Guest

39

“To build a remote culture, you have to move away from relying on things that happen implicitly (because you happen to be in the same office and you walk past each other) to doing things explicitly, meaning that you create opportunities, events, that you play games together, that you spend time and money as a leader on creating tools for people to bond.”

In this episode

In episode 39, Job Van der Voort  helps us better understand the world of remote work. 

Job is the co-founder and CEO at Remote.com and the host of the Remote Work Podcast – a podcast we recommend if you’re new to managing distributed teams!

On today’s episode, we talk to Job about the difference between being a micromanager and a manager who values detail. 

We also explore the benefits that come with working remotely, and what happens to the marketplace of talent when location is no longer required. 

Last but not least, Job shared his perspective on the best practices that leaders should follow when hiring people in different countries.

Tune in to hear all about Job’s remote work playbook and the powerful insights he has to offer!


Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


03:59

Job’s most memorable managers

04:53

Becoming a manager

05:39

The difference between micromanaging and caring about quality

09:00

Recruiting worldwide: a distributed talent marketplace

11:30

Working remotely and team bonding: you have to work for it to make it work

14:26

Is building a remote culture harder than building an office culture?

16:34

Narrowing down candidates and talent when hiring across the world

19:20

Are all your candidates similar in terms of gender, age and/or background? There might be something wrong.

21:00

How Remote.com helps with international hiring

26:17

Building a culture of documentation

27:28

What type of information should be documented?

29:45

Asynchronous communication between executives in different timezones

32:20

Weekly one-on-ones with direct reports and what should happen during these meetings

33:38

Dealing with different cultural backgrounds during the hiring process and being aware of cultural biases

36:16

Remote work gives companies the opportunity to hire diverse talent

39:20

Be kind.


Resources


Transcript

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  2:55  

Welcome to the show. 

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  2:53  

Thanks. Yeah, super glad to have you here. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  2:56  

So you’re in Portugal right now.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  3:00  

I’m in Portugal, I mean, in north of Portugal and Braga, which is a good place to live because it’s warm, it’s sunny and the houses are affordable.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  3:08  

That’s awesome. That’s a really good combination. Thanks so much for doing this. It’s a particularly good time for us to have you on the show. Obviously, you know you’re CEO of remote.com, the entire world wants to learn how to manage remotely. And it’s not that you just became CEO of this company. And that’s your own experience in remote before this, you were VP of Product at GitLab. And obviously that’s the world’s largest all remote company. It was I guess now everybody’s remote. That’s true. But before we dive into all the the remote stuff, and you know all your wisdom along those lines, I just wanted to start off by rewinding all the way back to the beginning and asking you who has been your most memorable or favorable boss in the past and why

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  3:56  

I want to cheat and give two people. Before getting in tech, I worked in science and I worked in a lab with Alfonso Renart, this amazing neuroscientist. He was not an easy boss. He was very much a no bullshit kind of guy, if you were discussing something, and we were discussing scientific papers all the time, it was very much about if you don’t know what you’re talking about, then make sure that you do know what you’re talking about. Which I really enjoyed that I really took that to heart for the rest of my life. And then, of course, the CEO of GitLab was my boss for an entire time. He was a very direct person. He’s very direct. He’s very opinionated. And I enjoyed working with him very much because of those reasons.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  4:49  

Very cool. So when did you first become a leader of a team?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  4:52  

It was so sorry, I dropped, stepped out of science. I started my own startup but It went nowhere. But it was the first little team that I managed. Subsequently, I worked as a programmer, where I lead a small team for a while. And then eventually, I think the time where I took it more seriously was when I started to build a product team at GitLab. So that’s what I did before I found out about essentially.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  5:19  

So if I were to ask you, you know, going back to those early days, when you started leading teams, to you know, where you are today, I mean, you were managing hundreds of people at Git live and, and obviously now building remote Comm. Like, how has your leadership style changed? Or like, what have you learned? Or what mistakes Do you not make any more or try not to make any more,

