Katerina Dimitratos: Hire remote talent (but I ask: what should the workers do?)

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

In a post on Twitter, Katerina Dimitratos says:

“Hiring remote talent means they’ll execute whatever you ask of them. That’s the only thing they’re judged by. Hiring average in-office talent means you can babysit and evaluate them by hours sitting there. Y’all need to learn to focus on deliverables and on how to lead that way. The hours spent in an office mindset is outdated.”

In response, I would ask:

What work should these workers do? Who determines the scope of their work? Only in the most authoritarian and top-down approach to leadership would the leaders make 100% of the decisions.

It’s true that new workers, just out of college, need a lot of guidance, but if we are talking about someone with experience, whether they are designers or marketers or software engineers or accountants or lawyers or logistics operatives, typically the manager depends on that worker to offer an education about what is important.

A talented a designer will educate a manager about design.

A talented marketer will educate a manager about marketing.

Unless the manager is an absolute dictator, the manager will rely on the worker to offer an education that can shape goals and milestones. This is, I think, one reason why managers want workers back in the office, because it is easier to get an education when your teacher is in the room with you.

I take my team out to lunch as often as possible. They educate me about what is actually happening. But also, sometimes I meet with the CEO, and educate them about what they need to know is happening amid the tech team. I also educate the CEO about what is possible, regarding timelines, budgets, priorities, long-term goals, and new possibilities created by new technologies or new alliances.

For all of these reasons, it is easier to manage when all of your workers are in the office with you, and for this reason companies will generally be better run when all of the workers are in the office with their managers. Of course, there are many variables, and this is just one factor, but it should be considered part of the mix of building an effective company.

Katerina Dimitratos is suggesting a model where the workers are stupid robots who do whatever they are told. That is simply not the way most modern companies work, especially in tech. If I had a worker who simply did what they were told, I would fire that worker. I need people around me who can educate me about their specialty, and so help me realize the exciting possibilities that exist because of their unique skills.

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