697: Avoid These 3 Mistakes When Leading a Remote Team w/ Shannon Miles

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Shannon Miles, CEO of BELAY.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Wouldn't it be nice to have several fault leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast, invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the BE TOB growth show, podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. This episode is sponsored by Directive Consulting, the B Tob Search Marketing Agency. We are here today with Shannon miles shoes, the Co founder and CEO at Ballet. She's also the author of the new book the third option. Shannon, how you doing today? I'm fantastic. I'm excited to chat with you today, Shannon. We're going to be talking a lot about remote work and a lot of the mistakes that you see folks making when it comes to remote work. But before we dive into that, I'd love for you to first tell us a little bit about ballet and what you guys are up to over there. Yeah, Balay is a virtual services company there. Before we dive into the topic of working remote, like our whole company is built on the premise that you could be super effective and work from home, but we source virtual assistants, bookkeepers, writers and Web Masters to growing organizations. I love it and so I mentioned it very briefly in the intro. But you've got a book that recently released called the third option. I would imagine you know it's related to working remote. The can you elaborate a little bit more on what the book is about? Yeah, it came out in April and it's the premise is for a long time we've been presented with two obvious options for working. Either you...

...work full time outside of the home with commute and an office, or you don't work for whatever reason, whether you're, you know, raising your family or taking care of aging parents or whatever. But the third option is all about the fact that there are a lot more options out there than those two, and so it's my journey of, when I had my daughter, crafting this part time work from home position in my traditional corporate setting. That worked for me and it's such a hot topic right now with so many women primarily having to choose between work and family, but even more so now some of the millennial men are rethinking what their lives need to look like and figuring out what their third option is. So that's the premise of the book. It's sort of a it's a lot of stories, but it's also practical. You know, how to figure out if you're ready, you know, for third option. I first write for you and then, if you do decide on to go on that journey, how to make it work for the long term. And folks can find that on Amazon. I would imagine it is the is the primary way that folks can find it. Yep, they can find it on Amazon. We also have a site for the book. It's my third optioncom and there are some resources there. They can help, as well as repository for stories, which I think is super cool, because what my third option looks like is different than yours and is different than the next person. So it can kind of give some ideas for what it could possibly be. Awesome. So so, Shannon, I want to dive into and the meat of this episode we're going to be talking about mistakes for folks to avoid when it comes to working remote. Like you said, that it's the very hot topic. A lot of the folks that I'm talking to every day are working remote or transitioning into working remote, and when we were talking through these before we hit record, you mentioned that the first mistake is that when you're when you go remote, you somehow forget that you're still working with people.

Can you elaborate on that idea for us? Yeah, and I'll say just the onset. You know, working remote isn't for everybody, but it's for more people than you think. HMM. And a lot of people who are in these traditional work environments desire to work from home, but they're they're kind of afraid. Well, what's the culture going to look like if my team is all dispersed in their homes or what are what are their working relationships going to transform into? Because we have such a great team. I would hate to lose that. But I would challenge that and say, even if you're working remote, I mean you're still working with people and they still have lives that you need to invest in, even if you don't see each other every day. So for us at Blay, it's creating a platform for those connections to be made, whether it's through workplace, which is the facebook application that we use for our internal corporate communication, or zoom. I'll get into technology next, but like just remembering you're working with real people who have lives outside of their jobs just like you do, and it's okay to connect on that level too. So that the second one that you talked about, Shannon. You said just really being laxed in communication. Can you can you talk about and how do you do communication well in a remote environment? Yeah, I think the underpinning of great communication when you're working remote is trust, and the faster you can expoite trust of your team, the more rapid the communication can happen, because there's not this assumption of well, I get you know, I don't know what their work on because they're just working from home. So you have to be intentional when you're working remote with communication. You do not have the luxury of just walking by somebody's office or running into them at the break room. Oh, I forgot to tell you about this project I was working on. You probably should know. Like you just don't have that luxury when you're working remote. Yeah, so the things that virtual organizations need to...

