Episode 116 | Moving Teams From Good to Great

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 116.

[00:02] Music

[00:11] Mike: Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:19] Rob: And I’m Rob.

[00:20] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How you doing this week, Rob?

[00:24] Rob: I am doing good. I am on a campaign to get this t-shirt printed. Someone tweeted it out to me and it’s WWRWD. It’s What Would Rob Walling Do. It’s only 13 reserved out of and they need 50. It’s —

[00:37] Mike: Oh —

[00:38] Rob: I know, [Laughter] and I’m 13 of those.

[00:42] Mike: [Laughter]

[00:43] Rob: I thought it was funny. That’s at teespring.com/wwrwd.

[00:48] Mike: It’s too bad that they, you know, you have to get to the goal of 50 because I was thinking about getting one and then, you know, wearing around at MicroConf.

[00:55] Rob: I know that that’ll go over really well.

[00:56] Mike: [Laughter]

[00:57] Rob: How about you? What’s going on with AuditShark? You’re about a week after your early access launch.

[01:02] Mike: Yeah, so I had a couple of really, really good conversations last week with some customers who are trying it out and came across to a couple of I’ll say bugs that absolutely needed to be fixed in a short amount of time. So, I got those taken care of. But otherwise, I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to people and kind of getting their thoughts on what they’ve thought of the product, what they’ve thought of the UI, how things fit together, what things make sense and which ones don’t. I wouldn’t say it was completely eye-opening. It wasn’t, you know, a lot of the information wasn’t necessarily shocking but at the same time when you’ve worked on something for so long, you kind of I guess lose perspective of what is obvious and what’s not.

[01:39] Rob: Well, of course. Yeah, you get too close to anything whether you’re running a blog post or if you’re producing and editing a podcast like you listen to it 20 times as you’re editing and you just can’t…you can’t really tell if it’s good anymore.

[01:50] Mike: Right. So, you know, I definitely feel like I’m too close to it which is great to get some of this feedback. So, I’m going to go back and I made just a ton of notes about things that needed to change and some things that just needed to drop out of the UI like there are certain things that I left there because of the legacy way that things used to work and then it changed but I left it in the UI. And because it was in the UI, it just made no sense to the person. So, you know, some of those things they don’t really mean anything. The user doesn’t need to know that they’re there. I just need to rip them out. There’s a lot of good information though so I’m just taking that and going through and working some stuff out.

[02:24] Rob: Yeah, this step – I mean essentially you’re doing, nowadays we call it customer development, back in the day it was called just like your alpha test where you got with customers and started, you know, getting their feedback on it. I’ve always been surprise at how valuable that time is with actual people who are going to use your product. They just…they bring things to light that you could never possibly think of yourself as the programmer.

[02:45] Mike: Right, right.

[02:46] Rob: Well, I heard a Mixergy interview. I’d just wanted to raise that it irritated me and I want to bring this issue to life that I’ve seen happened before. And it’s – the interview was with Kurt Wilms from Fflick. It’s F-F-L-I-C-K was  his app. And the title is “How a Side Project Led to an Acquisition?” And how – you know, his app was acquired in like six months after they launched and I guess TechCrunch reported that it was acquired for $10 million and so it’s like, wow, how did this happen? And this kid was, you know, 24 when it happened. The problem is that when they get in to it in the interview, it sounds like it was nothing like that and that it was a much more of an acqui-hire. Have you heard that term before?

[03:26] Mike: Yeah.

[03:27] Rob: Where people like Google will acquire — “acquire” your company but really what they do is they hire you and then they give you like a signing bonus. So, they acquire your company for like a hundred thousand bucks or 200,000 or and most of it is in stock. It’s nothing like the big glorious, you know, TechCrunch acquisition that everybody talks about. And I’ve seen this several times actually listening to podcasts. So, I’m not slamming Andrew here at all because that’s not…that’s not what’s going on. It’s more of the way that that these acquisitions are reported and talked about and they’re actually not…they’re not the fairy tale exit.

[04:04] There are so few fairy tale lottery exits like the Instagram exit, the 10 million — $20 million exit. There are far fewer of those exits than…than are actually reported and once you dig in to the details, you find out that either it was just an acqui-hire and the amount was over reported or there was a tiny amount of cash upfront and the rest of it is in stock and the stock started losing value. I mean there are so many caveats to these types of the acquisition. So, I’d just I wanted to bring it up more as like as a listener or reader of these kinds of stories have a little bit of skepticism when you’re…when you’re hearing this news.

