You need your employees to step up and stretch beyond what they’re doing today. How do you motivate them to do that without resorting to fear and intimidation? Rick Snyder, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Refound, will teach you the three core skills you need to get it right:
- How to delegate not just the work but deep personal ownership over it
- How to align with each of your reports on their core personal development theme
- How to drive accountability without having to use power or politics
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Kate McRoskey - Hi, good morning and good afternoon. My name is Kate McRoskey. I'm a Managing Director at First Republic. I am based in Los Angeles and working on our Venture and Tech team. So happy to have so many of you join us today. Thank you for dialing in for the latest in our webinar series. We're really excited to be presenting today the topic of "How to Build a High Performing Team," which I know I'm very interested in this as our team continues to grow, and I'm sure many of you are as well. We are excited to have our friend Rick Snyder with us today. Rick is a highly sought after consultant on management and team dynamics, and he will talk about a topic today that he's passionate about, that he's written about, and it'll be how to build and manage a team to fulfill its highest potential in terms of performance and personal satisfaction. So that's something many of us are very interested in. And you may have experienced the difference between a management style that brings out the best in a team versus a style that can really dampen the excellence of the team, and Rick will help us understand the specific dynamics that really help tilt towards excellence, because we know how important high performance is for fast-growing companies, especially in the tech sector, like many of you. Today's discussion will focus and explore strategies to help you renew your business focus and communicate effectively with your team. This process also involves some practices, both mental and physical, centered around wellness, that Rick will guide us through. Before we start, just a quick housekeeping note. We welcome your questions. Please keep note of them. We're going to do them towards the end, and you, but you can submit them all along the way using the Q&A feature at the bottom of your screen. Aerin Lim is going to be our moderator today, and she'll also work with us on the Q&A, so I will turn it over to Aerin who will in turn introduce us to Rick, so look forward to a really productive session. This will be a lot of fun, Aerin, over to you.
Aerin Lim - Thanks, Kate. Hello, my name is Aerin, and I'm a Business Banker at First Republic where I am focused on culture, leadership, and how we are building the teams together, especially during, at times like this. So during our conversation, I will be moderating the Q&A session, so feel free to submit your questions using the Q&A chat below, and we will be answering during the presentation. I'm honored to have Rick today to talk about this topic. He and I met at a retreat about three years ago, and I was personally really amazed by his experiences as well as his philosophy, where he believes in the spirit of human innovation and potentials and really enjoys empowering leaders to rise beyond their limits. So he has, he is an author of a book called "Decisive Intuition," currently Head of Culture for Refound and CEO of Invisible Edge, an international consulting firm that develops intuitive intelligence for leaders and teams for more effective decision-making leadership, sales, and innovation. So with this, I will pass the mic to Rick, and just like anything else in life, we are experiencing some technical challenges today, so it is possible that one of our presenter's internet may be going down or slow, and if that's the case, please be patient with us. We will be dialing in using other set of technologies as they allow. So with that, Rick.
Rick Snyder - Thank you so much, Aerin, thank you, Kate. Thank you First Republic. Great to be here with you all. And this is such a topic around building high-performing teams that is near and dear to my heart, being part of a team, myself, having led teams, having started four businesses, and also getting to work with so many amazing corporations, startups, companies from different sizes, international exposure all over the world. There's some amazing trends that we're seeing in what actually creates a high performing team, and sometimes it's just having these basics that are so important that we're going to get into today that are really going to make the difference and move the needle in terms of engagement, in terms of having team communication, improving that, working through conflict in difficult times, how to help resource each other and be more on the same page when facing adversity. So in essence, it really comes back to, how are you setting the tone as the manager, as the director, as the VP, as the leader of your team? How is the tone that you set going to have an immediate impact on your environment? What can you control? What can't you control? So this is what we're going to dive into today. So this work comes from, to you from Refound. So I, one of the roles that I play in my life right now is Head of Strategic Partnerships at Refound, and it's based on this book called "Good Authority" that Jonathan Raymond wrote in 2015, around how do you actually engage your teams through accountability and personal ownership?
So we're going to get a lot more into what does that actually mean today, to become the leader that you are, your team is waiting for? And so here are some of the connections to your company values that might not be obvious at first, because a lot of times we'll see companies, and maybe your company that you're listening to right now, might have your values on a nice plaque on the wall or something in a brochure, but it's not always lived, it's not always connected to on a daily basis, and so part of that is how do you connect people and their missions and what inspires them to the company objectives? How do you create that link so that you do have an engaged team from the individual to the management all the way to the company objectives? So part of that is being willing to, and figuring out how to build more, how to hold context, how to hold space for your team to figure out some of the problems, and you're not trying to solve it all for them. You're actually creating a space for them to solve their own challenges. How do you actually align, is the second skill, people's work with the business goals, and a lot of times that can be unclear or disconnected. The third one is around curiosity. How do you actually build trust through openness, through conversation, through feedback, and coming from a place of curiosity where you're just wanting to find out what happened with so-and-so? And so here's the reality for all of us, is that as managers, a lot of times we make it harder for ourselves. So I'm curious how many of you can relate to this out there right now? How many of you even today are finding that you might be finishing other people's work that is not technically yours?
