Remote Teams and the Importance of Employee Mental Health with Katie Womersley


Katie WomersleyKatie is a Director of Engineering at Buffer, a globally distributed team with no offices, and O’Reilly author. At Buffer, she leads the engineering team focusing on crafting productive, effective teams and delivering a world class software product. She previously worked as software engineer before moving into leadership. Her writing has appeared in The Next Web, Inc Magazine and Fast Company.

On today’s show we discuss the challenges of running distributed teams and a very important topic that does not get enough attention – the subject of employee mental health.

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Christian Mccarrick:
[0:00] Good afternoon Katie welcome to the show.

Katie Womersley:
[0:05] Hi Krista and I just wished for having me.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:09] Absolutely always my pleasure to I have gas come online today and where you are actually calling in from today Kitty.

Katie Womersley:
[0:15] I am calling in from Vancouver BC.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:19] Excellent very excellent most beautiful city and I’m just south of you a bit down here in San Francisco so again great ever get down to San Francisco Bay Area you know let me know and happy 2 hours your grab coffee or something too.

Katie Womersley:
[0:34] Absolutely I love that.

Christian Mccarrick:
[0:38] Can you like I do with most of my guests need to spend a couple of minutes a little bit of background and how you got to be where you are today.

Katie Womersley:
[0:46] Right yeah so I have a liberal arts background I studied philosophy and economics and I to the Masa too grainy comics and most of my peer group,
I did a little bit of work as bad trades for helping organize ation jet kti’s I realized I really didn’t enjoy.
I didn’t really want to be traveling to drill bit batteries in Manchester anything wrong with it I’ve always answered,
and when I realized.

[1:20] I went full-time,
building websites and then I started my own agency and got corporate clients and got really into that and thought up and South Africa I worked there for a while as a full stack engineer,
then I join buffer and I join buffer as a software engineer and I had a soup interesting time I worked on quite a lot of different teams I was on a new team about every 5 weeks,
helping our teams that would kind of struggling and I was realizing,
many of the problems that the teens I work with was facing Warren technical challenges they were very strong Engineers on the issues we had we’re much more around people process,
operational challenges for example the product roadmap isn’t clear the product that keeps changing people feel demotivated or unsupported for some reason,
they tended to be your typical people problems and I was realizing that there were these,
amazing developers that we’re kind of being held back by these things and that’s what got me interested in folding those problems to unblock Mighty Med.
So it wasn’t so much of a conscious move into management or was it was really an experience of seeing what they needed,
you know I’m just needing to deliver that and sometimes I’d look to the record and sometimes it would be totally different and then I was okay with us each year with the time,
this seems like something we really needed so at that point I made the switch into Engineering Management and I stopped hurting as much apple Court a little but I was going to saying on solving these problems and.

[2:58] Full time engineering manager I love. It was absolutely rod and then after a while.
AT&T growing and we fought more managers with highest amount of your ass or my rolls not evolve to be a director of engineering and that means recording engineering manager is about 25 for snow we’re hiring in on the 10th which is super exciting,
and it’s it’s being very organic but I must have loved it I’ve never ready look back.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:27] Yeah I mean that’s a very interesting kind of you no background that that you had you know you also I think kind of went from the London School of economics and political science as well get a master’s degree in that as well is that right.

Katie Womersley:
[3:39] That’s right yeah.

Christian Mccarrick:
[3:41] And I think it’s important I I myself,
came up from the ranks from a little are stacker myself I was an English major as well as a biology and Psychology major so there’s there’s been some that signs there but you know I find it’s important to let all my.

[3:58] Listeners know that there is no one path to not only being a software engineer but also especially getting to you software engineering leadership.
I have also found that.

[4:09] As long as people come to the tech ranks you know they’ve been a you know in the in the trenches as a software engineer in a sometimes I find that some of the better managers.
You know are those that actually didn’t have maybe some of that more formal suffering background that I think helps him a little bit more of you say with the people skills in the people Management in the kind of the organizational.
Structure and helping issues that that as you say you were getting in the way of these excellent awesome Engineers from reaching their full potential.

Katie Womersley:
[4:38] Absolutely I really agree with that,
I do think liberal arts background also interesting because they they develop what I would call Professional skills I’m really strong they so I’ll be fine.
you’ll see folks I have really well developed communication skills,
analytic thinking in a much broader sense I definitely got that from philosophy of organizational structure and problem-solving I mean.
Micro macro economics is a lot of modeling a lot of Statistics a lot of really structured thoughts are.

[5:12] I would say that I drawn out a lot of Stephanie not being something that I felt irrelevant as education.