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  5:40  

I was very wary of being a micromanager. And I think it’s, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between micromanaging and caring about details. And this is a mistake I made early on where I would, you know, we would have a new product manager at GitLab, for example. And I would feel very much the urge to give them all the space in the world to fully own something. And I stand by that it’s important. But there’s been a few occasions where I felt like, there were obvious mistakes that I could have prevented looking back. I feel like some of those I should have let people make because you should give them the space to make mistakes with other others. I feel like maybe I should have stepped in earlier. Or maybe I should have been a little bit more critical. Or more on top of things. I very sensitive is just an example of very sensitive of applications with poor usability UX, as we tend to call it, that is something where I definitely felt like I could have prevented like rework, if I just spent a little bit more time on fake loci looking at the details. And then there’s been a lesson to find that balance. I never balanced towards micromanaging. But I, maybe a little bit, I was a bit too cautious to avoid that. And looking back, I would have been a little bit more on top of things, or at least look at things, not necessarily micromanaging the person but making sure that the work itself also sort of had my stamp of approval.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  7:10  

I love that quote of you know, there’s a difference between caring about micromanaging versus caring about quality. I agree. I think that that’s a very, very good lesson right there. I have to ask you, I mean, since remote work is so topical these days, what drove the obsession and passion about working remote? Like when did you actually first start working remote?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  7:35  

I started working remotely when I joined GitLab, and it was very nice, because at the time I had a Portuguese girlfriend, now my wife, and I was living in the Netherlands, and she had just moved from Portugal. We were living before to the Netherlands. And it allowed us to immediately have the freedom to move wherever we wanted, which is a very powerful concept. And then subsequently, that is actually what we did. We moved away from the Nellis back to Portugal after living there for a few years. For the simple reason is that that is because that is what we wanted to do. I saw that with me. And at the time, I didn’t have any dependents or any reason to, to be or to not be in a particular country. But what I learned is that with the people that I was working with, I saw that there were massive benefits, we would hire people with good laugh. And I would tell us, well, if you hire me, I’m happy to take a pay cut. Because I’m going to move out of the Bay Area, I’m going to move to the middle of nowhere where my family lives and where I’m from where I really want to be, but I couldn’t be because I couldn’t find a good or interesting or challenging or well paying job there. Those benefits were so incredibly big for those individuals that yeah, it was very hard to ignore. And it was very hard to think that it was anything else but the future of work, right. It’s a massive benefit for for the individual. And even as a business. This is very cool to be able to hire the best person on the planet or like the best fit we could find. not feel like we have to recruit from the neighborhood or we’d have to fly people over help them move, we would just hire a great person that happened to apply to us independence where they live as a business that was made so many things so much easier.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  9:18  

It sounds like a much more efficient marketplace of talents and work if it’s like distributed across the world. Anyone can work in any company from any location. Like how do you foresee, you know, 20 years from now or 30 years from now? What do you think the world looks like and what companies look like? Is everybody remote? How long will it take?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  9:39  

Yeah, I used to say it will probably take about five to 10 years before the majority of companies would allow remote work. I think those types of fast like if it were there now right because of COVID. So I think it’s essentially it’s going to be interesting to see what’s going to happen once there’s a vaccine everybody’s vaccinated or immune in some way. I think the majority of difficulties will allow some form of remote work. And I think that will persist. I don’t think that will persist forever. I think that the amount of organizations that have physical offices will for one, immediately it is reducing right now aggressively so. And I think over time, it will continue to go down and down and down, there’s going to be a lot of interesting faces, we’ll see about how people want to distribute themselves, right, because I am a person that likes city. So I could totally imagine the need the wish to live in a city. But I also think there’s going to be much more movement outside of that, I believe there’s going to be much less commuting, that’s going to happen, because there’s really no reason to commute anymore in the near future. And then, yeah, less and less offices, and for sure, there’s going to be a lot of co-working spaces, because working close to people can actually be great. It’s just that but it’s forced that might not be as nice.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  10:51  

So I have to ask you, because you know, a lot of you know, the, you know, the talks that we have about remote are I think one of the one of the things that people talk about, and I’ve heard others people say is that, you know, pre pandemic, it was very much about like, if you’re going to do remote hire people who are already liked to do remote, like people who just like that concept. But now that companies are kind of been thrown into this situation, and they’re suddenly remote. You know, a lot of people are talking about loneliness, not being around people, the watercooler conversations, is there a way to solve that stuff? Or do you just have to get used to it?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  11:30  

No, I don’t think that you just have to get used to it, we’ve had hundreds of years, or at least 100 plus years of experience of how to work in an office. Now we have to learn how to work remotely, which is a different thing. It’s a different paradigm. And you have to work for it to make it work. But then when you get into the office, you expect that there’s a water cooler, there’s a coffee machine, when you work in a remote team, you should expect that there’s a culture that makes sure that you bond with your colleagues independent of whether you are in zoom days, all day, you just choose to expect that you don’t do nothing zoom calls all day. And you should expect that the tools that you work with with your colleagues are collaborative and safe and allow you to you know, do multiplayer, see each other’s work. At the same time. I think to build a remote culture, you have to move away from relying on things that happen implicitly, because you happen to be in the same space in the same office and you walk past each other, you meet each other at the coffee machine to doing things explicitly, meaning that you create opportunities, events that you play games together, that you spend time and money as a leader on creating tools to for people to bonds, and I’ve many concrete examples. So at remote, for example, we have a daily team call where everybody dense if they can. And the majority of that call, what we do is we spend time getting to know each other, and of course, depends a bit on the size of your team, how you can do this. But you can do this with their whole call buddy, you can do this with a subset of a team. In our case, which we very often do is we have a question of the day where we ask, someone has a question. The question was yesterday, if you had to give up either cheese or chocolate, which one would you give up? And then sometimes it’s more serious than that. But that’s a good one, everybody answers the question. And you quickly get into funny things. And this is a really good conversation started really great way to connect with each other. And if the entirety of that call is 30 minutes, we also use it to talk about anything new in a company that is happening. But it’s those little kinds of things that make a very big difference in how you can connect with colleagues. Other things we do are how we play games together. But like Pictionary or Minecraft or anything else, and then depending on the interest and what not people get together, maybe in person less, of course now because the epidemic, especially before that quite frequently, you really have to work on those initiatives. And it has to come not just from individuals in organization, it has to be commitment from management to allow this to support this to propose these and also to participate in them because bonding is not just between individuals and organizations between everybody, right, like it’s literally a leadership CEO should play along with the game should participate in these kind of,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:09  

yeah. So in terms of such that’s really interesting in kind of like building these bonds between people within the company. What do you say to people that are, you know, that basically have the opinion that you can’t really build, like a remote culture, like it’s harder to build a culture within a company, if everybody’s remote, it is harder.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  14:30  

It’s not as it’s harder because you have the explicit action, like you’re not naturally in the same space, always at the same time. So it is harder, but the advantages you get from remote work are they outweigh that greatly. And I think what’s important to realize is that we’re in an office the physical distance often is also the distance in emotional distance you have between people that disappears when you work remotely where like the physical distance is the same for everybody, right? It is essentially zero or it’s very easy to reach to anybody that makes it is much easier to connect farther apart as a company with each other. Right. So, to give an example, at GitLab, we did something similar where we had like, we would talk with each other. And we would create little groups in our, in a company to talk with each other, we would mix those groups up, especially as we got bigger, especially once we had hundreds of employees. And we explicitly made it so that people of different teams would connect with each other. So you might be in a group of people to play a game with or to have a conversation with, of all the people are from all different teams. And so the connectedness between teams was far greater than I have ever seen in like a co located company where, you know, there’s one floor with engineers, there’s one floor with the salespeople, and they might interact now, then, but there’s very little culture between those. Whereas there’s a remote organization, the distance between all those people is identical. Therefore, you know, if you are doing these efforts, it’s easier to also force that connection. And that can be a massive advantage. But ultimately, yes, it is harder, because you have to work for it instead of it happening naturally. But if you work for it, then that ball can be stronger as well.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  16:09  

Yeah. So I love that you actually come out and say, no, it is harder, you have to work at it. But the benefits of remote far outweigh the little bit of extra work that you have to do you probably save in other things like, you know, costs and recruiting moving people around, I guess disrupting people’s livelihood lives and moving them to other locations, all that stuff, you probably save on let’s talk about hiring. So all of a sudden, you know, what’s interesting is if you don’t live in a place like San Francisco, where there’s a ton of say, particular tech talent, and you live in another city, where you’re typically like you said, hiring from the neighborhood, or hiring from the city, or the country and and now you go remote, all of a sudden, you have a lot of candidates all over, it can be a little bit overwhelming. So how do you narrow down the candidates? And think about like, Are there any best practices on should you try and hire in certain time zones? Or should you pick a series of countries? Or like, how do you actually approach it when it does become? Okay, now there’s like 1000s of candidates, whereas before, maybe there were 10? 

