How to improve company habits of distributed communication when scaling your product

Talent is all around the world, but opportunity is not. If you learn how to master distributed communication, your company can make use of all of the talent situated around the world without compensating the delivery of a successful product. While scaling across locations may seem daunting, we’re here to help you overcome that.

On the last week episode of ScaleUp Heroes, we were lucky enough to be joined by Charanya Kannan (or CK as she introduces herself), Vice President and Head of Product at Talkdesk, to hear how she manages a team that’s spread across 8 locations.

Max Eskell, Head of Product at Monese, interviews CK about her experience, while our star moderator, Ryan Foland of Influence Tree, joins the discussion about forming positive habits of distributed communication when scaling your product.

Turn ‘lobby conversations’ into distributed communication

CK’s number one piece of advice for scaling up your product is to focus on habit. While Talkdesk is hoping to scale from 500 people to 1,000, CK is working on establishing positive habits that create the most accessible environment for distributed communication to succeed.

The main challenges that arise usually have to do with not seeing the people you’re working with every day, which means you’re no longer able to rely on ‘lobby conversations’ to give context to company actions. With this in mind, companies should work to shift their habit of depending on these conversations to instead focus on forming new habits surrounding context, culture and empathy.

You’ll have to listen to the episode to get the full rundown on these 3 parts of the habit-forming puzzle, but for now let’s talk about context. Usually, the tasks that need to be accomplished are disclosed — but why isn’t always so intuitive.

This kind of context tends to come about during in-person discussions or these ‘lobby conversations,’ which then need to be replaced by a new habit of sharing information. But what does that look like?

Framing the question rather than the answer

So how can you ensure that you’re both giving your distributed employees enough context, while also hearing their feedback on your actions? CK suggests starting meetings by stating the outcome and the context, then leading with an open-ended question that sparks constructive debate and ultimately ends in a solution that makes sense for the company.

While the fear may be that you’ll leave too much open-ended, meaning you end up with a misuse of time, in CK’s experience there’s a balance that will allow you to find better solutions using all of your team members.

For this model, don’t state your own opinion at the beginning, but instead, make your job framing the perfect question for sparking productive debate amongst your employees. That way you’re letting them frame the answer — while your question simply points them towards what will help the company continue to scale.

To hear more valuable advice from CK and the rest of the panel, check out this full episode of the ScaleUp Heroes podcast.

Then, keep listening and keep scaling. And if you want to know more about ScaleUp Valley initiatives, calendar and purpose, join our community by subscribing to the ScaleUp Valley newsletter.