How many times do you manage around poor performance, so you don't have the direct conversation, but you try to do, you do a work around or bring someone else in? How often are you still involved in too many meetings? I think I see everyone's hand going up right now. And then as far as even mediating personality conflicts, do you actually get in the way and mediate them yourself or do you actually have that person go directly to the source of their conflict and trust that they're going to be able to work that out? And do you find yourself saying yes to too many things? So healthy work boundaries are very important here. All of these things will suck your time and energy as a leader unless we change how we're relating to our role, unless we change where we're leading from. So here are the core pillars that we found at Refound around how to actually drive higher performance with your teams. And once again, we see this across the whole spectrum, from the largest corporates you can imagine to small little scrappy startups. And so here's some of the key pillars here is number one, authority. So how do I start getting aware of my leadership blind spots, and how are my actions actually impacting my team, and impacting the engagement of my team? So instead of a position of blame, like blaming the team members, how do I actually look at my contribution, and therefore I have power to change that. The second area, the second pillar is around agreements. So how do I focus on behaviors and mindsets that actually drive ownership? So what if just telling them the KPI or the OKR they're supposed to achieve, that's not enough, that's not inspiring enough, how do I help them actually understand how their behaviors and their mindset actually are going to achieve those OKRs and KPIs?
Lastly, accountability. How do I have those feedback conversations that are based in questions? I'm coming from curiosity. I want to find out what's happening with my team member, not just make demands, not just make assumptions, and how we hold accountability, it's not about punitive, it's not about punishment. It's about holding people to their best. So when I hold someone to their best, I'm not going to let them get away with less than that, but from a place of care and a place of curiosity, and that's where growth conversations happen. And you can think about how many times that might be getting missed in your culture right now, where you don't have the feedback conversations, you're not willing to have those uncomfortable conversations that come up with your peers when you're managing up with your boss or managing down. So what we call good authority is actually when you're inhabiting all three, of working through your authority dynamics, having alignment with your team, their goals, and the company objectives, and then finally accountability. So here's a classic thing that I think all of you will understand right away. We talk about two archetypes of leaders. One is called the superhero leader. So when you're superheroing throughout the day and even in the chat box, I'm curious, when you think of superhero as a leadership style, what comes to mind? What do you think about when you think about superheroing? So you can feel free to chat in some of your thoughts there. A lot of times, what I think about is someone who wants to, of course, put all the burden on their own shoulders, be the hero, save the day, fight all the fires in the business, and complete all the work that's not complete, and do all those tasks, and literally like, I'm going to make this happen. In sports analogy, we call it hero ball, where I'm going to take over as an individual, and I don't care about my team, I'm going to make it happen, right?
That's kind of the essence of superheroing throughout your tasks or your daily workday. Now, those of you who know about Yoda from Star Wars, and maybe not everyone knows of Yoda, but Yoda is basically a character who, he doesn't do all the battles himself. He actually mentors and coaches other people to do the work. So a Yoda type of manager or a Yoda type of leader is someone who actually creates more space. They don't fight, the fire chief that can look out even teams and get other people to rise into their leadership. And so a Yoda form of leadership is much more empowering, because I'm not just trying to fill the gaps of my team, I'm actually encouraging them to solve their own problems. That's the difference. A superhero gives all the solutions, a superhero type leader, a Yoda type leader creates the space for your employees to figure out their own solutions themselves, and that's much more empowering. That's how people learn and grow. So it's a good thing to think about right now, how often are you mentoring, truly mentoring and coaching your team to excellence and growth? How often are you still superheroing and filling the gaps, because maybe you don't trust something, you don't trust their performance, they haven't had the training, whatever the reasons might be. This will make it a lot more clear also, so here are some examples if we look at the right-hand column of some superhero behaviors. So I might tend to finish other people's work as a manager, where, if it's a Yoda type of behavior, I'm actually honest about when work is good, but it's not great, and I'm able to give them clear feedback and clear action steps on what would actually close the gap. Therefore, the employee or the direct report is learning, I'm not just finishing it for them where they never get to learn. Maybe an example, another with superheroing is, I withhold work out of fear.