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  17:19  

Yes, good question. I think any good process starts with a really good job description, if you don’t have a clear job description, it’s going to be very hard to decide how you’re going to figure out how you’re going to select an OH nuts, right like that is a very, very important start. And in that process, you also have to think about how do I want to put together this team? Or where does this person fit in? And in that process, you have to decide, do I want them to be close in terms of time, so to where their colleagues or the people that they will work most with? Are or don’t do not care about that. And my recommendation is that, you know, to have some overlap in the working hours of the people, but that also just be explicit about what are your working hours, because if you are a proper distributed company, you forget about the concept of 95, because it doesn’t mean anything right at the moment or two time zones. But it also doesn’t mean anything, if you just let go of individuals that might prefer to work at different times, like I personally work little in the morning, and mostly in the afternoon and later at night after my daughter is in bed, essentially. So it might be that you hire someone in a time zone that’s a little bit far away, but they prefer to work at night or early in the morning and therefore have a lot of overlapping hours with the rest of the team. Those are the most important considerations. And then yeah, going through a lot of people be very clear about what you require. Honestly, if you’re a very small company is very early on, you have to be a little bit harsh, because if you get literally 1000s of applicants, they have one or two positions open, you have to reject nine 999 people. And that means that you have to be very blunt about rejecting people that don’t meet the criteria that you set upfront, not while you’re doing it upfront. So you do you know you don’t you avoid your bias, at least to a degree and then and then you have to go from there. Find out who you think is great. Make sure that you balance the people that you do interview, you find it your all the candidates that you’re interviewing with, or that you pre select, they are all very similar in where they’re from the way they look. There’s a gender terms of age, and there’s probably something wrong, right? Because you have so many candidates, you have the opportunity to do better. That’s it.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:37  

Yeah, no, that makes sense. So I have to ask you, in your opinion, are bigger companies better off in this new, you know, war for talent that can live anywhere in the world? Or is it smaller companies or are they truly like it’s democratized and there’s no advantage for Facebook or Google versus a startup.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  19:56  

If you have a lot of money, you have an advantage because you can pay people more. So that’s That’s ultimately the advantage, I think, then it just depends on the organization itself. Right? It’s very hard to deal with a lot of income again, that is if you’re a small company, but still today, the demand for remote work is far greater than the supply of remote work, or at least companies that advertise that this is a remote position you can do from from anywhere, at least from majority of their of the world. So yeah, I honestly, I am not sure what the advantage is, I think I like to think of it in the other way, like, it’s not a big deal, whether you’re looking for the opportunities between a big organization and a small one are very different, what is high risk, potentially high reward, but the large organization might be able to pay significantly better, but, you know, phrases with lower lower equity and said,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  20:47  

Yeah, so I think, you know, one of the, you know, for folks that are, say, in North America, and are now listening to this and saying, you know, maybe we should really think about having our next hire, be in another country. So, you know, typically some of the concerns with that are, you know, what, what are the laws or regulations, but you know, so that’s the stuff that you guys handle at remote Comm.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  21:10  

Yeah, thanks for letting me plug the company, what we do is we make it possible for you to employ anyone from anywhere and remote, what we do is we act as an employer of record means that in every country, which we’re active, we have our own local entity. So we can employ people locally for someone else, and provide payroll, provide benefits, any anything that really comes with it. And that means that for the individual, let’s say you hire Jane here in Portugal, you employ Jane through remotes, that means she gets a local pay slip, she gets all the benefits you would expect. But for you as the employer, all you get is a single invoice from us every month and you treat Jane like any other employee, he treats promote, like just an HR system with you, right, like one of the many that you might use. And so it solves all the difficulties with local hiring, it’s fully compliant, the advantage of just literally being able to solve that interrogation bypass that altogether.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:00  

Yeah, and you also help people in terms of things like what certain positions should actually what the pay ranges are, or, you know, typical compensation is for various folks.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  22:11  

Yeah, we devise almost our customers we’ve advised in some way, shape, or shape or form, in that, I think, you know, to a degree, it also has to do with what your philosophy is, right? Do you want to pay everybody the same salary that can get expensive, real fast, right? Or are you going to not be able to hire people in particular locations, depending on the demands that you said, but we will always offer some guidance. And to a degree, we don’t allow, we don’t employ anyone for really low salaries. Like there’s no one employee through a remote that earns a minimum wage?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:43  

