I am working from Buenos Aires this week as part of a very intense week of product planning for our KidoZen platform. Spending time with the new team, has reaffirmed my believes about the importance of face-to-face communication.
In previous years, I didn’t devoted enough time to visit our team overseas and, instead, invested a lot of energy on implementing the right communication infrastructure to mitigate the challenges of not having the majority of the team in the same office space. While the results were great from a productivity standpoint, it became obvious that the team was missing that chemistry that builds-up when you meet people in person and share a glass of wine while discussing the company vision. Sadly, that lack of chemistry remains hidden most of the time but always surfaces when the team faces difficult decisions that can test the core of your team values. I learned that one the hard way.
With KidoZen, I made the promise of changing those dynamics and our team member in the USA and Argentina are regularly spending time together working on different product planning and strategy sessions.
What a difference that has made!
I am firm believer in distributed teams and the globalization of talent. As a company, KidoZen likes to hire the best talent regardless of the geographic location. The advances on communication technologies, the cultural evolution of most societies have lowered racial, language and religious barriers making it exponentially simpler for organizations to build distributed teams. However, there are still very tangible benefits of co-located teams.
- Showing that you care: Getting on a plane to go visit a team member signals to everyone how much you care for the team.
- Learning what motivates your team: Spending time with your team will help you learn their passions, motivations and goals in life which are important drivers when you are building your future together.
- Observing how people work and analyze problems: You will get to observe your team working dynamics, how they approach problems, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
- Building trust: In-person communication builds trust. People can look into your eyes and determine if your message is honest and strong enough to resist the difficult times.
- Reinforce your vision: Spending time together with your team will give you a great opportunity to reinforce the company vision, goals and make your team aware of their importance in the execution of that vision.
- Building friendships: Some of the relationships you build with your colleagues will have the opportunity to evolve into friendships. While is not always a good idea to mix friendships and work, I never run away from cultivating great friendships with amazing people. Quite the contrary, I feel blessed for having the opportunity to spend time with some many spectacular folks.
I hope some of the items above make sense. I would love to hear your thoughts about the importance of face-to-face communication in a startup. I believe that, as a CEO, is your job to put that burden upon yourself and fly everywhere to spend time with your team. I am certainly enjoying my time in Buenos Aires. I will leave you with a photo of a team dinner a few nights ago: