Improving team performance can be a growth lever, and it’s much more cost-effective than redesigning your website or spending money to get more traffic. These five key focus areas can help you manage a high-performance remote SaaS team.
January 6, 2021 6 min read
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Your team matters more than anything in your SaaS. But running a happy and high-performance SaaS team is a tough balancing act, especially when the team is remote. And your team is most likely a remote one — at least partially, at least now — and it’s expected that this growth will not stop any time soon. In my coaching work with SaaS founders, I’ve identified five areas that you can improve on to boost your team’s performance.
1. Don’t try to do it all yourself
It’s common for bootstrapped SaaS founders to try and do it all themselves, especially in the beginning, when every dollar counts. The irony is that you’ll end up losing more money in the long run if you cling to doing everything yourself in the early days.
If you miss the ideal moment for adding new people to your SaaS team, you’ll end up onboarding them in a haste and probably hiring the wrong people. In the long run, it will cost you more than scaling slowly but efficiently.
Speaking of efficiency: Your team will learn faster and will feel more empowered if you give them freedom instead of micro-managing them. A micro-managed employee loses confidence and will soon refrain from using their full potential.
Key takeaway: Let your team take the lead. Trust their opinions and encourage them to always speak their minds.
2. Start at the beginning — the onboarding process
Start communicating your company values to new employees as early as possible — during the interview process, or better yet in your job description. A lot of SaaS onboarding processes focus on explaining the job and the tools they use in the company. These are essential things for any new employee. But so are your values and your mission.
Key takeaway: The sooner you explain your values, the sooner will your new hire feel like a part of the team. Plus, it will help them grasp what your company really means by high performance and will help them deliver that.
3. Remind your team of the company’s long-term goals
Remind your team that you are running a marathon together, not a sprint. Frequent discussions about long-term goals help teams stay focused on them and ensure that every small task performed is to serve those objectives. I recommend sessions where you and your team take a few hours just to work out the details and priorities on a monthly basis.
To make big goals palpable and easy to attain, make sure that they are quantifiable and realistic. These goals — such as onboarding 10,000 new subscribers in a year or reducing your churn rate by 5% in Q1— deserve your team’s full attention.
Key takeaway: Talk about your goals during meetings and make sure that each of your team members is aware of them. Register the progress made as often as possible.
4. Run effective meetings that focus on short-term goals
Meetings are a challenge for most new SaaS founders due to their lack of management experience. Run too many and they become nuisances that everyone hates. Run too few and your team will never get the chance to really bond.
Finding the right frequency and duration balance is one of the most sought-after management skills. Haven’t mastered it yet? Survey your team and ask them about frequency: How many weekly meetings do they really need to get their questions answered without distracting them from doing their work?
As soon as you decide on frequency, work on duration. You can run an effective meeting in 20 minutes or less. Don’t keep them 1 hour just to fill out the slot on your calendar. Brevity should be your primary focus. The more efficient your meetings, the more efficient your team will be, too.
How to keep your meetings as high performing as your team:
- Set a meeting objective and have an agenda. It’s easy to get sidetracked if you don’t have a clear purpose in mind.
- Regular meetings (like the bi-weekly or weekly ones) should focus on short-term goals
- During larger, all-hands meetings also discuss long-term goals
- Focus on results. Monitor and set KPIs.
- Be empathetic by helping your team whenever they get stuck and making sure they know they can come to you with any issue.
Key takeaway: Balance meeting frequency and duration by asking your team their preferences. Keep meetings as brief and purposeful as possible.
5. Motivate and empower your employees constantly
Just like it happens in sports, no SaaS team will ever be high performing if they are not empowered and motivated. Motivation isn’t always about money. In fact, in his book Drive, Daniel Pink shared why it’s not a great idea to motivate teams with monetary bonuses.
How to motivate a remote team:
Keep the mission top of mind. Borrow a trick from sports coaches: Always refer back to the mission or the long-term goals. This helps with focus and team bonding. When people work towards the same goal, they work better together.
Reward high performers. Shine a light on the top performers and congratulate them both publicly and in private.
Help low performers. By no means should you publicly shame employees who seem to struggle at some point. Instead, reach out to them and ask how you can help.
Always provide feedback. Don’t leave employees guessing whether they did a good job or not. Frequent feedback helps align expectations and goals.
Key takeaway: Try motivating with praise instead of a raise.
Refining the process
Building and running a high performing remote SaaS team is not a one-off job. It’s a constant process that needs constant work and improvements. Treat it like you would a new landing page or feature: Do a lot of tests and always ask for feedback.
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