Christian Mccarrick:
[5:18] And that’s another good point to when talking about hiring from some non-traditional sources that.
It whether it’s somebody code academies out there and the different types of new boot camps thousand fine to that some people might have been.
Any manager type role just not in technology.
And they kind of get into these boot camps they start over again sort of more as an individual contributor and know some of them turn out also I think to be really great managers and fruit for the listeners out there.
I think it’s a good pool to start looking from to groom.
Have some of those people must have gotten some more there check technical jobs because you know they already have potential assume that experience of management just in a different industry than software engineering.

Katie Womersley:
[6:02] Absolutely yeah that’s so true.

Christian Mccarrick:
[6:05] Snow.

[6:07] Since being a manager in the now your manager manager what we leave all done them but any sort of mistakes that you’ve made over the time whether stepping into that director role or into the first time manager role,
stop looking back that you know either you might have done differently or that you now coach some of your employees to watch out for when they get promoted to manager.

Katie Womersley:
[6:29] Right I would say that monitoring software engineer the managing managers has been very different I would say it when I became an engineering manager managing.
I think my biggest mistake was being afraid to praise people and I think it was because I felt like it would.
Not come across as sincere or who would I be to pray somebody maybe it was really easy for them and they think or k.
That’s a little strange that you thought that was impressive you know her so I really I really held back on the praise and I got some amazing advice at the time song,
Roy who was it that said he’s not what the right that’s black and also mows his little number one thing I’m his number one mistake that people make in the transition and he said praise,
he said you’re you can cause problems by pressing the wrong Personal Pace I’m in the wrong way but he really never sees odd if.
Not enough praise. Really.
Is a problem that new manager stays for his advice but I followed him I can say it’s worth for me is praise just,
as much as you can people need file McCray’s on Droid of what they’re doing right and you might think it’s awesome song moist,
constructive feedback to constantly reinforce What specifically people are doing well and Company appreciate the people on your team for the good work that are there and we all can ignore people who are doing great,
and we focus on that one little thing they could do better and we’re think we didn’t constructive we think we’re being a good manager and that was just absolutely not the case.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:01] And you know that’s interesting right I coach my younger daughter’s lacrosse team and.
Part of this is positive coaching Alliance thing it’s so much about.
In a really praising the work that they’re doing in the effort and the good that they’re doing instead of focusing on what they’re not doing because I think almost did does analogies 2 in in working.
In that.
And everyone of us who want to coach and his coat this time for coaching and session that we want to make them get better but really you want them to in this case develop a love for what they’re doing and whether it’s a sport,
or you know software engineering or coding right you still want them to sort of have that love for what they’re doing and I could beat down by doing it.

Katie Womersley:
[8:43] Absolutely the best Engineers you know that they’re doing it for the love and it’s not love that makes it great yeah.

Christian Mccarrick:
[8:50] That’s right that’s right excellent no buffer is its 100% remote as a company that correct.

Katie Womersley:
[8:58] That’s correct we have got no offices and we’re completely globally distributed.

Christian Mccarrick:
[9:04] That was it do you know it was it started that way by Design ordered set of 32 serendipitously just happened that way.

Katie Womersley:
[9:11] It’s always been pretty remote the sound is dead have an office early on in San Francisco Airport,
but they traveled a lot and I think I’ve always been into buffers DNA to Value being at the single place on Earth where are you feel happiest and most productive so even though there was initially.
In the very early days I was at SF office,
your phone is off and go travelling for 6 months or more at a time on sometimes together is sometimes not together so very honest being in the organization’s DNA that is it’s what you do.
That matters it’s the results and it’s not you know how much time you show up in a specific place and that’s where we got the sort of concept of her treats and getting together.
Two bonded to collaborate so the founders waited so extinct off every,
6 months or so make sure they were together for time and stop and Spock tow company Retreat session I’m actually heading out on a retreat this evening I’m flying in a couple hours to Singapore,
and we all going to be together as a company also Stephanie gray about smell and just spend some real time because that’s important too.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:22] That’s awesome and I spent a lot of Singapore. Of time in Singapore when I was younger so definitely you need to try the pepper crab.
When you’re there and I’ll make sure you have something ice cold to drink next to you when you’re done or it’s it’s it’s an interesting Galaxy if you like fish or seafood pepper crab in Singapore.
But I know it’s a great City so I’m sure you’ll have a great time their meeting your teammates as well as kind of enjoying enjoying what’s there.

Katie Womersley:
[10:49] Sounds like a great team building activities also get Peppa crabs.
Back to the subject.

Christian Mccarrick:
[10:56] Absolutely you have that 75-73 people on your team now how do you.
Yeah I know a couple of companies like medium medium and I think automatic funeral so hundred percent remote.
How do you sync getting together as a company scales as you go from that like a hundred person Mark to maybe a company that’s 500 or a thousand when you’re a hundred percent remote and you still trying to have these set of all hands or treats.