So I'm not going to give them a project because I'm afraid they're not going to complete it in time, or to the level I expect. Where a Yoda type manager would actually share their concerns while they hand over work. Say, "Hey, here's the project, "and I just want to be upfront. "Here are the one, the two things that I'm concerned about "that could delay the project, "and how are you going to plan for that?" So you actually have those conversations ahead of time. If we go to down to the very bottom, typically a superhero leader will say yes when no the right answer. So they can often be a friend to everyone in the office or their team versus really being that good authority of like, "Wait a minute, is actually, "do we need to have a boundary here? "Do we need to have a limit?" And so a Yoda type leader knows that self-care starts with no. If I'm a superhero leader, this is a formula for burnout, and a lot of you might recognize this. If you're flying all over the place, finishing up everyone else's work, there is a cost. The cost for you is going to be exhaustion, burnout, being frustrated by your team not doing enough, even though you're filling the gaps, right? And then of course the cost to your team is they're not learning to grow themselves. They're not learning to develop. There's all kinds of missed opportunities that way. You're not going to have a high-performing team if you're a superheroing all the time. So let that sink in for a moment. And this is something that I've had to wrestle with myself. And so this such a huge thing to start to get a mindset shift, how do I be more Yoda, less superhero?
Now I'm not saying never be a superhero. Sometimes it is important to save the day if there's a crisis. Like when COVID first hit, I was working with a manufacturing company where there was an immediate crisis where they had to keep the factory running, and that was the time to superhero for certain leaders. Other times might be onboarding and bringing in new talent and knowledge transfer. That could be good examples of superheroing, because it's really your job to give that knowledge over to others. But for the majority of the time, how can you lean in more to that Yoda mentoring, coaching mentality? So part of that is understanding the shape of your cape. When are you a superhero? Why are you a superhero? How does that show up? How do you micromanage? How do you tend to become like a helicopter manager, a helicopter parent to your team, where you're hovering too much, right? So I want you to think about right now, even write down if you have a piece of paper or a document near you, what's one way that you tend to superhero? Even to make a note for yourself. And then we can do a little sharing during the Q&A section at the end, but just, what's one way that you might finish people's projects? Maybe you're going to everyone's meetings, even though another rep on your team is also in the meeting and you probably don't need to be there, right? What are some other versions of where you might be filling in the gaps for your team? Take a note of a way that you might do that. Then the deeper question is well, why do I do that? What's the why behind it? Is it, I just don't trust my team? Well, why is that? Because maybe I don't like to let go of control. It's hard for me to really make that jump.
So just whatever that is, it's going to be important to identify the root cause of why you do what you do, and then the most, and then also important, what's the impact on your team? What's the impact on you and the organization? One thing that we do in our executive coaching is we'll often have an executive ask three to five people, "Hey, what's one way that I fill gaps for you? "What's one way that I might micromanage "or be a little too superheroing "in fighting the fires in your area?" And actually asking for honest feedback. And then here's the key thing, is then asking, "What's the impact for you when I do that? "Help me understand that." That's coming from good authority. When I can be humble enough, and open and curious enough to learn about myself as a leader, imagine the tone that I'm setting for my whole team. Because as they say, leaders go first. So if I'm willing to be a little bit uncomfortable and get real feedback, I'm coming from a whole other level of my self-authority, where I can then hold other people accountable and give them real feedback, too, on my team, because I'm drinking my own champagne, as we say. And then how can I put down my cape? What are ways that I can let go of being superhero? How can I have those conversations with my direct reports? And I can even take ownership, like, yeah, I tend to do this thing. When I get a little nervous, I tend to over, double click on control, and so what's one way that I can do that differently with you? How can you tell me that you've got it, et cetera, et cetera? What are feedback loops we can establish between the two of us? So that's the authority piece.
Now let's look at agreements, and agreements that spark ownership. So here's the balancing act that all managers have. Everyone on this call can probably relate to this on some level. On one level, you have the organization's interests, you have the company goals, you have the quarterly returns, you have everything you're trying to aim for that are really clear, hopefully, in your company. And that's something that everyone's paying attention to, ideally. At the same time, you have your individual direct report. You have the employee who has their own personal interests that might have nothing to do with the corporate goals. Their personal interests might be, I want to learn how to develop in my career. I want to learn a new skill. I want to challenge myself in this one particular way and that brings me meaning. And so how do you balance as a manager? You have your own interests. You're, as a manager, how do you support your team's objectives and your department's objectives and your goals on that level? So you can appreciate the balancing act almost all of you on this call are inside of right now. And so here's the missing ingredient, is that usually there's no agreement made between the individual, employee, and once again, how you link that to the company goals. So in other words, how does what I do on a day-to-day basis that brings me meaning actually align with where we're trying' to take the company? And as a manager, how can I help them connect the dots? This is where you have inspired employees that are engaged, because you're speaking to them on a level that's actually meaningful for them, and as we see with research today, Millennials and Gen Z’ers are willing to take a pay cut in a job to move to another company where there's more meaning and development opportunities.
