5 Tips To Be An Effective CSM Leader In Difficult Times
Your CSM team is on the front line every day keeping your customers successful.
They wear a multitude of hats to keep the business thriving. From strategists, to cheerleaders to therapists, they help your customers drive outcomes to support retention and growth. During times like this, these high-touch, client-facing roles are under unprecedented amounts of stress. Likely their work environment has changed. They could be juggling their professional career while managing their children at home. They could have a family member or loved one directly impacted by this pandemic. For some, they may be separated from a loved one due to borders closing.
There is no greater time than now that your leadership is needed. Here are five tips on how to lead your team in difficult times.
1. Assess the team’s needs
As information changes by the hours and days, what your team needs from you will evolve. What was communicated as being important yesterday may have shifted over 24 hours. It will be important to have an adaptive capacity model to allow for all the new challenges your team faces. Perhaps teams that did not once work closely will need to align for better results. Due to changes in communication, a once-hierarchical organization may flatten to allow for better collaboration. Now more than ever is the time to stay close to how the needs of your individual contributors are shifting. You may not be able to immediately respond to these new needs, but that awareness allows you to lead as a human-first manager.
2. Be flexible
The same way your team needs to adopt an adaptive capacity model, so must your leadership be adaptive and flexible. Now more than ever is the time to not rely on how things were done in the past. With information changing so rapidly, the past was two hours ago and the stakes have changed! This is the perfect time to learn from your team and other leaders what is working and what is not on the front line. Embrace the change around how you communicate, how you conduct meetings and how you collaborate. Change is the new constant your team will come to trust and rely on your leadership even more if they see how easily you can adapt.
Remember that other teams are changing and flexing in new ways as well, and we can learn a lot from them—just as they can learn from our experiences. If you haven’t joined Gainsight’s Community, this is the perfect time.
3. Partner on priorities
One of the nice features of Gainsight is that it allows you to focus on your priorities in one place using Cockpit. Each member of your team can get their most important information in one dashboard. And you as a leader can get insight into what your team is working on and where the gaps are using Reporting. Many of our customers are creating new Playbooks as well, specifically tailored to help customers impacted adversely by the COVID-19 crisis.
As business is changing rapidly, it’s crucial to use technology at your disposal to assess which challenges to attack first. Your clients will remember who their true partners were in these difficult times. Use your one-on-ones with your team to manage these competing priorities. Determine the appropriate ways to shift tasks on a daily basis so your clients know you’re holding their hands through this journey.
4. Positive reinforcement
A genuine thank you can go a long way in difficult times. With the outside world moving so quickly, your team will lean into additional words of affirmation. Gratitude for their ability to be flexible and step up for your company will pay dividends in the long run. Thank them for showing up for your customers when they are balancing personal needs. Thank them for being flexible by modifying work styles to be accessible. Thank them for the longer hours they might be putting in and the speed at which they are able to pivot as new developments unfold.
There is no such thing as overcommunicating at this time. If your team is not already doing standups, now is the perfect time to adopt them. Find a reasonable time to accommodate various time zones and spend some time at the start of the day connecting with your team. A traditional standup usually answers three questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What do you hope to accomplish today?
- What blockers do you have from achieving this?
However, in difficult times this is a great opportunity to open up with an emotional check-in. Ask them how they plan to find childlike joy today. Ask them about what made them laugh yesterday. It’s the perfect time to find light as we all head down this uncharted path.
For Gainsight customers, the global Timeline feature is a great way to make sure everyone can see every note and every interaction at a glance. Using @Mentions tags in the right person to the conversation at the right time.
I hope some of these tips resonated with you as we navigate these stormy seas. Our CEO, Nick Mehta, has also shared some timely thoughts on the overall importance of Customer Success in a downturn and positive ways SaaS leaders can get through COVID-19.