Level 3 Leadership – Creating Teams

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Level 2 – Working With Teams

Understand what needs to be done

  • Managers have to maintain processes, systems and resources
    • On top of planning and organizing, a manager also has to direct people in roles to create the expected results
    • Being a manager is using people like very complex resources, which requires a tremendous amount of charm and persuasion
    • A manager still has a boss, which means that they are still subordinate to that boss’ expectations
  • A manager has to internalize the vision from their superior and then have the team do the same
    • A manager is supposed to create results to enforce the vision
      • These results come from a superior and are often non-negotiable
      • The manager is expected to perform to meet those objectives
      • Their ability to make it a personal goal will determine how well they can convey the vision
    • It can be tempting to grab simple or high-reward projects, but the harder projects are more effective at proving character
  • Create a clear vision and strategy before creating the team
    1. Specify the most important parts of that boss’ vision
      1. The requirements for success
      2. The example that a leader will need to show
      3. The kinds of input that the team will be providing along with the tasks they do
      4. The rewards for the group and individuals in the group succeeding
    2. Learn what the projects need and how the team fits into the vision
      • Why each project exists
      • The “perfect ending” to the projects
      • The deadlines involved
      • How often everyone will meet
      • The size of the budget
      • The people in charge of carrying out the ideas
      • The roles and responsibilities involved with making the project
    3. Make sure you have all the necessary tools for success
      • Software specific to the work
      • A great work environment for the team
      • The right connections and experts to call on
    4. Hand off responsibilities fully to let the team members work out the small details on their own
      • Even if it’s easy, never EVER steal an idea from a subordinate
    5. Listen and then thoughtfully address every one of the workers’ concerns or thoughts as they come up
      • Learn to give focused, simple and consistent communication back after you’ve heard them

Make a team model to carry out the vision

  • The model of productivity should factor the input and output of the project
    • Examples of inputs
      • Money
      • Hours
      • Research
      • Story points, outlines, ideas
    • Examples of outputs
      • Sales strategies/closed Leads
      • Ideas
      • Treatment plans
      • Code, articles, reports
      • Research
  • The nine Belbin roles model an effective team when everyone carries out their roles
    • Shapers that challenge the team to improve
    • Implementers that get things done
    • Completer-Finishers that ensure the projects are thoroughly finished
    • Coordinators that take on the traditional team leader role
    • Team Workers that are negotiators to ensure everyone is working together
    • Resource Investigators that work with external stakeholders to help the team meet their objectives
    • Plants that come up with new ideas and approaches
    • Monitor-Evaluators that analyze and look at others’ ideas
    • Specialists with specific knowledge to get the job done
  • No matter who, every person can be used, and it’s simply a question of finding where or if they fit
    • Usually, the more diverse the demographics are (age, gender, culture, upbringing, attitudes) the more creative the solutions will be
    • One unconventional approach is to find the laziest person to do the hardest job, since they’ll find the easiest way to do it
  • Your style of team leadership directly affects how the project will be accomplished
    • No matter how you run the team you still need to foster openness, autonomy, honesty and moral character
  • There are many organizational models to arrange the team into
    • The Waterfall method works on a step-by-step sequence to bring a project to completion
      • This one works on hard deadlines and treats every task as “final”
      • Any failures in a previous step of the process are rolled into later process tasks
    • Agile works well for fast-paced projects more than Waterfall
      • The project is simply an outline of the concept with a general road map
      • Every stage of the development is constantly revised as the situation changes
      • There are other variations of Agile that add in more structure like Scrum or Lean
    • OKR is a simple method of tracking objectives, key results and outcomes
      • Objectives are what the organization aims to do
      • Key results are concrete, specific and measurable goals
      • Outcomes track what actually happens to the group
    • Holacracy is an extremely flat management system
      • Flat management only works when everyone is a type of manager connected to the necessary processes
    • Areas of Responsibility defines specific and strong boundaries between responsibilities and ownership
    • Look into remote teams if it makes sense for the situation
      • If you can do this, you can typically slash budget costs while having the entire world to pull talent from
      • Freelancing and remote work is quickly becoming the norm, so it’s not an unconventional approach to have an entire team spread across the world
  • Hackman’s 5 Factor Model increases the chances of a team being successful
    1. The group is a real team with a shared task, clear boundaries about who the group is and a stable membership
    2. The team has a clear goal that is both challenging and makes an actual deifference
    3. The structure that enables the team allows flexibility to adapt to people changing
    4. The team is connected to an effective way to reward members, develop members’ skills and access to relevant information
    5. The leader is expertly coaching and managing the team
  • Use the “two pizza rule” to keep a more streamlined approach to making teams
    • If a team can’t be fed by two pizzas (5-8 people) then it is too big to be effective
    • Communication is often easier in smaller teams
    • Goals are easier to agree on with less people
    • When a team is smaller, there’s a stronger sense of support since nobody can fade into the background
    • There are more opportunities for good changes, since the group is so small

