Mistakes Remote Leaders Must Avoid

By Ran Craycraft

As a leader of a team that is newly remote as a result of the pandemic, there are a few key things I’ve learned that have helped our company, Wildebeest, thrive. I’ve also found many remote leaders keep making the same mistakes like assuming their teams aren’t looking for employment elsewhere, hiring too many junior employees, and not putting enough emphasis on documentation. Let me explain:

  1. Assuming your team isn’t looking elsewhere – prioritizing quality-of-life is on an astronomical trajectory for everyone working from home. Remote leaders should keep in mind that everyone is either looking for an upgrade or being prospected by recruiters or the competition. While employer empathy is on the rise, so are employee migrations to greener pastures. Be sure to show gratitude, but also have a plan for when any seat might open up.
  2. Going too junior – working remotely requires focus, experience, and the proper guidance. If your in-person team was bottom-heavy like ours was, going remote where guardrails are farther apart could prove devastating. We found when going remote that was critical to flip our seniority model upside-down and focus on the hiring of senior-level contributors who required less guidance to succeed.
  3. Not going ham on documentation – when you’re in an office, you overhear conversations, you have lunch with a colleague, and a shout over the cube wall may have filled in some of the gaps. We found when going remote, that an excess of process documentation was critical for our team to be able to repeat the steps necessary to deliver projects at the same high level we grew accustomed to.
  4. Not factoring in cost of living – as the great resignation and Millennial migration spread talent across the country, employers are scrambling to pick up reduced salaries for remote workers in low-cost living situations. While this may work in 2021, the future may not be so kind to employers paying the same role differently in Los Angeles and Topeka. Instead, remote workers will likely begin to be paid based on ability, experience, and access, regardless rather than geography.

Fear-based leadership has been naturally working itself out of corporate America for decades. The stragglers still bullying their way through presentations and deadlines may be pushed to extinction in the new remote era. The new virtual workforce knows its value and has no tolerance for leaders who don’t evolve. Some leaders clear the way for their teams and lead by example while others get deep in the weeds, immersing in the day-to-day. Pushing your team from behind rather than leading from ahead may work for small teams starting out, but as your remote business matures, effective remote leaders are visionaries.

About the author

Ran Craycraft is an industry veteran with more than 20-years of experience in interactive production. Prior to co-founding Wildebeest, Ran was Managing Director at North Kingdom, GM of Entertainment at AOL, and Producer at NBC Universal. Wildebeest is a tactical interactive agency, specializing in innovation, idea generation, and rapid prototyping. We help our clients go from spark to disruption through a lean and transparent product development cycle. For more information, please visit https://wildebee.st/