[04:37] Mike: Yeah, I love the fact that when Andrew started asking him how much money he made and asked if he made a million dollars from it because it’s a relatively small team and it was a $10 million acquisition and he just wouldn’t talk about it. He wouldn’t even confirm or deny that he made more or less than a million. He just said, “I made a good amount of money but I don’t really want to talk about specifics.” And he said, you know, Andrew said, “You’re not even going to say more than a million?” He said, “No, I’d rather just not talk about the money part of it.” I understand from a business standpoint why some of these companies go after these smaller companies in terms of the acquisitions but it’s obviously not something that the rest of us could pull off and it’s…you have to take the stories with a bit of a grain of salt.

[05:15] Rob: Exactly. Yeah, well, I definitely understand why Google would acquire them because they’re talented developers and that’s…that’s actually something Paul Graham has talked about where the…with these acqui-hires they are a major danger to YC companies because as soon as you see someone gets YC funding, well, you know they’re probably going to be pretty good product people, right? They’re going to be able to crank something out and they’re motivated and they have convinced the YC team to give them money. So…so there’s a lot of pluses going for them. And so, he said a lot of the YC teams get contacted within the first few weeks of being announced and they get in to these talks and they – it’s presented as an acquisition but by the time they get to the end, they realized that they’ve really got themselves a job with a like a small signing bonus like I said earlier. And so, I think this is …has been common and it’s certainly becoming more common as time goes by.

[06:05] Mike: So, hey, you know, we’ve talked about upgrading our machines in the past and I have reframe from doing so for properly almost six years now aside for my laptop. I’ve finally get broke down and decided to buy a bunch of new hardware for a new desktop.

[06:18] Rob: Nice. Wait, you’re going to build a new computer? Why not buy a new one?

[06:22] Mike: Mainly because I don’t want to pay for it but at the same time there’s also…there’s a former a hacker in me that just loves to build the hardware. So, to give you an example, years and years ago before anybody was really in to like the liquid cooling of computers, I went  through and I started building my own liquid cooled computer and this was, I don’t know, probably 2000, 2001 timeframe. One of the things that I did was I said, “Well, I want to build a custom case.” So, as a custom case, what I started to do is I started building a case made out of Lucite which is kind of like plexiglass. It’s clear but you can cut it and it’s a lot easier to cut than plexiglasses. Unfortunately, the whole thing never really turned out very well because of the fact that when you start cutting Lucite, it tends to generate static electricity and it was not somewhere I wanted to ultimately put my computer parts.

[07:17] Rob: Yeah, sure. So, are you going to buy parts and assemble it from scratch?

[07:21] Mike: Yeah.

[07:21] Rob: Okay. How long you think it’ll take?

[07:23] Mike: A couple of hours. It’s not very long. I’ve built tons of computers before. I mean I own the business for several years just building computers.

[07:30] Rob: Right.

[07:30] Mike: So —

[07:30] Rob: Now, I remember Dell was your…was your biggest competitor you said.

[07:34] Mike: Yup.

[07:34] Rob: What’s the advantage of doing it that way instead of buying it off-the-shelf because if I were going to do it, I would buy it off-the-shelf. But I’m interested to hear what…what you get out of it that way.

[07:42] Mike: There’s a couple of different things. One is that I can get a six-core processor which I couldn’t get off-the-shelf and without paying through the nose for it. It’d be really hard to find one and I probably have to go like Alienware to get it and at that point, I’m immediately looking it like 3 or $4000 to buy the new machine. You know, I don’t need to spend that much money on it I spent I think around 1800 and I’ve got like a six-core machine with a 500 gig SSD drive and 32 gigs of RAM. I mean this thing is just stack and it’s relatively inexpensive. So, even including the cost of my time which I don’t necessarily put that much of a price tag on it because I kind of enjoy doing this stuff anyway, it’s not something I’ve done in a very long time and I’m like, well, you know, it’s getting about that time. So —

[08:25] Rob: Right, yeah, very cool.