Yeah, got it. And so what do you say about things like hiring people in other countries and say, giving them access to secure information? You know, another concern that, you know, I’ve heard people have is, well, if they’re, they’re not here, and you know, something goes wrong, then what protections does the company have? And if they’re working for you, how does that if the people are hired through remote comm? How is that stuff handled?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  23:11  

Yeah, that’s a great question. Actually, our contracts are set up in such a way that this is watertight, like, it’s much more likely that you’re going to avoid problems when you employ someone through us than when doing it yourself. Because it’s literally our expertise to be able to figure this out and give confidence to both employer and employee that, you know, whatever they’re handling, IP gets assigned to the right place, everybody’s protected in the right way. So these are exactly the kind of things that we are experts on and we make sure that liabilities are protected in all cases.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  23:43  

Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. I think you know, now that everybody kind of had a flavor of remote. And now it’s an option if it was hard to hire people locally before and you were competing for talent. Now, there’s a global talent base. And so that makes a lot of sense. So switching gears for a second, I did want to ask you about, you know, some of the lessons that you may have learned at your time at GitLab. So one thing I’m very curious about is, you know, typically, like when you look at lessons, there are some things that you learn that were not good mistakes that you don’t want to repeat. And then there’s always things that you’ve done that you were like, No, those were really good. And we should do those again. So I’m curious to see if you had examples of one of each, you know, what are some mistakes that maybe you made at your time at GitLab that you would not repeat at remote? Why don’t we start with that?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  24:34  

Yeah, I think GitLab has a very strong culture of iteration. And I think that is very important than a very powerful. I think there’s a risk that it was we always pushed very hard for small iterations and shipping things very early. It’s like an MVP or minimally viable changes or MVC, as we’ve called them in GitLab. We still like to follow similar things as remote but we are pushing for a higher level of polish than we did. GitLab, so I promote anything that we release for two reasons. One is we care very greatly about design. So we want things to always feel polished in a way to interact in a speed that they are, the way the way they look, and the way they work. But secondarily to that, you know, when you’re working with GitLab, and the kind of information we had there, we had get back in the cold stuff, so that was solid. And everything else, you know, we would try to solve those build features quickly, and things wouldn’t be very fast or not super efficient, or as remote This is very different, because we handle the most important thing, which is the money that he used to pay your rent every single month, the money that he used to pay your healthcare bills, so we cannot make mistakes. And so our culture of iteration, although we still follow that same kind of principle, the level before we release somebody to customers, the level of polish is significantly higher amount of testing, we do an array now GitLab is extremely security focused. But early on, you know, we were certainly aware of it. But it was not as much of a priority for us this for edge remote, where we had a lot of personal information. So you know, it remote we did pen testing very early on in our organization and our software, compared to what we did with GitLab, right. And the other question was to what do I do the same. So, you know, GitLab, of course, we had a, an organization was fully distributed, we’ve documented almost everything, that culture of documentation has helped us has helped us incredibly at GitLab, it just solves a lot of the back and forth between the team, it removes a lot of costs that you have to have and backup for Slack. And we do the exact same thing at remote. So we have a very strong culture of documentation. If I have a question, let’s ask a question is like, the expected response is a link to our documentation. If the documentation doesn’t exist, someone should create the documentation probably me up there getting the answer for that question. So that culture of documentation is really important for a remote team to really succeed asynchronously working. So yeah, we definitely took this from GitLab.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:05  

Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. And I love your practical example of you know, when someone asks a question, you should be able to respond with a link. That’s awesome. So what are some examples of things that would get documented versus, you know, things that don’t need to be documented? Because, you know, documentation does take more time?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  27:24  

