Over the past month and a half, I've had the pleasure to connect with many incredible remote leaders who without even knowing it, have gifted me with something great as a result of our interaction. Whether it be a certain nugget of wisdom, a unique shared connection, or an enlightening viewpoint. No matter what it is, I am left in awe every time for one reason or another. My chat with Shauna Moran, Owner of Operate Remote was no exception. Not only is this incredibly accomplished peep practicing what she's preaching and effectively leading her remote team, but she is also contributing to something bigger towards employee empowerment through a project called 'Build with Purpose' (more on that later).
Together with her globally distributed team at Operate Remote, they work towards assisting companies of all shapes and sizes, coaching and guiding them to lead their remote teams more effectively. Shauna's work directly with founders involves leadership coaching and executive consulting to develop them to be highly effective leaders.
"I think it's one thing being a founder. It's another thing being a leader."
Shauna shared that her clients come from two types of mindsets, and oftentimes they reach out because they're feeling overwhelmed. She says they either come from a place of inspiration or desperation. The inspiration is - I want to create a remote-first amazing culture, and am excited by this, or, they are coming from desperation - my team is completely burnt out. I'm frazzled. I don't know what to do. I can't attract talent or retain talent. Help!
When it comes to working with larger organizations, Operate Remote as a whole focuses more on training, learning, and the development side of things. This translates to helping companies build their internal resources and knowledge, developing their teams from a remote perspective, and delivering training and coaching at scale. Much of the training often focuses on how to manage the wellbeing and mental health of their remote teams.
Shauna shared with us that the 'Why' behind the company actually started first with the 'How' which was around six years ago. Like with many entrepreneurs that she speaks with, her business was created out of her own pain points around working remotely and managing remote teams within a multinational company.
"I was a remote worker based in the west of Ireland, as part of an international team that was spread across nine different time zones, reporting to the head office, which was in Canada. It was a very interesting hybrid environment. We didn't really have the terminology for it back then. We came up with a lot of challenges on an employee level, the isolation, sometimes burnout - and then on a team level, it was very challenging to sometimes remain engaged in a hybrid environment, and to make sure that we were included in that, and there was fairness and, inclusion across the board."
The many challenges she encountered led Shauna back to university where she studied innovation management, basing all of her research around remote teams. During this time, she was able to utilize what she was learning to change a lot of the processes within her own team, as well as educate her team around, what does remote-first actually mean, and, how can they create more inclusive environments when they're working in the office with remote colleagues.
"We were able to leverage some really great kinds of strategies around asynchronous communication, around continuing momentum, and engagement."
It was after this point that Shauna's clients, which she worked with during her time managing technology and agency partnerships with Shopify, started approached her looking for guidance. These companies were exploring better ways around how they could hire remotely, set up their company for remote working success, how to attract talent, how to cater to time zones, and more. It was as a result of these conversations around remote work where the idea for Operate Remote was created.
Once Shauna founded Operate Remote, she quickly realized what the real issue and bottleneck was that founders and leaders of remote teams were facing.
"The strategies, the processes, and the technologies, would only take them so far. Oftentimes what held them back was in fact, their mindset and their ability to think from an emotional intelligence perspective, in order to truly engage their team, to get their team's buy-in, or to create the psychologically safe environment that was needed."
With her background in psychology, ongoing curiosities, and ambition to better the remote working world by improving the remote leaders within it, Shauna decided to become qualified as an executive coach, specializing with coaching and neuroscience. With her training, she now blends the coaching piece together with her remote-first knowledge.
"This is what creates the momentum for short-term wins, but also long-term success, long after my clients have worked with me, because that's the shift that needs to happen, it's the mindset piece."
Variety is a huge value of mine, but I also like stability. Also, what I've learned about myself is that I am quite introverted and I am an empath - a highly sensitive person, so I do require time on my own, and I do require time for deep work. I create that for myself within the business. So on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I do not take any calls, and that is so that I can get into the deep work within my own business and work on the business. But also that I can choose the deep work for the clients. On Tuesdays and Thursdays that is where I take my coaching sessions.
I've learned the importance of rest and breaks, which is why on Wednesdays for example, I don't take calls. I give myself the option to ask what I need that day. Do I need to sleep a little bit extra, or to get up and do exercise first thing in the morning? I give myself that flexibility. I do work with clients all over the world, so I do have to incorporate that into what I do as well. Sometimes I run workshops very early. I've done workshops at 5:00 AM in the morning here, but I know from experience that at 11:00 AM that morning, I need to start winding down for the day.
I've learned over the years what works for me and what doesn't. I am a morning person, and that's where my mind is best creative. So, getting up at 6:00 AM, having a very quick kind of morning routine, and doing two hours solid work, without having to be on for anybody else is where I'm at my most productive. To me, the quality that it can produce and how effective I am, could be similar to racking up eight hours in an office.
Yes! I call my energy back to me after calls.
I think it's so important for empaths because our energy is going out to so many people all the time. It's important to have some sort of ritual where we come back to ourselves. If we don't have that, we'll find that we're continuing to think about work. We can't effectively switch off from work. We're still drained from thinking about it and ruminating on it. For me, especially when I'm coaching people, because I'm getting so in-depth with holding space for them and their problems, their challenges, their beliefs, whatever it is that comes up in that coaching session, having that ritual after the calls is very sacred.
I also have to make sure that I'm looking after myself. So calling my energy back and being intentional about that, whether it involves washing my hands, doing a quick meditation, or whether it is going for a walk and saying to myself, I call my energy back to myself from today, from everything that went on, from all of those little interactions that I've had, maybe some good, maybe some not so good. All of this brings me back into that grounded state and it helps me recenter myself.
For me, the purpose, the impact, and the legacy I want to leave behind is a positive impact. When I started this journey, it was because of the pain that I could see in my network and in my own life, mostly. I asked myself this question recently - how do I create the biggest amount of impact that I can within what I do? For me, the answer that came to me was by working with these founders.
"If you can develop a founder to be an emotionally intelligent, empathetic, clued-in leader, then you are going to create hundreds of thousands of happy employees all over the world."
People deserve to be happy in their work. I know what it's like to be unhappy. I know what it's like to be bullied. I know what it's like to cry after the workday when you close your laptop. And I know there are so many people out there that are doing that now. So the biggest way that we can reduce that and completely mitigate that is by developing these leaders.
It all started with an engagement strategy with one of the clients I work with. Within his team, we created a rallying point around giving back to charities. We got his team involved where they could actually be a part of deciding which charity was the most meaningful for them, then they would dedicate a certain percentage of revenue that the company generated every year to that charity. But not only that, they would be really involved with the chosen charity every quarter. They would bring them into their all-hands meetings, regularly hear from them, and they would volunteer their time.
It was from this that we decided to set up a movement which is called Build with Purpose. Our goal with that is to try and get, a couple of thousand/ hundreds of thousands of small to medium size businesses to sign up. If we can get all of these businesses to dedicate 1% of their revenue, to a chosen charity, engage their team in the meantime, it creates purpose for everyone.
It's a great way to engage your team and through movements like this, we can create a sense of purpose, especially for small businesses that may be struggled with creating their purpose.
- - - To find more about the movement 👉 https://www.buildwithpurpose.org/