Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and doing what’s needed to hire software engineers)

Leave a comment

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.
~Tuli Kupferberg

This week I’m talking about the wonderful world of hiring software engineers…

There IS talent out there – and you’ve got to pay for it, or invest in developing it. I’ve been recruiting software engineers for a number of years, and the difference between those who fill software engineer positions (from front end to full stack to quality assurance and everything in between) and those who don’t? Being realistic about who’s out there and investing in raw talent. Not nitpicking about candidates who don’t meet all eighty-six of your qualifications and instead think – can they learn what we need them to learn? Do they get along with the team? Are they focused on continuous improvement?

Think about how long you’ve had a job open and how much money you would have spent on salaries, training, etc. – and how much productivity is being lost by going so long without someone, simply because you are sure the “perfect” person is out there who wants to come work for you (and in your city). In this day and age? There is serious competition, and just because you think your technology is great doesn’t mean that’s going to sell to every great software engineer out there.

This infographic below hits the nail on the head about what the situation looks like. As I’ve told my clients before, tacking on $5,000 more to a salary is less than $2/hr more and can make a world of difference…so can paying for relocation and even more, allowing for flexible work schedules and even remote work. It gets super old when managers talk about what a top notch team they have yet they must-must-must work in the same office in order to be successful. Really? So you’ll turn down a bunch of great engineers because you have to talk to them through Skype rather than be able to touch them? It’s always sad to me when I see so many who are looking to work for a company but for whatever reason aren’t able or interested in relocation (and are often willing to take a lower salary in exchange for the benefit of working remotely) get rejected for positions…and then the positions stay vacant. Where I live, we have a tremendous startup culture – AND a huge amount of medium- to large-size companies who have found a way to snap up many of those in the small companies.

The problem is, there are a million ways to be creative in hiring, and too many are stuck in “their” way. The ones who are rockin’ the hiring, and retaining the folks they hire? They invest in them, they find ways to make it work rather than always draw inside the lines. They are open to changing the way they do things in order to build a stronger business, and will take the time to make those initial investment in less experienced staff who, for that investment of time, can ultimately pay back tenfold in talent.

What are you doing to get hiring done in a more awesome way?

Tuesday Go Ponder: Contemplating Artemis

Leave a comment

“You and Your loved ones are safe and spiritually protected.”

A couple weekends ago, the retreat I was on gave me enough free time to actually think and write and contemplate my life – without the distractions of the regular world, from where I’ve been to where I am to where I want to be in the future.

While I was there, one of the women had provided Doreen Virtue’s goddess card deck for us to request guidance about something in our lives. As a healthy skeptic with an open heart, I was interested in what card would come up for me. Each time I shuffled the 44 cards, the same card came up.

Artemis.

Virtue explains, “The Greek Goddess Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, the sun god. She is a powerful goddess who prefers to spend her time in the woods with the wild animals. Artemis has carried a bow and arrow ever since they were given to her in childhood, yet she never uses them to hurt anything. Rather, the energy of her bow and arrow is a talisman that helps her focus her thoughts and intentions, and she always reaches her mark of her manifestations. Artemis helps us to concentrate and focus as well. She offers protection to all who call upon her, particularly women and children.”

And I thought about her strength and focus. I thought about her relationship to nature and her protective instincts. I considered my obstacles, real and self-created, that I’ve allowed to keep me from plowing full speed ahead in pursuit of my real dream, that of publishing my first book.  And I continued to read:

“Like me, You have a sacred mission to spread love and light. Yet, this isn’t a position that comes from tension or worry. Instead, the gentle essence of a joyful heart and lighthearted laughter sets your power into motion. Why would there be any tension in your mind or system unless You believed that You were somehow unsafe? And how could you be unsafe when You’ve called upon the Spiritual Warriors to watch over You? So, ease your mind of all cares and concerns, and concentrate instead upon your mission.”