And that's the first time in history that we've really seen that, this changing of the guard where they're valuing growing more than they're valuing, just money alone. Obviously we want both, that would be the best situation, but that even makes the point home, are you creating growth opportunities on your team? Are you creating growth opportunities in your company culture? Let's go a little deeper into how do you actually do that? And this is where you get deep engagement, is when you can balance all three of these goals and objectives. So an agreement conversation, and as we said earlier, as you become more Yoda, as you learn how to step back, and when you do that, you actually start to see the gaps that are there on your team, because you're not filling in all the gaps. You're not completing the 20% of the project that you usually do. You're not going to every single meeting like you were, so you're going to get to see, how do they perform when you're not hovering around them in that way, when they do the presentation by themself and you're not helping them in that moment. So that's really where you're going to see, oh, there's some growth themes that are getting exposed on my team that are much more obvious to me right now, because I'm not filling in all the gaps myself. This is the brilliance of being Yoda also, because otherwise you're never going to get to the root frustration or the root cause, and you're always going to be co-signing those weaknesses on the team, even though you have good intentions, and this is interesting, it's the difference between having a good intention and also an actual negative impact. Even though I have a good intention to want to help, I might be impacting my team where they're not getting to, once again, develop and grow and learn.
So the agreement conversation sets everyone up to grow and close these gaps. And so once again, as we said in our slide earlier, this is a great place for your own leadership blind spot and to get clarity around that. Okay, how might I be holding my team back? How do I get in the way? I can even ask my team that question, which takes a lot of courage, right? Can you imagine though, how much respect that you would have if your boss would ask you that question occasionally, or ask your team that question? That just engenders a lot of respect, because you're seeing how open and how they're still wanting to learn about themselves, and that opens up the space for real authentic feedback, versus just pretending we all know the answers and we're just going to get on our day, and that's not a really, that's not a real high performing team. So this is really Part Two, is once again, this is exploring the growth theme of your staff member, and getting really clear about what's the one thing that's going to move the needle for them in their performance? And then here's where it gets tricky. It's not just about learning a new skill, it's actually about, what is a behavior or a mindset shift that's going to make the difference for them? And so that's where you're going to get to look at, okay, what are some unconscious behaviors that might be getting in their own way, or perhaps they are not bringing their best work to the office anymore. You're noticing a slip the last couple of weeks. Maybe there's other things that are outside their area of awareness that, once again, you're noticing as a problem. So this is an opportunity to really get same same, and get aligned with your direct reports to help uncover the one area that's going to help them grow in the next 90 days. And then once again, how are you going to track progress? What are going to be clear action steps in order to be able to solve and help track that the growth is actually happening, right? So these important questions you'll see here are definitely areas that you're going to want to explore in that conversation. And we can move to the next slide, completing the agreement, and so this is once again, number one, asking what do they need to own?
What kind of resources do they need? What kind of support do they need to own a certain behavior or task, the thing that you're trying to help them move toward in their growth conversation? And then once again, what's the agreement? What are you committing to as far as accountability? What are the deadlines? What are the deliverables? How will you know when they've completed whatever it is that you're helping them move toward? And then lastly, how will you hand over certain areas of ownership? So maybe you're still been holding onto certain projects or a presentation or a new department, or even a new team, and it's time to hand it over to one of your supervisors or managers. You know, what do you need to do to actually hand that over successfully? Okay, and we'll go to, the next one is around accountability and feedback, and this is the third pillar of the good authority dynamics. So we've gone over authority, we've gone over alignment, and now we're getting in, well, alignment and agreement, and now we're getting into accountability. And this is really where we see a lot of companies have difficulty giving really clear feedback and holding their teams accountable. On one level, we might feel like we want to be everybody's friend, and it's really difficult to give people direct feedback. Other people, they might bring feedback really in an edgy way that's really maybe too aggressive or too assertive sometimes, and people are actually shutting down when they're getting that kind of feedback, especially in command and control types of leadership. And so what we're seeing is what's that sweet spot, where you're being clear, you're assertive, but you're not aggressive, and you're direct, but you're also coming from care. Once again, you're holding people to their best.
That's the essence of accountability, is, can I hold my team to their best? And when you're doing that, that's what inspires growth. And so if we go to the next slide here around Accountability Dial principles, here's the ideal place to be coming from as a leader when I'm holding my team accountable. Can I come from positive intent, that I'm really trusting that's everyone's really trying to do their best, and that's not lost on me? I'm able to remember that as I'm dealing with my frustrations of work's not getting done to my standards. Am I honest? Am I being very clear about my feedback and respecting that integrity? With what, because I'm serving the aim of the company, I'm serving the aim of my department, and also I'm serving the growth of my direct report. And once again, accountability is not just going down, not just managing downs, so your directs. Accountability might be holding my colleagues accountable. How do I do that? That's even more, sometimes difficult when I have to hold someone on the same level as me and have those conversations. Or also, how do I hold my senior leaders accountable? That's even more challenging with all the authority dynamics in a company culture. And so yet these are the things that create a high performing company is when there's room and an understanding and an agreement that actually that's desired, that's actually part of the culture. of course, doing it out of respect and all those other things, coming from positive intent, not being punitive, that, this is really the key here. And yet, when you are able to do that, even managing up, that's when you know you're in a company culture that's going to be thriving, where people have room to bring their creativity and their innovation. So here's probably the most well-known tool at Refound that has been widely adopted by the companies we work with called the Accountability Dial, and it's a way of dialing up the level of accountability depending on what's happening in the moment with your direct report, let's say, to make it easy. So I'm going to walk through these very briefly, and I want you to think about, you might have versions of this coming up.