Very thoroughly look for the best candidates to carry out the project

  • Each worker will fit into one of the eight Margerison-McCann team profiles
    • Reporter/Advisor that gathers information and helps others understand it
    • Creator/Innovator that looks for different ways to view things
    • Explorer/Promoter that persuasively influences others easily
    • Assessor/Developer that evaluates and analyzes
    • Thruster/Organizer that makes things happen in a results-focused mindset
    • Concluder/Producer that completes activities according to a plan and schedule
    • Controller/Inspector that manages details and enforces standards
    • Upholder/Maintainer that holds the team together and tends to emotional and social needs
  • A healthy team is made of as many varieties of team member, personality and roles as possible
    • Try to involve outside experts and add to the team on a regular basis
  • Create job descriptions to fit each of the roles
    • A summary statement – 1-2 sentences that indicate duties and mentions who the worker reports to
    • Functions of the position – details what the job actually involves
      • Usually the longest
      • Describes day-to-day tasks as well as supervisory functions
      • The best place to indicate the customers, public or internal workers the position will deal with
    • Attributes needed for the position
      • Specify what types of machines, software and tools the worker will use
      • Indicate any required or preferred educational or technical background
      • Indicate whether the job is pure business or also contributes to a culture
    • Reporting – details about the reporting and organizational structure to help the worker understand their activities’ part in the organization
    • Evaluation criteria
      • Make it as specific as possible about what needs to be done
      • Define what is most important for both the organization and the worker
      • Make the evaluation criteria match as closely as possible to what will make the organization successful
    • Compensation
      • This gives transparency to the candidate and will save time for both of you
      • Think about their needs and not the project budget to be fair in setting it
        • Pay is literally the only thing that many people will look at, especially in a competitive environment
      • Give a range instead of a specific figure for more flexibility
        • Alternately, give a specific number and make sure that all employees are paid equally for their time and skill
      • Most people will feel they should be at the top of the range
      • The higher you pay, the more talent you’ll be able to find
        • When the labor market gets scarce, be ready to pay more
      • Be aware of the difference between contractors and employees for tax reasons and cultural reasons
        • Contractors are going to be less committed to the organization than employees will be
    • Physical location and work environment, if applicable
  • Learn to balance the job descriptions based on the type of performance you’re looking for
    • Every organization has a mix of 4 types of jobs
      1. Thinkers – visionaries, strategists, intellects and creators
        • Every big idea starts with them, from new products to new business ideas to new ways of doing everyday things
        • Hiring requires out-of-the-box thinking for specific tangible answers
      2. Builders  – entrepreneurs, inventors, deal-makers and project managers
        • Converts the Thinkers’ ideas into reality, from creating a new business to designing a new product/process to closing a deal
        • Hiring should clarify what big changes, new developments, big problems or major projects they need to address
      3. Improvers – managers
        • Makes a reality or repeatable process better, as individual contributors or team/project managers
        • Hiring should focus on improving the current system
      4. Producers – helpdesk, sales, auditing performance, writing code, producing statements, etc.
        • Most people start out in this kind of work
        • Usually requires training or advanced skills to carry out the process correctly
        • The hiring manager should know how any required skill is specifically used on the job
    • Organizational culture becomes stale through a predictable pattern
      • Producers and Improvers start off doing most of the work
        • TT BBB IIIIIII PPPPPPPPP
      • Without a culture of change, Improvers eventually take over and change slowly comes to a halt
        • IIIIIIIII T BB PPPPPPPPP
      • Long before the change has completely stopped the Thinkers and Builders have found a new opportunity
        • IIIIIII PPPPPPPPP
      • Improvers eventually follow the Thinkers and builders, then new Producers are hired to create order out of the chaos
        • PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP
      • The old Producers that aren’t changing or growing are left behind to fend for themselves as the organization dwindles from a lack of new ideas
        • PPPPPP
    • Every person has a mix of the 4 job types with 1-2 dominant, and each job requires the same type of people in it with the correct blend
      • This starts by understanding the full requirements of the position, the strengths/weaknesses of others on the team and the group’s primary objective
    • Look at the job types that the job includes by clarifying its components
      • What types of big problems need to be solved? (Thinker)
      • Are there any big projects or changes that need to be carried out? (Builder)
      • What needs to be upgraded or improved? (Improver)
      • What aspects of the job involve high-quality repeated activities? (Producer)
    • Creativity is hard to foster because each person will usually start out as Producers and naturally progress through the other three, while companies start with Thinkers and branch out from there

