Global Entrepreneurship Week Ohio 2020
Wisr CEO dissects remote leadership and engaging employees from afar.
Cleveland, OH – Kate Volzer, co-founder and CEO of Wisr, spoke during the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week Ohio that was held virtually this year. The digital setting was appropriate for Volzer’s presentation, “What Business Really Comes Down To,” a dialogue focused on what it means to lead a remote company and the people that make it possible.
Serving as Wisr’s CEO for nearly 5 years, Kate has seen her fair share of tactics that work and those that don’t when it comes to serving as a leader in a startup. “Startups are riddled with failed plans and ideas because the point is that you are building something that has never been done before. Be patient with yourself,” she urged current and aspiring entrepreneurs attending her talk.
Volzer also imparted six key takeaways for engaging a team in a remote environment:
- Be human, be present: Just because you cannot have physical interactions does not mean you cannot build personal relationships. Through casual zoom “chit chats w/Kate” and pioneering a Bachelor/Bachelorette group chat – Volzer connects with her team to engage in shared interests outside of professional work.
- People can’t work if they are sick: when building the company, Volzer and her two co-founders, John Knific, and Kris Ciccarello prioritized the well-being of Wisr’s employees. These values are upheld to this day with flexible sick leave and, more recently, grocery assistance for employees and their families who have been affected by COVID-19
- Acknowledge Family: There are many employees with small children and families who must balance the stressors of a remote environment as well as providing for their family. It’s common for kids to pop into Zoom calls or require mid-day pickups and Wisr’s policy is to meet those needs with understanding and flexibility.
- Feedback: Be open and willing to provide feedback because “the worst thing you can do as a leader and a founder is put up an inaccessible wall.”
- Ask for help: You don’t need to go it alone, pay attention to both external forces offering advice as well as your employees themselves. You don’t always need to take the advice, but you may be surprised to find how fresh thoughts and encouragement may flourish into something great.
- The little things matter: Keep abreast with important dates such as work anniversaries and birthdays. Showing you are invested in your employees starts by acknowledging their milestones.