Katie Womersley:
[11:19] Well it’s just like Leah gets difficult we’re already at the size with 73 people in for spring pot know so will be a hundred,
humans and total of 73 from the company and,
it becomes difficult because they won’t be that many hotels that you can just look at that size you have to really plan ahead you need larger conference spaces so what I’ve seen bigger teams do is go to resort areas I know what am I was in Whistler for their annual Retreat because,
it’s just a normal as they hosted the 2010 Olympics so that.
It becomes much more than how would you have the Olympics.
Send fax to The Retreat locations ahead of time to test things like Wi-Fi speeds because you know a hundred people walk into a room and all connected devices.
And it just crashes the Wi-Fi and then we become so anything you know where it was so reliant on online schools.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:24] I bet you got to definitely good point right testing out the Wi-Fi bandwidth for you go roast a whole trip could be well maybe not a disaster it’s might spend more time with the bonding than the working.

Katie Womersley:
[12:33] Absolutely I would like to have the Wi-Fi cuz we’re still taking care of a customer’s I’m trouble so we like to bring them in on video calls and I’m try to like have them experience as much as,
The Retreat as possible.

Christian Mccarrick:
[12:54] Excellent and you know I think the Segways a little bit into some of the the topic of that I want to talk about with you today is not only the topic of you helping and how do we best deal with with a hundred percent should be to work for us.
Or even a large remote Workforce,
but also kind of the subtopic of it which I know you have mentioned before in in some previous conversation about an employee mental health and no making sure that we,
are aware of and helping to support you know the mental health not only of employees that are in her office.
But also the employees that are in a remote working from home or distributed.
Okay I know you said that you talked about before you if you’ve done it before you’ve written about it so why do you as a as a manager is a director’s just a leader of people.
And why do you believe that leaders should be more aware and cognizant of you know some mental health issues and end with employees.

Katie Womersley:
[13:53] Well I mean for the same reason that leaders should be aware of if that building has lead paint or asbestos in the walls and they’re at their employees are getting sick.
I think in general reader should be really cognizant of mental health because that is the health and well-being,
of your team and without your Healthy engaged employees of company is convey great it’s not going to work out to like build something amazing have a great culture retaining engage people,
if they’re not healthy and.
That is absolutely a part of mental health and what companies are pretty competitive when it comes to their I mean in pack when it comes to their medical benefits and we think about physical health,
quite a bit but mental health is absolutely in the same Sara is so important whether somebody is is not laying with.

[14:45] Your Lyme disease or depression the fact that were sold.
As companies are corporations treating noise with completely different things it doesn’t really make sense.
I really do feel that it’s important for managers to be really educated that mental health is part of jalapeno people are.
Holistic you can’t separate all you know how you feel I’m how you work you can’t really just leave the depression and anxiety at home and then with a distributed team.
It’s it’s so important because there’s a lot of research showing that there is a correlation it’s not cold all but highly correlated.
Between physical isolation which is just a factor of your environment are you around other humans or or not,
the psychological experience of luminous which not everybody who is physically separated will feel on me but there’s a correlation where if you are around people you may feel lonely and the psychological experience of loneliness is very highly carp are native to West anxiety and depression so if you have a distributor team where everybody is working remotely,
you are creating a high risk environments where there is a major risk factor here for anxiety and depression and it’s really important in order to relax have a happy and productive,
group of teammates. Managers recognize. And not manager take active steps to prevent that from being a foot.
Illness that Ripple through that company.

Christian Mccarrick:
[16:16] I think that’s a very good point that you put out that it’s not just that there might be isolated from the other employees in your organization.
It’s just you know human beings as Social Serve creatures they can get that loneliness just from not being around people.
Whether or not they’re necessarily interacting with them on a peer relationship you know whether it’s in a working at a coffee shop or something you just have enough people around I think it’s going to be saying also can can help alleviate some of that the feelings of loneliness is that correct.

Katie Womersley:
[16:49] Absolutely I know but for what we do to support that we have a coffee shop co-working stipend so you can expense your coffee out of coffee shop which we found it helps people get out of the house on,
being a place with other people around where they going to meet and interact with people on I-80 that off and I work at coffee shops the whole time and I kind of have my my.
Remote work is Creed on there where I’ll see the same people and we’re like high and ricotta share tables and it’s nice I didn’t work for the same company as me but,
we’re bonding,
I have work friends and I sent in the real well we also snowboard co-working spaces some people like to keep a much more assertive typical 95 office setup and they’ll go to someplace like a we work and it’s the same,
right at 9 that are seen are people we’ve got a desk made of the same person we work well runs in or meditation classes off work through Tom’s store.
That kind of supporting not real world connection even if it’s not your same company employees you’re supporting your team.
Having human Connections in the real world and I think super important.