Everyone promises that they can do the job, but it requires specific skills to be able to do it

  • Start looking for workers before you need them
    • It takes longer to find good workers than it might seem
      • You should be recruiting every single day in some way
      • Though you may not think you need them right now, having great talent ready to work is a type of insurance policy
    • It’s easier to pull from a list of great options than to feel pressured to make a quick decision
    • Use social media networks to broaden who you could use
      • If you find a particular applicant, try impressing their family to gain that person’s trust
    • Use applicant-tracking software to weed out the poor fits for the position
    • Master the art of interviewing through trial and error
  • There are several great ways to predict whether a candidate will be a good hire
    • Adaptable to spontaneous and unplanned situations without losing their nerve
    • Openness to new ideas and things that could be potentially interesting
    • Honest about their skills, limitations and capabilities
      • If they are distrusting in the interview or somehow have a low level of openness, they shouldn’t be hired
    • Resourceful in long-term learning outside of formal education and continuing to steadily improve
    • Desires and self-disciplined in creating work that will be used by others
    • Desires to grow with clear career goals that aren’t tied to titles or status
      • A career goal connected to being able to direct others or having a title is a negative trait
    • Rational in admitting they are wrong and speaking about it
    • Authenticity in admitting to being slightly wrong and gracefully handling it
    • Team-oriented and focused on the collective growth of the organization
      • Speaking territorially about proudly defending something or gaining ground is a warning sign
    • They should be smarter than you, since you’re hiring them for competence in something you may not know
  • Most traits are only good in certain circumstances, and the question is more about fit than capability
    • Being sociable is risky in an environment with very little human connection
    • Analytical tendencies are risky when enthusasm and energy are necessary
    • Having a lot of ambition can harm a complex process-oriented system
    • Team players will often have a hard time working all alone
    • A perfectionist can be dangerous when great results are connected to speed or adaptation
    • Young people are more ambitious, while older people are more skilled
  • Some traits should be universal rejections for any job position
    • Not very intelligent or completely unwilling to learn new things
    • A depressing or miserable personality
    • Tendency to use hyperbole, extremism or overly emotional reactions
    • Overconfident in their abilities to the point of having difficulty with mistakes
    • A poor personality mix for the position
  • Keep in mind that conventional interviewing techniques are horribly flawed
    • The 30-minute interview isn’t very useful to gauge anything
      • An interview is only assessing someone’s ability to perform in one specific context, which is usually convincing
        • Technical interviews aren’t much better, since they still fixate on one task
        • The best approach for a technical need is to provide internships or 30-day no-obligation trial periods
          • Grooming interns into great workers is much easier sometimes than finding competence in the job market
      • The interview is used mostly because it’s seen as the quickest way to gauge performance and is also standard practice
    • An interview can actually undercut more important information
      • In college recruiting, interviews will skew preferring students with lower GPAs
      • If an interviewee lies, it is almost always completely impossible to tell, since there’s no social context to pull from
    • Create alternative ways to interview well
      • Give a strong preference to practical questions
        • Ask them what they’re reading these days to discover more about them
      • Give them homework and interview them based on the performance of the homework
        • This homework can be something unimportant that the organization needs to do
      • Instead of performing an interview, have them interview you instead to gauge their ability to think
      • A more effective and more expensive technique would be to use a skills test battery followed by a 30-day trial period
  • Talented people will be gifted, and the interview process should reflect that
    • A worker will only transfer if they feel they are receiving a 30% non-monetary increase
      • This is the combination of new skills learned, job growth and a better mix of more satisfying work
    • Make the job ad interesting, exciting and in the first-person
      • If the job advertisement sounds boring, nobody truly talented will want to work for the group that posted it
