How to Up-skill Remote Managers w/ Peter Benei
Up-skilling managers on how to lead remotely will make or break the future of work for many companies.
Here's the recap...In today's episode, I chatted with my good friend Peter Benei about how to up-skill remote leadership. Peter has been helping numerous remote organizations train their managers and enable them to build a learning culture. Companies just took what they were doing in the office and did it remotely when the lockdown came. 3 years later few companies have invested in learning to do it right. In this episode, we dive into the pros and cons of remote learning, what specific skills remote managers need to focus on, how to make remote L&D more collaborative, and much more.
We all need a mentor
Every leader understands they always need to be up-skilling. We're always learning and honing our skills to be better leaders. One of the best ways to do that is with a mentor. Someone you can asks questions to when they arise. But not all remote leaders are created equal or have the same needs. Remote OGs are always looking to learn what other OGs are doing. What's really working and having a big impact. To improve on the great experience they're already building. While those new to leading in a remote environment are after the basics and confirmation. What do I do in this scenario. What will help here. And questions like, am I doing the right thing by giving 1:1 feedback via video. The only way the remote experience is going to improve is by us learning from each other.
The tools don't matter
Many of the biggest names in remote like Gitlab, Doist, Basecamp and more are developer driven. Either developer tools like Gitlab or built by a team of developers. Meaning much of their work and how they've crafted their remote messages has been around process and documentation. Yes, both are crucial to remote. But as Peter noted, learning for remote leaders is more about the people and the conversations. Who's in the community, who can you ask questions of, and who can you learn from. Not which video or async learning tool will be the gamechanger for up-skilling managers.
Scott - [02:40 - 02:44]
Hey, Peter, how you doing today? How's everything going?
Peter - [02:44 - 02:48]
Appreciate being here. I'm, I'm really fine. How are you, Sir?
Scott - [02:48 - 02:58]
I'm doing well. I think the last time we spoke, I, I remember there was a, a northern Italy and I think a Budapest connection, but you may have been like a third location. so where, where are you calling it from today?
Peter - [02:58 - 04:16]
Yeah. Kind of all over the place. I'm currently in Budapest. So originally I am from Budapest. This is my hometown. I lived everywhere. I lived in London for years as an advertising executive, and, changed the remote working game back to Budapest in 2014. and since then, I have no idea where am I, honestly. So right, right now I'm in Budapest Right now I'm in Budapest, but I lived also in Italy for a year or two everywhere. yeah. I dunno, I always traveled usually, so I never did the digital nomadic thing. Yeah. which means that, you know, usually what it means, especially for Americans is that they go to the Southeast Asia tour or the South American tour, or, or Mexico maybe. Yep. I never did that. for practical reasons. I have a dog and it's really hard to travel with, the Dog, just wait until you have kids. And, and also, yeah, I, I, I suppose it's the same with kids, but kind kids are kinda like a little bit easier to me at least, because you can, you know, pack them up and hold it into the, in the, within the cabin. But for the dog, it's like, it's, it's a nightmare. I dunno. So I always went to the, the European side because, you know, I drive, That's the, that's a beautiful part of Europe.
Scott - [04:16 - 04:32]
There are so many friends that are like, oh yeah, I'm going to this city for the weekend. I'm like, what? Yeah. Like an American group did that. Like, I grew up in, I lived in New York area. No one really said, oh, I'm going to DC for the weekend. I'm going to Chicago for, nobody did that. But in Europe it's like, yeah, I'm going to the Rome for the weekend. I'm going to Berlin for the weekend.
Peter - [04:32 - 06:06]
Yeah. Everyone expects, from, from from Europe, I guess we see the US it's it's one big single country. Yeah. with like less travel that we anticipate. But once you are there and you just realize that the, going from New York to DC part, it seems short on the, on the map, right. But it's not so, yeah. Yeah. Easy way. You know, Europe is less, you can travel really quickly to see sort of totally, different, different cultures. Yeah. So, so that's nice. That's true. It also has some, you know, backlog and, and, and flip side, because all of these countries are super different in terms of how they operate. Yeah. And I just had a conversation a week ago, with an employer of record company and, and the, and the way they employ people within Europe. Yeah. Which is the main driving force for remote work right now, by the way. Sure, sure. is totally different because in the states, of course, you have like statewide laws Of course. Yeah. But most of the stuff is federal, so it's, it's kinda like easier, easier to employ people within different states. Yeah. And you also need to cross the time zones there. Of course, yeah. Because you're a big, big country. But in the Europe, you know, it's, even within 300 kilometers of, of, of, of, of distance you encounter totally different legislations. Yeah. Totally different taxation. Everything is super different. Yeah. Paperwork, red tape. So it's like, I dunno, I'm waiting for the federal or European Union, by the way. hope it now. Hope it, hope it'll happen sooner or later.
Scott - [06:06 - 06:23]
One day. One day. so the way that we always get started on these episodes is just telling us a little bit about yourself and really would love to kind of hear, I know we spoke about it offline, but would love to maybe share a little bit more about how the heck you ended up teaching others how to lead remotely.