The idea of safety and security is often an underlying theme for many of us, but the biggest relationship it has to me at this juncture in my life is related to the fact that I am feeling every day like I am sitting on a precipice, afraid to leap. Thinking about where I want to go next, the projects I have begun but not had the courage to finish, the vulnerability I am afraid to expose, the “bag lady syndrome” that myself and so many of my peers experience…it’s at times been enough to stop me from going boldly in that new direction. Isn’t it amazing how external factors can influence us so deeply inside, and keep us distracted from our mission?

For me it’s the book, the ever looming book. I can’t punish myself, as I have made several drafts since kicking off the project last December. I have more work to do now that I’ve committed now to the direction I’m currently in, developing a professional resource for job seekers, and now it’s time to be thankful. Thankful for the time that the slower season ahead will bring in once again allowing me to dig deep and spend the hours I need to spend to add pages, fill in blanks, finish long-awaited interviews, and get my proposal together if I decide I want to submit it rather than self-publish. Ironically, none of the actual work terrifies me – it is fantastic fun!  What scares me is the idea of taking time to pursue my passion project which may or may not bring in money.

As a woman managing her own finances since the age of seventeen, I have never missed a payment on a bill. If that meant a steady diet of Hot Pockets or renting out one of the rooms in my house or trading in my bus pass for a bicycle, so be it. I have always done what needed to be done to make sure that the bills get paid. So with that, for some reason I’ve piggybacked the idea with billpaying that I shouldn’t set aside time for the real dream. (You know, the one you WISH you’d be getting paid for instead of your current work that has paid the mortgage for years).

I’m thinking of a time when I’ve forged ahead in spite of my fears, and it’s always been because I know I’ll be ok. It’s because I’ve seen much much worse, and I’ve always come out stronger. The lessons have always been worthwhile.

Today I edited for hours. I thought of so much more I still have to say in this book. I thought of recent conversations I’ve had with my clients, how each and every one of them have inspired me or taught me something. I think of my colleagues and my mentors, and even the people who have driven me a little crazy over the years. I think of my beloved who says to me, “my wife, the writer”.

And I wonder what was ever holding me back.

Tonight I walked down the street of a neighborhood I do not live in. I looked at my feet and leaves that I walked through, and I thought of a photograph. It’s something that the artist in me used to do all the time – snapping shots with my eyes, hearing lines of poetry in my mind, feeling myself in the air around me.

Maybe it was just for a moment, but today I felt safe. Today I feel myself beginning to reemerge.

Artemis is all around, in me and surrounding me. She is me.

Weekend in Pictures

Leave a comment

It was a busy weekend for me while the hubby worked, taking advantage of breaks in the rainy and windy weather to finish up some work in the yard, transplanting the orange lilies from our parking strip to the divider between ours and the neighbor’s driveways, along with pruning back the roses as the colder nights are starting to occur. Indoors, it was about trying out some new recipes and getting our new & improved living room figured out, yayyyy!

After ten years, it was finally time to give the beloved (but sagging) leather sofa & chair the boot. We looked all over for a truly eco-friendly sofa but our search didn't go far - Craigslist had a pretty dumpy selection, the consignment stores were way above our pricepoint, and the "eco" sofas at the retailers were a couple of mortgage payments. Detesting the service and the thinly veiled Walmart-ishness of Ikea, we found a great charcoal gray chaise/sofa combo and this matching chair (above) at Cost Plus World Market. While the sofa was (ugh) made in China, they have a pretty great social compliance policy and

It was finally time to sell my way-too-big-for-the-room (and post-divorce present to myself when I left my ex) leather sofa & chair. We looked all over for a truly eco-friendly sofa but our search didn’t go far – Craigslist had a pretty dumpy selection, consignment stores were shockingly way above our price point, and the “eco” sofas at retailers cost a minimum of a couple of mortgage payments. Detesting the apathetic “service” and thinly veiled Walmart-ishness of Ikea, we found a nice charcoal gray chaise/sofa and chair (above) at World Market. While it was (ugh) made in China, they do have a pretty great social compliance policy and with the 25% off furniture sale making the set around $700, this was the best deal and a good investment!