...do is really have a meeting cadence that makes sense for their organization. So for us, we do still get together facetoface at least four times a year with our whole company and then in between on Zoom, which is our video chat platform, and then our individual teams have a certain meeting cadence that they execute on on a weekly, monthly basis. And one of the questions that we always encourage our teams to ask each other, and when I'm talking about our teams, I'm talking about the sixty people that we have on our corporate team in the Atlanta Metro area, the question is, who do us to know about this? Like, you can't just start working in a silo when you're working remote and forget that other people need to be looped in, and it's never been easier to do that than it is now with all the technologies that are available. One of the practicals ways that we've done this at Bilay, our co and CFO produce, and when I say produced, it is not a high production video, but I create a video, is probably a better way to put it, every other week and it's called I on the horizon with TNLZ, and it's basically just them updating all of our corporate team on how we're doing so for two thousand and eighteen we have for defining objectives that have, you know, criteria underneath them that the entire company is marching toward, and we feel a transparency is important and we have to communicate to the team more than just once a quarter when we get together, how we're tracking toward all of those objectives. So those videos capture that and then, you know, other fun things that we have going on in a company. So you really do have to be intentional when you're working remote, to communicate a like overcommunicate what's going on, and I think that US being a remote team as well, Shannon, I very much show resonate with that, because not communicating, I think in my head eighty I even could have justify by saying like Oh, well, I'm not, I'm not micromanaging, and so...

...to pride myself and all, I'm not a micromanager. What it ends up manifesting is you me just not communicating very much at all. There's a fine line between micromming management and then complete this connection like you try to strike this balance, especially if you leave like a growing organization where your role in like meetings and decisionmaking evolves over time and like for me, is CEO, like I used to be involved in all the meetings. Well, they don't mean me at all the meetings anymore, but it doesn't mean that they don't need me as a leader, and so it just looks different. It's more of a how can I empower and help you and maybe break down any barriers that you're facing? Then be directing all of the meetings and decisions. I love sharing growth stories and I have a good one for you today. It's about a company called Sentinel One. This challenger Cyber Security Brand was set out to disrupt the endpoint protection space. Their brand was topnotch, their product was innovative, but there were struggling to gain traction online in an already developed industry. Then they found directive consulting, a BB search marketing agency. Within the first quarter of working with directive, Sentinel one was able to increase their organic traffic by a hundred and twenty eight percent and overall lead volume by an outstanding two hundred and fifty one percent. I have a hunch that directive can get these kind of results for you to so head over to directive consultingcom and request a totally free custom proposal. That's directive consultingcom. All right, let's get back to this interview. This third mistake that you talk about, Shannon, is not leveraging technology. You alluded to this earlier, but you know, obviously you know it's it's a mistake that a lot of folks are making. How can they overcome this particular issue? There's this sense, I think, like when we go around talking to other organizations who are trying to figure out this...

...remote working thing and how not to sacrifice culture if you're working in a virtual capacity, that we must be full of a bunch of millennials who just grew up on technology and, you know, facetime grandma and you know, just grew up that way. That is not the case. We do have, you know, millennials on our team, but primarily we're not. And you know, before Brandon, I started our company in two thousand and ten, I hardly ever use video chatting, but it's a way of working now and I think that there is just kind of intimidating maybe to people who didn't grow up in this type of environment, myself included. But the bottom line is you kind of just have to get over it. Like if you're going to stay relevant as an organization and you're going to attract the kind of talent that you need, you have to embrace technology, and it does not have to be scary, you don't have to figure it out at once, but find maybe a few systems that will give you the biggest bang for your buck in your organization. So, I mean this is basic probably for your listeners, but we rely heavily on our CRM, which is infusions off and mentioned zoom earlier, Base Camp and slack or great ways to keep track of where things are, and I think you know, we shouldn't, as leaders, we shouldn't assume that our teams are using technology that we don't embrace ourselves. Yeah, and we have to really lead the way in that, even if it can be intimidating at first. One point question I have for you, Shannon, specifically around slack, because that's a tool that we've tried implementing on our team and I found that it created a lot more noise and I found myself constantly being pulled away by the constant like dings of other's another messages and other messages, another message is there? Is there a particular system that you guys have implemented as far as like the structure that you set up slack within so...

