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Listening out loud: how Lindsay Czopur works on distributed teams

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic served as a forcing function to re-evaluate the way teams worked together. In fact, many companies are re-learning how to collaborate with their teams. As some move towards being a fully distributed workforce, Atlassian included, we are interviewing those who have worked on distributed teams before so that we may learn insights and share them with customers along the way.

In the fourth interview in the 2020 "Listening Out Loud" series, Lindsay Czopur, Atlassian Community Leader and Scrum Master, discusses her practices while working on distributed teams. A few themes from our chat included:

  • Onboarding: Lindsay learned quickly that the onboarding process could improve, especially because not having someone with you face-to-face can make a new hire feel even more on an island. She suggests more formal training on processes, something often overlooked because it is secondhand nature for existing team members. For those also looking to improve their onboarding, try walking new hires through tutorials step-by-step, and if available, provide shadowing opportunities so that new hires can see what processes look like in real situations.
  • Communication requires feedback loops: either by running retrospectives or incorporating some kind of feedback loop to know whether messages make sense, attendees are aligned, and if the channels being used makes sense. 
  • Ways of working takes effort: Lindsay is the only scrum master at her company and while she and perhaps a few others actively try and approve processes, there isn't a formal group whose charge it is to adjust to this "new normal." Atlassian has a dedicated working group, but even the way in which we're structuring that group is evolving. It might be interesting to see if there was someone whose full responsibility was dedicated to helping an entire workforce work effectively as a distributed team.
  • Documentation and over-communication are table-stakes and not nice-to-haves: overcommunication and documenting conversations in Slack or other channels will help ensure that team members have a chance to revisit what was discussed. These are fundamentals but are especially important when not face-to-face. Have a notetaker in every meeting and don't hold meetings without an agenda. Use Confluence and action items with tagged teammates. 
  • Go beyond transactional communication: while many might already be accustomed to using chat tools like Slack, not everyone is used to having social conversations in those channels. It's important to morale for conversations to not just be transactional but also include fun, non-work, and relationship-building conversations. We have to work mindfully, which means taking into account if people are stressed, if people feel left out without saying it, and all the things that may go unnoticed simply because there is no normalized mechanism to flag when these feelings occur.

PS - Note that this is all audio as opposed to the videos from earlier articles in these series. We made it available on YouTube for consistency.

 

 

 

6 comments

Bridget Community Manager Oct 07, 2020

Amazing feature! @Lindsay Czopur , amazing and actionable best practices 👏🏼

Like pargab sala likes this

@Lindsay Czopur  Thanks for sharing! and welcome to this initiative!

Like pargab sala likes this
Dave Liao Community Leader Oct 11, 2020

@Lindsay Czopur - agreed on the need for documentation! Never thought about the need to over-communicate (or putting it that way), but a remote-first workforce should always be straight with one another to avoid assumptions.

Good luck being a steward of processes - it's a fight worth fighting! I feel that an Industry Group for project management / PMOs would eventually be needed if there are enough of us out there? 👐

Like pargab sala likes this

@Dave Liao agreed on your point that industry group for project management/PMOs should be needed. I second you for that and will be there for this initiative.

Like Dave Liao likes this

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa  fabulous initiative of the interview. With this we got to know about different thought process and apply others suitable process

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

@Lindsay Czopur I second you for this. Good answers.

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