[08:26] Music

[08:30] Mike: Today we’re going to be talking about how to build a great team, The idea for this episode came from a book that I read recently called Tribal Leadership. There’s three different authors to it. I don’t remember all their names off the top of my head but the subtitle to the book is Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. And I’ve been given a lot of thought lately to how I want to structure my business kind of in the future because I know that AuditShark is not something that can be done alone. I mean there’s grand aspirations behind it and what it can become and the level of complexity of the products to such that it’s just not something that I can do alone.

[09:03] So, I’ve been looking around and just see if I can find good reading material around how to build a team and how to put one together, you know, who to talk in to, what traits to look for and the Tribal Leadership book is one that I came across. There’s a lot of great points in there about how to identify people who would be a good fit and who wouldn’t and how to structure a team such that they work together as a team and have the same goals and are going to work willingly towards those goals without kind of torpedoing one or another.

[09:32] Rob: All right, let’s dive in.

[09:34] Mike: To start off with, there’s five stages of people and by…five stages of people, people go through these five different stages in life and you have to go from one stage to another. At some point, you can’t just skip from stage one to stage three or stage four. And stage four is considered the stable stage. Stage five is for people who are building something great that is…that is kind of an outlier. But stage one is generally people have the mentality of life sucks and this is kind of the attitude where open hostility comes from people I mean this is the type of attitude that you see from people who are in prison. They just don’t like anybody. They’re not willing to help other people because life sucks so why should you go out of your way to help somebody else because it’s just…it’s not going to matter to them at the end of the day.

[10:19] Rob: So would you say that – let’s say someone who’s like hostile on an internet forum. Would you put them in stage one or would that be more stage two?

[10:27] Mike: I think that would be more stage two and —

[10:29] Rob: Okay.

[10:30] Mike: So, stage one is “Everyone’s life sucks. It’s not just mine. Everyone life’s sucks so I’m going to do the best that I can to make my life better at other people’s expense.”

[10:40] Rob: Got it but it’s like more physical anger and hostility and aggression and that kind of stuff.

[10:45] Mike: Yeah, I mean that’s kind of the way it’s portrayed in the book. I mean you could probably take it to different levels on the internet but with stage two, the attitude is more along the lines of “My life sucks” and people at this stage are generally surrounded by people who have some sort of power that they lack or at least that’s the view that they have. They feel that their life sucks and they’re the victim of circumstances or something that they don’t have that other people have. And that’s kind of where the internet troll kind of comes in.

[11:13] Rob: And I also knew some folks like this kind of stage two people at several of the jobs that I…that I worked out where we all go out to lunch and they would just spend the entire time kind of complaining about how, you know, they weren’t being paid enough or how their boss was this or that and it was always everybody else’s fault. Does that accurate for a stage two person?

[11:35] Mike: Yup. Yeah, that’s exactly right. And the other part that kind of goes with that is that if you ask them what they’re going to do about it, they never have any answer. They are like, “Well, I’m not going to do anything about it because there’s nothing I can do.”

[11:46] Rob: So, that old thing that I’ve said of employees complained entrepreneurs get it done, maybe that who links in here where I’m thinking more of like a stage two person as that complainer who just isn’t willing to kind of take the bull by the horns and make things happen.

[12:00] Mike: Right.

[12:01] Rob: Got it.

[12:02] Mike: So, moving on to stage three. The stage three person has an “I’m great” mentality. And there are lot of people at this stage and we’re going to be talking a lot more about moving people from stage three in to stage four in this podcast because the people who are at stage three tend to be more of the professional level and this is – and in unfortunate ways, it’s kind of encourage by the corporate world. When you go to a job interview, one of the questions that you tended inevitably to be asked is, you know, “Why should we hire you?” And then you have to sit there and you have to explain how great you are and you know, why they should hire you because of all these great things that you’ve done.

[12:37] And all they’re doing is really reinforcing your view that you are great and because of that it just promotes you to continue down that path and not seek to go beyond that, to include other people to in team efforts. And essentially, you become more of a lone wolf. You do a lot of things alone and you know, you tend to constantly complain that, “I’m really good at all the stuff and there’s all these people who aren’t and I can’t rely in them for anything. So, why should I even bother? I’ll just do it myself.”

