Categories
Company Culture Leadership

Why HubSpot Co-Founder Dharmesh Shah Is Right About Doubling Down On Your Strengths

Over the past six months, there seems to be a great increase in the quality of podcasts where founders and co-founders speak openly and honestly about their experiences and the reasons why there is a trend for many business leads to suggest they are not great managers and shouldn’t be a people manager.

Conditioning

We are taught from early on in our careers we should become managers and this is the path to promotion and the natural evolution of your career.

Throughout my career, I have seen founders and c-suite execs who are terrible people managers and actively shouldn’t have any of their business reporting into them.

The impact this has the company culture and success of the business is hugely negative and leaves many with a bad taste in their mouth and many bad glassdoor reviews.

There are so many startups that rely on founders and cofounders to take themselves out of people management for the sake of their business growth, unfortunately, due to the conditioning and ego, this rarely happens.

Dharmesh Shah commented on the MLM podcast (which is part of Hubspot via an acquisition) that he is not a good people manager and has no direct reports.

This is uncommon, not just to admit this but also to not actually have a big line of direct reports.

Many more should speak out on this. Especially those who know it is their weakness.

Play To Your Strenghts Or Speciality?

If your strengths are Product and Product development like many founders, then why would you not double down on this? If you are a specialist and do not have the time or energy to invest in becoming a good people leader, why wouldn’t you bring in someone with better people skills and more time and skills for this?

Good Managers Are Hard To Find

Some of the best managers I have ever worked with are specialists and with the coaching and management team development and executive training, I have incorporated this and many years of experience to build these learnings into organisational design and exec development.

The Question To Answer For Leaders

This should be a question many people ask themselves now, and each quarter, should I be a people manager and if not, how do I go about organisation design to replace myself and bring in the right manager for this department or bring in a specialist manager.

Watch the 2-minute video (below) perfectly explaining why senior execs do not need to be people managers and why they shouldn’t be.

One note to take onboard:
Bad managers who think they are good managers rarely will remove themselves, look to review your teams feedback and ask for peer feedback on your management skills.

So ask yourself: Am I a good people manager and should I look to remove myself and work to my specialities.

Categories
Trust

How To Tackle Work Burnout

It is coming to the end of the year, we have had another year of uncertainty, a year of constant change and for many working from home has been more challenging, especially for those who are extroverted. 

For others who have been able to work in the office, this is the first year of hybrid work and this brings its own set of issues and challenges. 

There are many methods to counteract and try and address burnout, here are a number of simple ways you can reduce and tackle burnout for you and your team.  

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Should We Re-onboard Our Teams?

Dear focus, we are a series a startup, we are inviting our teams back into the office, something we are struggling with hybrid is how do we get everyone connected, will onboarding help make us efficient? 

It is great to see you are setting the new norms today.

The short answer is Yes! The secret to success for any business in covid is always and regularly re-onboard. 

The new office environment should likely be an arena vs being your traditional office, even in countries where people have returned to the office frequently, the office operates for more collaboration and performance vs headphones in trying to concentrate like many offices were in early 2020. 

As suggested in the return to the office guide

You should always re-onboard teams who are re-entering the office and entering the office at different times. The key with any return to the office is understanding that hybrid is multi-location and generally working online as location really should not be a point of contention in the hybrid work world. 

Playbook For Success

This means when returning into the ‘central space’ you require autonomy, you require the right guidelines and the most important question to answer is:
Why you are inviting teams in on a specific day or for specific reasons?  

One of the core flaws many businesses are operating in with hybrid is when teams are coming into the office they are doing it to have everyone face to face as they believe this builds more trust, reconnects teams and allows teams to get to know each other. 

Some of this is true, some are not as true, particularly when you take into consideration status games and hierarchy, personality types and how familiar teams are with working in person, many have always worked indirectly and asynchronously. 

Sales will naturally crave returning to the office, whereas Dev and Product teams may prefer not to return. Marketing may enjoy a couple of days per month, whereas Finance might prefer working remotely. Those whose roles are collaborative may actually have a new cadence that works best for them remotely, especially ticket-based activities vs being pipeline based. 

Guidelines = Win

Guideline 1: Written rules work best. 

Guideline 2: Create clear guidance for your teams coming back into the office: 

  • Pre read including 
  • Objective 
  • Agenda 
  • What success looks like from hybrid and being in the office 

Guideline 3: It is essential to ensure any important decisions are made are documented and shared officially with hybrid colleagues or those unavailable to come into the office. Wiki’s and knowledge centres are always best. 