Peter - [06:23 - 08:14]
Yeah, sure, sure, sure. so I al already mentioned that I've been working remotely since 2014, so I have two obsessions actually. the one is obviously remote work. it's a personal obsession, because it literally changed my mind. So my background is in advertising, and I spent like, I don't know, fair share, like almost like 10 years, in digital marketing and advertising in the agency side. started in Budapest, but also, did a tour, shall we say, in London as well, and the agency work. And in around 2014 ish, I, I started to see, and again, just remind the audience, this was the time when the digital nomadism and, you know, terms like these, which are highly basic and and familiar nowadays. It wasn't, back then, it was a new thing. And, team ferries for our, for our work week just came out recently. high Rise hq, or Basecamp, sorry. Dave wrote, the remote, book in, I dunno, a couple of years back then. So everything was totally new. And kind of like the early adopters of, of remote work just getting started. And I started to see people, working from their laptops and, literally don't dot, they, they didn't come to the office. And, at first, I, I didn't understand what, what, what, what the heck, how, how do they work? and after speaking with them a while, I realized that I need to make the switch, as well. So again, I lived in London, high rents, of course, of course, you have high salaries, as well. But, but still, this is because of the rents are high. And, I moved back to Budapest first, to my hometown and earned almost like the same that I earned in London, which was amazing.
Peter - [08:14 - 10:12]
And, I did this whole remote working since 2014, mainly for early, early stage startup companies, growing companies. So I had to switch from the Fortune 500 brands that I worked for, at the agencies to, to growing companies, which was a challenge on its own, by the way, to me, how to operate with a limited budget. and I was a CMO most of the time, so marketing director for these companies. And, around, 2020 ish, I started to realize that, that most companies that I worked with, again, early stage or high growth companies, shall we say, so not that early. most of the time they had like, 10 to 15 people, 50 people, sometimes even a hundred. they had sort of like an okay revenue. They were growing, but nothing like a unicorn style. and what I saw is that most of the companies that I worked for, they, they kind of like, after a while, they kind of like stagnated, in the growth. And what I saw is that it's, it was mainly because of the operations. So all of these companies were remote companies, of course, because they allowed, me to work with them, of course. and, and they had like, I wouldn't say poor leadership, they had great leaders, but the skills that they, they, they brought to the startup world were coming from the enterprise, leadership skills. So they usually, you know, worked through meetings, kind of like less supportive, more directive, giving less empathy and support, expecting, more of a performance, oriented or performance focused attitude. and, after a while, I realized that I need to do something with it, because it doesn't, it's not just because I personally had to deal with these people as well, you know, as a mid manager, like a, head of marketing or, or, or chief marketing officer.
Peter - [10:12 - 11:08]
But also, because the people underneath me, sort of, my team, they were always suffering because there wasn't any clarification. There wasn't any clear, agenda. There was no company's mission, you know, these kind of stuff. And, last year, I, I, I officially made the switch, and now I'm working exclusively, with companies, same size, same target. So growing companies, not only with their managers and leaders, and I'm teaching, Remo, especially remote leadership skills because they are, they are different from the, in-office style, enterprise related leadership skills. I think the leadership in, in general is changing overall, everywhere. But, the, the fastest changing environment, obviously, is within the remote world. So that's what I do now. I provide consulting and marketing, services, and also, workshop, assign workshops and training for skill development.
Scott - [11:08 - 13:02]
And that's, it's a great bio and, and certainly as you said, it's something that has been long time needed. Again, I've been, I've been doing this since 2012, and many of the companies that I've worked with as also as a consultant advisor, have seen also that same background, because, I mean, who came from a small company environment, you know, even back, back years ago, outside of, you know, doist and GitLab who may have been like async first and doing kind of like the best practices mm-hmm. day one, even the old school remote companies, like a, like an envision gonna be kind of mm-hmm. a lot of those no old, kind of some outdated mentality, mm-hmm. and outdated ways of working. But I think that the thing that fascinates me, and as I said, this is a long-term issue, but what we've seen in the last three years, which has been absolutely baffling to me, I could ex I could understand it the first three months, six months, first year maybe. But beyond that, that companies still haven't yet under either understood, or on the other side, they understood, but they haven't invested yet in learning development and upskilling remote managers, because obviously, as we said, it's totally different, right? They're definitely a lot of overlap, like good leaders and need to have empathy, and you need to be focused on this. But in a remote environment, it's all about intentionality, right? Everything you do, engagement and feedback and whatever it is, like requires intentionality. And you need to be able to teach that and teach people how to be intentional and how to do those things. I've seen that with recent managers that I've had who have good leadership skills and abilities in the sense of, you know, very supportive and like, whatever you need, there'll be an unlock, but miss that kind of intentionality training where, hey, the only time you may speak with the people, like your direct reports, and when you have one-on-ones like every other week, and if those get canceled, well, you're only talking to your manager, you're only talking to your direct report once a month.