You may have been involved in some of these conversations. So let's see what seems familiar to you. So first one is called The Mention, and this is just simply when you can sense something's a little bit off in your company culture, or something's off with a certain employee. How do you make a mention, how do you just mention it to them in real time, right? And so an example might be something like, "Hey Sam, you said you were going to come by the office or to my desk yesterday at three. You didn't come by. I'm just curious what happened," Right? So I'm asking it in the form of a question, and I'm not assuming I know the answer, and I'm really trying to create an open space for Sam to be able to come back to me and tell me, what is his reality? I have my reality that I thought we were going to meet at three o'clock. Maybe he says, "Oh, actually, I thought we had said five o'clock, "and by the time I came to your office, "you weren't there anymore." And so maybe it wasn't clear, and maybe that's the case. Or maybe there's something else going on. This is typically during accountability conversations, these are the little things, quote, unquote, that we sweep under the carpet and we don't have the conversation, and then these little things start to accrue and grow and become bigger frustrations. So the Accountability Dial, yeah, that's the slide we're on here, with the five steps here. And so that's step one, is getting shared reality with someone on the team. And The Mention might be something that feels off as far as a behavior. It could also be a positive mention. A lot of times we don't reward people enough in public especially, in saying, "Hey, I noticed how you dealt with that customer. That was amazing how you did that. That was fantastic." And so that's an example of a positive mention. The second step on the dial is called The Invitation. So this is where maybe there's a certain behavior like someone's showing up late to work and their performance is not what I'm expecting. Then I'm noticing a pattern, and then, so I'm inviting them in step two to connect the dots.
Now, I'm not trying to connect the dots for them like a superhero leader might try to do. But as more of a Yoda type leader, how do I just simply notice the dots, notice the pattern that's forming, and then see what they, how they connect those different tasks, or what they, whatever they might be, behaviors? An example might be, "Hey Sam, I noticed that you didn't come by my office, my desk yesterday at three o'clock. I also noticed that there were several errors in the emails that you sent today with two different accounts, and I also noticed that you came in late the last three days, and that's not normally like you. What's the connection, is there a connection between all three of those things? Sam, what are you noticing?" So once again, I bring that back to Sam to do the work, and that's part of accountability. He's actually being accountable to himself in that moment. He's having to feel and figure out, oh, what is going on? Why is there an impact in my performance? Step three is called The Conversation. This is where you've made The Invitation, you've made The Mention, and the behavior is still not changing, and so you have to sit down and have a real, this is more like a half hour, you know, sit down in the office or the Zoom call conversation. And so this is helping them understand their impact, and this is often where you'll see the real shift in behavior. So once again, I might have a great intention for why I'm doing what I'm doing, but I'm not understanding the impact of my behavior. So that's the whole point of the conversation. How can you as the manager ask these pivotal questions? "Hey, when you show up late, when there's these errors with the clients, and when you don't come by my office or follow through on agreements, what do you think is the impact to your team? What do you think is the impact to the customer? What do you think the impact to me as your manager? And what do you think is the impact for yourself, and also for the organization?" These are the important questions you can ask to get to a deeper level of helping them feel the consequence of their behaviors.
That's when you'll see a shift happen and a whole other level of ownership opportunity right here. Now, sometimes that makes the difference right there. Other times, people are still continuing unproductive or unhealthy or unhelpful behaviors, and so you have to have an external boundary. And so sometimes this might look like a performance improvement plan, a PIP, different companies will call it different things, but some kind of consequence externally called a boundary, because their behavior is still not changing. And in larger companies, this is often where HR will get involved at this stage, because the manager has tried everything so far to get the person to shift their mindset or their behavior, something's still not happening. How do I then create a boundary to get them to realize this can't go on anymore, this is not okay? So there might be some consequence, and it's not always a demotion, or it could be a demotion, it could be a pay cut. It could just be, I take a project away from somebody because they're not holding their responsibility and they're going to feel the cost of that, that I don't trust them as much as I did before. And of course, I'm going to to talk to them about it and why I'm doing that. And then lastly, if the boundaries still doesn't take effect and really shift the behavior, all you really have left is what's called The Limit. And it's really time to stop giving them any more coaching at this point and just put it back on them and say, "Hey, look, I really don't know what to do here anymore. I've reached my limit. I've tried everything. Here's the different things I've tried. I want you to take the weekend and to really think about do you really want to work here? Is this really something that you want to continue doing? Because your behaviors are not showing that. So I really want you to sit with that and tell me and convince me if you really want to be here, you know, I need to be convinced. And tell me, what are you going to do to rectify what's been happening?" So once again, I'm not trying to over-solve for them. I'm creating space for them to take ownership, because if they don't take authentic ownership, nothing's really going to change.
