Developing Team Leads at Automattic: An HR conversation with Lori McLeese
Best-Self Management · 43 minutes ·

Developing Team Leads at Automattic: An HR conversation with Lori McLeese

Right now, much of the business world is racing to figure out how to do remote work. This likely wasn’t a change they anticipated. However, there are some companies that have already been doing it for years and have valuable lessons to teach.


In this episode:

  • What companies transitioning to remote work can learn from those that already do it [2:14]
  • How the freedoms of remote work lead to more satisfaction [8:30]
  • Addressing the needs and wants of employees who prefer a traditional office [14:10]
  • How managers can take care of their remote team [16:15]
  • How 2020 has changed the role of human resources [23:00]
  • Ways to successfully blend remote and in-person work [31:20]
  • The benefits of increased transparency [34:35]


About Lori McLeese

Lori is Automattic’s Global Head of Human Resources. She and her team focus on making Automattic the best place Automatticians have ever worked. One aspect of this is building community in a distributed environment. She joined Automattic in 2010, when there were about 50 Automatticians worldwide, and is grateful to have learned so much in the ten years and 1,200 hires since. She lives in the mountains of Asheville, NC.


Taking Advantage of a Remote Model

Although it may not be everyone’s preferred model, there are many benefits to a remote workforce. One that Lori is quick to point out is the ability to collaborate with talent from around the world. In fact, by giving people the choice to live where they want while still working for your company, a culture of appreciation develops. Overall, when you grant people the trust to work in the environment of their choosing, creativity and personal-responsibility will naturally increase.


New Paradigms and Responsibilities

This year has presented countless challenges. Even though her company was already fully-remote, people are facing all sorts of hurdles to surmount. One positive is that more companies are starting to realize that they play a role in caring for the mental and emotional wellbeing of their people. This comes in many forms, such as including more mental health services in benefits packages and tweaking community-building rituals. Taking these and other actions will maintain the support and camaraderie that is the lifeblood of any functioning organization.



“We don’t view [team leads] as a promotion. We view it as a developmental opportunity.” [17:08]

“When you get to be a large organization, it’s nice to have a small cohort that are really your people.” [22:24]

“When you have 1,300 people, there’s not a one-size-fits-all. What works for one person isn’t going to be appreciated by others. But we’re still trying.” [24:44]


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