Scott - [13:02 - 13:48]
So how are you going to know the impact that they're making? How does your employee know that, you know, the, the impact that they're making? How do you build relationships when you only speak to them one-on-one? And again, how do you do all those things? So for me, it's kind of baffling. I would just love, I mean, obviously all the companies that you're talking with and mm-hmm. you have a podcasts very, also, similarly on the topic of leading remote teams, which is similar, no theme to this. Give a sense of why, like, why are we three years in Why in the hell are there still? I would again say probably 70% of remote companies are not investing in upscaling or not retraining their managers on how to do this, because this is kind of like foundation number one. I think of anything in remote, like upscaling manager has to be the first thing that you do when you put your money into Mm-hmm.
Peter - [13:48 - 15:20]
So, because I'm also operating within this vi visit within this environment, I think it's, it's, it's kind of like easy to, to think that everyone thinks the same way that I do, right? but that's, that's not true. So I think it's a, it's a numbers game, a little bit. So I think it's a number numbers game because, you referred, three years, so in the last three years, we had a pandemic that's first, that's, that's number one. And, how people treated the pandemic in terms of remote work. Everyone thinks, because most of the people, felt that whole shift from the employee perspective, right? And they felt that, you know, it's amazing. We now can work remotely, we can work from home. everything is super beneficial for my private life, personal life, and I cannot be also be a little bit more, more efficient. And the performance is a little bit recent, compared to the previous, figures. So everyone, every study says now that if people and employees working remotely, the performance is higher a little bit than, than in office. No one actually doubts that now. but we tend to forgive the, for forget the aspect of the manager and the leader. for them, that was a, that was a freaking crisis. That was a crisis. And when your viewpoint, to, to, to a situation that you need to deal with is a crisis management viewpoint, and you need to make sure that your previously in-office company somehow able to operate remotely.
Peter - [15:20 - 17:01]
That's crisis management. That's not opportunity seeking, that's not investment attitude. That's not something where they need to understand that, you know, for the long term, there is no returning back to the office for the long term. You need to actually invest in, in certain areas, skill development, but not just skill development, by the way, operations. you have to audit how you work together. You have to create policy, you know, and, and so on and so on. But these are all, they all require the mindset of an investor. And when you are managing the crisis, you are not in, in the investor mindset. So that's number one, I think. and, I hope that this year and the next, will bring out the investor mindset from, from, from managers and, and, and leaders. Because now there is no pandemic. people can kind of go back to the office, although they probably won't, but, or not, I, not, not on that scale, that they were worked in the office before, pre pandemic. And, and managers need to feel this need, and they need to invest in the policies and the resources and the, and everything that they do in the operations and the skills that they lead the companies. And the second part, I think, and I think you can relate to that, really quickly, because you kind of work with the same people, like, who I'm working with most of the time. So people usually think that the growing companies, I wouldn't say startups, but like growing, small businesses, online, they usually, founded by, by, by younger people. Like, younger, like 30, younger, like 30, or even even less. that's not the case.
Peter - [17:01 - 18:52]
So, I personally, by the way, I worked, for almost like five years, for an IP consulting company. So, intellectual properties, we consulted with many, many, many startup companies, who wanted to protect their ideas, you know, yada, yada. And, I've met with, I dunno, hundreds or even thousands of founders. And, then there is also, by the way, like, objective statistics behind that too. Most of the founders are 35 plus, or even more 40 plus. Why? Because they worked in a, in a classic enterprise setup, they saw a problem that was a problem with the enterprise. and they started to solve it first internally, by the way. And, and when they, got into walls and, and, silence and whatever, and it was also correlated with their, okay, I need to do my own stuff now. personal drive. Then they founded their companies, and, and growing companies. And they obviously, had their network to sell to, had their already, expertise that they had. so these companies were super successful, within the first two to three years. So most of the founders are, I wouldn't say older people, because I'm also like 30, 35, 40, but like, not the young ones that we, traditionally assume with, with startup companies. And what does that mean? These people usually gain their leadership and managerial skills from enterprise, practices. So when they wanted to manage people, they grabbed on the meeting room when, when they wanted to track the tasks that they do, they monitor the performance instead of, focusing on the outcomes. And I can go on and on and on and on, but usually the, the mindset that they had and the leadership skills that they learned from coming from enterprise, versions, now, some of them, and some of those skills are super valuable still. I honestly believe that, for example, the financial quota as a theory is, is one of the greatest inventions of, of, of, of market capitalism. It's amazing. but some other skills should be transformed a little bit, for the remote environment, because, you know, you simply don't have the office. You need to be proactive.
Scott - [19:15 - 19:44]
I completely agree. So when we wanna talk about those critical or foundational skills that are remote manager needs, again, maybe that they didn't necessarily need in an office, what are those, again, most important specific skills that remote managers need to start upscaling, or they should obviously have been doing that for a while, but at least now start upscaling. And why are those specific skills so important for remote environments?
