Encourage Autonomy. Instead of having a team that communicates every small thing, foster a sense of autonomy that allows your team to make decisions and report back accordingly. This will drastically cut down on unnecessary emails, messages, and meeting time, and lead to more effective communication, collaboration, and a sense of impact within the business.
Weare living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?
In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krystle Church.
Krystle Church is the Founder and CEO of Krystle Church Consulting, a boutique copywriting studio and business education platform helping freedom-driven entrepreneurs increase their sales and spend more time away from their desk using her signature trio of Email Copywriting, Brand Authority, and Luxe Client Experience.
Krystle left her job as a school teacher and started her business during the height of the pandemic in 2020 with a broken keyboard and no Plan B. In just 14 months, she built a global business that was able to retire her partner from his job and move them to an island in the tropics. Now, she helps other ambitious entrepreneurs build their business, sell their offers, and find their freedom, too.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Iwas always itching to live life a little differently to the norm. Growing up in Oregon, I was used to big spaces and the feeling of freedom, so the moment I graduated with my Bachelors in Education, I hopped on a plane to Bucharest, Romania to accept my first position as an elementary school teacher overseas.
The adventure, the culture, and the travel that came from the international teaching lifestyle was infectious! I spent the following 8 years working at various prestigious schools around the world in places like Myanmar, Singapore, Australia, and Germany — and traveled to 45 countries by the time I turned 30!
Getting a taste of freedom was wonderful, but I wanted to create a lifestyle that was truly freedom-based and encompassed full location, time and financial independence. I started my business as an email copywriter during the height of the pandemic and within 14 months grew into being the CEO of a boutique copywriting agency and business mentorship platform that’s allowed me to retire my partner from his job and move us to a villa in the tropics!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Once I was on a sales call over Zoom with a potential high-ticket coaching client. She was really keen on working together but kept mentioning that she felt her life wasn’t quite ‘put together enough’ to make similar progress in her own business, gesturing at the laundry that was strewn across her room. So I picked up my laptop, angled the camera downward and showed her the pile of unwashed clothes sitting at my feet. She laughed in amusement and promptly became a new client.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A personal mantra I’ve learned to live by since scaling my business is, “The more rest I take, the more freedom I create.” These words really came out of pure necessity — because we all know that business growth and entrepreneurship are not easy paths — and I found myself always feeling the pressure of needing to do ‘just one more’ thing before the day finished. That one thing would inevitably turn into 2, then 5 and before I realized it, I was working more than I ever intended when I first started my business. This mantra now sits at the core of not only my company mission, but my daily to-dos as I know that sometimes productivity looks being inside the business while other times it looks like resting, hitting the gym, or spending time with family so when I do jump back into the business, I can serve my clients wholeheartedly.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I was deep in content creation for my first-ever course. It seemed like I’d been working overtime for weeks without end just to get everything launched on schedule when I received an email from my video editor with the final cuts. My partner, Dale, must have heard me sigh with exhaustion from the other room as I watched the first video and caught mistake after mistake knowing there wasn’t enough time to ask them to re-watch each module for necessary edits.
I didn’t even ask. That’s the way it’s always been. Before I knew it, Dale had his headphones in and had queued up every last module video for the robust program. He spent the day cycling the length of the city and back while jotting down timestamps for every edit it needed before he emailed them all to the editor on my behalf.
From encouraging my wild dreams and helping me through the late nights, to celebrating the big wins and being there with a shoulder to lean on when I need it most, there’s no doubt in my mind that without Dale’s support (in so many capacities), I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?
Bringing a team together in the same space allows you to make bonds and communicate in a more common way than in remote environments. From playing off each other’s physical language to getting to know one another during casual workplace lunches and while chatting over the espresso machine, being in the same place lends itself to cultivating a workplace culture quickly.
On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?
When you’re working remotely with a team there are a few common challenges you’re likely to encounter:
- Communication — being in different physical spaces means you’re more likely to encounter miscommunications or lack of communication flow without proper avenues set up to aid the process.
- Team Culture — Unless you’re dedicated to developing and maintaining your team culture and morale, chances are you’re remote work environment may either lack a culture at all and team members may feel disconnected from one another, or team members may feel low moral if they haven’t been given opportunities to collaborate, innovate, and help lead the ship forward.