No Tier 2 Systems

You have to have inclusive work and never a two-tier system of citizen a (who can come into the office) vs citizen b (those who cannot attend) and be flexible for commute times etc. 

Something to keep front of mind: some teams will want to and proactively opt-out of wanting to come back to office even if it is just for a day a week or makes less sense for their teams, if you decide it is some teams or departments in and some out – you have to remove proximity bias and create a deliberate communication and feedback loop based company. Companies that will succeed in hybrid work will be deliberate in communicating, typically moving forward asynchronously.

Important areas to keep in mind throughout the re-onboarding process: 

  • New work tensions – these are natural upon the first few times of reconnecting and meeting new team mates 
  • New relationships – there will be teams who have brand new colleagues and have to form brand new relationships it is essential you let these grow organically. Many who formed a strong bond online often struggle in real life, consider this. 
  • F2F – First time face to face for team members are often the hardest, be prepared to offer a game or an exercise to go through. Potentially consider the get to know me 4 question game
  • Team bonding can be organised – but the balance to enabling it to organic. There should be as much bonding as work for the first two meetings 
  • New locations within the office or specialist neighbourhoods – there will be many offices that look different, they operate differently and many have been reshaped, it is important that this is my desk or this was my desk to be addressed and discussed if you are rolling our hot desk only. 

Blending IRL and online first is going to be a challenge for every business, building the hybrid company culture norms is going to be key to your success. 

Good luck in your return to the office and remember if you work out quickly that the office just is not working, you can 

Important elements to also keep in mind in hybrid 

Reduce mirror anxiety 

Hybrid politics 

What makes great remote leaders

Designing the hybrid office

Will a strict return to the office work?

Categories
Trust

Are You Struggling To Connect With The Team Or With The Leadership Team

How to connect as a manager or department leader with a simple game

Do your team(s) think you just sit in management meetings, don’t know how the latest tech works and you ask repetitive questions and just cannot relate?

If you are being serious, at some point in your career you thought this and the chances are some of your team members think this right now.

The lack of face time, the lack of chances to get to know you and what drives you often causes disconnections and fear within teams. Department leads and heads are often disconnected by one to four managers.

Your disconnect or distance may be by design, however, it is important you build deeper and richer connections based on IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence). The old saying people don’t leave company’s they leave managers is true, but often this is indirect because your influence as a department lead is to be the inspiration point for the department and often your role as a leader is to be the active connector between your managers and their staff.

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 74 – Have A Wish List Of Roles You Want To Hire For To Reshape Your Business 

Dear leaders, there is something important many of us think about but rarely plan.

It is organisational design, creating a team and wishlist of roles we want to hire for. 

In one of my support networks, a question was asked about how other execs go about reshaping their team(s) and was there a method anyone used specifically. 

Away from old school methods of creating a skills matrix or having to question every January the bottom x% of staff, many thought about it but did not plan or have a plan. 

There are two main components for success for organisational design and reshaping your business to consider: (1) company culture / your own subculture and (2) company performance.

My recommendation is to always plan forward, I have a saying that is:


Always Be Auditing, Always Be Marketing.

Auditing helps you review, plan and understand if you are on the path you should be on and the timeline you are operating on.
Marketing enables you to guide, influence, bring others on a journey, alongside being able to attract talent and great team members and bring in senior leaders into your business. 

Many leadership teams are on a long term journey together and just started their journey, there are CEO’s and chairpeople who follow the adage, you should always look to change 5%-10% of their management team, especially if it is larger than single digits. (A good podcast to listen to on this is with PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejeda on BVP)  

Remember a large leadership team can be great and add more diversity, with more people there is always more bikeshedding (Parkinson’s law of triviality) and more opinions creep in and can become a politically charged status game and each decision can become death by committee. 

Plan: Be Strategic, Not Reactive

The plan can be simple, you ideally would like this role for these reasons. 

You can build out another dimension and create an org chart with names and responsibilities and how you look to develop out the people and reporting lines, some do this with their right-hand person and create a timeline for such moves.

Often the unspoken truth is; the more senior you become the less turnover and change occurs, the longer it can take to improve your senior leadership and the longer teams and company culture can suffer. 

Why not look to plan the people evolution of your business for the next 24 months ahead, this helps you to reshape the business, refocus the teams and create a window where you are the company and the employees openly embrace change.

