Interview: The Fundamentals of Remote Team Reporting

This week, we spoke with Grace Lau, Director of Growth Content at Dialpad. In our interview, we learned about the digital tools she uses to effectively run her team. We discuss how to get the most out of your team while using a weekly reporting tool, staying transparent in teams, and advice for motivating remote employees over time.

Interview with Dialpad Grace Lau

The Interview

Hey Grace, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! Could you share a bit about Dialpad and your role as Director of Growth Content?

For sure! I head up our Content Marketing team, which includes SEO and content folks, and our charter is to grow organic traffic + awareness of Dialpad through content, including blog posts, SEO-focused pages, and even helping our Social Media Manager spin up organic social posts from time to time. And our team services content needs from other teams in the company too!

And whats your team structure like, how many direct reports do you have?

Currently, I have five reports, two are SEO Managers, while the other three folks are content marketing managers and writers.

How many total employees in the organization? Does everyone operate fully remote? 

I think at last count, we have over 900 employees now, which is wild because when I joined, it was closer to 700ish! We are on a hybrid model right now—some folks are going back to the office (we have offices around the world), while others are working remotely full time, like me. 

The pandemic definitely got more folks working remotely, but because Dialpad is a unified communications platform, it’s always had that “work-from-anywhere” DNA. We have phone calls, video meetings, and team + SMS messaging all from Dialpad’s app, which means the adjustment to operating remotely was actually pretty smooth!

That’s awesome! What organizational reporting systems do you have in place for work tasks and sharing weekly plans?

We use Asana primarily to manage content requests from other teams and also our own content / SEO projects, which works quite nicely for us!

Other than that, we message each other and have team meetings / 1-on-1s through Dialpad’s app, which is very convenient since we’ve got all our communication channels all in one place!

What do you hope to gain from using a weekly status reporting system? How can you align your expectations with how your team uses it?

For us, it’s really an opportunity to do two things: understand what the rest of your teammates are working on (and where you can help), and catch red flags before they become actual red flags. 

People are expected to ask for help early on and be proactive about it—with everyone being remote, this is maybe a little harder than it normally is, but over communication is crucial for us. This is a big reason why I haven’t changed this to just an asynchronous standup meeting. Everyone’s working remotely, which means we’re already communicating less than in-office teams, and being able to actually speak with each other and talk through projects is still valuable for us.

In your experience leading a remote team – do you think it’s possible to have a clear overview of what’s happening day to day without micromanaging?

I think so—but you need clear processes and expectations. I hope I’m not a micromanager, but whenever I’ve been tempted to do it, I find that it’s often because I feel like I’m not aware of a certain project’s progress, or certain details. 

With a good reporting tool – everyone can see the status and latest updates for every project, so that reduces a manager’s need to hover (or virtually hover, in my case), and folks can ask for help and provide updates in our team messaging thread.

It’s not a perfect system by any means, because humans are fallible… All you can really do is put the processes in place to help your teammates as much as possible, provide constant reinforcement, and trust them to do the right thing.

Great point! What are some effective tactics you use to maintain transparency within a remote team? 

Over communicate! And have a project management system that’s accessible. Often, people don’t mean to silo themselves. Sometimes, the environment just does it for you. So, you need to have those processes and tools in place that are fail-safes for communication. 

For us, it’s using a project management tool, having a bi-weekly team meeting, and weekly 1-on-1s. If you don’t do these things consciously, then your communication and alignment will suffer subconsciously.

One last question – What’s your greatest advice to leaders who struggle to motivate their employees in a remote work environment?

I’d rather hire employees who are motivated from the get-go, but if you’ve inherited some folks and have no choice, I’d say having clear expectations is crucial.

Your team can’t achieve (and over-achieve) if they don’t know what they’re being measured against, so have clear quarterly goals, tell them what they need to do to hit those goals (or earn that bonus!), and have clear feedback for when they’re not doing what you need them to. 

Equally importantly, understanding that your employees are humans too. People get burned out, people get sick, things happen. Especially over the past few years, I myself have definitely struggled a bit from a mental health perspective just from anxiety and a kind of hopelessness because of the pandemic and society’s response to it. Being able to extend a degree of compassion and grace to others—and myself—during this time is a must. We’re all just trying to live. This is just a job at the end of the day. It’s important to not lose that perspective.

Concluding thoughts

We loved Grace’s advice for setting clear expectations, processes, and quarterly goals in teams. From step one, providing your team with clear internal processes and having the confidence in them to follow through – you can take your company to new heights! 

If you’re interested in using a weekly reporting software that can help you streamline your weekly plans and goals – Try Team Compass. Team Compass is free for teams 3 or less. Teams with 4+ users get full access to the software for just $29 / per month!