It doesn’t? That’s not true. No, yeah, documentation takes more time right now. But it doesn’t take more time over like the years that you expect your company to exist, right. And so almost any information that is relevant for more than just you to know, it should be documented. So this means that if we’re talking about very basic things, like a vacation policy, everybody has to document that right? Because make sense. It should be written down somewhere. But any other question, let’s say the sales team has, they come across certain requests very often that that question, and the answer should be documented the first time it appears. Because if you don’t do that, what you’re going to rely on is colleagues asking each other things is very inefficient, and often impossible in a team, which operates across multiple time zones. So that means that, you know, we have Jeff and john, that team if Jeff comes across a question, and he doesn’t know the answer, but john is only awake eight hours later, there’s an eight hour delay for john to give an answer. And subsequently, maybe Jeff is asleep by then or not working. And so the cycle to respond becomes extremely long. If it’s documented, the cycle becomes one second, right, then a culture of documentation doesn’t just mean that we are documenting things, it also means that we look for an answer in the documentation before we ask a colleague for it. And yet, there’s very few things where I think to myself, while you should document this, it’s almost everything can be documented. And you have not been You don’t have to be comprehensive in your documentation, you have to make sure that something is documented, right, like the core of the idea, the core of the piece of information, it doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be done. Everything is always in draft should be the assumption. But almost everything should be documented in some way.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  29:11  

Yeah, I love that. And I can see that that adds a ton of time savings over the long term. And so I guess I have to ask about, you know, just going back to the different timezone thing because, you know, like you mentioned, if you ask questions, someone doesn’t come online for another eight hours. There’s documentation that kind of solves that suit for your team as a pre your executive team at remote Comm. Is everybody in the like, how much overlap time is there? And, you know, how do you guys think about synchronous meetings versus asynchronous meetings? So there’s not a lot of overlap.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  29:46  

It’s a few hours. We have a bunch of people in Europe, we have a bunch of people all over the US. So especially, you know, for as my colleague Elisa, she’s in San Francisco. So there’s an eight hour time difference between her and I So we do have meetings together, which is at the time, which is called works out for us to have an overlap. And all the other work we do is, is asynchronous essentially. And I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that it is great to have meaning because it allows to go back and forth really, really fast. And so what we do is we make sure that all the work that we can do asynchronously, we do asynchronously. And the time that we do spend together, we either spend it on bonding, because that’s asynchronous, having a call together perfect for that. Or we spend on things that require a lot of back and forth or about more brainstorming or, you know, whatever else we feel like we need to discuss in a in person, even phrases, performance conversations, giving each other feedback that tends to be nicer in person or through through a call in some way. So that’s how we how we like to think about it, I think it’s not a good idea of anyone to say that time zones are not the challenge is a challenge, it’s easier to have more time overlapping with each other, you have to acknowledge that because that’s just the truth. Ignore that this is very hard. But you can make it work if everybody is aware of Australia’s and is aware of how to work asynchronously properly.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  31:19  

Hey, they’re just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not a single spaced font, you know, lots of text. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blog to download the definitive guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. Yeah, so in terms of, you know, one on one meetings, how often do you do one on one meetings with your direct report? Every week? Every week? Are they the standard? I mean, do you spend half an hour together, an hour together? How does that work?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  32:34  

Yeah, I was spending at least a half an hour together, we always fill that time, if with a lot of my direct reports, we have multiple one on ones, or like we follow up or we reschedule ad hoc, depending on particular subjects. I am, I always make sure that the time that we spend together is time that is, you know, we spend time about things that are between the two of us and about work in general, because work in general is actually happening in public or internally in public. And, so it’s only for us to spend time specifically for things that only directly affect the two of us giving each other feedback, just talking about life sometimes, which is important. career goals, those kind of things, and maybe ideas that we have together. But the work that we do, it mostly happens in the open or at least internally in the open. And so we reserved the one on one time specifically for the other things that don’t fit there.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:32  

Yeah, that makes sense. So one question that I have to ask you, especially if you’re, you know, hiring people in other countries, some of the things that may be different, or obviously, like cultural backgrounds will be different. And some of that can affect not only how you manage a team, but also even during the hiring phase. I know in some countries, for example, people in general are better about talking about themselves and celebrating their own accomplishments and some other countries like culturally they might not do that. And so how do you go about educating yourself on these different things and understanding cultures so that you can actually manage effectively and effectively.

