Mark Llobrera

Mandy Brown: “The Hard Way”

Mandy Brown (Vox Product, Editorially) writes about the challenges facing all teams right now, but especially co-located teams going full-time remote:

The second lesson is harder, I’m afraid. You have no idea how to do this. I’ve managed remote teams for a decade and I have no idea how to do this. None of us has experience leading a team through a global pandemic. You are going to get more things wrong than you get right. You are going to have to hold yourself to a high standard—because your team needs nothing less—while also being patient with yourself, and with everyone around you. You will fuck up. You will also likely get a number of things right—but you may never know it because good feedback is even scarcer than normal under the circumstances. Your job is to learn and adapt as fast as you can and you are going to have to keep your heart and mind open to do so, even when—especially when—doing so hurts like hell.

I love the way that Mandy examines how co-located teams make assumptions about how well communication is going:

It’s this mechanism that permits co-located teams to delude themselves about how well their communication is working: those who sit in offices with doors talk mostly with those who sit just outside those doors, and conclude that there’s a great deal of alignment and understanding around them. They don’t notice the people sitting around the corner who aren’t quite in the loop; they don’t see the information hoarding and trading that happens in the hallways when they aren’t passing by.

A reminder that this is not normal:

The last lesson comes back to the first: you are not leading a remote team. You are leading a team that is scared, stressed, angry, frustrated, worried, and worse. You are leading parents who desperately need a break from their kids and can’t get it, people who rightly fear for their own lives, people in the throes of trauma and grief. Your first job is to make sure they have everything they need to be healthy and safe; only if that’s achieved can you turn to anything else.

The whole post is worth your time, I hope you’ll read it.