Transparency goes a long way. When the economy is in a downturn (and even when it’s not), transparency and trust with employees can make or break a company and its reputation. Right now, people are disconnected from their coworkers through in-person interactions but they still need to know what’s going on with the business, as much as necessary, from the top down. This is a time for managers to step up and showcase their empathy toward others, their ability to support the team from afar, and have honest but tough conversations, even if they have to happen over the phone or video. Honestly is the best policy.
As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmanuel Schalit, co-founder and CEO of Dashlane.
Emmanuel Schalit is a cybersecurity expert, technology innovator, and international business leader. At Dashlane, Emmanuel oversees a global team of more than 250 in New York, Paris, and Lisbon, dedicated to solving the digital identity crisis by giving people greater control over how they store and share data and transact online. Emmanuel has steered the business from its inception in 2011 into one of the fastest-growing technology companies in North America while developing Dashlane into a solution that has earned more than 50,000 five-star reviews.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Emmanuel! What is your “backstory”?
I started my career with a PhD in computer science before working as a software engineer for a few years. I worked my way into management for larger and larger teams, which culminated in running a 10,000-person division of a large media conglomerate. It was then that I realized I preferred smaller companies where I could be closer to other members of the team, the customers, and the product. That realization combined with crossing paths with the right people at the right time led me to co-founding Dashlane in 2012.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?
I agree and think it’s likely that a company’s single most critical hire is the Chief People Officer that can ensure your teams are set up and staffed for success. That means ensuring managers have the authority to lead (which requires hiring a competent team that you trust completely) and employees have the tools and resources necessary to accomplish their projects.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
We have multiple offices around the world, including New York, Paris, and Lisbon, and also serve users worldwide so collaboration is key for keeping our projects running smoothly. Some of my favorite apps and software for task management and workflow include Jira and Confluence.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team During a Global Pandemic”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
- Security training is no longer just for IT. In the age of COVID-19, businesses and their IT departments are struggling to manage employees now working from home and across multiple cities, devices, networks, etc. Employees using their personal devices for work purposes bring an added layer of security vulnerability to everyone at an organization and with lines blurring between home and work, active security measurements must be in place. Businesses of all sizes need to equip their employees with the training and tools they need to keep work information, documents, and customer data safe from hackers. Not only could one person at a large consumer-facing company put thousands of people’s personal information in danger, but employees could be putting themselves and their own companies at risk, which is why all employees need to understand security essentials like proper password hygiene.
- Transparency goes a long way. When the economy is in a downturn (and even when it’s not), transparency and trust with employees can make or break a company and its reputation. Right now, people are disconnected from their coworkers through in-person interactions but they still need to know what’s going on with the business, as much as necessary, from the top down. This is a time for managers to step up and showcase their empathy toward others, their ability to support the team from afar, and have honest but tough conversations, even if they have to happen over the phone or video. Honestly is the best policy.
- Success takes action, not perfection. Productivity is something everyone struggles with at times, and while employees are under quarantine, the hours may seem longer but the same amount of work, if not more, needs to get done. The current pandemic has also made all of us evaluate priorities. As a leader, it’s important during these uncertain times to show action by providing resources for your team to stay motivated at home and feel supported. There should also be a shared balance of understanding that work demands are high but as everyone juggles a thousand things and business disruptions happen, mistakes can also happen and that’s okay. Either you win or you learn.
- All companies are unique and you should never blindly follow general advice. What works for one company, doesn’t work for the rest. This pandemic is hurting every business, and leaders are figuring out the best ways to remotely manage teams of all sizes. With employees under an extreme amount of pressure at both home and work, it’s important to adjust your strategy and leadership style to best benefit the size of your organization and team. I manage a large team of 200+ people so it’s hard to touch base with everyone directly. I rely on my department managers to provide executive updates to their direct teams and other team leads to ensure everyone is current on important company updates.
- Things will get better. While it’s easier to predict the past than the future, our economy has been through major turmoil in the past and even if things never seem back to “normal,” there is a new normal we’ll begin to feel comfortable with. People may work differently and cities may operate differently, but things will get better.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Be mindful of the fact that we’re in unprecedented times. At the end of the day, your employees are humans who are all dealing with an influx of added problems, work, and stress. Offering support and flexibility, as well as resources for additional help, will go a long way as everyone copes with this new reality.
Thank you for these great insights!