year to set the target FFR. This is supposed to promote economic growth. The overnight lending market sets the actual rate based on commercial banks' short-term reserves. If the market strays too far, the Fed intervenes.
Banks must keep a certain percentage of their deposits in a Federal Reserve account. A bank's reserve requirement is a percentage of its total deposits. End-of-day bank account balances averaged over two-week reserve maintenance periods are used to determine reserve requirements.
If a bank expects to have end-of-day balances above what's needed, it can lend the excess to another institution.
The FOMC adjusts interest rates based on economic indicators that show inflation, recession, or other issues that affect economic growth. Core inflation and durable goods orders are indicators.
In response to economic conditions, the FFR target has changed over time. In the early 1980s, inflation pushed it to 20%. During the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the rate was slashed to 0.15 percent to encourage growth.
Inflation picked up in May 2022 despite earlier rate hikes, prompting today's 0.75 percent point increase. The largest increase since 1994. It might rise to around 3.375% this year and 3.1% by the end of 2024.
3 months ago
Leaked pitch deck for Metas' new influencer-focused live-streaming service
As part of Meta's endeavor to establish an interactive live-streaming platform, the company is testing with influencers.
The NPE (new product experimentation team) has been testing Super since late 2020.
Bloomberg defined Super as a Cameo-inspired FaceTime-like gadget in 2020. The tool has evolved into a Twitch-like live streaming application.
Less than 100 creators have utilized Super: Creators can request access on Meta's website. Super isn't an Instagram, Facebook, or Meta extension.
“It’s a standalone project,” the spokesperson said about Super. “Right now, it’s web only. They have been testing it very quietly for about two years. The end goal [of NPE projects] is ultimately creating the next standalone project that could be part of the Meta family of products.” The spokesperson said the outreach this week was part of a drive to get more creators to test Super.
A 2021 pitch deck from Super reveals the inner workings of Meta.
The deck gathered feedback on possible sponsorship models, with mockups of brand deals & features. Meta reportedly paid creators $200 to $3,000 to test Super for 30 minutes.
Meta's pitch deck for Super live streaming was leaked.
What were the slides in the pitch deck for Metas Super?
Embed not supported: see full deck & article here →
View examples of Meta's pitch deck for Super:
Product Slides, first
The pitch deck begins with Super's mission:
Super is a Facebook-incubated platform which helps content creators connect with their fans digitally, and for super fans to meet and support their favorite creators. In the spirit of Late Night talk shows, we feature creators (“Superstars”), who are guests at a live, hosted conversation moderated by a Host.
This slide (and most of the deck) is text-heavy, with few icons, bullets, and illustrations to break up the content. Super's online app status (which requires no download or installation) might be used as a callout (rather than paragraph-form).
Meta's Super platform focuses on brand sponsorships and native placements, as shown in the slide above.
One of our theses is the idea that creators should benefit monetarily from their Super experiences, and we believe that offering a menu of different monetization strategies will enable the right experience for each creator. Our current focus is exploring sponsorship opportunities for creators, to better understand what types of sponsor placements will facilitate the best experience for all Super customers (viewers, creators, and advertisers).
Colorful mockups help bring Metas vision for Super to life.
2. Slide Features
Super's pitch deck focuses on the platform's features. The deck covers pre-show, pre-roll, and post-event for a Sponsored Experience.
Pre-show: active 30 minutes before the show's start
Pre-roll: Play a 15-minute commercial for the sponsor before the event (auto-plays once)
Meet and Greet: This event can have a branding, such as Meet & Greet presented by [Snickers]
Super Selfies: Makers and followers get a digital souvenir to post on social media.
Post-Event: Possibility to draw viewers' attention to sponsored content/links during the after-show
Almost every screen displays the Sponsor logo, link, and/or branded background. Viewers can watch sponsor video while waiting for the event to start.
Slide 3: Business Model
Meta's presentation for Super is incomplete without numbers. Super's first slide outlines the creator, sponsor, and Super's obligations. Super does not charge creators any fees or commissions on sponsorship earnings.
How to make a great pitch deck
We hope you can use the Super pitch deck to improve your business. Bestpitchdeck.com/super-meta is a bookmarkable link.
You can also use one of our expert-designed templates to generate a pitch deck.
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