On global remote teams, effective leadership, and analytics: a conversation with Zapier's Stasha RosenFeatured
I spoke with Stasha Rosen, decision science and analytics manager at Zapier, which creates workflow integration and automation technologies. Prior to Zapier, Stasha was the director of analytics at M.M. LaFleur, a senior product analyst at Refinery29, and product lead at L2. Stasha studied biology in college but has found that the analytical skill set she gained from her research work during school has served her well in her later roles. Although she has worked at both consumer and enterprise companies, her roles have centered around the common theme of digital innovation in different sectors. Specifically, her work has been focused on applying user and customer centric analytics in different companies, whether from the perspective of the reader at Refinery29 or the customer at M.M. LaFleur or the enterprise user at Zapier. Stasha shared her advice for leading remote teams (Zapier is a fully remote global company even prior to COVID-19!), making the transition into leadership roles at technology companies, and managing data analytics products. The best managers guide but do not tell. Share your ideas but place trust in your employees to execute and implement. Play the role of coach, rather than player. Strike a balance between management and actually pitching in, evolving more toward the former over time as you transition further into your leadership role. Default to transparency. In remote settings, you lose the ability to walk over to people’s desks to have check-ins or other conversations in an opening setting. In order to mimic this organically transparent nature of a physical office, in the virtual world, aim to only use public tools, such as Slack in public channels rather than email. Document everything. Make sure to clearly articulate your progress and thinking process so that managers and collaborators can easily review and continue group projects even across different time zones. Have annual retreats for everyone to come together. Ultimately, fully remote daily work should be balanced by some in-person contact to create a greater sense of physical community as well. Outside of quarantine times, the Zapier team comes together once a year for a global retreat. Use Slack and Zoom for designated non-work purposes as well. Have Slack channels for shared interests around crafting, TV shows, and books, for example. Host happy hours, informal coffee chats, or game nights on Zoom. Help people share their own voice through content. Zapier has an internal blog for their employees to easily trade notes with each other and provide a better sense of their perspective and personality in value-added ways internally. Balance self-serve with customer understanding. Stasha and her team believe that data democratization (making data widely available) at a business is a great start, but to build upon that, they offer a training program to empower business teams across the company to make sense of the vast amounts of data available to them.