Enjoyed a long lazy lunch with my friend (originally the gal who sold me my house, now an auntie of sorts to me whose been so great to me over the years) who brought me 101 Things To Do With a Pickle. Great recipes in here to try out!!

Enjoyed a long lazy lunch with my friend (who sold me my house and is now who I affectionately consider an auntie, I just adore her) who gifted me with 101 Things To Do With a Pickle. Great recipes in here to try out!!

We hadn't seen a movie in forever so we went to see Gone Girl for a bit of a date night. Man, was that movie a disappointment. Starts out great but then has so many plot holes and a stupid ending that we just rolled our eyes. Who cares what the reviews say, we want our $25 back.

We hadn’t seen a movie in forever so we went to see Gone Girl for a bit of a date night. Man, was that movie a disappointment. Starts out great but then has so many plot holes and a stupid ending that we just rolled our eyes. Who cares what the reviews say, we want our $25 back. (image credit)

Every month, I give a percentage of my pre-tax income to a deserving nonprofit. This month it goes to SARC Oregon. The Sexual Assault Resource Center

Every month, I give a percentage of my pre-tax income to a deserving nonprofit. October’s goes to Oregon’s Sexual Assault Resource Center was founded by two sexual assault survivors in 1977, and its mission is to “promote social justice by eliminating sexual violence in our community through education, support and advocacy.”

And finally, I decided to go dark brown which I’ve not done in many years. After a lot of years going from light brown to reddish brown to RED-red as well as a few experiments in between (including but not limited to the blond front piece a la mid-1990’s, going all black in the fall of 2000 where I learned how quickly roots appear, and of course the super fun of stripping it out later), I knew I needed a change as we transition through fall and approach winter. Budget didn’t allow for a pro-color, so I picked an ammonia-free option and made a fierce mess of the bathroom. I haven’t quite come to terms with the grays that pop along the hairline, so feel good to have those gone, and hey – the husband digs it, too :-)

EcoGrrl-icious

Leave a comment
My pup got to try out acupuncture at her holistic vet appointment today. She took the needles easily but a few minutes after this while walking around, she decided to shake...and yep, most of the needles went flying. Based on the cost of treatment after the initial appointment, we're not going to be moving forward with this, but were glad we tried it :)

My pup getting acupuncture at her holistic vet today. She took the needles easily (yep, there is even one on her head, then a bunch going down her back), but a few minutes after this while walking around, she decided to shake…and yep, most of the needles went flying. Based on the cost of continued treatment, we’re not going to be moving forward with this, but were glad we tried it :)

Holy moly are the seasons showing or what?! A few inches of rain here in the Rose City and even turning the furnace on for an hour tonight! For me this means long sleeves, while for the hubby this means much more – the full on wool sweater and beanie (yes our temps are a bit different when it comes to weather, hahaha). But happily he’s got a pretty regular schedule now at work so I can

* Remember where most chocolate comes from. Do NOT forget this during the holiday season when you are handing out treats at Halloween or baking yummies on the holidays. Then read about finding ethically sourced chocolate.

* Super interesting article on dehydrating eggs – for those whose chickens create more than they can handle in the warm weather then not enough in winter, this is an awesome thing to consider…

* Something I learned about what folks can do to encourage their towns and school districts to take advantage of EPA upgrades for school busses!

* As the cooler winter arrives, thinking about what next year’s garden has in store and beekeeping for beginners is right up my husband’s alley :)

* The Unsafety Net discusses how social media has become a threat, and often more, to women. When will this end?

* And finally, some gorgeous pix taken by photographer Daphne Jenkins who I met at the yoga retreat last week. Great work!

Linus: [to Charlie Brown after Sally just ripped him a new one] You’ve heard of the fury of a woman scorned, haven’t you?