[13:07] Rob: Yeah, in all of the interviewing I did because I was a hiring manager at or you know, like hiring developer where I interview incoming developers, I only remember there are being a couple out of probably maybe 200 interviews I did where they…they’d get the question of you know, “Tell us about yourself or whatever,” and it would lead in to…it will go beyond just them being great, right? They really would express that they had a great team, that they built a great team, that they got along with people and stuff. So, I remember actually being, you know, impressed with that. It was – and obviously, it’s more of stage four attitude but that is a unique attribute in an employee and it’s something that I…I don’t know that I ever had while I was an employee.

[13:46] I think if I was going to go on an interview even, you know, later in my salaried career, that’s kind of what I was – what you’re trained to do, right? So, that’s, you know, that’s a good tip of…if you have an interview schedule or you know, you’re thinking about interviewing for jobs to think more about less about “I’m great” and more about stage four which is “We are great”.

[14:05] Mike: Right and people in stage four tend to build relationships between others based on a common value and as I said this is an exemplified by the feeling of “We’re great” and in the background it says, “And they’re not.” And they is essentially another tribe according to the terminology used by this book and that tribe can be either in the same company or in some other company or it can be in an entire other company. So, if you’re competing in your company against another company, the other tribe tends to be that other company. And when you’re trying to build your product, you’re trying to compete against them, you’re trying to win market share. Obviously, you have to have a competitor in the stage and that’s really the differentiator between stage four and stage five is that stage four has a competitor whereas the stage five that you are collaborating for a greater purpose but you don’t necessarily point out to a competitor.

[14:55] Rob: How interesting, yeah. So, this reminds me of a stage four of we’re great and we kind of have this…this competitor, could be the bootstrappers versus the venture capitalists because every bootstrapper we know winds up, you know, whether it’s 37signals or us or Patrick McKenzie or Amy Hoy or something. I mean we always wind up talking about the venture “they”, right, the competitors to our bootstrapped companies. And so, I think…I think that’s an interesting way to think about it. And I’m wondering do you know of any stage five movements? Do they give examples of any of those?

[15:28] Mike: They do but as I said before, the stage four is considered more of the stable stage than stage five and the reason for that is because with stage four, you’ve got a competitor. So, think Apple versus Microsoft where they’re trying to win market share against each other and you know, operating systems and the tablet technology and things like that. Whereas if you start going back and you look at like the early days of Apple’s development, they were trying to just build something great. They didn’t necessarily look directly at a competitor and say they are competitor. Steve Jobs looked at the world and said, “I want to change the world.” So, his competitor he didn’t really have one. He didn’t have in mind, “Oh, Microsoft is my competitor,” it was, “I want to change the world.”

[16:09]  And that’s kind of where there’s no direct competitor where there’s another tribe on the other end of it and you can point to those things where if you’re in like a hospital, you know, or a medical organization where the people in there instead of saying, “Oh, our competition is this other hospital over there,” or, “These doctors,” or “That neurosurgeon or whatever,” instead what they say is, “Our enemy is cancer,” “Our enemy is declining health,” or “Our enemy is…” all of these things that aren’t necessarily people. It’s a disease that they’re just, you know, obviously there’s no person behind it but they’re trying to serve a greater purpose by eliminating that disease.

[16:47] Rob: Got it. So, we’ve talked to these stages and you know, I think we have an idea now of where a lot of people we know might fit or we can think of examples of folks we know who had been in 2, 3, 4 and 5. What are we going to talk about today?

[16:59] Mike: So, I think the primary thing we’re going to focus on today is how to move people who are from stage three in to stage four? And you know part of the purpose to that is for most of the people in the professional world tend to be in stage three. I think that the statistic is kind of sided less than 10% of people who are employed professionally are anywhere between stage four and stage five. But you really want to try and take those people who are in stage three especially once that you’re hiring or bringing on to your team whether it’s full time or part-time or is contractors. You want to make them part of your team. You don’t want them to necessarily be a lone wolf and it’s not to say that they’re not confident or talented, it’s just that you want them to start taking on larger projects. You want them to be able to contribute more and you want them to be able to do it without your…a lot of your interventions.

