Marcel Tannich Takes the Lead: A Story of Initiative and Team Growth at OnTheGoSystems

November 30, 2023

As a fully remote company with team members spread across over 45 countries, we take immense pride in teammates who go above and beyond. Marcel Tannich, a valued Support team member at OnTheGoSystems, has done just that. By harnessing the power of individual strengths and passions, Marcel improved workflows and elevated the entire Support team to new heights.

Marcel, can you tell us about your initiatives and their impact on the Support team’s work and efficiency?

Our team’s recent success stems from a series of strategic initiatives aimed at optimizing our strengths and aligning work with individual passions. We’re testing various approaches to find the best fit for each team member:

  • Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses: I started by analyzing each team member’s skills, problem-solving approaches, communication styles, and development areas. This has helped us determine which tasks each team member would thrive in and which might be challenging, and was instrumental in encouraging learning and growth within the team.
  • Leveraging Interests: People naturally excel when they engage in projects they are passionate about. So, I took the initiative to identify each team member’s interests and past experiences. By aligning team members’ roles with their interests, we’ve seen a boost in morale and innovation, leading to higher job satisfaction and more creative solutions.
  • Specialization: I encouraged team members to specialize in particular areas, transforming them into go-to experts. This specialization has significantly sped up problem-solving and enhanced our team dynamics.
  • Encouraging Creativity for Pace Improvement: Our focus isn’t just on handling more support cases per day but on doing so creatively. My fellow team members are encouraged to scrutinize their own workflows and identify what works best for them to achieve a higher pace.

You also conduct bi-weekly one-on-one calls. Can you tell us more about them?

The bi-weekly one-on-one calls have been incredibly impactful. These sessions mix progress tracking, tackling difficult support cases, and personal connection. We discuss work-related issues and personal well-being, mental health, and even engage in casual chit-chat. These conversations have created a supportive and open environment, essential in building trust within the team.

Oh, and for those eager to learn German, we conduct these bi-weekly calls entirely in German. It’s like having a language tandem partner every other week, which I really enjoy. It’s a unique way to combine language learning with our regular team interactions.

One-on-one calls are great for work-related issues and personal well-being. Image sourced from Pexels

What specific problems were you trying to solve with your initiatives?

My initial focus was on leveling the knowledge base within our team. Many team members were following specific workflows out of habit, even when more efficient methods existed. 

For example, in our team, we had both power users and those less comfortable with using WP-CLI, the command-line interface for WordPress. So, I began by educating my team on its use and developed a comprehensive training module. This module is now part of our knowledge base, accessible to all team members. Additionally, I created specific tutorials for using a variety of tools on different platforms and environments.

Another important issue was improving the communication flow. We’ve made strides in the dynamics of our meetings and chats. Now, whenever there’s a potential ongoing issue, the team is promptly informed, ensuring everyone is up-to-date and can access information that might be time-saving.

Furthermore, we focused on achieving successful personal engagement. We’ve adjusted our team meetings to better align with various time zones. This change is particularly beneficial in a fully remote working environment. It allows team members to seek help, share experiences, or simply engage with each other more effectively.

I noticed uncertainty in team members’ personal goals. To address this, I involved the team in a more inclusive goal-setting process. We worked together to ensure that our objectives were not only realistic and challenging but also in sync with individual skills and resources. Given that we handle several thousand cases and are engaged in numerous initiatives and projects, having clear, measurable personal goals is essential.

Team meetings are beneficial for remote workers. Image sourced from Pexels

How do you assess team progress and keep members motivated?

We set clear, achievable goals, developed collaboratively to align with everyone’s strengths, interests, and career aspirations. Regular check-ins and adjustments are key to keeping these goals relevant and challenging. 

This is still an ongoing process, yet the improvements are already evident. 

The results of your efforts have been outstanding! Can you share some of the achievements in terms of exceeding support goals and improving skills and performance?

We’ve seen a significant increase in pace, quality of feedback, and the number of cases handled, as well as a substantial growth in our collective knowledge. 

Achieving an 87% resolution rate in chats is a significant accomplishment. It reflects my team’s dedication and effectiveness, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead such an amazing team and, together, explore new ideas with them on how we can grow and improve.

Teams need to assess strengths and set clear goals. Image sourced from Pexels

What obstacles did you face while implementing your efficiency plan, and how did you overcome them?

Every transformative journey has its challenges, and ours was no exception. The primary challenge for me was managing a multitude of new tasks and meetings within the same time constraints.

To address this, I optimized my schedule, ensuring 50-60% of my time remained available for tasks like support requests, debugging, improvements, 1:1 calls (including their preparation), and mentoring new employees. 

Currently, I find the Eisenhower method, recommended by our CCO Amit, highly effective for managing priorities. Additionally, I’ve integrated time blocking into my daily routine to allocate dedicated “focus time” for routine tasks. I’m also actively exploring other potential approaches to determine if they can complement or enhance my existing methods.

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