Christian Mccarrick:
[18:00] You know I think the thing that most managers might struggle with is as you mentioned a little earlier you know there is sort of this this dichotomy of so if I have the flu or if I break my arm.
Yeah vacio yes let’s let’s be empathetic about that I understand that.
But maybe with some anxiety or depression or or survive loneliness it’s the sort of the silent.
You know unseen type of this something that can be debilitating.
And you know in a lot of this culture we have here today it’s the well tough it out and you know suck it up and all those things which kind of leads to this you know this is some of this meant just having a stigma against it and.
Jennifer for managers how do you how do you best recommend for a manager to certify.
Open the discussions with their employees about these issues an end to start together as you say to put them on the same playing field it’s not make them you know a different type of of of illness.

Katie Womersley:
[19:05] It’s search for about the segment I mean I had.
Some depression as a teenager fely briefly and I remember talking to my doctor and my doctor said,
just so you know I never ever tell an employee of a psych even like in 10 years time never say in the workplace that you had a spell with depression just,
guitar keep it under the rug because some people will be like why are you not supposed to work like after she’s problem that made such an impression of me as a teenager and I think.
I agree in sorry it’s wrong that I just agreed to that so show me all the time and it’s kind of stayed with me so as a manager it’s really about,
wanting to be the kind of manager where are your teammates are going to feel safe that you’re not that person who is going to.
Take out information that is extremely sore privileged trusting information and somehow in return it against them sore.
But not turning it against people can hop in a lot of ways I can hop in through your typical or a snap out of it like okay well that’s not my problem. Kind of a response but.
It’s difficult it can also go the other way of a ruinous empathy situation where you become so overly protective the Cyrus report that you treat them like they cons,
really process making the team you know Year Door and give them the interesting assignments you don’t let them help out on a difficult project you so to keep them isolated and where are they being super honest with me about your how can I help you.

[20:39] And some people want to take it easy and other people I like know I need to be able to throw myself into projects I want you to be able to give me the same kind of stretch assignments as you would if I wasn’t struggling,
because what makes it harder for me to deal with my own anxieties is if I then have mess anxiety that you think.
That I’m incompetent because of my anxiety I mean it,
I would not have not a therapist I am not you know who trained and qualified to say exactly what we want to do in this situation but what I can say is a manager is it’s critical that you has a,
deep trusting relationship with your direct reports of your investing in once once you show up you are mentally fully present I do one full hour every week,
where are you know that person is the only person in the world to me and without that I don’t really think you have a Fighting Chance of somebody coming to you and saying something like hey Katie I’m depressed because you’re just an abstract person that they kind of.
Nor so if it needs to be that relationship and then if you’re lucky enough to have earned the trust of somebody telling you that something like this is wrong.
It’s really important to follow that lead in Austin like,
how do you want me to support you in this because every person is different than the last thing I’ve learned with us is it’s been really helpful to seek advice from my manager.
especially you know I’ll side the company that’s a lot of slack communities online Forums on this is a really common thing how do I how do I help out how do I navigate a situation for director who is struggling with mental health.

[22:17] There is a lot of information on support out there like if you if you raise a question on managers have gone through this like many times I can say okay,
have you asked us and and how did they respond dinner today want to be given more time off work or do they actually want stretch assignments to to help them like.
That’s something that they are got that heat sensor cuz everyone still friends.

Christian Mccarrick:
[22:42] Yeah I’m even having a stretch assignment in some cases can,
pull someone out of it because he can give them you know how they were able to successfully complete something it’s kind of a boost in confidence and sometimes that can kind of also help with a little bit of kind of getting back into the rhythm of their emotional well-being.

Katie Womersley:
[22:59] Right absolutely and it’s just so I can check in without pressing like really often and I make sure that you know your.
You’re adjusting and you making sure that whatever you chose this still working so I’ve also had a case of poster wanted stretch assignments and then.
It’s okay this isn’t quite working I I don’t feel like I am supposed to handle on this week going to break things down into like they need a detox I’m just going to have like series was Tiny Tots and I just focus on those small ones,
it’s also not like a once and done approach way you can say oh great you want.
What regular assignments on you wanted to be treated Normandy pool. Dunno state will change it’s it’s more of a.
It’s more long time and if somebody tells you that they have a Kohl’s on this way.