[17:47] You want them to kind of be able to think on their own, make decisions, do things that are appropriate and correct for the business without having to sit there and micromanage them because the more you micromanage them, the less time that you have to do other things and that and that just kind of eliminates productivity. And by doing the opposite, by encouraging them to kind of move in to stage four, what you’re doing is you’re increasing their productivity which decreases the amount of time that you have to micromanage them which increases your time to do other things.

[18:13] Rob: All right, so let’s dive in. It looks like we have eight tactics for encouraging someone to move from stage three to stage four.

[18:21] Mike: So, the first thing that you can do to help move a stage three person in to a stage four is to encourage them to form triads and what a triad is essentially a 3-person relationship. And in particular, if you convince them to introduce their own contacts to one another by pointing to share values or overlapping self-interest or specific opportunities to work together, what you’re essentially doing as you’re encouraging that person to exhibit the stage four behaviors. And the more of these things that you can do that to encourage the person in to more stage four behaviors as opposed to stage three which is do everything themselves and act more as a lone wolf to not include people, then by moving them more in to stage four behaviors, you’re going to change the way that they interact with people and as a result, change their…and change the way that they interact with your business.

[19:09] Rob: And the second tactic is to encourage someone to work on projects that are too large to accomplish by themselves. You’re essentially setting up limitations and in a way forcing them to interact and to form those…those triads or those 3-person relationships. You know, if someone starts working with another and they get along and they start doing good work, it’s almost inevitable that they are going to…they’re going to have to strike up a good personal relationship. Therefore, you know, starting to move them to the “We are great” rather than “I’m great” mode which is from three to four.

[19:39] Mike: The third tactic is to point out that their success has come through his or her own efforts but the next level of success is really going to require a different style because there’s only so far you can take, you know, yourself. Everybody has limits and some people’s limits are higher than others but that doesn’t mean that those limits don’t exist or that you can’t ignore them. You really need to be able to point out to them, “Hey, you’ve been …you’ve been successful to this point but what would it take for you to get to the next level and to be much more successful than you currently are?” And typically that’s just going to take a frank discussion to say, “Look, you’ve been doing great so far but in order to take this to the next level, you have to do something different,” and you know, you can make suggestions about what they might do and specifically point some of the things in stage four that are possible.

[20:24] Rob: And the fourth tactic is to find at least one role model that this person may potentially look up to and point out how they’re exhibiting stage four behavior. So, point out how that…that role model is, you know, essentially of the thinking that “We are great” instead of “I am great”. Hopefully, encourage them to implement those same…the same behaviors.

[20:46] Mike: The fifth tactic you can use is that when someone complains that they don’t have time and the other people aren’t nearly as good which are the two chief gripes that people have when they’re in stage three is that you have to show that they’ve crafted their work life such that no one can really contribute to their…to whatever it is that they’re doing. And a lot of times this means things like not sharing repositories or doing work on their own and then kind of merging in to the code late or just not involved in other people in the task that they’re doing or making it easy to follow documentation or processes or anything like that. So, all of those things, you know, are just examples of things that people may do to make it difficult for other people to contribute to whatever it is that they’re working on.

[21:27] Rob: Mike, when I was a salaried employee, I was totally the stage three guy because I would say all of these things. I don’t have time, you know, I can’t work with other people on this team. I want to hand pick my people and when I did work with people who I consider really good, I totally enjoyed it. So, I think for those projects I was stage four, but other than that, man, I was definitely a stage threer– and I feel like my attitude has changed now that I, you know, have folks working for me in different capacities in terms of designing, developing and handling support. I’m definitely much more about the team being great because I can’t…I know I can’t do everything myself. But for me, I think that moving from salaried employment to kind of breaking out of my own to realize that that I need the help of other people.

[22:09] Mike: Yeah, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. I was definitely a stage three as well and the problem is that until I kind of saw a lot of these things laid out this way, it didn’t…you know, I probably thought a lot of these things to some extent but that kind of relates to tactic number six which is telling the stories of your own transition from stage three to stage four. But there were so many times where I’m like, “Oh well, I can do this,” and you know, it’ll take me a lot less time to do it than it would to explain it to you how to do it.

[22:36]  So, there were just so many times where I would have gone off and done my own thing and not bothered to explain it or document it or anything like that. And you know, I’ve really gotten past that and it’s definitely helped my business. It’s definitely helped me to free up a lot of my time because I can hand these things off to other people and they do them granted they don’t necessarily always do them as well as I do but there are definitely times where they’ve come back with something and I’m like, “Wow, that is awesome,” you know, and it comes back better than I would have done it.