- Time Logistics — Coordination of regular team meetings and project collaborations are oftentimes overlooked in remote work environments. This means that the first two challenges mentioned above have a much higher likelihood of occurring.
If you’re leading a remote team, nailing all three of these areas are key to success!
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ?
Running a remote team is about more than just focusing on end results. It’s about cultivating a strong foundation for your team — and business — to truly thrive. As humans, we pick up on communication in a variety of ways, from the words we express to the example we set and atmosphere we cultivate, so in order to effectively communicate with your remote team for success, it’s vital to prioritize the following foundations:
- Lead by Example
When I made my first hires early on in business, I’d never been in a leadership role before and was so unsure about running weekly team meetings that I opted not to have them in the first place — something I quickly realized was a huge mistake! For one, it set a precedent for my small team to think regular communication wasn’t necessary. Unsurprisingly, issues frequently came up showing the communication gaps we were having on a regular basis, yet when prompted, my team was incredibly hesitant to jump on a call together to chat through things. I’d sent a clear message that it wasn’t necessary. When I made the shift to modeling what effective daily communication and weekly team meetings looked like, a major shift happened within the business.
Team members started modeling the same behaviour, from communicating efficiently in project messages to voluntarily taking the reins to lead team meetings in areas of their expertise.
Remember that every time you communicate with your team, you’re setting the precedent for what healthy and effective communication in your business is expected to look like and your team will model after that. From Slack messages to Zoom calls, set the tone and lead by example.
2. Create a Mistake-Positive Culture
Just last month I sent my Online Business Manager a message about an idea I had for a new system to optimize our marketing content for future repurposing. She replied letting me know she’d already identified that need as well, and hadn’t just found one solution but was in the midst of testing 3 different approaches to determine the one that best fit our creation process.
Needless to say, I told her to ignore my drop in and keep doing her thing! While some of the options didn’t work, through her experimentation we now have another pillar process that’s streamlined and specific to our business needs. Her actions are a direct result of a workplace environment that fosters trial and error, innovation, and mistakes as an avenue toward efficiency.
Our society has conditioned us to believe that accuracy and a proven-method approach are the best ways to succeed when in fact, building a culture where your team feels safe, able to experiment and ENCOURAGED to make mistakes is what’s going to push your business outside the box and fuel even greater success.
Whether you’re contracting support or have a team on payroll, it’s vital to the health AND success of your business to prioritize the growth mindset of your team.
- Encouraging your team to make mistakes
- Asking them to try new things
- Accepting mistakes as a path to learning & optimizing
And above all, stepping up as a leader that’s there to empower and support your team through a mistake-positive culture.
3. Encourage Autonomy:
One of my favorite things to do each week with my team is actually not lead our Weekly Activation Meetings. Because the most effective communication around our upcoming projects and launches is going to come from those working directly within those areas of the business.
But encouraging autonomy is not only about taking the reins when you’re around but even more so about cultivating a sense of ownership over the choices your team makes without you. Do they feel like they have the authority to make decisions or need to come to you for every small approval? What kind of communication do you value?
Instead of having a team that communicates every small thing, foster a sense of autonomy that allows your team to make decisions and report back accordingly. This will drastically cut down on unnecessary emails, messages, and meeting time, and lead to more effective communication, collaboration, and a sense of impact within the business.
4. Foster Cross-Collaboration
Running a successful remote team is about leaning into innovative leadership. How can you bring people together? How can you ensure they feel like active contributors to the mission of the brand?
Handing the reins over is a key piece of this! If you have a small team that often still looks to you as the primary point of contact, start encouraging them to collaborate with one another, have meetings without you, and to dream up new ideas and processes together before coming to you. This not only encourages autonomy and promotes collaboration, but will enhance communication across your team as they foster and build relationships with one another.
5. Promote Clarity
We kept running into the same problem again and again. I wasn’t quite sure where things were going wrong because from my perspective, everything had been clearly communicated. But when I asked my team members what they thought we could do to improve, I made sure to tell them it could be something on my end as well — not just theirs. And they told me messages were getting lost on different workspaces and had suggestions for improving where I left information and feedback for better implementation. I would have never known that if I hadn’t asked for clarity and honesty in their opinion. I now make a point to always tell my team and even supporting contractors to let me know how they’re honestly feeling about things, what’s working well, and any suggestions for improvement.