So you'll see and hopefully appreciate with The Dial, there's all these opportunities to take ownership in the moment, when you see a pattern, having a conversation, maybe an external boundary, and finally setting the final limit of, Hey, this can't keep going on. I don't know what to do anymore. So let's actually have a brief practice here. Let's go to slide 20 here. This one is Think On It, and it's the scenario with Carl. So Carl is one of your direct reports who's been on your team for a year, and you've given him responsibility for scoping out a new feature for an upcoming release. And just yesterday, you asked Carl for an update and he walked you through what the work he's done so far. So in addition to several understandable gaps that you're seeing in his work, you also sense a lack of original thinking, and you expected something more. So what would a superhero leader do? So just take a moment to think of if you're managing Carl, what would you tend to do as a superhero? You can chat in the chat box some ideas you might have, and maybe many of you have been in this situation. One common thing would be, I would probably take over the work for him and start, you know, coming up with, or just giving him ideas that he's lacking, give him some original ideas, or literally take away the work and do it for him. What would a Yoda leader do instead? How could you be more Yoda in this situation? So think about that for a moment. How can you step back and mentor or coach? One thing is to give honest feedback. Say, "Hey Carl, thank you for what you've shared with me, and I just need to be direct with you and honest that a lot of the work is not the level of creativity I was expecting, and let's have a conversation about that. I want you to feel like you can think outside the box, and it's very much in the box here. Why do you think that is? What might be holding you back from really bringing in other possibilities here?" So that's where you start getting into the coaching and start understanding what's underneath the lack of performance that you're expecting.
And once again, that gives Carl an opportunity to step into his authority and his ownership as well. So let's go to the next slide here, take back your time and energy. So right now I actually want you to, this may sound weird on a webinar, but I want you to open up your email, and I want you to actually, what are three pieces of work that you can actually return to the rightful owner? What are three things that you're holding that you should not be holding, right? This is that first step of getting good authority is you have to create head space and strategic space for yourself as a leader. If you're always firefighting and always doing the work, you're never going to have room and space to really work on the highest value activities and strategically for your department or for your team. So see if you can identify three pieces of work right now that you're holding that you should not be holding, and then think about how am I going to actually delegate them to the rightful owners. Number two, how can I schedule a meeting to make a mention about a performance issue? So to actually think about someone right now, maybe I'm withholding a conversation that's been brewing for me with someone about their performance, and I've just been afraid to have the conversation, or I've kind of told myself, it's not that big of a deal, but once again, I miss, the person is not going to have a learning opportunity. I'm robbing them of that experience, and I'm also hurting the performance of the team because I'm not addressing those issues. So think about one person that you can make a mention with in the coming week, and actually schedule that on your calendar. Another highly recommendable approach here is to decline one meeting that you really don't need to attend. So if you were to open your calendar and pick one meeting that you got one hour back, that once again, you can focus on your highest value activities, not your low level distractions. And then lastly, how can you schedule a reoccurring 90 minute work session for yourself, where you're not just doing busy work, you're doing more strategic work as a director, VP, leader, manager, whatever role you might be playing.
How can you work on your department, on your business, not just in it? When you're in it, that's when you're firefighting. When you're working on it, that's when your Yoda, that's when you're mentoring. So see what you can do to take back your energy. And then our next slide, our Good Authority Diagnostic, I want you to ask yourself, you know, in what I'm doing right now, am I taking a disempowering action? So if I'm going, this is something that you can diagnose in the day if you're about to work with a colleague, and you might ask yourself these three questions, or even with your team. Am I taking a disempowering action? Am I doing something that's robbing them of an opportunity to take ownership? Are we missing any clear agreements? Are we same same or are we just similar but we're not same same on what we're expecting? So how do we get even more clear in our agreements? And lastly, am I avoiding the next step in the conversation? Is there something uncomfortable I need to say to my boss? Is there an uncomfortable conversation with my colleagues? So how do I do this Good Authority Diagnostic to really track if I'm coming from a good authority and using it for good, or if I'm actually playing smaller? So that is what I really wanted to focus with you all today. If you go to the next slide here, this is what really drives high performance with less of your time. This is the key ingredient here. So once again, learning how your actions as a leader impact engagement. How do your agreements help you focus on the behaviors that drive ownership, not just the results, but the behaviors and mindsets that are going to help you achieve those results? And then finally, accountability, really having feedback that's based in questions. You're being curious, you're creating space for them to solve the problems, you're not just solving it for them. That's really how you create a high-performing culture. And the very last slide, if you have any more questions about this particular work, you can go to our website. You can find it, refound.com/newsletter if you want to get more updates on practical leadership tips, and there's also the "Good Authority" book that you can find on Amazon and the usual suspects. But let's go to some Q&A now. So Aerin, I'm going to turn it over to you.