Charlie Brown: Yeah, I guess I have.

Linus: Well, that’s nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of trick-or-treats.

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and the importance of connecting)

Leave a comment

“A sale is not something you pursue, it’s what happens to you when you are immersed in serving your customer.”
~ Unknown

This past week I’ve had a blast working with a coaching client who really gets it when it comes to the relationship-building aspect of sales. As a recruiter who has hired a lot of salespeople over the years, I’ve also come to notice how obvious it is during the interview process if someone has the ability to build relationships or if they are only about the money. There’s a certain way people operate that is something I can only explain as a “gut check”, where I just know deep down if I trust them, and if they’re going to look out for others, or if they’re all about themselves. Am I able to truly interact with them and get to know who they are and what drives them, or is it obvious they’re just waiting to talk and, yes, sell me something so they can get onto the next deal?

As I begin this project of examining different career paths and then eventually deep-diving into them on this blog, I found this great infographic (below) about the vital aspect of relationship building in today’s sales climate. More and more companies are realizing that they can’t just have old school sales and marketing teams. They need the kind of professionals who get that the Customer Experience is enhanced by those who have been out there building, nurturing and growing relationships, and with that, the business grows both financially and culturally. To be an employer of choice AND a product/service of choice? That takes people who get it.

Whether you are working on a retail sales floor, doing inside sales from an office, or out in the field making it happen, those connections are incredibly essential to your success. I think of the people I know in sales who have made me feel valued, and how I have shared my experiences with others so that they may prosper, and I know that as both a recruiter and a career coach, the relationships I build are why I’m successful. If I called it in, I’d be miserable and my clients would be looking elsewhere.

Here’s a bit more on the evolution of relationship building in the sales world (and sales folks, your thoughts and stories from the field are welcome!)…

Weekend in Pictures

1 Comment

This weekend I had the most lovely time away from regular life at the coast for a Warrior Flow Wellness Retreat, hosted by my favorite yoga instructor, Jennifer Oechsner, at a huge house in Lincoln City. Along with 4.5 hours of yoga ranging from gentle to flow, mixed with meditations, we also received massages by none other than my favorite massage therapist, Julie Campbell of Written on the Body. Oh wait, and did I mention Brittney from New Seasons Market was our chef for the weekend with tons of fresh, local, organic ingredients to nourish us during this time?

Needless to say, it was wonderful and really an honor to get to spend time with ten (eleven?) interesting, smart, and creative women who bring so much to the world we live in. Along with that, it was nice to have it set up so that there was enough unstructured time to get to take solo walks on the beach, sit at the window and write, curl up on the sofa and read, and just sit around and talk with other women you may have never otherwise met and get to know each other. An unexpected surprise for me was making a vision board, as it really made me contemplate my intentions for the coming months and years. What does my world look like now and where is it headed? How have my priorities shifted and what do I need to let go of so that I may explore and create new bliss?

Here are a few things I saw while out on the beach, from the early Saturday morning fog to its rainy afternoon to Sunday morning’s windy nature to the last minute walk through afternoon sunshine…

Footprint

 

LC1

LC4

LC8

LC9

 

LC14

LC15

Aimee1

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and understanding today’s marketing profession)

2 Comments

I’ve had the chance to hire, career coach, and partner on social media with a ton of marketing professionals, and the one thing that is often understated about this profession, time and again, is how incredibly multifaceted these folks are. The common stereotype for recruiters is to call us ‘sales’ which is so not true. I’ve always felt that there are much more similarities between (good) recruiters and (good) marketers, as the work is so incredibly cross-functional, with a need to blend both technical and creative skills and work with a tremendous variety of individuals and systems to be successful in their organizations, as well as influencers outside of the corporate world.

Below is a sweet infographic that I think summarizes the many sides of today’s marketing professional, and what makes working with them so cool! Got anything more to add, marketers? What should people know about you that they don’t know?

