Kim Beinborn, Head of Customer Success at AMER HT Central, Slack, took the time to answer audience questions after her presentation: ‘Putting People First in a Remote World’ at The Customer Success Festival.
Kim offers advice on avoiding micromanaging remote employees, best practices for introducing new hires, and what to do if you’re self-managing.
Q: What advice would you give to team leaders or managers who are struggling to let go of their work and find themselves micromanaging their staff?
A: First and foremost, I tell my team, “I trust you until you give me a reason not to”.
I’ll step in and micromanage someone if I need to — If they're not meeting their deadlines, if they're not doing their job, if they're not communicating with me, then we will have a conversation.
I do give them the leeway — not everyone gets from point A to point B the same way.
If I say, “Hey, this needs to be done on this date,” and I communicate that clearly, I need to give them the leeway to get that done. I don't need to remind them every other day.
Q: What’s your best practice for introducing new employees remotely?
A: We have a dedicated channel at Slack, which is a great way to introduce new employees to Slack as a whole.
We do a lot of introductions via the back channels, but we also have a Chicago-specific channel.
There's a list of questions we created, and the team will take turns answering them and sharing their favorite things. It's a fun way to get to know people.
I’m a big fan of ice breakers, so we have a monthly new hire lunch (we still do that remotely). It's a great way for new hires to meet a lot of people all at once, and for people to get to know them too.
Q: Do you have any advice on self-managing as a Customer Success Manager when you don’t have a direct manager?
A: I imagine even outside of customer success, there are other leaders that you could tap into.
I'm huge on mentorship, and I believe in not only having a mentor myself, but mentoring others too. Personally, I always try to seek out someone who's very different from me, because I feel like that's how I learn the most.
The other thing I’d suggest is joining customer success groups and forums. It's a great way to get ideas, and be a part of a community where you can ask for help and seek out support.
Q: You mentioned in your talk about being transparent about your stress level, do you ever worry you'll inadvertently further stress your team?
A: I don't worry about it, and I'll tell you why - because they know how transparent I am.
I always let them know that I'm still here, and I'm still available.
I certainly don't want them stressing out, and I don't want them to feel as though they can't come to me because I'm dealing with something difficult.
As long as you communicate clearly and just let them know, “Hey, I'm having a tough day, but that doesn't mean I'm not here. Please still come to me, just know I might not be at 100% today”.
Q: How do you handle having the fun team that other reps want to be on? If, for instance, you have leadership players who are good at what they do, but they don’t have the same energy and charisma?
A: You can't just be the fun team, right? You have to be the fun team that also really produces results and is good at their job.
I think the fun team produces better results, and I think there are many, many fun teams at Slack.
My advice would be to ask the team what they need that they're not getting.
They’re going to be full of great ideas on how to be more ‘quote-unquote’ fun, but also how to be more productive and how to support one another.
Check out the replay of Kim’s presentation in the OnDemand section of our member’s area.