Is improving your business's internal processes on your 2021 agenda? If not, it should be.
A solid internal process is the foundation of your company. It's essential to organizing files, streamlining communication, and offering clear direction to employees. And, when there's an unexpected crisis like a global pandemic, it can help you maintain stability and sanity.
Recently for the podcast, I got to have a conversation with Kerry Hoffman. A project manager with over a decade of experience, Kerry got her start managing two floor plans at Colicchio, a 3-star restaurant in Chelsea. From there, she moved onto become a project manager at Seamless and GrubHub and is currently the Head of Global Project Management at ClassPass.
It's safe to say Kerry is an expert at bringing order to chaos.
She and I spoke about the art of managing a remote team, how to quickly adapt in a rapidly changing environment, and how she avoids work about work.
Our conversation was great, and you should absolutely listen to her episode of "In Systems We Trust." But in the meantime, I've pulled a couple of key points from our conversation and outlined them below.
HOW TO MANAGE A REMOTE TEAM
Since ClassPass has locations worldwide, Kerry was managing a remote team before the pandemic sent everyone to their home offices.
For Kerry, every week starts in Asana. "First, I spend somewhere between one and four hours trying to catch up," she said. "I'm based in New York, but we have teams in Singapore. We have teams in London and Germany, so their Workday has already started, and they're already cranking."
Every single project Kerry's team is working on lives in Asana. "Whether it be related to our growth team, our social content, calendar, holiday planning, every task lives within one of those projects."
By keeping all of her team's tasks in one place and reviewing it regularly, Kerry ensures everyone is on the same page, and there's no clutter. While this is an essential practice for anyone using a project management platform like Asana, it's especially crucial for remote teams.
When people don't see each other face to face every day, things can start to fall between the cracks. Staying on top of your open tasks and internal processes can help prevent that from happening.
AUDITING YOUR PROCESS
While ClassPass and Kerry's team have regularly scheduled meetings, they're currently deciding whether or not those are necessary.
These meetings are highly attended, but Kerry believes it's important to occasionally audit your schedule and process to see if there's room for improvement.
"We're asking what the Slack channels we're using are? How can we make sure that we're having the right meetings and using the right Slack channels? So we're not getting too bogged down with communication for communication's sake."
Kerry started this audit back in March. Her team's developed a spreadsheet with all of their Slack channels and meetings. Her goal is to have everything wrapped up by the end of the year so she can start 2021 with a clean slate.
"I would actually encourage everyone to go through this exercise for the new year. What did COVID do to your calendar? Have that meeting and try to clean it up before you go into another year of more of the same."
One of the biggest challenges of process development is making changes.
If you move too quickly and don't go through the proper process, your team will be left wondering where their project went and what they're supposed to do next.
For Kerry and ClassPass, all major changes are communicated through Slack. By keeping the flow of information in one place, Kerry doesn't have to worry about someone being left out or missing an update.
Additionally, Kerry pitches all of her process changes as "tests."
"Hey, I made this change. I think it's going to be great, or it could be total garbage. But we're going to see how it goes, and I will correct you along the way if you're not following the process."
Bucketing process changes and framing them as tests prevents Kerry's team members from getting frustrated. If you were to make little tweaks here and there constantly, people would feel like they never have any idea what's going on.
HOW DO YOU AVOID WORK ABOUT WORK
"How do you avoid work about work?"
This is one of my favorite questions to ask my podcast guests. For Kerry, it's a question she's still figuring out the answer to.
"Work about work is so tough, and I want a better solution," she said. "And so I look forward to listening to more episodes of this podcast to hear how people are going about tackling this problem."
For right now, Kerry handles work about work by standing back. She wants her teammates to do what they do best, whether that be paid Google ads or Copywriting. If there are extra meetings or minute additional tasks that could take up their time and break focus, she tells them to leave it all to her.
"I'll come in as this cleanup crew, and I'll discard what we don't need. I'll tidy some things up, and I'll get us to the place that we need to be."
While that does mean a little extra work for her, she sees it as her duty to make sure her team stays organized and efficient.
I hope that you found some, it not all, of Kerry's advice helpful! Again, I strongly recommend you check out her episode of "In Systems We Trust." I had a blast talking with her, and the episode is full of great insight and advice. Give it a listen today!