(This is a hint of what’s to come! Over the coming months, I’ll be delving into different career tracks in my 9 to 5 column, with interviews of professionals who have been there and done that!).

Weekend in Pictures

1 Comment
Yay for rain! After a ton of work in the garden both in the front and back yards, the skies opened up, giving us much needed precipitation after a very dry start to autumn. So when the skies took a rest? Ahhh...this taken as we walked out of Cafe Eleven, one of our neighborhood haunts. :)

Yay for rain! After a ton of work in the garden both in the front and back, the skies opened up, giving us much needed precipitation after a very dry start to autumn. So when the skies took a rest? Ahhh…these clouds were spied as we walked out of Cafe Eleven, one of our neighborhood haunts. :)

As our sweet girl can't do major hikes, we found an easy trail for her to get the chance to be safely off leash and experience nature. :)

As our girl can’t do major hikes, we found an easy trail for her to get the chance to be safely off leash and experience nature. After being cooped up in a fluorescent-lit shelter for far too long, we love giving her these kinds of experiences!! While she got tuckered out pretty quick, she was happy to quietly, slowly explore her new surroundings in the trees :)

And with that, she got to cool off in the river and enjoy the field trip. She's no hyper water dog, however - while she strolled for a wee bit along the water, she mostly just drank from it then laid down on the sand while the spazzy retrievers and the like raced back and forth. Our girl has no interest in sticks or balls - she was more interested in just chilling with us while we sat on a log :)

And with that, she got to cool off in the river and enjoy the field trip. She’s no hyper water dog, however – while she strolled for a wee bit along the water, she mostly just drank from it then laid down on the sand while the spazzy retrievers and the like raced back and forth. Our girl has no interest in sticks or balls – she was more interested in just chilling with us while we sat on a log :)

My husband's gardenia plant is blooming!

My husband’s gardenia plant is blooming!

We bought several Japanese Holly plants referred to as "sky pencils" in that they grow that skinny and reach up to 8-10'. Excellent against the fence and won't be such a bugger to maintain!

We bought several Japanese Holly plants referred to as “sky pencils” in that they grow that skinny and reach up to 8-10′. Excellent against the fence and won’t be such a bugger to maintain! I’d love to have more but dang they are soooo expensive! Slowly but surely…

My husband landed a second job at the local organic grocer, so we celebrated with - of course! - great food :) Incredible Italian meal at Three Doors Down off SE Hawthorne in a romantic little table by the window. He's going to be a busy man with this and his job at the pub but after some disappointment at the way services are handled in Portland in his normal profession (mainly nonprofit work here compared to Oz), he's happy to be in an environment that is fun and fast paced until he figures out his next move.

My husband landed a second job at the local organic grocer, so we celebrated with – of course! – great food :) Shared an incredible Italian meal at Three Doors Down off Hawthorne in a romantic little table by the window. He’s going to be a busy man with this and his job at the pub, but after some disappointment at the way services are handled in Portland in his normal profession (mainly nonprofit work here compared to Oz), he’s happy to be in an environment that is fun and fast paced until he figures out his next move. (image source)

EcoGrrl-icious

1 Comment
My sweet girl likes to look out the window while I'm working (when she's not sleeping, that is), so there's a box there that she can put her front paws on to improve her vantage point :)

Our girl likes to look out the window while I’m working (when she’s not sleeping, that is), so I have a box there that she puts her front paws on to improve her vantage point :)

Here we go, y’all…are you feeling the chill in the evenings yet? I went to go buy a sweater for winter and was amazed there were none to be found – isn’t October when you start stocking up for winter? (Please retailers don’t make me shop after Thanksgiving!) Anyhow, we are focusing on completely revamping our garden before the rains come (before & after pix to come soon…I hope!) while the husband works a couple of jobs as well, but I’ve managed to still find some rad things to share with ya…

* The real deal on when you need to be washing your recyclablesI always rinse everything – pop ‘em in the dishwasher, how hard is it?