Christian Mccarrick:
[23:47] And I think it’s important to point out to some it listens as well that and as you mentioned you know you’re not a mental health professional,
you know you are a leader of these people in their there hopefully getting to a point where I can trust you but there was at some point with some mental health issues and I’ve had to deal with in the past,
what’s an employee’s with some more serious issues around bipolar and some other things where you know sometimes these things are more than you can handle as a manager and I think it’s okay to.
As a manager to make sure that you know you’re in a position that.
You have other resources that you can turn to as a manager if something is maybe going to be on what you think maybe that’s your manager.
Maybe that’s the HR structure in your organization but there’s a lot of other or maybe a referral from your HR that you can handle and to a one of your employees as a trusted.
Assertive says a manager to trust them and say you know maybe this is someone you can talk to hear some resources you can use above and beyond how I’m trying to help him Coach you as well.

Katie Womersley:
[24:48] That is so important question I’m so glad you mentioned. It’s not the manager’s role to be a.
Therapist next it’s a huge mistake to try that it’s the manager’s role to be on supportive of their employee at work.
Not a soul like a complex medical issue.
Oh yeah it’s so important if you feel a little concerned about a tire to put that you make sure that they are getting the professional help that they need and in the way you can the weather. HR or I’m asking your manager.
What is here already and courage and whatever socks as you have every company is different bigger companies probably have a lot more of a formal process.
If you’re listening in it and you’re out of time you thought up and you don’t know what to do maybe it looks like talking to one of the Thunder is on and thinking okay well can we how can we figure out who this employee to see a doctor you know where.
But yeah don’t be that the trusted manager by Sullivan has single-handedly that’s that’s not.

Christian Mccarrick:
[25:49] You might end up with some did you anxiety depression yourself at that point new manager is stressful as it is and that you’re right just kind of beat a guide and an appointment in some cases in the right direction it one of the things to is.
There is it’s challenging enough for identifying potentially.
Maybe changing changes in mood or behavior for someone when you’re working in an office but for distributed team.

[26:15] What are some of the guidelines you could give for.
Some of the managers to be able to watch out for for their employees when they are distributed maybe you’re the only see them maybe in a video call once a week and what are some other tips that you you could use.
Two people to help the managers identify these types of potential issues remotely.

Katie Womersley:
[26:37] It is very difficult because you’re not seeing folks everyday in managing by walking around the office so the number one thing I would have his make sure that you are investing in those ones ones and enjoying soda,
cloth over them will skip out on them because you think it’s going fine trying to keep out it the second thing is.
I do think I didn’t disagree two teams it’s important to be more alerts like subtle indications of behavior changes so it hasn’t Engineers works all changed a lot all day,
do they usually work Valley consistency consistently and now you’re saying you know what days where you’re not sure what’s happening and then suddenly you know a bunch of pull requests or urethane much larger or smaller than usual or,
missing somebody that’s usually really chatty and,
your soccer channels were on one of your company’s chat is being a lot more silent withdrawn says the sort of.
Doesn’t mean anything’s wrong but these kind of subtle behavioral cues.
Managers need to rely on whatever they can get in the distributive team because you’re not going to see.
Okay this person is cutting off coping a kind of hunched over then house up in a corner for hours what days are the time you need to rely on other sources of information.

Christian Mccarrick:
[27:56] Yeah no absolutely and I think one of things I want to I want to point out to just from personal experience.
I am as running engineering teams and a knots of deadlines and stressing them with people but it can be very stressful and.
And I think it’s important for people to find your weather there an icy or whether you’re an engineering manager to define the thing that recharges you and find the thing that that can set up Center yourself.
And for some people that might be a walk some people might be playing music is some people you know again maybe playing a board game or cards or whatever it might be me personally for me I make sure that I.
Put time and I do this sometimes over lunch is to make sure I can go in exercise right and done for me you know that sort of my thing that helps me too kind of RECenter.
And at the AMC on the afternoon I can you tackle the day again because of odd service had that but it’s very important for.
I think people to find out what that is and eating a few counter blocking your time boxing and just make sure that you put it on your calendar because if you don’t things like that will.
Will definitely let you know definitely slip away and I was reading I was watching great Ted Talk recently from Wendy Suzuki and it’s like 15 minutes long it’s really awesome it’s called the brain changing benefits of exercise.
How to prevent anxiety and Alzheimer’s in all these things but definitely I’ll put in the show notes for people to to read.
Hour to watch but the real point I was trying to make is fine. Whatever that is for you and make time for it and and you know take care of yourself because you don’t take care of yourself.

[29:28] You won’t be able to take care of your employees.

Katie Womersley:
[29:32] Absolutely it’s funny that you do lunch time exercise question I do the exact same thing my calendar is Donald Lee blocked off from 12 to [1:30] and.
I do classpass I do all the different exercise classes and that’s my thing that if I if I don’t do that I just have so much love to give.
I think it’s really important that leaders.
To realize that in order to give to others you need to make sure that you’re being restored yourself and not constantly be in the Soto.
Lord off of service to your team but you’re getting burned out yourself and you’re not taking care of yourself because ultimately like no person can sustain Adam and I will be healthy for you or be healthy for a team either.

