Our People Heroes series celebrates People leaders across the globe. These insights were pulled from our conversation with Jen Paxton on the New World of Work podcast.
Managing people can be hard. Managing a team on a global scale? That comes with a whole new set of challenges. From collaborating across multiple time zones to finding the right tools to facilitate communication, managing a global team is no easy feat. Jen Paxton, VP of People at Smile, knows all about this, so we spoke with her about her experience supporting a team of 55 people across 17 countries around the world.
Meet Jen Paxton, VP of People at Smile
Jen Paxton started her career in her first startup role nearly 10 years ago. She’s worked in startups ever since—helping grow teams from three to 300 people. She’d even call herself a startup junkie.
Jen joined Smile on the heels of an acquisition that she was part of at her last company, Privy. She knew she wanted to go back into another startup and grow it again. But she also wanted to experience a new challenge that she hadn't faced before: scaling a global team.
What we learned from Jen about managing global teams
1. Use tools to facilitate communication and collaboration across time zones.
“We're trying to go more asynchronous. We're actually trying to move a lot of those live sessions to recordings.”
Jen and her team at Smile lean on a host of tools and technologies to make everyone’s job run more smoothly. Her team uses tools like Volley to facilitate communication across time zones, Notion as their internal wiki, Trello for project management, and are starting to explore using tools like Miro for collaboration as well.
Feeling connected to colleagues when they live on the other side of the world can seem impossible at first, but by investing in the right tech and using asynchronous methods of communication whenever you can, you can make it a lot easier for everyone.
2. For a 24-hour business, international hiring is a game-changer.
“On our support team in particular, we are 24/7. And so we need to have people who are up and working during those specific times.”
Being a 24-hour e-commerce company with international operations, having the ability to hire employees in different time zones has been a game changer for the team at Smile. Not only has it helped them tap into a whole new network of candidates, it makes scaling business operations easier too.
Opening up their organization to the global talent pool meant that they didn’t have to have their employees working overnight shifts to cover 11pm to 7am inquiries, they could instead hire team members on the other side of the world.
3. Finding the sweet spot between hiring internationally and building a strong community is essential.
“I do think that we'll do a little bit of investment in some specific kind of cluster areas, especially South America.”
Although hiring internationally comes with a ton of benefits, Jen noted that in the future, Smile will be taking a more focused approach by doubling down on certain talent markets to create cluster areas of community for employees.
Jen is already thinking about strategies for tapping into specific talent markets—like by building a relationship with technical universities, for example. Fostering a sense of community when building a team is crucial, and it’s no different when it happens on an international scale.
What’s next for Jen
It’s no secret that Jen is wearing a lot of hats in her role at Smile right now, so we were curious to hear what she’s going to be focusing on next. Her answer? Smile’s compensation strategy.
Jen’s goal is to spend the next two to three months defining Smile’s compensation plan—which includes both their philosophy and their strategy—and then also implementing career ladders and a performance review process.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Jen, check out her recent episode of the New World of Work podcast.
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