Deep Insights: 7 must-have remote work skills for effective SaaS teams, Susan Wojcicki stumbling into Google.

What are the skills you should train your teams in and look for in your next job?

👋 Hey, Pramod George here! Welcome to ✨ The Business Of Products Newsletter✨. Every other week I share insights that help product leaders build and scale their product management function.

This week on The Business of Products Newsletter

  1. 7 must-have remote work skills for effective SaaS teams

  2. How Susan Wojcicki first met Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin

7 must-have remote work skills for effective SaaS teams

Do you know what it takes for “remote” team members to be successful and thrive at their job?

When the pandemic forced everyone to work from home, most product leaders quickly realized that the skills and tools that worked for co-located teams did not work for remote teams.

It also exposed ineffective processes and people and the gap between the highly skilled and free-loaders widened.

As a leader, I made notes of what distinguished a highly effective remote worker from a highly ineffective remote worker.

Here are seven must-have remote work skills for successful teams in 2021 and forward.

#1 Expertise

Expertise was the primary differentiator between effective remote team members and ineffective ones.

An expert team member (whether it was a Database Admin, Backend developer, or Systems Architect) asked better questions, could do independent work, and saved everyone a lot of meeting time.

In my experience, inexperienced team members who do not know the work couldn’t keep depending on their seniors for clarification and slowly got left behind as the work picked up and demand for performance increased.

Interview Tips

  1. Ask the candidate technical questions of varying levels of difficulty to gauge the level of the candidate.

  2. Ask the candidate about their opinion on technical solutions.

  3. Ask the candidate which forums they contribute to and which experts they follow?

  4. Ask to see their body of work.

What you’re looking for

  1. Candidates who can demonstrate experience, expertise, and individual opinion about the domain.

#2 Proactive and Effective Communicator

Another distinguishing factor for effective remote workers is their ability to effectively and proactively communicate.

Working remotely relies heavily on upon written communication. Team members won’t have a co-team member sitting nearby to ask questions or run ideas by.

By Proactive and Effective communication, I mean that the right people are getting the right message at the right time.

Team members must be great written and oral communicators. Bad communicators will neither be understood, taken seriously, ask the right questions, be able to clarify questions, or get the work done properly.

Interview Tips

  1. Ask the candidate to write a short paragraph describing the solution to a problem they have worked on.

  2. Role-play a difficult client-facing scenario to see how they respond under pressure.

What you’re looking for

  1. Candidates who can organize their thoughts and present a coherent answer, with priorities clearly stated, both written and verbal.

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#3 Self Motivated

Remote work requires you to work by yourself without constant supervision and this is why remote team members must possess an internal drive to be productive and achieve goals, even when no one is there to cheer them on or monitor them. 

An employee that needs an authority figure to constantly tell them what to do can become a burden. You want to look for employees who have a certain self-awareness of what their own motivating factors are. 

People are motivated by many things – perfectionism, feeling accomplished, external incentives, and avoiding failure to name just a few. Knowing what carrots will keep a worker happily striving forward will help you get the best work out of them.

Interview Tips

  1. Ask the candidate what is their motivation to work on the project that you’re hiring them for?

  2. Ask the candidate what motivates them to work on the domain, industry, and role that you’re hiring them for?

What you’re looking for

  1. Candidates who can clearly articulate how they motivate themselves and why the work is important or meaningful to them?

#4 Collaborative

There is no one-man army in software development.

All remote team members must understand “how to collaborate with others” on the team to help other team members with their questions, whilst also enlisting their team member’s help to complete their own work.

A good collaborator is usually a great communicator. Great collaborators have these traits in common

  1. Friendly and inviting.

  2. Encourages team to reach out to them if they have questions.

  3. Respect others’ time when requesting their help on projects.

These traits make collaboration, not only possible but also sustainable.

An inability to collaborate will lead to the software failing to meet its organizational goals.

Interview Tips

  1. Ask the candidate why people like to work with them?

What you’re looking for

  1. Candidates who can clearly articulate why they are pleasant to be around and how they manage their work while helping others.

#5 Organised

The last, but not least important skill required for succeeding with remote work is Organisation. Here are three reasons why it’s helpful.

  1. Important information is almost always documented by them and they know where to find it.

  2. They have planned schedules and understand their bandwidth and availability better!

When working remotely, it’s important to have a schedule and be able to stick to it. We want team members who can tell us when they can deliver and then stick to it.

Good organizers that I have come across additionally know how to leverage technology to keep their work organized. Whether it is a method of documentation or email management or even using tools like Trello for task management, good organizers have a system and know how to use tools to their (and their peers) advantages

When team members are not organized, it's easy to lose track of the work and get into a rabbit hole of multitasking which ultimately leads to low-quality deliverables on all fronts.

Interview Tips

  1. Ask the candidate how they stay organized?

  2. Ask the candidate how they prioritize work items?

  3. Ask the candidate how they manage their emails, chats, and calendars?

What you’re looking for

  1. Candidates who are naturally organized and know how to use technology to manage their work.

So what did you think?

Are there any other skills that you would include on the list?

Do you recognize these traits in your high performers as well?

How many of these skills do you excel at?

What tools do you use to make Remote work easy?

What are you going to change in your hiring process to ensure new candidates meet these standards?

Best answers/comments/critique gets entered into the monthly book giveaway!

Leave a comment

Things you may not have known! 🤯

YouTube CEO once rented her house to Google Co-founders

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in September 1998 rented her house to Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, while she was working with Intel. Wojcicki, speaking in a recent interview (see below) revealed, she was in need of money at that particular time. Earlier in 2015, Wojcicki had said that she rented the house to Page and Brin for $1,700 a month. Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

TIP: The comment section on this video is hilarious 😂 and dark 😳!

In Other News

  1. US fintech giant Stripe acquires Bengaluru-based startup Recko - Read Here

  2. Google partners MeitY Startup Hub to launch Appscale Academy - Read More

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Pramod 👋