I came across a great article this week on the importance of “soft skills” for graduates. It’s a great read and really resonated with me in my role at Kaltura.
Having a highly technical team is a great asset to any technology company, but team work and communication are the skills that bring your technology to life.
Education is a really hot topic at Kaltura, both for training internally and for training customers. It’s great to provide great technology and a strong set of features for your customers, but features don’t grow a business or school, application of those features is what makes your customers soar.
Externally, we have a great Community Team that provide a range custom training to customers, from how to upload your videos to how to troubleshoot your server. They also provide a knowledge centre, free training videos, a forum, meetups and free webinars. Customers can call on these sessions at any time in their customer lifecycle and they can either help to refresh your team’s knowledge or to provide you with a whole new skill set. As they say “knowledge is power” and the more we can educate our customers, the more they can grow.
Internally, technical information is shared with the whole team as it grows and develops and we’re all kept well informed of upgrades with core technology, upgrades with partners in exchange.kaltura.com and upgrades with Kaltura Building Blocks and plugins. What makes our internal learning different is the education on why and how a customer would use these.
There’s a big focus on use cases, formal case studies and also on working closely with the Product Team to not only learn about new features but also to feedback from customers. We all learn a huge amount about our technology by listening to our customers, inviting regular feedback on roadmap ideas and also on customer’s experience of using Kaltura. There are both formal and informal channels for feedback, ranging from CEO calls with customers to regular catch-up calls with a customer’s Account Manager and all of these help to make Kaltura stronger every year.
In any organization, when overwhelmed with email, updating written records, responding to customer requests and managing internal information flow, it can be difficult to take time out to process your learning and experience. So how do we manage this information? How do you keep your team working together towards the greater good?
“Soft skills” include a wide skill set that comes with experience. For some, it comes naturally, for others, they are learned as are any other skill. “Team work” is an often-used phrase in organisations, but it takes hard work to build true collaboration, particularly when you have a global team. It’s also essential to remember that your “team” isn’t just internal: your team is built from developers, sales teams, product managers, support teams, billing teams…but most important, customers. If you view customers as part of your team, your organization becomes truly world-class.
As we begin Q3 in our calendar, there are a number of initiatives that are taking place:
Know Your Team
We’ve just completed a great internal global project at Kaltura called “The Point of You”. Each global team was set a challenge to create a video showcasing your team members and the work that each individual does. The value of this is that you not only learn about the role of each team, but you also learn about the individuals that work in that team. Needless to say, most teams took a fun approach to their video task, ranging from Star Wars themes to James Bond, and whilst this was great fun to do, it was also hugely educational for Kaltura as a global company. The videos gave every single employee an opportunity to show their personality and tell you what they do and why they do it. Because the videos were fun, they were engaging and the outcome was a huge strengthening of collaboration and team relationships.
Each internal Kaltura team approaches the kickoff of a new quarter differently. There are no hard and fast rules, but each team works on a project that benefits Kaltura as a whole. We are usually paired up with colleagues and set a task. Some teams work on improving customer communication, others work on how to improve internal communications between teams, others work on how we recognize our individual achievements and how we work together to strengthen our personal career growth…there are no strict guidelines on what we work to improve, but the challenge itself helps us to grow as both individuals and teams and the close teamwork and open sharing makes us the solid global team that we are today.
Once a customer implementation has been completed, it’s easy to put a “tick in the box”, mark it as done and hand the customer over to their Account Manager. At Kaltura, we think it’s important to revisit that customer after a period of time, when they have had a chance to use the technology for some time and perform a review of their experience. The Professional Services Team and the Product Teams set up both formal and informal customer reviews, and use this opportunity to discuss in detail what the customer experience was like and how we can improve. What were we great at, where can we improve, what features would you like to see on the roadmap? It’s this constant circle of collaboration with customers that helps us to both decide on the roadmap and to improve our internal processes.
Your customers often get to speak to multiple teams in your organization, but if they had a chance to speak to “The Boss”, what would they tell them? We truly value our customers and every member of the Kaltura team has direct contact with customers, including “The Boss”! We recently had a number of calls set up with customers to speak to Ron, our CEO. Rather than setting up calls with customers who had a smooth ride, we tried to focus on customers who had very specific requirements and challenged us to the best of our ability. The calls have been invaluable and the reason they have been so successful is that once the calls had happened, there were action items for all. We set up follow-up calls with Product, Account Management, Professional Services and many other teams so that the customer could continue the conversation and we all learned from their great feedback.
We truly are a global team and that doesn’t just mean that we have offices around the world. I work in the EMEA London office and we have team members from the US, Israel, the UK, France, Austria, Germany, Spain and Holland. Not only do we have team members from around the world in every office, but movement between the offices is strongly encouraged. All staff have the opportunity to work in other global offices and this is incredible for both sharing your experience and also for sharing international experience. Business in the US is different to business in Germany, different again to business in Israel, and by having your team members move between your global offices, they bring the benefit of their experience to the wider team.
Do You Know The Answer To…
We have an internal forum that anyone can send a question out to, and anyone can answer. It doesn’t matter which team you work in, a question lands in all of our inboxes and we can all reach out to help a colleague. This also works in reverse, because as you read through these, you learn something new every day and have a huge body of knowledge to refer to.
We’ve all heard the phrase “eating your own dog food” (or if you haven’t, I’ll explain!). What this means is that if you believe in your product, use it! We have our own implementation of MediaSpace called KINO (Kaltura Internal Knowledge) to share knowledge and training internally. We have a number of galleries that each have permissions based on your team membership and these can be used to share video on new features, new releases, what your team is doing this month, training sessions on new technologies…there are no rules and you can upload any video that will help to educate your fellow team members. In addition, there are channels that are open to all where we share and learn with the whole company.
As is written in the article:
“The world’s top employers are picker than ever. And they want to see more than high marks and the right degree. They want graduates with so-called soft skills — those who can work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions and interact with colleagues from different countries and cultures.”
We continue to learn and grow at Kaltura, but the focus placed on team collaboration, written and spoken communication, sharing technology updates, business insight and working within a truly global team is taking us from strength to strength.
Oh…and most important…we use video