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  34:18  

It’s, it’s a, it’s about working and operating with an open heart, right? I think those cultural differences you also need between people of people from the same country. So, one, if you evaluate someone’s background and experience, local sort of paper, like what is the what, like, what it affects and try to judge by those first and second, yeah, try to become aware of the biases that you might have right? If you do a pre selection of candidates, for example, look, do you have a bias there? Do you bias towards people without an accent for example, which is very common or people with an American or English accent, be open, be open to different people and different cultures, which is easier said than done. I think what always helps me is to just acknowledge the fact there just to be open. Like, just ask people about their culture, ask them how they see themselves or ask them. You know, asked about this face? Do you like to talk about your accomplishment? Do you? Do you see yourself as a humble person being open about these kind of things is the best way to go about it. And yeah, if you work at a company, that leader is look at the data, look at your data, like See, see what you’re doing, look at your team, this is diverse or not, that’s easy to evaluate. So if it’s not diverse, you probably have a bias. Or maybe you’re not doing something well in the hiring process, or the people that are hiring, have biases. And it’s important that to understand we all do, I enjoy greatly to work with people from different backgrounds, I feel like it gives a massive advantage to the way you see the world, you’re going to learn a lot of things from a lot of different people. And ultimately, it makes for a much stronger team to have diversity. So it’s hard to give like a single clear answer to this, because it’s not a simple thing to solve.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  36:06  

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, you talk about how remote may solve a bunch of problems, like too many cars on the road, and it may actually help companies also solve the diversity problem. I mean, you know, broader talent pool, you can be much more purposeful,

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  36:20  

I feel like I feel very strongly that it gives you the opportunity to do so. And I think I can see that reflected in our own team, which is very diverse. I do think that a lot has to happen in organizations to make a shift to that place. Because as of now, most tech companies are not very diverse, or at least not to the degree that they should be. Yeah, being conscious of this form. If you’re not conscious of it today, come on, come on. Where’s your bid? But also, yeah, make an effort, like make it a priority. Don’t make excuses for yourself. I think if you hear yourself saying like, Well, diversity is important but we don’t want to, like give up the quality of our candidates, you’re you’re doing something wrong, because you don’t have to, you really don’t have to, you can have it all. And in fact, you will have a better team. If you focus on making sure that it’s a diversity, I will give a very concrete example. We have to look for engineers, so we work very much. The elixir community is mainly men, but not only men. So when we open a job open a we got a whole bunch of applications. And it was only men. Now I am white guy. So I was my co-founder who posted the job and spoke about it. So after seeing that there were only men applying, we didn’t just give up and say, well, we have no choice. And it’s a pipeline problem. Like we worked on making sure that we also interviewed people with other genders than just men. And we that we found them and that we spoke with people that let communities that we reached out specific to verticals, for instance, Women Who Code those kinds of initiatives, we made sure that we became active there, and that we show that we are a diverse organization already that we tried to be an inclusive organization. And we ended up hiring a number of great people, not just men. It was as it requires, you know, just a little bit of attention. But it’s totally possible because the world is full of great people. And it’s not just that they don’t all look the same.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:23  

Do you find that? You know, once you’re recognized as a place that is inclusive? Does it become easier? And you start to get more diverse candidates over the course of time? Like, does it? Or do you always have to work very hard at it, even as you scale?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  38:38  

I think it gets easier. But you always have to work hard at it because there’s a natural, unnatural, there’s a massive systemic bias of the entire industry. So at least in the tech industry, right? So you have to always work for it. So yes, it does get easier. Because if you have a hiring process where the candidate gets interviewed by, again, all the same people, the same type of people, then that doesn’t, that doesn’t look very good. That doesn’t make you a very inclusive organization. So if your organization is already diverse, that helps in a lot of different ways. You always have to work on it, because there might be a greater bias.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:11  

Yeah. And very valuable advice and a great way for us to end the conversation. You know, you’re one of the things that we ask everybody who comes on the show is for managers and leaders out there who are looking to get better at their craft and become better leaders over the course of time. Are there any resources, tips, recommendations or word of wisdom that you would have for them?

Job Van der Voort (Remote.com)  39:36  

Yes, our first value is kindness. And that’s what I would extend to everybody be kind. Just be kind to everybody. We’re all the same humans. Just be kind with people. It makes your life so much easier and it pays back infinitely with anybody that you work with that you interact with. be kinder, never never give that up. Everything else is secondary to them.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:59  

Thanks, Job. Thank you for doing this. And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at www dot Fellow dot app slash Supermanagers. If you liked the content, be sure to rate, review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

Latest episodes

We interview leaders from all walks of life to tease out the habits, thought patterns, learnings and experiences that help them be who they are.