3 Tips for Running A Remote Legal Team (Successfully)

By Alyssa Verzino

AdobeStock_415447657The world of remote work is here to stay in one form or another. Whether you are remote-only or remote-optional, the challenge of managing teams from afar remains. I tuned in to the second episode of Cockpit Counsel featuring Danielle Sheer, General Counsel at Bottomline Technologies, and picked up some great tips for managing a remote legal team. Here’s what I learned.  

Tip #1: Connect With Your Team

Danielle highlighted her “individual touches” as one of the first and most important actions she takes when running a remote team. For her, that means monthly 1:1s with every team member, even if she is not their direct manager. For the team as a whole, it’s a weekly meeting that is both transactional and personal. On the personal side, ice breakers are chosen by different team members to help people get to know each other. They also have a quarterly event for team bonding. Everyone gets a chance to choose the activity for the quarter, and those who work remotely in another state even fly in to participate. It’s something that everyone gets to look forward to.

Tip #2: Transparency Is Crucial

When you’re working remotely, it can be hard to stay connected to the organization as a whole. Danielle noted that she is as transparent with her team as possible about what is going on at the company, and she focuses on ensuring that team members understand how they fit into the greater machinery. One positive aspect of remote work is that it can be easier to performance manage. You can clearly see if someone is delivering or not, which Danielle noted is helpful because it gives her time to get ahead of any coaching that needs to be done.

Tip #3: Protect Your People

Perhaps most importantly, Danielle is mindful of protecting her remote legal team. She called out the bad reputation that Legal tends to have, being viewed as a team of “no” and a bottleneck where things get stuck. "I am more thoughtful, or more mindful, about protecting the team." For any legal team, the end of the quarter is crazy. Their team rule is that no one can take a vacation during the last two weeks of the quarter. In the first week of the next quarter, they can take a breath. Danielle lets her team slow down after how hard they pushed the previous two weeks. Danielle referred to herself as a “mama bear” protecting her team’s time that week. They deserve a chance to rest and recover, and she wants to be sure her employees know that she understands how hard they’re working -- and that she cares about them as people. 

To hear more from Danielle, check out the full episode of Cockpit Counsel.

Topics: remote work General Counsel