This is also key in verifying expectations for projects and processes. In the words of Brené Brown, get your team in the habit of speaking in terms of “What does done look like?” Answering this one question together will relieve so many misunderstandings before they even occur.
Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?
I built my business during the height of the pandemic and have always worked with a remote team! Our biggest challenge has been coordinating time zones across multiple countries globally. Communicating that, while locations are flexible, there will also be times when flexibility is needed on their end to make certain scheduling work has been key.
Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?
Hands down my favorite tool to use in communicating with my team in a way that feels like we’re together is Voxer. It’s a walkie-talkie style app that allows you to voice-chat each other in real time. You can also listen to voice messages 2x speed which is a game changer. I communicate with my team on a nearly daily basis via Voxer for as questions or thoughts arise that would be better explained via voice memo than typed in a message.
We also use ClickUp as our project management platform and use the commenting feature daily on tasks to review work and provide next steps as needed. If we’re not on Voxer or ClickUp, chances are we’re diving into a co-working session or team meeting on Zoom!
If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?
If a project management platform also incorporated video conferencing and voice memo messaging, it would help streamline everything in one easy to use place! Having the added feature of comparing time zones would be incredible for remote teams that don’t all live in the same place.
My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?
The pandemic has pushed the business sector into a world where remote work isn’t just for the few, but a possibility for many people now and far into the future. It’s a given that Unified Communications is not only a great idea, but a necessary part of the future of business communications. Essentially, the pandemic propelled us into an age where it’s needed now more than ever and since we’ve all got a taste for what it’s like to work with more freedom, the demand for remote positions and communication to effectively run remote teams is likely to only grow in the coming years.
The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring remote teams together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?
I’m most excited about Augmented Reality and the ease and accessibility it will bring to our lives. We’re in an age where screens are exhausting our eyes, limiting our sleep, and controlling our time. I can’t wait for a world where with a flick of the hand, you can check the weather, book your dinner reservation and swipe it all away to get back to reality at hand.
Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?
A conversation I often have with my partner is around the impact AR will have on our lives. I hope it will make way for less reliance on screens and technology around every corner — but perhaps that’s exactly the dependence it is going to enhance. Will we be able to separate reality from the constant integrations — or will society move further into our addiction to social media and screen time and start living with them as one in the same as the natural world?
So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?
It’s wild to say but I’ve never met a client in real life — I built the business during the height of the pandemic off the back of video conferencing and messaging apps! As a global business with clients all around the world, we’re now planning to incorporate more in-person meetings and retreats with our clients but will maintain virtual communications as our primary sources for the foreseeable future.
In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?
In a remote environment it can be tempting to avoid having conversations around negative employee performance. But the truth is, those patterns will repeat themselves if they aren’t addressed.
If you have a team member who is making the same key mistakes over and over, instead of sending them a message that’s hard to infer the tone and any underlying meaning, hop on a Zoom call and approach it with understanding and empathy. Start it off by asking, “How do you feel X is going at the moment?” Chances are they’ve already recognized some of the same things you have and will identify them first. Then ask questions like, “What do you think is going on there? How are you feeling with your workload? What kind of support would help improve things?”.
Put aside worries about business results or progress and listen with empathy to identify what the underlying causes of their performance issues might be. Then work from there to set them up on a path to success with key performance indicators and how to reach out if more support is needed.
Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?
Prioritizing relationship building amongst your team is especially important when working remotely. Consider having monthly or quarterly happy hour Zoom call with your team where strictly no business talk is allowed. Encourage everyone to bring a drink of their choice and talk about all things life, hobbies, personal goals, families, and especially let people know there’s space to talk about challenges and hardships too. You can also add a Slack channel for personal wins and updates and have your team add something at the beginning of each week to get the conversation off-work topics.
Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Four-Day Work Weeks and Three-Day Weekends! A study conducted by Henley Business School in the U.K. found that workers on a four-day work week reported a 77% better quality of life. Similar results from 6 hour work days and 4 day work weeks across varying countries found increased happiness, productivity, and energy. I firmly believe that we all deserve the choice to live more than we work and I have plans to incorporate this into Krystle Church Consulting within the year!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Join my email list where I send out juicy, (albeit somewhat sarcastic) emails each week on all things business and copywriting, peruse the Krystle Church website, and come hang with me on Instagram!
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.