Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez

Managing a community is a 24/7 job.

To ensure success and keep things running smoothly (and allow you to sleep), you may need to hire or work with teammates in various timezones, on other sides of the world, and from different cultures. In this talk, you’ll learn the do’s and don’t’s of working in a global, distributed team while still working towards shared goals and community vision.

About the speaker: Jen Sable Lopez lives and breathes community. When she’s not tweeting about Lin-Manuel Miranda, she’s weaving Grumpy Cat (RIP) into presentations or misusing a comma. Jen has a unique background that took her from web development to SEO to community management and leading teams. In her current role as Director of Community at OutSystems, she combines all her past passions into one exciting role.

Watch Jen’s full talk here!

You can find all the CMX Summit 2019 talks here.

Key Takeaways

Be remote-first

Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez

The easiest way to cater to distributed teams is to pretend that EVERYONE  is remote. Building strong, remote-first practices into the workday ensures no one gets left behind.

Here are some key meeting elements that need to be in place for remote teams to work:

  1. Have an agenda, and always take notes.
  2. Run a few meetings throughout the day that are smaller and more intimate.
  3. Record meetings whenever possible.
  4. Provide asynchronous communication pathways and make sure the meetings are available on those platforms.
  5. Use high-context mediums for high-context content. For example, use videos to provide important or complicated information, and don’t write complicated instructions in an email.

Over-communicate

Setting up Your Distributed (Global) Community Team for Success! | Jennifer Sable Lopez

Make sure to always over-communicate, rather than under-communicate. Here’s some key tips for using communication to keep your team together:

  1. Say hello and provide information about your day every morning that isn’t connected to work so that people can see where your life is.  Encourage them to do the same thing.
  2. Provide accountability by checking in at the beginning of the day.
  3. Have a chat where people have 100% freedom to share anything,  even if unrelated to work.
  4. Play games that don’t require a time commitment or synchronous communication.
  5. Whatever you do, make it personal! Show your face, and create a “water cooler” that people can truly gather around.

Extra tips and tricks

Many global teams use a “follow-the-sun” strategy to pass tasks and requirements along with the sun. This allows for continual work on a project. Train people in order of the sun, and expect them to hand off to the next person.

A kudo board is a great way to provide support, kudos, and other team empowerment.

Be very clear about working hours and time availability for everyone all over. Use systems to ensure these are available. One solution for coordination is Timezone.io, a world chat clock that humanizes and connects people across the world.

Set clear boundaries around working hours that everyone understands. This creates cultural norms that people can actually follow.  Gmail has integrated these features for scheduling, but you could also use something like Boomerang.

Ask people for input on defining their roles. What do they want, what are they willing to take on, to what end will this role help them in the project, and how can they be the CEO of that task? Then ensure everyone knows who owns what, and empower them to do it.

It helps to understand people’s strengths on a distributed team! A fun way to do this is through personality tests, like Strengthsfinder or the HIGH5 test.

Other tools that are handy and useful

  • Grammarly for on-demand proofreading
  • Figma: Feel like a designer without designing anything
  • Toggl: Track your team’s data
    Rescuetime: Set and forget feature that tracks people’s time.

Jen made her slides available to the public! You can find them here.

*Note: This post was authored by the CMX Community.

Beth McIntyre

Beth is the Head of Community at Bevy and CMX. She oversees the engagement, strategy, and structure of all our CMX Community Programs, as well as the CMX Connect program – an in-person distributed e...

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