Peter - [19:44 - 21:44]
I would go even further that these are not really skills. These, these are more like mindset changes, which obviously later on can translate into, into actual, like, practical skills. the one thing I, which I talk about a lot and teach about a lot, is to default to transparency. So, and we can argue how much transparency a company can, can, live with, that's fine. But, but the, the, the mindset that you need to as a leader or manager, you need to understand is that you need to be, a default to transparency. And once you do that, you can still argue if something should be hidden from others and stuff. Why is that? Because in the office, it's super easy. If imagine you walk into the office, physically you you immediately see people around you, you immediately see where is the manager's room. You immediately see the boardroom you need, you see the meeting rooms and stuff. Now, in a remote world environment, there is no office. you get invited to a slack, channel, maybe, I don't know, or, or the slack rooms. you hop on a zoom meeting with couple of people and, and pretty much that's it. Most of the companies don't even have a proper onboarding system, on what they do. Most of the companies, remote companies, they operate, with a really fragmented lockdown, siloed, Google Drive or something. so we, I mean, we can't imagine how unprofessional most of these companies are when it comes to sharing and information within their peop within their team, or actually providing access to everyone to that information. So transparency is super important. You need to give access to people, to information you need to give access to how you operate, how you track performance.
Peter - [21:44 - 23:20]
What are your metrics as a company? I think it's amazing to share how the company is doing. all, all of the figures. It, it creates good morale. I think it's also in, interesting to talk about sharing access to decision making. Maybe the leaders shouldn't be deciding on their own, but collaborate with the team. I'm sure most of the team members are experts on your staff. Why don't you ask them on how to decide on certain elements of the business. at the end, you will be the one who will make the decision, of course, because you are leader. but just opening up that decision making process that also, can be helpful in terms of transparency. So one is transparency. second is proactivity. we all, again, we tend to for, for, for forget that, in a remote world environment. so for, if you go to the office in the kitchen area, people, you know, grab their coffees and teas and whatever, and you can see immediately if someone has a bad day or, you know, if you are empathetic enough or, or you pay attention to your staff or team, you probably understand who's having a good day or a bad day. and it's easy to grab someone and ask, you know, how they're doing. how can I help you? Do you have a personal problem or whatever? do you want to go home? I dunno, things like that. Now, remotely, you don't have that remotely. People log on to, again, to your chat room, maybe on a, on a, on a zoom call, or not even that, because they work asynchronously, and most of the work that they do is just like writing stuff.
Peter - [23:20 - 24:09]
you just don't see the people behind the stuff that they write. So, as a leader, obviously you need to be proactive. You need to be proactive in terms of establishing how you communicate with people. what is the schedule, what is the, regularity of the communication? Why and when do you need to have a one-on-one with others? you know, these kind of proactive processes should turn into operations, and the operations should turn into how to handle the operations, which is skills. But again, you have to start with the mindset first, because otherwise, I mean, we can build, I dunno, hundred different opera operational measures and a hundred different policies if the leaders or the managers are not on board with them. Those are just written on, things on the paper that no one actually cares about.
Scott - [24:09 - 25:15]
Yeah. No, ma, makes a lot of sense. and thank you for sharing. I think, again, those foundational ones are, are crucially important. I l I love the idea of the collaborative one, of getting input, especially as an early stage team, right? The people you hire on your marketing team and your sales team on your whatever team, like they're the boots on the ground. They're the ones who really understand a specific problem in depth. And being able to kind of get that information filtered mm-hmm. up throughout the organization, then yes, you as the leader are the one who in the end of the day makes a decision. But to be able to kind of get that insight, I think is, is definitely important. When we talk about actual learning development programs within a remote environment, right? They're going to be different. So I think, you know mm-hmm. somewhat of a two part question, though. The first part is what exactly is different about learning development in a remote environment? You know, outside of the idea of the past, you are all sitting in a conference room watching somebody read off a presentation. Now, maybe now you could do that through Zoom, where there's obviously better ways as well mm-hmm. and part two is like, what are the actual benefits and maybe drawbacks as well, of doing, learning development in a remote environment?
Peter - [25:15 - 25:57]
That's a good question. I'm, I'm curious to actually turn the table here, a little bit, if you don't mind. what, what were the, the, if, when we are talking about remote learning, or facilitated learning, yeah. what were your, your experiences, what worked really well for you? And I'm not talking about, I dunno, learning new skills on how to handle Photoshop or whatever program, because that's obviously a course or something. but like, and I hate the word soft skills, but, but more like these, these, leadership practices or manager or practices that you think, what do you think that, that that worked really well for you, for example?
