Meet Harris Kenny, Founder at Intro:

Harris Kenny is the dynamic founder and fractional sales of Intro CRM, a leading CRM consulting company. With a deep understanding of the evolving sales landscape, Harris assists companies in maximizing their sales efforts and achieving scalable growth. Recognizing the increasing technicality of sales processes, Harris and his team empowers internal sales teams by leveraging advanced data analytics, workflow automation, and effective outreach strategies. With a passion for helping businesses thrive, Harris Kenny brings invaluable expertise to the world of sales and CRM, enabling companies to achieve remarkable success in their sales endeavors.

Listen Up: Harris Kenny, Founder at Intro — Full Podcast Episode on Spotify

Quick Read: Harris Kenny, Founder at Intro, Interview Highlights

How have you changed your hiring process to find the best remote talent and what tips can you offer others?

Harris initially embraced the idea of a globally diverse team and intentionally hired individuals from different parts of the world. He believed that the diversity of perspectives would strengthen the team. However, he soon realized that managing a team across various time zones proved to be a complex task, particularly in terms of coordination and communication. Harris ultimately made the decision to scale back and focus on hiring individuals within the same time zones. He acknowledged that his business and processes were not adequately prepared to handle such a dispersed team, especially considering the limited budget and the need to hire more junior-level professionals.

Harris emphasized the importance of having well-defined processes in place before expanding across time zones. He acknowledged that it was challenging to delegate tasks and establish efficient workflows without clear guidelines. However, he still acknowledged the benefits of working with individuals from different regions and expressed his enthusiasm for the future as his business grows more sophisticated, making cross-time zone collaboration easier to manage.

Reflecting on his experience, Harris stated, “If you’re early on, that was something I definitely learned the hard way, I think.”

How do you make your remote work culture inclusive? How can you improve communication among diverse team members?

Harris acknowledged that managing teams with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can present challenges, but he argued that all teams, regardless of apparent differences, face similar hurdles. He emphasized the need to recognize and value the unique perspectives and experiences that each team member brings to the table. While it may be more apparent in global teams that cultural and mindset differences exist, Harris emphasized that even teams composed of individuals from the same background can possess distinct perspectives that need to be considered.

According to Harris, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion is not merely a choice but an essential aspect of growing and scaling a business successfully. He stressed the importance of genuinely acknowledging the significance of diversity in shaping the company’s culture. However, Harris noted that understanding where he was going wrong and identifying blind spots posed challenges. As the leader, he recognized the power asymmetry within the team, which could hinder open and honest feedback.

To address this issue, Harris dedicated significant time and energy to creating an environment conducive to feedback. He experimented with various approaches, seeking avenues to encourage team members to share their thoughts openly. Recognizing that a simple email or Slack message wouldn’t elicit extensive feedback, Harris learned the importance of continuous engagement and reiterated the need for constructive feedback. He emphasized the importance of creating a safe space where team members felt comfortable expressing their concerns and highlighting areas that needed improvement.

Harris shared, “So for me, I think the biggest challenge was trying to test different ways of getting feedback and trying to create a space where it’s like, look, I really need to know if this isn’t working. I don’t care. I’m not going to get mad. You’re not going to be in trouble, but if this isn’t working, if this is a problem, and then I don’t know about it, then it’s going to become a bigger problem.”

In your opinion, what is the right way to ask for feedback?

Harris shared his experience in discovering the most efficient method for obtaining feedback from remote team members. After extensive experimentation with various tools and asynchronous communication methods, he discovered that scheduling face-to-face conversations proved to be the most effective approach. Despite concerns about meeting fatigue and the prevalence of conference calls, Harris emphasized the value of real-time communication, where visual cues and voice contribute to better understanding and alignment.

Acknowledging the importance of asynchronous communication for the majority of conversations, Harris highlighted the effectiveness of email as a primary tool. He specifically recommended using an app called Front, which combines the benefits of asynchronous communication with collaborative features. Front allows for threaded discussions, comment history, and automation, enabling efficient handling and routing of messages.

Regarding real-time communication, Harris suggested leveraging video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. He emphasized the superior video and audio quality of these tools, facilitating more effective communication when face-to-face interaction is required. Furthermore, he advised consolidating the use of purpose-built tools to streamline operations and avoid duplication of tasks across multiple platforms.

Harris shared his organization’s toolkit, highlighting HubSpot for go-to-market and revenue management, Front for communications, and Many Requests for project management. Trello and Google Drive were mentioned as supplementary tools for specific tasks and documentation management. By consolidating tools and removing redundancy, Harris found it easier to manage the tech stack, enhancing overall team productivity.