      • Write cleverly and entertainingly to attract more talent
    • Avoid a tedious or robotic applicant tracking system
      • Make one that doesn’t penalize blank spaces or has too many fields to type in
    • Keep communication with all applicants as fluid and natural as possible
      • Robotic communication implies that company policy will be the same
      • If the job application has a deadline, give every applicant a rejection or approval for interview to let them move on
    • Interview in a way that values your time and theirs
      • Sell the position like it’s a sales pitch in the interview, then watch their reaction to it to understand how they would work in the culture
      • Don’t say conventional things that don’t make sense in context
        • “We’re the best at what we do” – vague and sets an impossible expectation
        • “We are experts” – implies that literally everyone in the organization is an expert
        • “We’ve been doing this for X years” – implies an unchanging culture
        • “We have a tough interview process” – not necessarily true for genuinely talented interviewers
        • “We don’t post jobs, we run off of recommendations” – implies an inbred culture of friend-coworkers
      • Don’t ask patronizing, irrelevant or stupid questions
        • A true professional will conclude that their time is clearly worth more than yours
      • Connect with any potential applicants, since their network has value to you even if they aren’t
      • Use software like InterviewStream to permit long-distance communication
  • If you want a quick personality assessment from simply observing them, use the BEST personality test
    • There are 4 major groups
      • Boss – Quick at decision-making and focused on results/tasks
        • Dominant, driven and confident, but also can be insensitive
      • Engager – Quick at decision-making and focused on people/team
        • Persuasive, convincing and closes deals, but also can be pushy
      • Supporter – Slow at decision-making and focused on people/team
        • Collaborative, understanding and counseling, but also can be bureaucratic
      • Technical – Slow at decision-making and focused on results/tasks
        • Analytical, insightful and deliberative, but also can be controlling
    • Drastically increase your objectivity by taking on the diametrically opposite role during the interview
    • These are preferences, not capabilities, so use it for fit instead of selection
      • All planners will talk a lot and take little action
      • All doers will take plenty of unnecessary risks
      • All task-based will invalidate the human element within the team and outside the group
      • All people-based will be a disorganized mess that will grow steadily more and more unproductive
    • As mentally well people mature, they take on the roles of their less dominant styles
      • Mentally unhealthy people, on the other hand, intensify their negative effects over time
  • There are many questions to find out what the candidate can do
    • “What is your greatest accomplishment?”
      • This is by far the best question to ask
        • It shows what they value most
        • It clears up any uncertainties about whether they can accomplish things
        • You’re tapping into their passion, meaning you can see how they work
      • Drill into details with them
        • When did it take place and how long did it take?
        • What were the actual results achieved?
        • What was the organization, role, title, position and the team involved?
        • What parts of the project did you enjoy/dislike?
        • How did this make you change and grow as a person?
        • What types of formal recognition did you receive from it?
        • What would you do differently if you could do it again?
      • This most easily defines their BEST personality
    • “What can I expect from you in the first 100 days on the job?”
      • Shows how they think and their plans for the future
    • “What does it mean for you to be on a team?”
      • Shows whether they understand that it’s both being a helper and getting help
    • “Don’t use names, but can you tell me about the best boss and the worst boss you’ve ever had?”
      • Shows how much personal responsibility they take
      • Shows what they like and don’t like in a work environment
      • Shows whether they are loving and understanding or mean and spiteful
    • “How many pennies does it take to fill a room?”
      • Shows their problem-solving ability
      • Shows how detailed and specific they’ll get
      • You can make your own to make it more fun
    • “Tell me about yourself.”
      • A common question that every job candidate should be prepared to answer
      • Shows how well they think through their past experience
    • “What can you do to help take our organization to the next level?”