Scott - [25:57 - 27:28]
That's a good question. I see, you know, potentially the, the biggest benefit of doing remote learning and development is more, again, that asynchronous opportunity. Where in the past, again, if you're doing synchronous, you're, or doing an office space, you're all this block of time, everyone's sitting in the conference room, whether it's good for you, it's not good for you, you're paying attention, you're falling asleep. Mm-hmm. you're on your, on your device or what have you. But in the sense of, again, a remote tends to be, or hopefully what, what I've done my teams have done, it's been more partially right. Not everything is, is only async. Mm-hmm. But I think mm-hmm. The async part again, gives you the opportunity to learn at your own pace when it's a good time for you, which I think, again, is, is a, is a big benefit. I think kind of turning that around for, for some of the downside is that I think, again, you lose some of that collaboration, which is, I think maybe a question we'll, we'll circle back on, but when you're doing it asynchronously, right? You're learning kind of in your own vacuum, right? Mm-hmm. you don't have maybe those use cases of what you had classically in a conference room. It's like, okay, breakout groups, right? Here's this scenario, okay. Between either role play or come up together with an ideal solution to work together with others to propose whatever the best solution is. So I, I've, I mean, if you're doing it synchronously again, and maybe you'll call it a zoom breakout room, you have that opportunity. But I think the drawback, at least of the async part again, is, is being in like your own silo where yes, I think probably those hard skills are easy enough to learn, of course.
Scott - [27:28 - 28:56]
And something, again, you're learning, but those soft skills or the interaction or the collaboration piece again, or learning from others or, or pinging ideas off of people. And I think that's extremely valuable. And yes, somewhat can be done asynchronously. Now, I've had a couple conversations I've had recently there, one, I think two ones I had, one I had with, Darcy Boths, on a podcast mm-hmm. that's hopefully coming soon Sure. About a specific topic. Of course now it like blanks my, blanks, my memory. But the idea was like what she had proposed first. I was like, no, no, no. And as I'm kind of thinking about it, I'm like, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that makes sense. And another one was from Valentina Thoner who posted something on LinkedIn, maybe about like a month ago in the idea of, you know, intentionality even in how you hire. So if you wanted to hire, let's say, in central European time, right? The old ways you, you hired in Central European time is either legal compliance, which maybe it's more of a US thing, cuz obviously as we started a conversation a little bit different there, but more of the synchronous time, right? You are going to be central European. Cause you wouldn't never want to work on central European time. But if you're doing intentionality of saying, Hey, it's important for us to get people together as often as possible, so we understand with the budget that we have and the fund funding that we have, if everyone is within like a two hour plane ride or train ride, hey, that means that we can maximize the amount of time that people get together, then that's actually a good reason. So when I first saw this message, I like, no, it's terrible to hire like in region only.
Scott - [28:56 - 29:50]
Like that's always to do it, right? You wanna hire anywhere. That's the whole future. But when I thought about it over the next couple days after that, I'm like, no, it's actually right if you have the intentionality and for the right reasons and for doing things. So yes, I learned something asynchronously reading someone that another remote leader's post mm-hmm. take it back, change my mind. But I think those opportunities are far fewer and far between of hearing a different opinion, hearing again, you know, your opinion on developing something and then hearing the reasons why and having the, probably the conversation back and forth why I think like this mm-hmm. you think like this, and then kind of at the end of it being like, know you may have a point there, or being able to kind of change my mind or my mentality. And I, so I think, I think for me, those have been the, I think the biggest positives. I I've seen the learning development and especially on the async side, but also I think the drawback this self kind of love to hear your thoughts. Mm-hmm.
Peter - [29:50 - 29:54]
Who, I, I have to challenge you a little bit.
Scott - [29:54 - 30:11]
Sorry about that, but, no, please, that's the whole point of the show. I i, i, I always hope it's like every season, every episode, it's always, I'm, I'm hoping for debates, right? I will debate, please. And then every episode never ends up, up being debated. So anytime there's like, hey, just a different opinion, that's fantastic. So please go for it.
Peter - [30:11 - 32:07]
You, you got your man, then. So I think, so let me start from, from really far away. So I worked with a lot of, wery companies before as a marketer. And, one of my key, key challenge with those companies, was to, to let them understand, that every wery company becomes successful in terms of like revenue and, you know, selling the stuff that they do when they step outside of their, personal peers of other web free blockchain, crypto, whatever it is, enthusiasts. so if you are an exchange, let's say, you could become successful by, pulling users, to your exchange from the first time. Traders, not crypto traders, just like first time traders, as a development platform, you always become successful if you are not just aiming to, to get users from the web free space, but also the web two phase, those who are trying to transition to the web three from the web two. Now using this same analogy, what I always, said is that they need to grow up and need to be, look for, for the whole market, outside of their own circles. Because once you can sell to the outside circle, that means that your product is viable. it's kind of like easy to sell to other referee people because they're buying their own stuff anyway, obviously I just, now I, I oversimplified everything just for the, for the sake of the argument, but I think the, the argument stays everywhere. it's the same thing with the remote work and learning and development within remotely as well. You, personally, and I'm also the same by the way, we are working on the same practice, kind of, the people that you mentioned now, they are also working on the same practice and industry as well.
