Podcast, Remote Working

The Principles of Good Leadership for Remote Teams – Kelly Vaughn – The Taproom Agency

In this episode of The Human Behind the Screen, we are joined by Kelly Vaughn, an entrepreneur, developer, and Shopify expert and partner. Kelly is a front end developer, and she runs a marketing agency that specializes in Shopify, the e-commerce platform, called The Taproom Agency. At The Taproom, Kelly creates high-powered Shopify Plus solutions for fast-growing businesses. Their services range from custom theme design and development to digital marketing, SEO strategy, and growth consultation. As dedicated partners, they turn Shopify stores into sales powerhouses and provide the tools needed to keep busineses growing. 

A full Remote Company

For somebody who has worked as a freelancer, her whole life; starting at a very young age as is 14 years old, making a little exception of maybe nine months working in an office, Kelly has collected enough experience to know that she seriously prefers to work remotely and that she has got the knowledge to lead a remote team.

Kelly has to learn at a very young age how to keep herself motivated, in her own words " Because when you're working around people, it's a lot easier to see them working. You realize I should probably be working too[...]When you're working by yourself, it's a lot easier to pop onto Twitter or, check your phone or do literally anything except your work. So that was especially starting at a younger age, that's a skill you develop as you get older and it's something I had to catch on to much sooner than most people probably would."

But not only her leadership skill make possible to her to have a fully remote company, but she has also learned which qualities she is looking for in her employees "If they already have experience working remotely or if they have experienced freelancing, it's a good indicator that they're capable and they will do well. I think the other thing is going to be their communication style; If they're really good communicators, both in person and on the phone, especially via email, like their messaging as they type is important, then those are the kinds of things I look out for when I'm going through the interview process".

Leaders that Helps You to Grow

Thanks to all of those years working as a freelancer and remote worker, Kelly has collected a great set of skills, as a worker and as a leader and adding to that, she is a trained therapist, which gives her another set of skills, to practice as a good leader. As Kelly said, her leadership style is very hands-off, she likes to empower her team, so they feel that they can work perfectly without her micromanaging them "I hire them because I know that they're going to be a great remote worker and if I find that they're not going to be a great remote worker, I know that I do need to replace them".

Kelly knows that she, as a leader needs to be the one that creates the communication channels with her team, and not the other way around. She likes to make herself as available as possible for her team, and she knows that she must respect and find a way to make the time zones differences work in their favour as a team.

Kelly is aware that not everyone feels comfortable working exclusively from home and she aims to reimburse them if they want to work from a co-working space, she also is willing to pay for online courses that allow her team to grow and acquire new skills " I want to be able to provide them the resources, so they're continuing to grow personally and professionally, and not just giving everything to The Taproom because I could not survive without them, and I need them to feel like they're not only a part of the company but also growing themselves"

Transparency within the Company

When it comes to a company, which has a fully remote team, transparency is a must at the moment to create a connection or improve team interactions. Kelly shares with us, how she contributes as a leader, to create that transparency "I try to keep a lot of the conversations that we have open to everybody who like everybody on the team, because if anybody can jump into a conversation, it doesn't matter where you're faced, as long as they feel comfortable joining in on the conversation, then I've done my job. Fostering those kinds of conversations and being the one again to start those conversations, and making people feel comfortable to jump in on the conversation if even if we're not seeing each other face to face all the time" Kelly said.

Kelly is aware of the importance of interpersonal relationships and how that can affect a business, to make it successful or to delay the process of growth of a company" Especially when you're growing a team, it becomes as you're delegating, it comes to the point where your team is what's going to make your business successful. It's not you" as Kelly said.

Co-Working Spaces for the Extrovert Remote Workers

For some remote workers, the opportunity to work from home is a dream come true. They can find the perfect balance between work and personal life, find time to run errands or doing some recreational activities, having the perfect excuse to leave the house just the necessary. But for some others, do not have the chance of speak with another human in person, or feeling the motivation that can give us watch somebody else working, can be a real nightmare; that is the case for Kelly, who refers to herself as an extrovert and had recognized that sometimes she needs to work from an office environment and how a co-working space had helped her with that "I love talking to people, I love hearing people's stories, and when you're working remotely, especially if you're freelancing, you don't have other team members who get what you're doing. But working out of this co-working space has allowed me to form these friendships with other people who are working out there, who are working for completely different companies in completely different areas, but I can walk in, and they'll be like, Oh, how that event go, that you're going to be attending last week. They remember, and this is like having your local co-workers in that case, even if you're never working on the same thing" Kelly said.

This shows us the importance of understanding and recognizing our needs and how to fill them.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

We tend to forget, that when it comes to working remotely or as a freelancer, we are our own company or product to sell and that we need to be our publisher or public relations agent "there is a common misconception that unless you're running a business, you're not an entrepreneur, you don't have the entrepreneurial mindset, and the truth is, even if you're working for a company, you're representing yourself every day, you're having these conversations with people you are interviewing for jobs, you're selling yourself. I mean, there are so many things that you're doing in your day to day life, that are exactly what the entrepreneurial mindset is, even if you're not physically running your own business. So being able to do what we can to promote those positive skills that just grow those skills within The Taproom for our employees is important" Kelly shared with us.

Kelly let us know that she promotes that kind of mindset within her team and that she is very proud of their success "as you're growing your team, and they're getting better, there's always that chance that you're going to lose that employee that they're going to decide to start their own business or they're going to go elsewhere. And even if you lose them, you've done an amazing thing by being able to help them get to that point where they feel like they can take that next big step in their career. So it's a win for them. It's a win for you honestly, even if it's a loss of an employee."

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