Christian Mccarrick:
[30:13] I know and it’s another stigma thing I think that as a leaders you have to set that culture and those values for your team.
You’re not there is no Stigma against taking care of yourself and if your team sees you really doing that I think they’ll be more inclined well you know Christian is doing it or no Katie’s doing it it’s okay for me to also take that time for myself.
You know so that I can make sure that I am okay.

Katie Womersley:
[30:40] Right I don’t know where my team you need to be kind of quiet loud about that because people want to see its or having it in the in the calendar and I I call it exercise in public everyone can see it in my calendar doesn’t just say like busy,
I know and I’ll put my Interstate us okay like I’m going to go exercise like I’ll tell people like I’m I’m going for gym class like I have my sign on sign off time set,
I think it’s really good that you know as sweet as you may God kind of is visible as you can and I’m really sort of over-communicate that like you’re doing it on and it’s important because as you said it’s so important.
Share that feeling of permission that this is something that it sits on Ernie is it okay but it’s it’s like actively encouraged this is what like me just a lot easier.

Christian Mccarrick:
[31:30] The absolutely.
And you know I switch over to theirs. I think it’s to do you call them mixed mode teams right there you have a lot of I mean there’s a lot of different types of permutations but in your case and some others as a hundred percent remote.
In other cases there’s.
You’re mostly in office with a handful that remote and then you have others where you maybe it’s different offices or some people to remote some people are local and.
Do you think that you actually mentioned that actually potentially more difficult to have those mix mode teams than one way or the other can you explain that.

Katie Womersley:
[32:06] I do think it’s more difficult when everybody is in a single location or everybody is distributed,
the normal flora of the whole group because everybody’s in the same environment so I bought her we’re completely distributed which means all of our communication is online by default things all documented for everyone.
It’s not the case that we have to remember to take a I’m offline eating and going in or transcribe it for the remotes on around all the time where is if you’re Anna and a mixed are you call an office culture and then you have remote workers,
that needs to be far more like conscious intentional remembering of okay if we made this decision kind of on the fly with whoever was in the room.
There’s a group of people that will have no idea unless somebody remembers to go and tell them so.
It’s difficult because the culture won’t be automatically set up to serve the whole group battle drift Awards whichever group is larger and likely that’s going to be,
drifting towards day I’m collocated team in the case of just a few remote workers or in the case of says a few different offices it’ll Driftwood serving the needs of the disorder of the home office for the head office and then the side light areas you know I might be a little out of the loop a little,
getting a little bit second-class Citizen and not I think that is what are the natural thing to happen unless there is,
a huge amount of acid put into making sure that.

[33:37] Communication on stays on an even playing field and it doesn’t gravitate towards like the one group that is largest on together.

Christian Mccarrick:
[33:46] And what suggestions do you have so that you know sometimes there’s a lot of anxiety with people that are not at that home office right they it sometimes he’ll have to prove themselves more.
Or they feel that there.
Your careers because a remote so they’re not as visible that they won’t progressed as much as someone that’s local and what tips do you have to make sure that managers can help to as you say it level the playing field.

Katie Womersley:
[34:11] I’d everything managers can make it work but it does need to be an organizational commitment to make remote work work so it’s really important that there are clear definitions of success for your engineering,
that is not the case of whoever happens to be around say guess the most interesting assignment where they can build the skills that they need to be promoted,
there needs to be more intentional around. It needs to be made more transparent with evaluating Engineers that needs to be a consistent Benchmark of,
what kind of work are you evaluating what all the standard needs to be quite the find,
because otherwise there is a tissue and what if I’m not there and I’m not being seen,
in the office if I can’t just you or jump into a meeting that I see it’s happening how will I show my contribution on NBC top of mind and managers mine so.
I think that’s really important that there are these Define structure is and it’s not full of Last Time by Juris and then.
When you have the concern of,
in office for it’s like once they’re Bisquick kind of done that day if it hasn’t been super doctors I’ll go home where is remote workers your ways passing that’s answer.
Are they going to believe that I actually was at work today,
okay well I’m well I had a really difficult day I’m starting on this one bug and I didn’t get anywhere so I don’t have any cold Just Go With It Through for it and does not getting feeling goes like what if they think I just pulled over,
knocked off and I didn’t do anything cuz they can’t see me sweating at my keyboard all day but not getting anywhere and then people so they.