Peter - [32:07 - 34:05]
And we tend to think that how we learn is the same as how the managers and the leaders of other companies learn. It's not the, it's not true. I think, what I see is, like three things, at least. Number one, this is, although it is, I'm not saying it's simple, but understandable for us, right? Because we are, obviously, it's, it, it'll be surprising if it's not right, because we are working in this industry, but it's not the same and not the simplest, for others who are not within this industry. Meaning that when they come to, a training program that I do, or a workshop or whatever they have, like, I mean, it's almost unbearable how many questions they have. they like no clue, seriously, super interested, super want to learn super, so many questions that they have. They want clarification. They want feed, am I doing this right? Am I doing it okay, should I do this at all? Is it working? And, and I can go on and on. So, so many questions. that means by the way, that for example, an on demand, no questions asked, I dunno, Kajabi, whatever course. and I don't think that's working, at least for these people. it can work for those who are already working in a remote first environment for years, and they want to learn some operational skills, fine, but those who are trying to either transition remote first or just about to build their first remote operations and policies and stuff, that doesn't work for them. Second, again, same with the questions. People want to ask the questions and they want to have feedback. therefore, I think anything that's around, mentorship, no, anything that's around asking, sorry, answering questions will work if it's one-on-one for a leader, mentorship, coaching, always working.
Peter - [34:05 - 36:04]
If it's for groups, workshops, always working, and I mean live workshops. now the third one is that, again, information you see and you think that information overflows everywhere, right? But it's not the case, for these, I mean, I'm, I know it's, it's, hard to believe, but not everyone spends two to three hours on LinkedIn, learning new stuff, because they just don't have time. And, most of the, the, the, the knowledge and information that they have are from, I dunno, half asked, written articles from, Forbes, fortune, whatever, or New York Times or whatever. And these are not proper, information on the matter, right? So therefore, I personally believe that, shorts, shorts just like one, two hours of training, consolidated knowledge, to give them, this is how it works. This is what you need to do. These are the facts, these are the, the, the, the definitions or whatever. And, and this is how it can work. Now, do you have any questions? Because obviously these are general knowledge synchronized and, and consolidated, of course, but these are general, and that cannot be, I mean, it can, but you should apply to your own setup, and that's when questions and workshop and doing it together, starts. So I think it's a mixture of two. And by the way, quick, quickly answering just one more thing that you said, that, does it work remotely? Of course it does. So, actually, funny thing, and that's, I'm not sure it's true, but that's what I, I, I experienced personally. when you are, when you have like 20 people in the meeting room, and you, you know, you have your whiteboard and shit like that, and you, you know, talk about stuff, some people just, you know, enter your, their mobile phone or whatever, they don't pay attention in a remote setup. We see each other faces, so I immediately know who doesn't pay attention. so it's, it's, it's also to me actually, I prefer, this setup. I'm not sure how, I don't know applicants or candidates feel, but, but, but I do prefer it.
Scott - [36:21 - 36:44]
I love the point, and I, I have kind of taking a step back, again, I, I pretty much in line kind of what the things you said, and it's something that I've felt and have said multiple times, and other people have said that, right? When the pandemic hit and everyone wanted to scrambling to figure out what the hell did we do with this remote, and what, what did people do? They looked at GitLab, it took GitLab's manual, and then it became Company X'S manual, right?
Peter - [36:44 - 36:48]
That's not, It works for GitLab. might not work for you.
Scott - [36:48 - 38:16]
Exactly. So I think it's the same idea of very much of these companies who are preaching, kinda like the gold standards, right? Doist, right? I think for me, doist is like, know the gold standard in many cases of whatever it is. So let's say async. So this is the a, the golden standard of how Async works, how it should work, so on so forth. But if you're a company who's doing synchronous and you're shifting into an asynchronous world, right? That's probably not going to be the way it's going to work for you. Or at least not in the short term. Maybe eventually, yes, you're gonna get there, but you're gonna have to go in more broken steps. And for me, I think that was one of the points of, of the show. It's yes, no, thankfully you had, you know, many of the well-known names in the space of remote leadership, but I've also had mm-hmm, try to get as many people that no one knows about for the same perspective of, right. Different experiences, different perspectives, companies who are doing all the things, the best companies who are not doing the things, the best, different challenges, different things, just to be able to kind of get those ideas out there, just to hear different perspectives of, of what people had said. And I, I like, again, the grief, the idea of the collaboration and questions and kind of one-on-ones. So the kind of leads me to maybe my next question of the tools maybe that you personally use, that you recommend to companies using to enable teams to learn remotely, in those different formats of the actual learning, maybe the group creating access to networks, mentorship and things like that.
Scott - [38:16 - 38:41]
I'm have been advising one company that's, I guess in this space, mm-hmm. called bunch that, that kind of giving leaders bite size chunks of knowledge in all different types of spaces from all different types of people, creating communities and access to office hours and mentorship and things like that, which I think kind of are combining the thi the different pieces mm-hmm. we spoke about, but I'd love to hear the what tools that you're using and what tools you're, you're recommending to the companies that you're working with.
Peter - [38:41 - 38:51]
I think you, I think, I think you, you, you again met your guy because I'm not, I'm, I'm not giving any kind of advice on tools because tools doesn't matter. that's one thing.