Aerin - Sure, thanks, Rick. We had, so feel free to submit your questions through the Q&A. So the first question that I have is, as a founder of a five people tech startup company, it's all about speed. How can one make speed happen while still being a Yoda?
Rick - Yeah, that's a great question. So there seems to be an assumption that speed means I need to do it all myself, right? And so what if that's actually not true? What if it's actually speedier to have more of your team holding more responsibility, and not just you as the leader of the tech startup, right? And so that's the mindset shift we're talking about. And so sometimes there's a, a quote that a lot of people are saying these days that sometimes you need to go slow to go fast. Sometimes you need to take a moment to really get at the root cause of what's really going on with your team, to be able to fast, more quickly address those issues and move on, right. And so I think that's the thing to balance is, and it doesn't mean you're still not working hard, you're still an individual contributor. So how do you get clear about when you're an individual contributor, when you're wearing that hat as an IC, and then when you're a people leader? Because the thing is, you'll never scale beyond yourself if you're still putting out all the fires and your team is too dependent on you. And so there's a short game and the long game, and the long game is how do I build a team that can scale and grow and take on challenges in a faster rate? Sometimes I might have to make a little more time right now with a certain person to train them or to mentor them, but it's going to have a bigger payoff.
Aerin - Thanks, Rick. Another question that we have is, so when you make an agreement between, as a manager between the individual employee and that's aligned to the company goal, a lot of the companies that we work with are fast-growing companies, where their own company goal and company's immediate to-do may change, which may impact what they are expecting from individual employees. So how do you stay current with the agreements that you make?
Rick - Yeah, great question, and so I think usually that has to be communicated top down first, and so I think this is once again, a thing about authority and ownership. How can the leaders of the business, the leadership team, continue to update the rest of the company when goals might change, you might get a whole new level of investment in your business, and you have a whole new acquisition strategy that you didn't have three months ago, for example. Your products and services might have changed over the last six months, or they're going to change. So how can you stay updating your company culture and your team is critical. And so continuing to keep that vision alive, with those updates alive, those goals re-shifted as necessary, and then how can the managers at that point continue to see how the link of where the company goals are, how does that stay in alignment with where the employee is trying to grow and develop, and what they're currently working on in their department? So it's really going to take the leadership to stay current, and then the manager to figure out, how do I connect the employees' performance and their goals, and how that might need to shift to realign with the company's goals. And so at least every quarter, it's going to be good to review these goals to make sure that they're still most up-to-date.
Aerin - Then how can we best handle a situation where perhaps the message throughout is, let's stay flexible because we don't know what's going to happen, and just, you know, let's do what's the best for the team. How then can employees create or facilitate the conversation to create that agreement, and also, how can managers to handle that when managers are receiving that message from the leadership?
Rick - Yeah, I think this is the hardest thing that we have to hold right now in this era is making friends with uncertainty, right? Because we don't know what's going to happen. I mean, the pandemic has been the greatest teacher of that, right? And so that's why real-time feedback and near-time feedback is one of the core principles that is really creating high-performing teams, and so this is why having the courage, it really takes a lot of courage to be willing to have these feedback conversations in real-time or in near time, as soon as you can, especially the ones that are uncomfortable, especially the ones that are scary to have. And here's one question I would ask that leader or the one who's asking the question now, is, “What is the conversation that we're not having right now on our team?” “What's the conversation we're not having in our organization?” “What's the conversation we're not having in our department?” That's when we start to really open up the space. That's, those are Yoda questions, right? Because I'm creating a space for other people to come into, into their ownership of the problem, into bringing their contribution to the problem. So it doesn't have to be all on me as the leader to solve everything. How can I get my team to start thinking together? Because you know, we had a Navy SEAL Commander come on our podcast recently, and he said, "The new leader is the team." because when you have 20 or 30 pairs of eyes on something, that's so much more powerful than just yours, right? So how can you, once again, create those spaces, those Yoda spaces with your team to ask those questions, what's the conversation we're not having? If you're in a meeting and everyone's quiet, like, hey, what's happening? Well, let me just check in with everyone.