Remember: Organisational design has to be proactive, never reactive.

This week start planning the two years ahead, what you would like your team to look like and operate like and where you can transfer the next generation of leaders into your business and smartly and proactively evolve your business. 

Thanks and have a great week,

Danny Denhard 

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 73 – Setting Your New Norms Now

Dear Leaders,

There is something unrivalled about being ahead of the game and being able to be proactive than being reactive. 

Planning can be stressful however knowing you are ahead and driving the business forward is something many crave but rarely own.

There are many newer ways of working we have now become accustomed to since March 2020, whether that’s right or wrong, we are now in a place to design a better set of norms.

We have become accustomed to too many videos calls, too many instant messages and too many meetings. 

Isn’t it time to address these and help set up a better hybrid workplace

Being reliant on synchronous communications and video calls is something so many are fatigued by and without the right structure are really struggling with. 

This newsletter goes out to leaders across The Americas, Europe, Africa and Australasia, we are all in slightly different phases of returning to the office and with hybrid being the future, how about you set your new norms for the next phase and rethink the tools and the systems you are using currently. 

Here are a few hows to consider: 

More deep work – Remove the constant distractions and enable teams to use statuses to embrace deep work and block out times. Dropbox has set times for deep work, how about you embrace this too? 

Less reliance on video calls – Fewer video calls to make decisions. Making decisions should never be left to video calls or a number of video calls. Consider how you embrace different technology and wiki’s and knowledge centre’s to enable better, more streamlined conversations. 

Fewer videos updates – Feedback from almost every company suggests that many companies are just relying on video as every communication channel, this can be reduced by introducing more audio-only updates, better documentation and introducing better communication practices. 

A move to asynchronous communications – Many businesses have struggled to introduce or reintroduce the right levels of written and documented communications. Having deliberate thought and documents helps to share knowledge and cut through misunderstandings and delivery issues fair quicker than several video calls or having to organise real-time attendance. 

Keep in mind: Improving company culture is imperative, if you are in a place to hire a dedicated headcount, a culture community manager will be essential to improving EX (employee experience) to improve CX (customer experience and success).

Having the right tools is essential, onboarding and coaching on how to use these tools are essential. Ensuring you have agreed working principles will help you to shape your business far quicker than dumping more rules and tools and expecting teams to embrace these. Departments need fewer tools but better tools. Cross functionally departments need to share updates, insights and knowledge to help move your company forward and make real positive change. 

Have a great week planning a better norm.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Please remember if you have any disabilities please ensure all of these updates are relevant and can be used. 

Important Supporting Resources 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

Is An External Profile Important As A Leader?

Dear focus, is having an external profile important as a department or business leader? 

This is a question that is not asked enough and one many will not have a chance to consider if they are not proactively looking at developing out their career. 

An external profile is something you have to craft, build, stay active with and balance alongside your workload. 

In recent years, a spokesperson or a company rep has interchanged from external spokespeople to an internal spokesperson or selected people.

Demands constantly change but the representation of brands and industry leaders will always be an important pillar. 

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 71 – Pitching The BIG Idea

Dear leaders, this week I am going to tell you about a personal experience that might be a lesson or two to take forward. 

I had a BIG idea, I crafted an aesthetically and numbers perfect 22 slide deck (with a huge FAQ and appendix), the idea was reshaping the business I was on the local leadership team and opening up the business to offer three new services that would have answered more customer problems, enable a global launch and create a bigger impact. 

Categories
Strategy

Has your business stepped too far away from your customer’s problems?

One of my fundamental beliefs is the best and most successful companies were set up to fix existing problems and then some were set up to help fix the next wave of problems.   

The best and most successful business strategies in the world are based on problem-solving.   

The most successful companies either help to fix said problems, help consumers to solve the problem or matchmake the consumer and the right solution or solution provider. 

The art of business always needs a middle person to connect problems with problem solvers. 

One of the core issues many companies face is getting to a size where they stop solving core issues for their customers. 

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

How To Connect Company & Company Leadership Team

In this week’s anonymous career advice column, we hear from someone who is facing common struggles many of us do. 

Dear focus, many of the company is struggling with connecting with their bosses and the ELT. They are disconnected and really wrestle with being approachable and being able to commit to the direction we are going. Any tips?

Thanks for sharing your experience today. I will take a guess this has happened for a prolonged period of time and likely started before the forced work-from-home experiment. 

There are five givens within businesses who are going through a phase of change, it sounds like you are experiencing three: