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Strengthening Connections and Trust Across a Distributed Workforce

It’s no surprise that Salesforce has enjoyed tremendous growth for over a decade. They have found a way to create and reinforce strong connections between people who may never even meet.

At EightCloud, we have been growing alongside Salesforce over the past eight years, delivering our services almost entirely from a remote service model. When we started, we had to quickly develop strategies that enabled us to operate with a distributed workforce, while also servicing our clients remotely. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your company has recently had to do this as well.

Once you’ve established the framework to actually get your team working remotely, you still need to give your clients confidence in your ability to follow through and deliver the same level of quality that you did working face-to-face.

In a word: Trust. Easier said than done, right?

  • How do you get a new client to trust you, especially if they rarely (or in some cases – never!) meet the team in person?
  • How do you build that necessary trust across a team of people who don’t have regular face-to-face communication and engagement with each other?

Over the years, EightCloud has developed methods to facilitate that trust. It’s the only way we could have made it to this point, and be prepared for what’s ahead.

In this post (and upcoming e-book you can sign up for below), I will highlight several ways to:

  • Ensure your clients can trust you to deliver remotely, consistently, and efficiently;
  • Ensure you have a team of professionals who trust their own capabilities, as well as those of their colleagues;
  • Be a leader who connects with a remote team and sets them up to successfully deliver high quality solutions for your clients.

Building Trust with Clients

Consistency is the cornerstone of trust in a remote working relationship. The last thing a new client wants is to feel like they fell victim to the old “bait and switch.” They need to see that you bring a reliable, predictable process for initiating an engagement, conducting discovery exercises, building solutions, and executing a release.

It’s important to follow a well-defined and thoroughly tested methodology geared toward supporting clients remotely with collaboration tools, communication strategies, transparency, reporting, and knowledge sharing.

EightCloud invests a lot to ensure the team is well-versed in iterative, agile delivery as well as our specific methodology. This equips our consultants with the confidence too quickly and efficiently solve clients’ problems.

When clients recognize the value you deliver, they will continue the relationship – that is the true testament of trust. An organization-wide understanding of a proven methodology allows us to provide Managed Services and project work simultaneously to over 40 clients, year after year.

Building Trust Across the Team

Ensuring your team operates at peak performance in a remote environment starts with fostering each person’s trust in—and commitment to—the team. It is vital to take deliberate steps to encourage and promote this mutual trust.
Distributed workforce

It’s extraordinary how many companies have very abruptly been forced to adapt their entire workforce to a remote environment. Most have transitioned quickly to a new way of working, but what can they do to carry forward a more flexible approach, while continuing to maximize trust and productivity?

While we speculate about what the “new normal” will look like, EightCloud is fortunate to have been able to select people specifically for remote operations from the start. Not only has this allowed us to source talent from across the US (in addition to building our hugely critical teams in Mexico and India), it has framed the way we work to achieve optimal trust.

Don’t go it alone.
Experienced individuals can handle a lot of responsibility, but an entire client relationship or complex project should not be a single-handed endeavor. At EightCloud, every engagement is assigned at least two equally capable consultants, because we know that it takes collaboration and knowledge sharing to design and deliver comprehensive solutions.

Share knowledge and best practices.
There are many ways they do this. We utilize some very active Slack channels for this purpose (#todayilearned, #i_need_a_hand, #releasenotesgems, to name a few). We also use 1:1’s and small sub-group scrum meetings and activities. These sub-groups (which we call ‘Pods’) are self-managing, self-organized teams that support each other, and ultimately our clients, by consistently meeting, sharing stories, conducting solution reviews, and challenging design decisions. Supporting each other in such an open and vulnerable environment goes a long way in getting the team to lean on each other and build a strong sense of trust.

Our team co-locates twice a year for onsite “fling” events, with days dedicated to training, team exercises, knowledge sharing, and skills improvement workshops. When we are unable to meet in-person, we hold remote sessions where the team can re-focus, have fun, and learn.

Get the most out of in-person events.
For teams used to seeing each other and sharing a space every day, the loss of that regular face-to-face interaction can be a big concern. However, as a remote organization, we find that in-person events become even more impactful when they are less frequent. In an office, face-time is taken for granted; it happens every day! The sense of reliance upon the team can devolve into a redundant, inefficient, political environment. Unnecessary meetings are filled with attendees chiming in to establish some sense of relevance. In a consulting environment, this does a huge disservice to clients who end up footing the bill for this inefficiency.

When onsite time is necessary, our team shows up prepared and focused. They hit the objectives, define a roadmap, and take it back to the team for execution. It is an efficient process that ends up saving clients a ton of money in the long run. An added benefit is that it doesn’t lead to road warrior burn out.

Building Trust as a Leader

Leading an entirely remote team is not easy. Leading a consulting practice focused on the fastest growing CRM adds an extra layer of challenge. It’s the leader’s job to provide the vision behind the methodologies and tools that build trust and drive value for employees and clients.

“Take care of your employees, and they will take care of your clients.” This is my simple mantra for remembering to remove distractions that prevent the team from focusing on the client, so they can effectively deliver the highest quality services in the most efficient fashion.

For any company to succeed in the long run, it must be able to not only attract top tier professionals, but also retain them. This is even more crucial for a remote service provider.

In order to ensure the team is operating effectively, there are a few things I’ve discovered along the way that help me be a strong remote team manager, that are also very much applicable to any manager:

  • Communicate often, via multiple channels
  • Set expectations as a group and follow up individually to ensure follow-through
  • Encourage the sharing of ideas and story telling
  • Ensure the team is supported, heard, and set up for success
  • Hold the individual and team accountable for decisions, actions, and inaction
  • Don’t lose the team’s support by shying away from tough problems

Get an in-depth look at each of these topics along with plenty of practical tips by downloading our e-book: Six Steps to Remote Workforce Leadership

DOWNLOAD NOW!

 

Author: Brian McCall, Salesforce Practice Director

EightCloud was really easy to work with and we will definitely work with them again in the future!"

- Cassandra Garcia, State of Washington, Pollution Liability Insurance Agency (PLIA)

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