EOS Worldwide’s Kelly Knight on leading remote employees
As the Integrator for EOS® Worldwide, Kelly Knight is responsible for leading, managing and holding the leadership team accountable for achieving the company’s objectives and ensuring everyone is rowing together in the same direction. And, she says, a big part of that (in addition to the Entrepreneurial Operating System) is connecting with her team.
When we asked her how she connects with her team, she said, “to me, it’s about optimism, energy and passion. Being in business for 24 years, I’ve discovered the one thing that distinguishes great teams from mediocre teams is that they have a synergy, a genuine care and concern for one another.”
Leading by encouragement
For Kelly, that means a big part of her job as a leader is to bring out the best in her people by empowering them to do their best work. “Giving each member of the team encouragement and positive feedback that fuels their work is part of that. It’s what one of our team members jokingly refers to as frosting.”
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An astute leader understands that sometimes positivity and encouragement need to be tempered. Every person is motivated differently, and not everyone needs or wants warm-fuzzy encouragement as much as others do. But in Kelly’s experience, most people thrive best with some kind of encouragement, a feeling that someone believes in them, and that their contribution has meaningful impact to the overarching mission and targets.
“It’s not rocket science,” Kelly said. It simply starts with being curious about your people. “You shouldn’t be a manager or a leader if you don’t genuinely care about people.” She says that it’s important for leaders to spend time being thoughtful and asking the team about their lives. Ask about their families, what they like to do in their spare time, what gets them excited and out of bed every morning. Be specific, and do it consistently. The bond that is created extends well beyond the good times, and helps the team to carry each other through the challenging and gut-wrenching moments, too.
“In today’s world, we’re distracted by ‘shiny stuff’, being busy and overloaded,” Kelly said. “Taking time to do those small things, ends up being the big difference.” She continued, “that said, it’s not something you can check off a list—it’s truly a way of being. If you have genuine care for your people, finding a way of connecting with each person in a way that’s most meaningful to them becomes natural.”
Investing in remote teams
Investing into your people takes discipline and commitment, but it can be especially tricky when they’re offsite. EOS Worldwide is an entirely remote team—there is no physical office. So Kelly needs to be all the more intentional with her relational leadership.
Kelly has found that simply by using EOS, space is created to build relationships and connect with remote team members. The Meeting Pulse is a big part of that. Every Monday, the leadership team meets for 90 minutes to IDS, and every leadership team member has a weekly Level 10 Meeting with their team. The leadership team also meets in-person for Quarterly Pulsing at Gino Wickman’s office. And as the Integrator, Kelly meets with every leadership team member as needed to keep all the circles connected.
“That regular pulse ensures that we’re connecting regularly,” Kelly said, “which keeps us all on the same page.”
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EOS also helps remote teams to get to the root of issues faster, by being open and honest. For a remote team, that’s critical. “Lots of time can be wasted in business because of sweeping Issues under the rug,” Kelly said. “In EOS, we hit issues head-on, faster. We have a great desire to solve Issues together for the betterment of the team and the organization. If something doesn’t feel right or look right, we’re compelled to call it out.”
It’s an effective practice when everyone is on-site, but it’s indispensable when you’re in a remote environment. You don’t have the luxury of catching up with someone after lunch or around the water cooler.
Kelly’s experience has taught her that in a remote model, you have to maximize your opportunities. “When I first became a manager at my previous company ten years ago, I really wasn’t very good at it. I was managing a team in California, from Michigan. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I eventually realized that it was me—I was the one person on the team who wasn’t on-site, and so I needed to solve for that challenge. Ultimately, it was my responsibility to bridge the gap. I had to work ten times harder to create a communication pulse with the rest of the team.”
Out of that experience, Kelly gained an all-in, passionate, do-everything-it-takes mindset to make communication work. That kind of character, combined with good discipline and good practice, help ensure that remote teams keep humming along. “EOS provides the structure to accomplish that,” she said.
Remote teams need the right tools
Kelly is also big on taking advantage of the best technologies at your disposal. For example, she prefers video and web conferencing meetings to phone calls, which make it much easier to read other people’s emotions and body language.
Traction Tools is one of her favorite technologies. “I love it. I use it everyday, either to run a meeting or to add issues. Our Scorecard and our Accountability Chart are in there. We have our Rocks and To-Dos in there, too.
“Traction Tools is a really great collaborative tool to make sure that we’re all seeing the same thing. It’s a very simple, intuitive platform to share Issues, manage To-Dos and keep track of the business better than we would otherwise do. And having it all in a single tool that follows EOS specifically is great, because we don’t run on any other operating system. It captures everything we need.”
Integrators are the executors that make our companies run. That means keeping your team accountable, but it also means investing in your people—especially your remote employees. Be curious about them. Get to know them, encourage them, and help them to accomplish their best work. For Kelly Knight, that means combining “frosting” with EOS and the right tools.
Ready to get even more out of EOS? Start your 30-day free trial of Traction Tools software for EOS!
- Kathy Mayfield