* How to make your own canning & pickling salt - spotted on Pinterest. Rad! That being said, I’m done pickling for the year but will remember this for next year’s preserving party!

* Engineer leaves Toyota to plant trees. Awesome story. What are you doing to push for greater green?

* Incredibly honored to be asked to be a keynote speaker at an Oregon Women Lawyers event in January for women in a variety of professions. OWL believes “that by working together, we can transform the practice of law and ensure justice and equality by advancing women and minorities in the profession.” YES!

* If the Earth was a cherry tomato – awesome graphic for all ages :)

* And as we get that chill of autumn in the evenings, staying inside and cooking is getting more and more tantalizing. Husband and I love cooking together and I’m going to be introducing him to baking this winter. Starting with these Chocolate Chip and Toffee Shortbread Cookies. Yum.

* We had an emotional first two weeks with our new dog Ruby, as we almost thought we’d need to find her a new home, because of the gross misrepresentation (and a few downright direct lies) by the Oregon Humane Society of her extensive health problems and physical capabilities. When we went to them for counsel, instead of being empathetic and trying to suggest solutions, they instead threatened us, demanded we bring her back, and then when we made the decision to keep her, instead of congratulating us they said they were putting us on their “do not adopt” list and telling all the other shelters in the Portland area that they should not adopt to us in the future. After volunteering with and contributing to this organization for years, we were sickened by the behavior of OHS and learned on Yelp that there are a number of other complaints over the years of the way they misrepresent pets. From now on, I contribute to ASPCA instead. I am proud I stood up to their unprofessional, unethical behavior and bullying and refuse to let them prey on the guilt of adoptive owners anymore.

“It is not the anger of other women that will destroy us but our refusals to stand still, to listen to its rhythms, to learn within it, to move beyond the manner of presentation to the substance, to tap that anger as an important source of empowerment.”
~ Audre Lord

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and leading in an ever-changing world)

Leave a comment
image source
(image source)

This week I’ve invited business leader and tech advisor/consultant Peter Bohnert to guest blog for my weekly “9 to 5″ column where the focus is on the career, from finding a job to the various facets of being in one, whether it be the daily grind, leading teams, the art of running your own business, and much more. Originally a client who became a dear friend to my husband and I (and participated in last year’s interview series!), Peter is a highly respected leader of teams, with a lot of wisdom to share. In today’s post, Peter shares his thoughts on collaboration in today’s evolving and globally distributed business world…

On the morning of September 20th, like many people around the world, I was eager to hear of the results of the Scottish independence referendum.

Having lived and worked for a time in the Republic of Ireland and have traveled there many times over the years, I’m familiar with the long history and tenor of independence debate and struggle from those island nations. There continues to be quite a lot of fallout from the election results, with both feelings of relief from many (most?) in the UK as well as clear positioning for more devolvement: i.e., witness the English wanting to have ‘England only’ votes in the House of Commons.

I am struck by two things: there is a lot of truth in seeing four different peoples be “better together” as one country and there is equally a lot of truth to the great advantages of local governance. I imagine these themes are going to continue to play out for the UK for some time and a greater degree of devolvement within the country – for English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Scots – will probably take place.

A further significance of this event started to crystallize for me some time later during a conversation with a senior engineering director for a globally dispersed software company. This person clearly was chafing at the constraints of centralized leadership “sending down direction” from another geography and wanted to know how I would manage such a distributed set of teams in one company if I were the overall head of engineering.

I thought to myself, is there a lesson here from Scotland?

I have built my career on managing engineering and product teams in many different kinds of software companies. I’ve also started two companies of my own and admit I have enjoyed the adrenalin rush of needing to grow my company and product when I cannot find my engineering talent either within my locality or within my budget. Or both.

There was a time when the question of who I would hire was more often a financial one, and I first started working with hybrid onshore/offshore team models around that time. As time has passed, it has become simply more and more difficult to find enough talented engineers to meet the kinds of aggressive product and project timelines we have and to do so in ridiculously hot hiring markets like Portland and San Francisco.