...that it's so that it's actually helpful and not just a constant distraction throughout the day? Oh my God, I couldn't believe that you honed in on flag. That's like the one application I don't use. So I'd like a super big vicer right now. Honestly, there there is a group within our organization, they are our client relations team, that uses it heavily and they are the ones that sort of oversee the relationship between the client and the bookkeeper of the client and the Executive Assistant. And I think a lot of what they use it for is, you know, I've come across this client situation. Has Anybody else experienced it or this is something I'm seeing with a handful of my clients? Just be on the lookout kind of thing and it and so I can't really speak to the mechanics of how it works because I don't personally use it. It's not a hundred percent deployed across our company, but I know that group in particular uses it a lot and I think there's even something there that, you know, having specific use cases for and of how you use certain tools, I would imagine, would be incredibly beneficial if you're saying, Hey, this is what we're going to use, like, because we use Trello a lot just because of the way like it's it's, you know, workflow management, and and so each card is a representative of a particular episode that we're producing for for a client, and so we can keep all of our communication in Trello because it's all like projects specific. They we need to go back and forth with our audio engineer about this particular episode. So we just jump into that card and Trello and that's that's how we use Trello. And because it's not a you know, hey, we're asking each other what we're doing at, you know this Tuesday night or whatever, what's our postwork plans? Like, that's not the place where we where we use Trello, and because of that we've had good, good success with that being a communications platform, whereas I feel like slack if you don't communicate kind of hey,...

...these are the almost the ground rules if you will, it can get out of hand really quick, at least in my experience with it. So that makes perfect since I think the thing that we've done with workplace. Are you familiar with that one? I've heard of it. I haven't used it yet, though. It's like facebook, because for a long time in our company we use closed facebook pages to have just like for our corporate team, or we still have it for our contractors because it's a common platform for them. But what we found is that our team was having to be on facebook like way too much and so for the company we decided just to split it out and go with workplace. So we've segmented that and say four different categories. We have our Friday high lows. So every Friday back to the you're still working with people you know, the team will post a high and the low of their week and it can be high, I just landed there the largest client yet, or low, my mom's really sick and in the hospital. Can You keep it in your thoughts and prayers? So it's a mix. And then we have a wellness program that's one of the channels on there, and then just general announcements and General Balay information. So we celebrate like anniversaries and birthdays and things like that. There to this. This goes a little bit off of the kind of mistakes to avoid track, Shannon, but I'm just curious those. You know, the Friday high low piece makes me think about like you guys have clearly done something right when it comes to establishing a culture, even, you know, having a remote team. Are there some other specific things that you guys have done from a cultural standpoint that you look back on and go man, that that was I'm really glad we implemented that. Oh my gosh, listen, Brian and I came from very toxic work environments before we started blay and we're like never again. Well, we work for a company that we hate to work for. So having an amazing culture has always been like first and foremost for us and we feel like to...

...the extent our team is healthful happy, so will our customers be. Yeah, so we put a lot of emphasis on developing an amazing culture. You know, we identified our mission and values, like a lot of organizations do, but we didn't want those to just be things that remained stagnant. We have them as an active part of our vernacular and we share stories around them and and really want, you know, our values to be living and breathing. I think that's one thing. We have a high degree of accountability in our company. Were very results driven and I think that has contributed to our culture, because we get stuff done and everybody knows that we're a high performing team. And so people who maybe don't fit within that culture, that that nature, they just kind of orbit themselves out or we let him go quickly because we don't we don't have time for it and and we know the toxicity that can create in an organization. And I would say the last thing that we implemented pretty early on that I think has been a saving grace for us is we don't gossip. It is in our employee handbook if you gossip, you're fired, and we've we've proven that to be true. And so for us, gossip means taking a problem to somebody that can't do anything about it, and we've just you know, you probably have had work experiences like this to where somebody just complains about the company or the customers, that contractors or whatever, to people who were otherwise having a great day and now their days messed up because you're putting that that toxicity on them and we just, you know, we have we feel like the work that we're up to is too important to have time for that. And you know, a lot of people that come to work for the team. They know that as part of the interview process and we've been clear like if this is something that you welcome into your life, this is not the place for you. Shannon. This this has been incredibly helpful, obviously for me being the leader of a remote team,...

...and I'm sure all the folks listening to this have had their ears perked the entire time. This is you've shared a wealth of wisdom with us. If there's somebody listening, I want to stay connected with you. They want to learn more about ballet. What's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yep, few different channels. Balaze Solutionscom is our website address. We're on instagram at Blay underscore solutions and you can find me at Shannon K miles. I don't know who that Shannon Miles is. I am the Sham and K miles. I love it. So get he i'Ma get our Sunday so that you will planter awesome Da. Well, thank you so much every time today. This has been fantastic and a real appreciated it all right. Thanks, Jane. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the bed growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners, and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, we'll talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner in a city near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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