      • Gives great ideas and whether the candidate has visions for the future
    • “Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple things in your personal or work life, and how did you deal with it?”
      • Gives indication about their ability to handle stress and an intense work situation
    • “What have you done to better yourself in the last two years?”
      • Shows their desire to grow personally, professionally or spiritually
    • “What is your personal mission statement?”
      • Makes the person think and shows how they process the question
      • Gives an indicator about what they think their purpose is and how it applies to their work style
    • “What can you tell me about our organization?”
      • Shows if the person is invested in the possible work
    • Don’t bother asking questions that don’t matter to their ability to do the job
      • The presence of any notable employers, impressive educational credentials, GPAs or any other externally commended items
      • Scores on personality tests, at least to any capacity outside the job description’s needs
        • The test should have weeded them out from the interview if you’re doing it correctly
        • The results can be a good indicator to tell if they’re a liar or self-unaware
      • Past or present salary, which is only a measurement of their ability to negotiate
      • Age, family or any other demographic matters
      • Gaps in employment, though it does matter why they left their last job
      • Tasks and duties of past jobs aren’t important, only whether they can perform tasks and duties in the current one
        • This also applies to “progressively more responsible positions”
  • Many interviewees will make the same lies
    • Education lies
      • “I have all the credits, I just didn’t graduate.”
      • “I did all the classes, I just need to pay the fees to graduate.”
      • “I graduated from (university), but it was a long time ago. I’m not sure why they can’t verify my degree.”
      • “I had a 3.0 GPA in my ‘core’ classes, but a 1.9 GPA overall.”
      • “It was actually an (actual major) and business degree.”
    • Background check lies
      • “No, I’m not on drugs (fails drug check) Oh, you meant marijuana as a drug.”
      • “She told me she was 18.”
      • “They told me in court that it would never be on my file, so I didn’t think I needed to tell you.”
      • “No, I dn’t have a felony (finds felony) Oh, that felony! That was in a different district.”
    • Experience lies
      • “When you said Java, I thought you meant experience making coffee.”
      • “I was part of the leadership team that was responsible for implementing it.”
    • Not showing up to the interview
      • “My car broke down.”
      • “I couldn’t find your location.”
      • “My child was sick.”
    • Termination lies
      • “It was a mutual decision that I left.”
      • “I (or family member) was in a bad accident and in the hospital, so they fired me for not showing up to work.”
      • “I volunteer at a community event, and we go out for drinks afterwards. The next morning my boss smelled alcohol and fired me for drinking on the job.”
  • There are many ways to tell the difference between a great interviewer and a great candidate
    • Offer a position for a somewhat related role on the team, if they take it then they obviously don’t want the role you’re offering
    • Ask direct and pointed questions instead of vague or general ones
    • Have multiple members of the team meet with the candidate
  • Contrary to intuition, while gut instincts are great for deciding on business deals they are awful for choosing candidates
    • If you doubt whether someone can do the task, look at specific reasons why you have your doubts
    • Even when in a rush to fill a position, never emphasize skills and experience over performance, attitude and fit
  • Followup outside of what they told you
    • Do a web search for who they are, personally and professionally
    • Contact any references that may know the candidate but weren’t placed on the resume
    • Observe their influence and network, since that creates future hiring opportunities

Never stop building the team

  • Attracting, developing and keeping top-level talent is a never-ending part of a manager’s job
    • Unless the team disperses after less than 6 months, always look for ways to acquire more workers with relevant talent
    • Top talent takes time to discover and is a constant search
  • Look for major gaps in the culture and who would be most qualified to fit those roles as the group needs to expand
    • The team member has to have proven ability that matches the role
    • Any new team members need to mesh with the culture of the rest of the team
  • Try to find creative ways to recruit with competitions, job fairs, etc.
    • Try temporary-to-hire positions or opportunities to work with potential candidates in extracurricular activities
Next: Level 3 Leadership – Maintaining Teams