Leading a team, especially a distributed or growing one, can be hard. Oftentimes the best advice and ideas come from other teams just like yours. That’s why we launched Lead Time: How Teams Work. This blog series profiles real teams, how they’re structured, and how they communicate through meetings and other touchpoints. Plus, each article features a top-notch leader who's got proven tips and real stories to learn from.
Minn Kim works at On Deck as a partner, evaluating new founders joining the On Deck network and helping them gain access to small business loans. Her team — the ODX team — consists of about 10 people who work fully remote.
We sat down with Minn to learn more about how her team shares information and connects as a fully remote group, and learn some of her favorite tips for getting remote communication right.
On Deck’s ODX team ladders up into the company’s broader startups org, and works closely with cross-functional teammates across product, engineering, and go to market.
At On Deck, Minn says almost all communication happens over Slack. It’s a great solution for a fully remote team, but can get overwhelming if there’s a lot of noise and it becomes difficult to actually parse what is and isn’t important. To ensure everyone stays sane when using Slack, Minn and her team developed some communication guidelines around how to use the channel.
“There are highly specific ways our Slack channel structure is defined and during onboarding, that's something that you learn to navigate,” she explains.
On Deck’s Slack guidelines
Minn says leaning into async communication has provided a number of benefits for the whole On Deck team.
First off, it helps everyone move more quickly.
“It’s always hard to schedule meetings across time zones — waiting for a time that works for everyone can be a blocker in itself,” shares Minn. “When we communicate asynchronously, we can get alignment a lot faster and get more done.”
Minn adds that communicating asynchronously has been much more inclusive of the remote team and encourages everyone to participate to their fullest.
“It actually protects people’s time,” she explains. “And gives them the ability to digest information in their own time.” This means that when the team does choose to come together to meet, everyone tends to be well-aligned and ready for a productive discussion.
On Deck’s async communication toolkit:
On a fast-growing, fully remote team, it’s easy for meetings and communication to feel very tactical: here’s what we’re trying to tackle and here’s how we’ll do it.
In many cases, that’s a good thing. It means the team is operating efficiently and maximizing output. But Minn says it’s also important to build in moments for people to come together and connect.
“One-on-ones are actually really important — even more so if you don't get to spend a lot of physical time together,” she explains. “It’s one of the few times where you just get to be a person, let down your guard, and connect. It doesn’t have to always be about getting stuff done.”Try a template for your next 1:1