I actually wanted to remind the audience on one, really crucial part. you referenced a lot of examples from GitLab, DUIs and others, and we all know the buffer, for example, or Basecamp or, or, or any other companies that are really successful in not just, remote first setup or remote first organizations, but also as a, within asynchronous work. And, I want to highlight that these are mostly, developer driven, developer focused, engineering focused, engineer driven companies, meaning that they are building a product with engineers online and they work together to ship a product to their customers, yada, yada, yada. it is, and most of the asynchronous, workflows that, that we right now teach or apply, are coming from the engineer background. So, how they develop a software or tool, anyone who's listening in an engineer or should understand that, that, coding a asynchronously, creating the shared state of software. You know, these kind of, focus points are coming from the engineer world, and we actually took it and as an operational, approach. Now, what if you have a creative agency remotely? What if you have a sales team, that you need to manage remotely? What if, what if you need, to manage a customer service team remotely? what if your recruitment agency, let's say, and you need to find talent for your, for your clients remotely and, synchronously, how would you approach operational standards, for your company? Would you, read, and apply, knowledge from, from, developer driven companies?
Peter - [40:38 - 42:28]
Yes, you can. And those are, by the way, still useful, but you need adapt those type of information to your own likeness and your own company and your own goals. So those are, they're super important stuff to to mention here, I think, because not everyone is operating the same manner and there is no one size fits all. and there are incremental differences between industries and how they operate. just one thing for, for example, on the personal, connections, sales, creative, customer support, hiring all relies heavily on, on personal, collaboration, personal ideation. How would you manage that remotely? How would you manage that asynchronously even further? So that's a big thing. in terms of tools, I get asked this question quite a lot, especially from clients as well. Okay. But what should we use? I think one, one thing that we need to understand is that most managers and leaders have that tendency to, you know, throw resources at problems. okay, here's a problem. let's throw budget on it. your marketing machine is not converting. Hire more people, give more marketing budget. You need an operational problem and solution for remote team management. Yeah, these are the tech stack that we need to apply from tomorrow. No. So it doesn't work like that. You cannot solve this with resources. You need to solve it with, with goals. First you need to fix what do you need, what do you want, what do you get out from the tools or with the tools? And once you have that, the tools after that, you know, it doesn't really matter. They're all, I'm not saying all the same, but there are only a couple of differences that you need to adjust if you want to.
But first you need to understand why do you need that tool? What are you using that tool for? And, how would you use that tool? And once you know these three, you can actually get the tool that fits your needs. So start with the, with the why, start with the how, start with the what, and only at the end, start with the which tool. So it doesn't really that matter much.
Scott - [42:51 - 43:35]
Okay. And I, I can certainly, agree with that. Obviously anything that you do, you need to have the why behind it. Simon Cek famously, no start with why and seemingly potentially be kind of part of a tool. But one of the things to think about as again, companies are maybe throwing budget or, or, or trying to solve what case. It's that impact, that kind of return on investment to know how companies are able to see the progress and the impact, of learning and development that happens remotely, which again, maybe falls more in the tool side. if there's certain aspects again that you have, you can share that again, here's how we can share, we can see exactly the impact it's making. We would love to hear those, as well.
Peter - [43:35 - 45:33]
Sure, sure. So I think there are three things where you can track the impact, when you develop any kind of skills, not that, not not just, leadership skills or managerial skills. when it comes to people, I think number of engagements that you have within your company, how engaged are your team, teams, how, how many questions you answer a day, how many, requests that you pull in, how, how engaged in general, your team, or you just direct them a task and they perform. And pretty much that's it. That's not engagement. so I think that's, that's one. second is, is the performance. And this is where most of the managers miss the point, that they usually focus on the tasks. How many tasks did we achieve within a given period of time? remotely, I think it, and this is not actually actually a remote, specific stuff, but in remotely, I think you need to a little bit focus more on the outcomes or the breakthroughs, that certain number of tasks allows you to do or allows you to achieve. so not monitoring, more like measuring, not reporting, more like, you know, supporting and so on and so on. So that's performance for, for sure. And, and the third one is, is, I know it sounds super insanely cheesy, but happiness. so how happy is your team and the happiness can be tracked, really simple, ample churn. So if they fluctuate a lot, if they are, I, I hate the word silent, quitting as well. So when they are, people are not actually doing stuff that they should, not engaged, and, and you know, constantly looking for other job or other opportunities, that means that you don't have a really happy, engaged, committed team.
Peter - [45:33 - 45:52]
and you can do a certain huge list of elements, how you can ensure that this never happens to you, but you can see the signs that you have a problem if, if the people are leaving you, if they're not performing, and if they're not engaging what you're telling.
Scott - [45:52 - 47:04]
I'm completely on board. I think number two and number three are, are spot on. I think certainly the way that I, myself look at the impact, it's, I'm a big believer in the, when companies do performance reviews or whatever, again, that's not for the topic today. You know, being 360, not only know from the leader down to the employee, but the employee backup to leader. Like how much is my leader helping me, being impactful for me, being supportive, so on and so forth. So having that data before upscaling or training, and then obviously through the process and after the process, right? Did they take on the things that they've learned and now implemented it within their teams to now increase engagement, increase happiness, increase support, and things like that, or are completely agree on that? Mm-hmm. So I had two last questions and I was certainly cognizant of time. the first is something that we both kind of brought up in the idea of making learn learning and development, especially remote environment, collaborative, right? So it's not just kind of this maybe async method of me alone in my kind of like dark room learning something. Mm-hmm. how can, and how do you work with teams to make the learning more collaborative across the team?