Suffice to say, it is for all of those reasons that I’ve spent the last ten years of my career embracing the notion of distributed teams. I say ‘embrace’ because I truly believe the best way to move creatively in a distributed world is to look for advantages in this model, rather than get stuck on the challenges.

Everywhere I look I see this as one of the leading growing trends – that the only way to survive and flourish is to hire your talent where you can find them and let go of the very natural desire to have every member of your team in the same room.

I am a firm believer in the power of collaborative teams – cross-functional teams at that. The very notion of collaboration implies to me the ability to work side by side with others and bounce ideas off each other as you work the creative process. There is truly something distinctive and bonding about being able to be in someone’s presence as you first get to know them and as you face difficult problems together. I’ve seen teams truly galvanize and accomplish amazing things together.

But how do you do that when you have product teams dispersed across four, five or more different physical locations?

I have found the answer lies in balance. In balancing between building global cultures and local ones.

Recently I built a team for my company – a team of 75 technical and product people across 4 continents and 6 time zones. It was crucial to aim for a globally defined culture – to have a sense for what it meant to be a member of the overall team as we were building a new product with new technologies and we wanted a single Agile process throughout.

There were a lot of components in our approach to succeeding at this and yes they did include frequently putting people on planes and more often utilizing video conferencing, group chat and other collaborative technologies. Laying the groundwork of a new team with everyone in the same room tended to make the follow-on long distance collaboration more effective. Frequently repeating the “in person” experience keeps that connection refreshed.

I found that much depended upon consistently setting the example and leading from the front: regularly demonstrating the importance of connecting and collaborating across geographies. As the manager of this distributed team, I believed that I needed to make it my regular practice to set direction, let collaboration flourish, take measurements, share feedback across the teams and set new course corrections based upon that. Then repeat. And repeat again.

Leadership, however, is not just leading from the front. As your cross-geography team starts to get momentum, it is critical to find those opportunities to delegate and then lead from behind and from the side. As you do this, you can also start to look for ways for local culture in each of your different geographies to thrive and contribute to the overall success of the team. Local culture is one of those hugely important elements in what keeps technical and product people engaged – increasing the sense of belonging and community amongst a team.

I’m not just talking about fun stuff like beer & wine in the fridge, special team outings and local traditions that help bind that team together (and yes those are very important).

I’m also talking about looking for local efficiencies – perhaps your Portland team has the greatest concentration of your webstore/shopping cart technical knowledge while product catalog know-how might be in Austin.  If you find a situation like that, let those sub-teams and team leads run with their specialty while you as manager ensure that the connecting points continue to get the attention they need.

I want my team leads to not be afraid to try out new ideas locally and also not to get caught up in asking permission first. Yes, that is something that needs to be moderated to a degree, but I find a huge benefit in pushing for innovation while keeping the connective links between your teams and geographies.

Can this go too far? Can you be too distributed? Yes, indeed.

Everyone’s threshold is different – every team I’ve managed has its own rhythm, cadence and collaborative framework that works most optimally. Experimentation is key here, along with a willingness to admit one approach has failed and to try another. Think in terms of Agile processes – for example, I favor an approach where we regularly do a “lessons learned” look at how we are collaborating together across geographies and make adjustments accordingly.

Ultimately, where we fail is when we are lulled into wanting our work to be a checklist item – can I just mark this done and go work on something else? Instead, keep your focus on this as a practice, where you regularly alternate between making course corrections based upon the team’s shared experience, and then letting those collaborative teams make their magic without you breathing down their necks. It’s in finding that balance between the efficiencies of small co-located teams and the accomplishments feasible with networks of such teams all closely collaborating with each other.

Like our friends in the UK, there can be great momentum and execution as one global community, even and especially while you are also pushing large amounts of decision-making authority and accountability down to the local level.

It also helps if each team has some really great flags to fly.