Crossover’s Unique Approach to Work
The Way We Work

Crossover’s Unique Approach to Work

by Bryan Barber
Crossover’s Unique Approach to Work

At Crossover, our goal is to take complex operations and find ways to simplify them. Why? So we can scale rapidly. Our company has a very aggressive growth strategy. In order to keep pace with the growth, we break down every part of our operation into discrete building blocks, allowing us to add capacity quickly and reliably.

Talent acquisition is one of the biggest needs in our high-growth environment. To help us meet our hiring goals, we apply the building-block approach to all of our jobs. Some companies hire “smart generalists” and let them do whatever seems important at a given moment. Not Crossover! We take a structured approach, aiming to be very clear and precise about what a job is and exactly what it is supposed to deliver. One of our main tools for achieving this is the work unit.

A work unit is the actual output that a worker produces. Engineers write code and submit it as a pull request. That’s a work unit. Customer Support agents solve support tickets. The solved ticket is a work unit. Even our most senior executives have work units, for example deep dive analysis documents.

To get the most out of the work unit structure, it is important to be clear about quality standards. We document the specific factors that make each work unit great, and coach our partners to deliver to those standards. We call this approach a quality bar. To provide a sense for how it works, the quality bar for a great deep dive analysis would include factors like these:

  • The analysis gets to the lowest level of detail. A great deep dive into a system outage would analyze the problem all the way to the code that caused the outage.
  • The analysis is supported by evidence, never assumptions. We tend to have a lot of links to supporting evidence in our deep dive documents!
  • The solution addresses the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms. For example, if a server is running out of memory, the solution should address why it is running out of memory, rather than merely adding more memory.

How do we improve work unit quality? Coaching. Our managers review their teams’ work units every day. When a defect is found, the manager provides written coaching on the most important quality issue, teaching the IC how to fix the issue and prevent it in the future. Our teams strive for continuous improvement, and our managers strive to coach every team member to be as good as the top performer.

These techniques (work units, quality bars, and coaching) simplify the work of managers in our fully remote, globally distributed work environment. Since everyone knows exactly what work units to produce, our managers focus on improving quality, rather than dealing with the alignment tasks that take up managers’ time in traditional companies. This is a big key to our success, since our teams are spread across time zones in over 100 countries around the world.

We know that every job has distractions and ad hoc tasks, but we don’t allow this to limit our growth. At Crossover, we minimize the distractions (often by automating them away) and maximize the focus on the work units. The payoff is scalability. Because our jobs are defined so clearly, we can hire a lot of people and get them up and running quickly. Our rapid growth and our unique, high performance work culture combine to make Crossover one of the most exciting work environments in the world!

About Crossover: Crossover is a recruiting and workforce management platform for businesses with 100% remote workforces. Crossover hires people directly into long-term roles at a number of software businesses. We are adding hundreds of people a month in positions spanning software engineering, sales, finance, support, marketing and operations. All of the positions listed at publish the pay rate along with tons of info on what to expect in the position.

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