[35:48] Okay gosh like okay I’m going to have to like work so if extra hours to catch up and,
that’s something I think happens super easily unless you’re really really clear about having final X working a certain,
like healthy number of hours I think if we’re places go too far and too like only the results matter we were pure results-oriented workplace if somebody doesn’t get results in a reasonable time frame.
And they Consular prove that they were trying there’s no like proof of work is really difficult because,
that person will kind of almost Nidoran your situation they will need to order work they want me to work like another 8 hours at night in order to get those results if you’re going.
Results only that’s a difficult one because his lot that’s good about a result or anywhere play of sweet orange soda have a,
but since it’s mentality as about you know your contribution there’s a lot that Brady is right about that but it has at Dockside I think if teams aren’t really aware of the emotional consequences of that situation that I can really avoid the health of the team,
what we found a buffer that successful is talking about that in,
the team groups the poking about it and I’ll you know daily sign-ups or a weak economy X talking about it and rectal talking about you know how did we feel,
about that kind of unspoken pressure how we doing on that and like constantly having that conversation and not letting it get into okay well I suppose I should piss I should first and then the person here.

[37:18] Or maybe had a bad day will remember note to self like if you ever have a bad day and make sure you work all night you know.

Christian Mccarrick:
[37:24] Yeah.
Now those are those are all excellent points no I think they were it was very very kind of very valuable for I think the listeners here and for myself too I think just even talking with other managers about how they handle their situation,
he also part of the reason why did it podcast I think it’s it’s really good that we can share as you saying sharing with your team Wellness case I get to share some of these conversations with,
with other Andrea managers and my pee pee myself and then and then my audience so that that’s very helpful thank you.

[37:58] Right it’s a labor of love here.
Play city of simple leadership podcast you also post a leadership operating manual on GitHub there’s a number of other engineering managers that are doing this.
And I think it’s a very awesome Trend and ideas is very awesome itself you think that that.
Assertive operating manual for you is as a manager is even more important for remote teams.

Katie Womersley:
[38:27] Yes I do think so because with remote and it says that such a vacuum because you’re not seeing somebody’s body language all the time so it’s kind of unclear.
You know how someone might feel about things who they are you getting way too much information even on a video call they’re getting head and shoulders you’re not getting all of the body language humans week.
We have about I don’t know the exact. Question that you probably know her but I think it’s like 90% of all social cues come in through nonverbal cues,
and a lot of it is in the hands on a lot of fish in the sea,
you can tell alot on Sunday speech no all they pointing away from you are they kind of girly next hoes around like all they like rocking back and forth a little.
And subconsciously people pick up on that so you know okay,
I’ve made my manager kind of concerned by that you’ll pick up on the body language or oh yeah that don’t agree they’re just kind of in a rush I can see they were walking down a car door and so they were pretty direct with me and it’s not to worry about,
where is remotely if I send a slack message and I kind of Dash it off and then jump into a meter.

[39:36] You know how it how a person on the receiving end of that know that I’ve just Dash something off like they would have,
vehicle like they’re just seeing head and shoulders and I say no way I’m working with my hands and my feet are really sore all of that means.
In a remote a meeting overcompensate you need to order to communicate you need to be really clear you need to make a critically okay for people to ask you what you meant or off Q.
If they wondered about something you said that was not right for me to have that operating on you is so important because,
I’m sitting there you know who I commit to be for my team would like this is why I leadership philosophy this is who I am this is who I show up as and.
That helps the team to sort of have more trust with me and it also means that if.
They haven’t noticed something like I dodged a quick message on G or maybe didn’t use the slow same smiley emoji as I know later cuz I was just in a huge rush.
It helps them to know if I’m like having an operating manual and having that level of detail about me as a person. I was in a rush and if it’s not,
I’m dead or I would absolutely want to share. You know what I can say hey you you know what.
Was anything is that okay I’ll be like that absolutely and that does happen people do sometimes.
Where you just in a hurry here or.
You know you don’t get and put an extra Smiley like usually too and I think it’s really important that people feel it’s okay to Austin’s or just wonder there’s just so much research that would text as communication.

[41:15] You lose a lot of the information that you would get from like whole body verbal Hive on the communication for I think.
Just being a good work and communicate. Doesn’t quite go far enough like that’s absolutely necessary but it’s not sufficient I think,
being like really explicit about like your ideals in your intentions and who you are and inviting a conversation about that I think. Guess you like to that next level of of having people really trust you and I’m ready check with them.

