Creating space for team members to talk openly and honestly

Q&A with Megan Meeker, Head of Design at Lyra Health, on the importance of mental health care and best practices on managing & onboarding remote teams.

Creating space for team members to talk openly and honestly

By the Offsyte Team, September 10, 2020

A few weeks ago Megan planned a Social Distanced Mixology Class for her team at Lyra Health. We sat down with Megan to hear her amazing story of leading the design team at Lyra Health, and learned many very actionable tips on remote working, time management & best practices on onboarding new team members. Thank you, Megan!

Q: Can you introduce yourself?

A: I’m Megan Meeker. I’ve spent the last 15 years in and around the Bay Area working at the intersection of design, technology and the human experience.

Recently, I joined Lyra Health as the Head of Design to help transform the critically important world of behavioral health care through technology with a human touch. Our goal is to enable people to be emotionally healthy at work and at home.

Q: Tell us about Lyra Health. Why is mental health care so important?

A: Nothing is more important than taking care of ourselves and each other. Add on Covid, social and political unrest, and even remote learning into the mix and very quickly life can feel untenable.

Today, access to mental health care takes an average of 25 days to get an appointment and that’s for providers who are accepting new patients (and hopefully take insurance). Even then, only 1 in 7 get effective care.

Most Lyra users are seen within a week and can create an appointment online with just a few taps or clicks. It can be truly life changing to receive high quality care enabling you to feel better.

Q: As the Head of Design at Lyra Health, what are you passionate about? How did you decide to work there?

A: I’m passionate about purpose-driven companies that make a difference and I saw first-hand the personal and professional benefit that Lyra Health’s platform brought to my team in past roles. Mental health affects 1 in 4 US adults and the role with Lyra Health was an opportunity to help make a serious impact on the lives of millions.

On top of that, I love to build from the ground up using design and research to not only build external products but also internal culture and tools.

Q: How was the transition to remote working? How did you adapt?

A: Luckily, I’ve managed distributed teams over the past 5 years or so which has helped me and my team lay a solid foundation for working across screens and timezones.

Without clear borders and boundaries between work and life (no commute, staying inside, etc) there must be an acute awareness of personal and team needs to maintain balance and avoid burnout.

A couple of tips I like to utilize:

  1. Set clear start and stop times in your calendar
  2. Schedule free time on your calendar, just like you would schedule a meeting, and stick to it even if it’s just 15 minutes.
  3. Utilize speedy meetings to book 25 and 50 min meeting blocks. Building time between meetings is critical to prep for the next meeting even if there’s no commute involved. (To setup in google navigate to: Settings -> Event Settings -> Speedy Meetings)
  4. Stay mindful! Consider outlining a goal sheet for the day or week. Taking time to write down thoughts is important to balance priorities while flushing out any worries that may be otherwise distracting.

Q: Can you share tips on things that worked well to engage and connect with the team, especially being remote?

Weekly stand ups are a great venue to stay connected where team members can share photos of weekend adventures, activities and highlights.

A: They’re also a good time to share your individual color or percentage present. (i.e. “I’m yellow today as I’m worried about finishing my work on time…” provides considerations for how we can support and show up for each other.)

Cultural retrospectives enable discussions around remote team culture, just like you would talk about the highlights and pitfalls of a recently completed project. Collaborative tools like Miro or Figma can be useful to record opportunities together in real-time while gaining a better cultural perspective about the team beyond the day-to-day design work.

And perhaps most importantly, create a space where team members can talk openly and honestly.

Whether it’s walking 1:1s or virtual team lunches, it’s critical to take time to build trust, discuss opportunities and celebrate milestones. Build togetherness and celebrations through kudos boards, create shared team Zoom backgrounds or team swag, and carve out time for shared experiences like games or offsite activities.

Q: Can you share any onboarding practices on how to best support new remote team members?

A: Here are a few of my favorite practices:

  1. Create a living user manual for how you work to provide to new team members. It may seem a bit mechanical on the surface, but it expedites getting to know someone and the quirks of their particular working style.
  2. Assign a buddy during the first week for daily check-ins and unlimited Q&A.
  3. Create a feedback loop enabling a new team member to incorporate their experiences, tips and tricks in onboarding for future team members. Start small. Remote onboarding can be difficult without the chance to observe in person, so it’s important to not take on too much right away. I recommend team members get to know people, processes, and goals before diving in too deep.
  4. It’s important to break down internal nomenclature wherever possible. Companies have a tendency to create an internal shorthand with acronyms that can be complicated to unwind.
  5. Last but not least, immerse yourself in the product experience as much as possible. At Lyra, sign up for therapy! Get exposed to the process and understand how it all works.

Q: Tell us about your recent virtual team Offsyte!

A: Our virtual mixology class was a way to get our creative juices flowing. The best part was there was absolutely no way to mess up. Ingredients included everything from molasses to turmeric to fresh tea and berries.

Our virtual happy hour instructor made sure to break down and customize the steps based on whatever was in our respective kitchens. It was fun to see how different each drink could be and really demystified the art of mixology allowing for true experimentation and play.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Carving out time for yourself (to make a cocktail, stretch or even just take a few deep breaths) is highly underrated. It’s a welcome respite to do something small for yourself everyday so you can show up for yourself and your team. We’re looking forward to our next team Offsyte!

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