Peter - [47:04 - 48:47]
so part of it is a, is a, is a training, which is less collaborative, collaborative. But again, I told, already that, information should be shared, in a concise way to actually we are in the same page. And after that it's a collaborative workshop. So, one example, for example, is the, is the mission company's mission. So I think most especially growing companies, they don't really care or not focus on, on any kind of mission statement or whatever it is, why they are there, what is the value that they bring to the world, what they are standing for, what they are trying to achieve, how they are trying to achieve, changing the world with their product or service or whatever they do. what is the impact that they are trying to make? They usually don't form it or formalize it into a written format. Then they, that should be formalized by the leadership, first at least, to make it open for the wider team to collaborate on. so one of the things that I do is to, formalize that, mission statements somehow together in a live collaborative fashion or environment. that's one. others, are usually a synchronous or mentorship related collaboration, meaning that operations. So sometimes that they think that they do is actually not the, the thing that they actually do. so there is usually a gap between the two. and also I also provide feedback. So for example, one of the, almost like funny that, that most leaders think that how they are super engaged with their team, hearing their thoughts and whatever, and the, and the message that they are trying to convey and transfer to their team is going through.
Peter - [48:47 - 49:25]
and then when I set in, in one of the meetings that they have in an all hands just to provide feedback, I, you know why here in most of the cases, 95% of the time the leader is talking, pretty much it's an agenda, of, of that they are trying to, you know, formalize for the team. And yeah, at the end there are some Q and As, but whatever. and that's it. So it's a great feedback for them to understand that although they think that they are, they aren't. So, that should be changed also through collaboration.
Scott - [49:25 - 50:17]
I love it. Yeah, I'm totally on board with that. It's most of these called information sharing sessions, again, whether it's meetings, whether it's learning, whatever it is, again, tends to be one person speaking to the rest of the group. And again, those are ace, have aing written all over them, but yes, no engaging, asking questions, making sure everyone's involved, I think are, are beautiful ideas. So last question. I have, people who are listening to this, leaders who now are saying, Hey, yes, again, we understand that remote is the future. We kind of drug, we dragged our feet, what have you, we're now moving forward, we wanna do better. We want our managers to do better cause we understand the impact it's going to have on our business. recommendations, tips, like where should they start, right? What's the most important 1, 2, 3 things that companies should be investing in, today within learning development as as getting started?
Peter - [50:17 - 52:05]
I think, that's a really good question. they should be, spending a little bit more time on two things. First, looking for information that are already and freely available on the internet. That's, that's kind of like the basic start point because, and that podcast, by the way, is helping, because that kind of like, helps them with the interest, helps them with the interest or the drive to actually make some changes. and the second thing is, I know it's, again, sounds super simple and basic and cheesy. Ask your team how do they feel, conduct, an all hands where you're not talking just asking questions about how people are feeling within their company, within your company, sorry. if you are, even go one step further, do it asynchronously, anonymized feedback questionnaire. let them hear their voice, let them hear their, feelings. And once you have that, you probably, I'm not sure, but most of the time you probably see some problems or issues or challenges where you need to adopt. and only after these to preliminary steps, that's when you need to reach out to your consultant. That's when you need reach out to a trainer or a workshop, whatever it is, whatever you fancy. because by that time, you will have the, at least the questions within your mind. at least you can brief someone with the problem. You're probably not aware what you need to do or what the, why the problem persists within your company, but at least you have the questions.
Peter - [52:05 - 52:23]
Yeah, love it. So people who are listening who want to learn more about the work that you do, want to get in touch with you, hopefully for some consulting work, or to obviously listen to your podcast on remote leadership as well. What's the best way for people to find you, get in touch with you, all that good stuff?
Peter - [52:23 - 52:58]
So my name is Peter Benei And, often pronounced as Ben I, but it's Bennet you can find me on LinkedIn, easily. I'm almost a hundred percent sure that I'm one of the only ones who talking about remote leadership with that name. and you can find my consulting company. It's called Anywhere consulting. I also have a podcast and a newsletter and all the goodies. all called Leadership Anywhere. Happy to see you as a subscriber or a visitor, or just send me an email, or a message if you have any questions.
Scott - [52:58 - 53:39]
Fantastic. We'll include all those in the show notes. And Peter, thank you so much for joining today. Thank you so much for sharing your experience as being a remote leader, for for many years. And sharing the experience and the things that you've learned and you're sharing with companies that you're consulting with, goes obviously a long way to help. Cuz I think probably the most important thing any company should be doing these days is upskilling managers, in how to do these things properly. And obviously that means something different for everyone. and understanding that and kind of again, taking some of these first steps forward is, is a big thing. So appreciate the insights, appreciate the wisdom, and for anyone who's listening. thank you so much. And until the next episode, everybody, have a great day.