Christian Mccarrick:
[41:42] Yeah I’ll send it in his little anecdote to I interviewed Kate from automatic, my podcast in and she had said something when she had put something and slacked it was like a different kind of emoji and then she normally does and and you know when did something in the next thing you know that,
the team is like what did that mean in discussions about what was Catwoman’s cat’s intention for that.
You’re right we can just stay over read something sometimes and but I think if you have that manual and you know that.
Or you have that trust in you know that Christian or Kate or Katie Webber is that’s just their little a little longer or something it or they just they’re just.
You crazy and I do this and don’t worry about it nothing me you know and if it was something they have that trust and if there was something wrong they would tell you where they would talk to you right that’s why.

[42:29] The thing you could come to talk about building a trust is so important because those little things then don’t become big things if they just eyelashes Christian right.

Katie Womersley:
[42:38] Right absolutely thinking face emoji ever becomes a problem. Aguilar to change.

Christian Mccarrick:
[42:45] It’s right so that you know I think we can cover today that that you wanted to come to get across to my listeners or any other points that that you wanted to make turn the podcast.

Katie Womersley:
[42:59] Not specifically no I think if I had one recommendation that I’ve learned recently,
I thought of resource recommendation Renee the Browns this is fantastic and I’ve been going recently about how much are complex feelings of Shame might underlie so it’s difficult interpersonal relationships so I thought I’d ask in case you are looking to Goldie Hawn,
where are these kind of.
Complex Feelings by come from and I think shame is super important to understand this manager cuz it it on the lies a lot of the most like sticky difficult like.
Issues. We run into advantages.

Christian Mccarrick:
[43:38] Yes I can imagine deep reading very meta so I’ll put that in the show notes I haven’t heard that myself but.
I will look at that anything any other resources should have more generic Oregon specific that first-time managers or existing managers or manager of managers you know you’ve used in the past to help you get,
to where you are today.

Katie Womersley:
[44:00] Yeah absolutely right now I think I’m the best kind of resource out there for technical leaders is Camille 20 oz book The Mountain just off I’m sure everyone’s probably recommending it right now but that’s great.

Christian Mccarrick:
[44:13] For this book I definitely shouldn’t because.

Katie Womersley:
[44:16] Wrist so I wouldn’t just it’s like I’d like at every stage and then you know I really enjoyed,
case law that you mentioned you had Kayla the Buckeyes her blog is great I love Laura Hogan’s blog she has a lot of really actionable first and then you know that is a folder.
Generic manager.
That may be on Engineering Management but manager resources store manager manager tools podcast like they’re just awesome especially if you’re in a situation that may be a smaller company where you don’t quite have a manager your according to a founder and they have a lot of managers.
Manager tools are great and I really like your Andy Grove high off of management,
five dysfunctions of a team is not a good one on on medium on Judy shower she is a VP of design at Facebook and she just writes a lot about Management’s and uninsured of things of things she’s lying to you that’s a great resource.

Christian Mccarrick:
[45:10] Yeah she is she’s going to need to try to get her on the podcast too because she does have a lot of good stuff and.

[45:16] For the mothers out there too I think Laura Hogan just spoke at the lead of conference I believe it’s coming up in New York I think she’s.

[45:29] She is so I recommend any listeners who are out there to their New York to go to see the lead of their awesome.

[45:38] There was some events she’s an awesome speaker she’s actually an upcoming yes to my podcast so I’m looking forward to having her and a little plug for myself too I’ll be actually speaking at the lead dive in London in June so they don’t have to be in London.
I certainly at the end of June come on in and I’d love to come to chat with you in and talk with you there as well.

Katie Womersley:
[46:00] Christian I will see you in London I am coming I’m thinking of a different conference I can’t I am sitting at a woman of silicon roundabout but I’m coming to the second day of so we definitely see you there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:10] Awesome then say great but we’ll don’t know which day I’m speaking I haven’t gotten that far the schedule yet but you know hopefully I run into each other so that’ll be awesome.

Katie Womersley:
[46:22] Great thanks for breakfast and I’m really excited to meet you soon.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:26] And Kitty thank you very much for the time this afternoon this evening it’s been a great episode I think it’s been very informed to my gas and thank you very much for coming on the show.

Katie Womersley:
[46:35] Thanks so much for having me husband.

Christian Mccarrick:
[46:38] One quick thing that I almost forget I will put in my show notes but Katie what for the listeners out there who might not go to the show not the best way to serve reach you online in a Blog Twitter or anything like that.

Katie Womersley:
[46:49] Yeah I’m on Twitter I’m at Katie underscore walmers on Twitter and you can find me there my websites there you can find me on medium at at Ka womersley on medium,
and yeah you should be able to get me from there.

Christian Mccarrick:
[47:05] Perfect will thanks suck any take care.

Katie Womersley:
[47:08] Great thank you Kristin bye for now.

Christian Mccarrick:
[47:13] Perfect will thanks suck any take care.

Katie Womersley:
[47:15] Great thank you Kristin bye for now.