Reflecting on the recommended tools, Harris expressed, “Yeah. Well, there’s a couple of tools that have really persisted. And I think that the first one is email… The expectation with email is that it’s asynchronous, but it also has a bunch of collaborative things built in where I can comment within threads and people can see that history. You can pin comments within those threads and we can set up tons of different rules and automation so that we can handle and route different messages in different ways.”

What model of remote hiring have you found to be most effective?

Harris shared his journey in remote hiring and the evolution of his preferred models over time. Initially, he utilized Upwork to source talent and found success in hiring individuals from countries such as El Salvador, Nigeria, Ukraine, and India. Leveraging existing talent marketplaces allowed for quick access to specialized skills and immediate assistance for specific tasks.

However, as his organization grew, Harris transitioned to a different approach. He now utilizes platforms like Deel, Oyster, and similar services that offer a more structured contractor model. Contractors hired through these platforms work approximately 30 hours per week, resembling the commitment level of an employee, but without the full-time employment restrictions. Harris emphasized the advantages of these platforms, highlighting their cost-effectiveness and the ability to find specific talent through purpose-built job boards.

Harris acknowledged that short-term projects or urgent needs can still be effectively fulfilled through platforms like Upwork, which provide a vast marketplace of talented individuals. However, for medium-term hiring strategies, he found that platforms like Deel offered a more suitable solution, striking a balance between flexibility and commitment.

Harris stated, “I’ve found that platforms like that [Deel]… they’re much less expensive, which is helpful. And if you know exactly who you’re looking for and exactly what you need help with, there are probably more purpose-built job boards that can help you find those folks.”

Harris confirmed that currently, his organization primarily engages contractors for their services. They have not yet reached the threshold where the employer of record model, with employee benefits and associated obligations, becomes necessary. The contractor arrangement has proven successful and mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Harris recognizes that contractors appreciate the flexibility and freedom to work on other projects while still collaborating with his company.

How do you see the remote work landscape evolving in the coming years? What key trends should companies be aware of regarding the transition to a more global hiring and remote work model?

Harris firmly believes that remote work is here to stay and that companies should recognize and leverage the immense talent pool available worldwide. With advancements in technology and connectivity, companies can tap into the expertise of highly skilled individuals across the globe. Harris emphasizes that organizations that effectively embrace this global talent and remote work approach are likely to achieve long-term success.

Harris also acknowledges the various reasons why individuals may prefer to stay in their current locations, such as family or cultural obligations. By allowing individuals to work remotely, companies can bridge geographical barriers and create opportunities for collaboration without requiring employees to uproot their lives.

Furthermore, Harris highlights the increasing effectiveness of remote workers, especially in light of the rise of generative AI technologies. As the gaps between native and non-native speakers narrow and contextual understanding improves, the merit-based approach to hiring becomes more significant. Harris encourages companies to shift their hiring strategies away from personal connections and biases, towards a more inclusive and merit-driven process. He believes that companies that adopt this approach will be more efficient and benefit from the diverse perspectives and expertise that global talent brings.

“I think companies structuring how they think about filling roles and getting their jobs done, not based on the buddy system or personal connections, but on a merit-based approach, is going to become increasingly essential. The companies that are cost-effective because they aren’t relying on personal networks will be so much more effective. It takes deliberate effort, but I firmly believe in it.”

Can you share any advice for companies just beginning to explore global hiring and remote work options?

Harris suggests starting with a specific project or task when seeking remote assistance. By defining a narrow scope, companies increase their chances of finding suitable remote contractors or agencies with the required expertise. Success in a focused area can then serve as a foundation for further expansion.

Additionally, Harris recommends working with agencies with a global pool of remote resources. This allows companies to gain exposure to different remote work practices and benefit from the agency’s project management platforms. It’s an alternative to solely relying on local resources and traditional in-person collaboration, especially for companies without established remote work processes.

What common pitfalls should companies avoid, and what best practices should they implement, especially for startups still developing their processes?

Harris emphasizes the importance of documentation for successful remote work. Clear and well-documented expectations ensure that remote workers understand their tasks and responsibilities. Without proper documentation, there is a higher risk of miscommunication and failure. Startups, in particular, should recognize the value of documenting tasks, processes, and expectations to avoid misunderstandings and increase the likelihood of success.

Harris also highlights that remote workers cannot fix a messy or poorly defined task on their own. Companies should not assume that remote contractors can read their minds or figure out ambiguous instructions. Instead, providing clear instructions and a well-defined scope for tasks and projects is crucial.

Overall, the key advice and best practices for companies exploring global hiring and remote work are:

  • Start with specific projects or tasks.
  • Consider working with agencies that have remote resources.
  • Emphasize documentation to ensure clear communication and understanding.
  • Avoid handing off messy or ill-defined tasks without proper instructions.

Harris’ quote: “Starting with a narrow scope and having well-documented expectations…is going to increase your odds of success by a lot.”