[23:01] Rob: Right, the two objections we hear most often when we talk about outsourcing in any capacity whether it’s outsourcing development or outsourcing e-mail support or handing off any tasks to anyone, the number one objection that I’ve heard is always, “Well, how do you get over that they’re not as good as you,” and “How do you trust them to do good work,” “Just how do you deal with that,” and so I think that’s a common place for developers to be in especially if they’re good developers and they’re talented and they have worked at salary gigs where they’re…people who are much less talented.

[23:29] I think it’s…it’s almost like you might be pigeonholed or forced in to stage three. If you really are the best developer at the company and you have been at several companies, I mean it’s kind of been taught that you can’t rely on other people. And so, it’s definitely a mentality to try to break out if you are going to make that leap. If you do in fact want to make the leap to stage four and you want to work with others and you want to, you know, become an entrepreneur like we’ve talked about, ultimately, you will have to relate to other people to get your goals achieved.

[23:57] Mike: The unstated part of that is that just because you’re great at something that you do, doesn’t mean that you can’t rely on somebody to contribute in a meaningful way. Do they have to do it as good as you? No. That’s not the point and in fact, that’s not the point of stage four at all. The point is to collectively do something great. It’s not about like all of the individual pieces and yeah, it’s great to have everything all at this topnotch level but not everything has to be like that and you don’t necessarily have to have that attitude in order to be successful. I would much rather have people who are gung ho about the business and being successful than having a couple of people who are really good at things but not paying attention or listening or focus on the whole product.

[24:40] Rob: The seventh tactic for encouraging someone to move from stage three to stage four is to instill in them the knowledge that real power comes not from understanding a specific technical thing or from being able to just implement but it comes from having a good network and that there’s much more leverage in wisdom and having other people to partner with than in just purely in information. This was actually a major revelation for me. Maybe it was three years ago when I first started outsourcing and that was kind of the first level up for my business that allowed it to grow faster.

[25:15] The next thing that happened was when I decided that I was going to form better relationships with…with other podcasters, with other startup founders, with other speakers at the startup events I went to and right away, things started generating for me. And it was, I don’t know, I was never a big – I’m a terrible networker. I’m not an extrovert. I don’t…I’m not in to that world at all but building a real relationship, a genuine relationships with people who have stuff in common with you and who you can move along with and progress with is invaluable and that’s something, I think I actually said it is as one of the biggest things I learned in 2011 perhaps was that you can’t do the stuff on your own no matter how much you want to because I definitely I wanted to do everything on my own but that’s just hasn’t been a reality for the past several years.

[26:02] Mike: And the eight tactic you can use to help somebody move from stage three to stage four is to encourage them to manage using transparency. And essentially this involves coaching them to not follow the stage three tendency to tell people only what they need to know. And this is about encouraging the person to over communicate if that’s even possible. I found over the years that telling people a lot more than they need to know to do a job helps because it gives them a lot of background about why they’re doing something.

[26:28] Throughout high school, I hated being told what to do not because I didn’t want to do it, because I didn’t know why I was being told to do that. And there were just so many times where they’re like, “Well, you know, here’s the homework assignment. You just do it.” And you know, you never really got an explanation. I found that even in the business world there were a lot of times where there were people who would say, “Hey, can you go do this for me?” And unless you understand why is that they’re asking you to do that, the problem is that you come up with the solution for them and you do the work but then they’re not happy with it and the reason they’re not happy with it is because they didn’t tell you why it was that you were doing it.

[26:59] So, they didn’t communicate effectively enough to tell you that there were certain things that were important because on Thursday as this thing has to run because if it doesn’t run and the CIO gets…gets to come down and scream at them. And then after that then, you know, the payroll person goes and cries and the payroll doesn’t get fund. So, because of all that extra information, you didn’t do the work and…or didn’t do it right and you know, all that stuff happens, then payroll doesn’t run one week. And then it gets blamed on you because you didn’t do it right and it’s not because you didn’t do it right, it’s just you didn’t know about all these other things and all these other dependencies. So, you couldn’t take them in to account when you were doing your job. So, this is really about over communicating, at least communicating enough information to people that they can make good decisions when they’re going through and doing the work.

