Marketers Across Three Countries – How I Manage a Remote Team
Hi! My name is Valerie Castillo. I live in San Diego, California and I run TrustYou’s marketing team. My day probably starts similar to yours: first thing in the morning, I check my emails and messages, I log into my work account, and have a couple of early meetings. Then I have my coffee, get ready, and drive to the office, where I meet with part of my team.
And I say “part of” because - there’s a catch. My team is all over the place. Literally. These creative marketers are scattered across the globe and although that comes with benefits, managing this setup has its challenges. From San Diego, CA to Munich, Germany, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, our team spans 10 time-zones and our communication has to travel pretty far on a daily basis.
The good news is that in the last 3 years that I’ve been in charge of the TrustYou brand, I’ve successfully navigated the ups of downs of managing a global, remote team and people from different places, time zones, and backgrounds. And if there are any other managers in similar positions, I’m happy to share some of my best tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way!
Tip #1: Call Agendas and Notes
I mainly speak to my team during scheduled times, calls, and meetings - different time zones require a thorough organization and mindfulness towards everyone’s schedule. We always make sure to have clear agendas and to plan our talking points, as well as to document them so we can refer to them later. Everyone’s encouraged to give updates on their tasks and we base our work around the company’s main focus: feedback. Looking back at this strategy, I’d say the most important thing when overseeing an international team is to organize everything as thoroughly as possible and make the most out of every meeting. Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to go up to each other’s desks and ask quick questions. But sometimes that can be a benefit - as we ensure that our daily tasks are prioritized, and there are less spontaneous interruptions throughout our days.
Tip #2: Loom Videos
However, a downside to not interacting face-to-face on a daily basis is that sometimes it can be difficult to pass along a project or a strategy or even to make a clear point. Written communication is great, however, it can be prone to various interpretations or even be ambiguous at times (especially when you consider native language differences as a factor!). For the moments when video meetings are also not an option, I rely on Loom videos, which are working great for our team. Through Loom, I can record a quick explanation, attach documents, and see when my team members watch it. It's way more effective than a long email, it catches people’s attention, and it provides step-by-step guidelines in a visual and fun way.
Tip #3: Hire the Right People
Often times, even if you’re organized, have clear strategies, and strive for the best, there’s still only so much that you can achieve without motivated people. For the TrustYou marketing team, I’d say the strategy with the best pay-off has been the investment in its members. Whether they’re sitting next to me on a daily basis or far away, the TrustYou marketers are my strongest asset. They’re motivated, communicative, hard-working people, whom I can always reach with ease. I don’t feel the need to micromanage because every single team member strives to do their job in the best and most efficient way and that is something that is intrinsically derived. I can always trust them to get the work done and I am also lucky to have co-leads with whom I share responsibilities.
Tip #4: Meet in person, whenever possible
This is sometimes tricky but depending on the available budget and schedules, a great strategy is to meet in person at least once a year. My team has regular workshops and we always strive to gather the entire team at our headquarters office at the beginning of each year. This gives us the chance to organize activities, plan our future strategies, discuss ideas and responsibilities, observe each others’ work and understand it better. It does wonders for our internal communication, we get a lot of things done, and we also get to socialize outside work, which is not only great fun but it also brings us closer beyond the professional environment.
At the end of the day, what I’ve learned from managing a team that is scattered across the globe is that any road has its bumps. Few things are perfect and stressful situations will eventually arise, but what matters most is the communication between team members and their desire to succeed, both individually and as a team. My best tips on doing this the right way are to plan, organize, oversee, but, most importantly, trust your people. Give everyone a fair chance of showing their best work, encourage them to share and communicate openly and constantly, and make the most out of every minute spent together, whether in person or on video calls.