Everyone seems unusually a little more quiet than usual. What's going on, right? You're just naming what's in the space. You're making a mention, and it doesn't mean you have to know the answer. In fact, a lot of times you won't know the answer. You're just checking things out, right? And so this is how you have amazing communication that's intuitive, that is aligned in real-time with your team. This is emotional intelligence. This is another way of talking about emotional intelligence is how am I connecting in real-time with all the other intelligent systems around me which happen to be my colleagues and my direct reports and maybe my boss, but I'm actually listening and learning and asking questions and encouraging them to do the same?
Aerin - That is really beautiful. I love the question of what is the conversation we are not having, because I think that that applies to any relationship, and it's often not the words that's said, but understanding what's not said, and through which you can discern the unmet needs or this person's desire or motivation, can be really powerful.
Rick - And even asking the question forces you as the leader to start to listen to the body language, listen to the other ways we're giving signals and communications that are not just verbal. But how many times do people here on the call have to work with customers where they're telling you one thing but you're feeling something else going on, right? Or even an employee that's on your team, they're saying, "Oh, everything is good," but you're not feeling like everything's good. And so how do you deal with, you know, how do you deal with those moments versus just going with the words, how do you learn to trust your intuitive intelligence and be willing to check it out? We want to say, "Hey, I heard you say that "but why am I feeling this instead? "Help me out here."
Aerin - Which is hard, which is hard to do in a real conversation, especially when there is organizational hierarchy is involved. So I'm mindful of the time. We have three questions in Q&A. So the first question is, have you seen many people actually come back after step four on the Accountability Dial and get a performance improvement plan? Because from our experience that when you are at the point of PIP, it's often a lost cause. So is there any tip to really bring people back?
Rick - Yeah, I mean, sometimes a PIP will wake someone up because they're realizing, oh, this is not a joke. My job's on the line. There's literally consequences if I don't change my performance tune. And so I have seen employees turn it around. But part of what makes the difference is when their boss, their manager is able to, they feel the care from the manager, that they're really trying to help them, and they're really making it that clear, like, "Hey, this can't keep continuing, let me work with you. "But here's the steps you need to take. "And you need to take these on your own "to make real change happen." Now it's true, a lot of times, if they're out already at a PIP, it's not looking good, but I have seen it turn around there. The limit is even more difficult when you get to the final conversation and you're literally throwing up your hands saying, "I don't know what else I can do. "I've tried everything. "It's really on you now. "Do you really want to be here? "I want you to take a week off. "I'm going to give you PTO, "and let's meet Monday, the following Monday at nine a.m., "and let's have a conversation "about what's really so here, "what's really going to happen,"
Aerin - Got it.
Rick - But you're right, when you're at that fifth level, that's usually, they're on their way out at that point. But I'm still trying to give them one last chance if I feel like it's worth it, and I really want to see this person make the change. You know, maybe it's still worth that effort.
Aerin - Got it, and the next question is, a tech company with 12 employees expected to grow in 2021. Is there such thing as too much positive feedback? Should the positive feedback be private or over a group Slack channel?
Rick - Interesting, because usually they say criticize in private, praise in public, right? That's usually the rule of thumb. So I do think overall we don't actually reward and give each other positive feedback enough in the business space. So I think overall, most companies I would say lean more into that, into recognizing when people are doing good and honoring them, and that really just encourages morale and team spirit and engagement. But if you're feeling like there's too much positivity in your culture, in other words, what I hear in that question is, we're not giving real feedback. We're actually not being real with each other on a deeper level. We're just kind of giving rosy colored glasses impression of things. And that actually can, is going to hurt your team also, because you have a lot of yes people around you that are just saying yes and that probably shows you there's not a level of trust that you need to get to with your team, to get, for them to be able to approach you and give you real feedback, if they're just saying yes around you and agreeing with you, and everything's positive. because nothing, I'll say this last thing. Growth happens on the boundary of support and challenge. We actually need both to grow. If I'm only getting support, I'm going to start getting lazy in my behaviors, and if I'm only getting challenged, I'm going to get, I'm going to burn out.
Aerin - Yeah.
Rick - So how do I find both as a leader?
Aerin - Yep, well, Rick, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experiences with us. I will pass the mic to Kate so that we can close the session.
Kate - Thanks Aerin, and thank you, Rick. That was, I just feel like we got all kinds of wisdom from you, from the slide, but even just that Q&A, I picked up a lot of great nuggets. I like, I loved that last point about support and challenge. I will keep that in mind as a manager. Just want to say thank you to you particularly Rick, thank you to everybody for taking the time out of your busy day to spend with us. We hope you found it really helpful, and I hope you'll join us for the next one in our series. Please keep an eye out for an email that will be coming from First Republic that we'll just have links to more information about Rick and his work. And again, hope you can apply some of the lessons you learned today into your own team, and just all in an effort to make everybody more excellent. So thanks for spending time, and look forward to seeing you at the next one. Thanks everyone.
Rick - Thanks everybody.
Aerin - Thank you.