[27:40] Rob: That idea of over communication ties in to this thing called commanders intent and it’s a concept on the battlefield of if your commander tells you and a group of men to go do something, they should…if they’re doing it right, they should spell out not only what you should do but the intent of that maneuver because if they tell you to go do something and then a bunch of stuff changes on the battlefield, you need to basically carry out their intent rather than the specific take a hundred steps in that direction and march towards the enemy that the actual specific steps that they told you to do.

[28:13] And I think this is very powerful. This is something that I’ve started doing with my screencast that I created for virtual assistant is I do tell them the steps when they’re doing something but I also take a step back and I say, “Look, here’s my philosophy. If anyone is unhappy, they always get a refund. Unless someone gets way out of line, we offer them this, this, that and this.” I mean it’s much more about the intent that we’re trying to achieve and the goals of the company, you know, rather than the…maybe specific policies that you might see if you worked at a…at a very rigid environment.

[28:44] Mike: So, I think the next question that comes up is how do you know if you have succeeded in going down this path? How did you know that you’ve succeeded in transitioning someone form stage three in to stage four? And the first sign of that is that the person is going to start substituting “I” language for “We”. So, when people ask about the secret of their success, they’re going to point to their team instead of themselves.

[29:05] Rob: And the second way you know you’ve succeeded is that the person will start actively forming triads and his or her network will expand from a few dozen to several hundred.

[29:12] Mike: And the third way is that the person is going to work less but at the same time get more work done.

[29:16] Rob: The fourth way is that his or her complaints about there are not being enough time and that no one is as good will slowly die away.

[29:24] Mike: The fifth way is that he’s going to communicate with a lot more transparency and explain why things are being done, not just what needs to be done.

[29:32] Rob: And the sixth and final way is that this person will communicate more information and they will communicate it more often for them just to have more open roads of communication.

[29:42] Mike: So, to recap a little bit the five stages are stage one is that the person believes that life sucks in general. Stage two, they believe that “My life sucks”. Stage three person believes “I’m great”. Stage four people say, “We’re great.” And stage five people say, “Life is great.” And to help move people from stage three to stage four, you encourage them to form triads. You encourage them to work on projects that are too large to accomplish alone. You point out that current successes come through their efforts but the next level of success is going to require a different style. You describe additional role models who are exhibiting the stage four behavior that you would like them to exemplify. You show them that they have crafted their work life so that nobody can really contribute to them.

[30:19] The sixth thing you can do is to tell stories of your own transition from stage three to stage four. You can also coach them that real power comes not from knowledge but from their networks and there’s more leverage and wisdom than in information. And the last thing you can do to help move them from stage three to stage four is to encourage them to manage using transparency.

[30:35] Music

[30:39] Rob: If you have a question for us, you can call it in to our voicemail number at 888-801-9690 or e-mail it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt, used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.


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6 Responses to “Episode 116 | Moving Teams From Good to Great”

  1. Really like the new Audit Shark logo.

    The landing page is general is pretty nice as well.

    I’m not a fan of the “Meet the Founder” page. It’s ok to be a single founder but to say your only employees are your wife and “house destruction experts” seems unprofessional.

  2. Hi Guys.

    Mike: Congratulations again on launching AuditShark.
    I personally love the “Meet the Founder” page. A bit of humour won’t hurt in my opinion.
    Did you leave out a picture of you on purpose?
    IMHO that could lend some more credibility to the page, but of course you should A/B test that hypothesis 😉

    Is the design Bootstrap?

  3. Nice way to work in commander’s intent. I look forward to your podcast on the five paragraph order. 😉

  4. @John

    LOL yeah. Maybe even change the name from “Podcast” to “informative situation briefing” 😉

  5. Your show reminded me of a job interview I had a year ago. I’m not sure why the CFO was in this gang interview (5 on 1) but every time I used the word ‘we’ he interrupted me to demand that I only talk about what ‘I’ did on the projects.

  6. Hiya Mike & Rob –

    Just started getting into your podcast via Stitcher. While I’m only a wanna-be entrepreneur, I’m finding the content to be very informative. The five stages tribal thing was immediately useful in helping my team. The pace and style of your show is just great. Thanks!