Amy Pisano joined Vettery as Chief Revenue Officer in March 2020. Prior to Vettery, she led revenue teams at Honest Buildings (acquired by Procore Technologies) and FreeWheel (acquired by Comcast). Amy brings over 20 years of experience and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to leadership and creative problem solving. Read on for her thoughts on starting this role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your first week at Vettery was in early March when the company moved to 100% remote. How did your plans for the first 30 days shift because of that? What advice do you have for other leaders that may be starting a new role during uncertain times?
I believe the most important things you can do in your first 30 days are listen, learn, and build trust with your team. In a traditional environment, that happens organically - but times have changed! So, while my goal remained the same, my tactics had to evolve.
I had to get very methodical. I created a shared drive for key documents, an introduction template, a new one-on-one and status report format, all to make the transfer of information easier. This allowed me to minimize disruption of my teams’ day-to-day and review information at my own pace and during off-hours. With this method, my time interacting with the team could be spent really digging in and making progress quickly.
I’ll be honest - some days the idea of starting during this insanity was really overwhelming but then I thought about how it must be for the team. They were adjusting to a new way of life, a new way of working, AND had a new boss. It was important to take the time to listen - it’s okay if you lose the first 10 minutes of a meeting to make space for people to connect and be heard. Empathy is so important in leadership - especially during a time like this.
You’ve been at Vettery for 2+ months yet you haven’t met most of your colleagues in-person. How has this impacted how you communicate and collaborate with your team?
Remarkably, I’ve only met one member of my team in-person. Thank goodness for video conferencing! But it doesn’t work for all settings, especially with large groups. In virtual meetings, you don’t always know how your messages are being received, you can’t read the room, and many individuals don’t feel comfortable speaking up.
My recommendation is to use a variety of meeting formats: one-on-ones, small groups, workshops, etc. Regardless of the format, it is essential for everyone to do their prep work. Set expectations about what you want to accomplish ahead of time to allow everyone to come prepared. The fundamentals of running an efficient meeting are even more important in a virtual setting. Harvard Business Review has a great article on how to run effective meetings.
I love workshops, but they are tough to do virtually. A good workshop requires people to be comfortable with each other, but in the beginning it is easy for a team to be intimidated by a new leader. I’ve tried to address this head-on. Lay the ground rules: there are no bad ideas or questions, challenges are encouraged, trust in your instincts, respect each other, and speak up! As leaders, you need to be intentional about creating a safe space for your teams to work together.
As Vettery’s CRO, you have taken on a large team - how have you approached getting to know the team and continuing to build on culture?
A big challenge was getting to know and connecting with the broader team of individual contributors. As a leader, it’s essential to build these connections not just for productivity, but for morale and culture as well.
There isn’t enough time in the day for me to spend time with each person individually and unfortunately we don’t have the benefit of passive social interactions while remote. This is still a work in progress, but here are a few things that have worked well for my team thus far:
- Small weekly virtual lunches: These are my favorite! Anyone from the team can sign-up and each session is limited to 10 people. We set a culture or organization based topic just to get the conversation going and the results have been great. They are a lot of fun - a chance to get to know people and help me learn tons about the business.
- Short weekly all-hands: Every Friday we have a team all-hands to provide updates, hear from another part of the business, or do general Q&A. We find that doing these less formally but more frequently is allowing us to communicate and setting the right tone.
- “Spring” Fridays: By Friday afternoon everyone is exhausted and ready to have some fun. Each week a different team hosts a virtual competition and happy hour, and they have been a blast! We’ve done Jeopardy, a virtual scavenger hunt, and next up is Scattergories. These informal interactions and fun with the team are so important.
- Weekly Cross functional meetings and email updates: Vettery has always been an in-office and tight knit community - there wasn’t really a need to formalize information sharing until now. We have instituted cross functional briefings and a weekly e-newsletter to share information, updates, birthdays, and upcoming virtual social events.
We are consistently soliciting feedback and trying different things out. Our culture is so important to who we are and we need to keep that alive!
How has COVID-19 changed how you work with your customers?
The current situation has changed what both our job-seekers and employers need from us here at Vettery. Now is the time to listen to your stakeholders, question your assumptions, and respond as quickly as possible.
An immediate result of this is our initiative around contract hires. We have partnered with Adia (another Adecco company) to make this a more turnkey process. We know people are eager to get back to work and we want to support that in any way we can.
It’s also important to remember that this is impacting people and companies in different ways. It’s brought a big focus on customer segmentation on both sides of our marketplace. It’s a cross-functional effort and I believe the work we’re doing now will help us be better positioned on the other side of this.
Unemployment is at an all time high as many companies (and their employees) are facing layoffs and/or furloughs. As someone in a leadership position, how do you balance sensitivity and positivity when interacting with employees right now?
With transparency. I don’t have all the answers right now and the reality is that none of us know what the world or hiring ecosystem will look like after this. For the time being, we must focus on what is within our control, which is a commitment to being true to each other, our business, and our customers. The economy will most certainly recover and our customers will need to hire. I don’t know when that will be but I can assure you that Vettery will be ready to meet that demand.