Team

A 6-post collection

Featured on BBC News

GoSquared on BBC News

It's not every day we're featured on BBC News, but after a quick back-and-forth with Katie Prescott, the GoSquared team made an appearance in article about the unexpected shenanigans of conference calls today.

The screenshot was taken on my birthday when the team sang happy birthday to me via Zoom.

See the article on the BBC

Give praise

It’s so easy to take the hard work of others in your team for granted – to just expect people to do great work day in day out.

It’s also so easy for good deeds to go unnoticed, and to simply say “thanks” and move on with your day.

But think about the last time someone specifically spoke to you to tell you how much they appreciated something you did. It felt good, didn't it?

Being aware of what you think and what you actually express to others will likely cause you to realise that others around you aren’t aware of how much you appreciate them.

At GoSquared, for a long time we’ve put specific time aside each week to share thanks and praise within the team.

Every Friday it’s the best way to start the weekend – knowing others on the team appreciated something you did.

Next time you’re wondering whether or not to call someone out to thank them in front of the team, don’t wait, don’t hesitate, just do it.

Over-communication

Within a team – whether you’re five people or 500 – bad communication is often the top reason for things to fall apart.

If you can communicate better you can operate better.

But it’s extremely easy to under-communicate. To assume that everyone knows the plan, everyone knows the reason we exist, everyone knows the pricing, everyone knows the roadmap, everyone knows the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt from them.

But in reality, most people on the team don’t know the same information. They probably have far fewer things clear in their heads.

If you’re in a position of leadership then you’re probably in a position of immense power to communicate more, and to communicate better, with your team.

I’ve made this mistake too many times – to assume everyone “gets it”. To not repeat what you feel is already obvious.

But what you think is obvious as a leader may be clear as mud to some on your team – especially if they’ve just joined your company.

Communicate the big and important stuff clearly. Communicate frequently. Then make it clearer. And then communicate it again some more.

Communicate the same thing over and over and over until it’s painful to repeat it again.

It’s extremely hard to over-communicate as a leader. And the risks of under-communicating far outweighs the risks of over-communicating.

Giving and receiving feedback

When was the last time you gave someone you work with feedback that was more than just “nice one!” or “great!”?

If you don’t give direct, constructive, helpful feedback you’re doing your team a disservice.

It’s so much easier to keep your thoughts to yourself – to hold it in and move on with your day, or to try to do the task yourself next time. But neither of these options help you build a great team, and neither of these options help the individual who needs the feedback most.

Two sides of feedback

There are two sides to feedback – the giving and the receiving.

Something we are always working to infuse within the team at GoSquared is a shared understanding of why feedback is so important – it enables each of us to improve and be the best we can be.

The following talk from Kim Scott on Radical Candor is a helpful step in the right direction for understanding why feedback is important and how you can encourage everyone on your team to get better at giving and receiving it.

https://youtu.be/MIh_992Nfes

For the record

Meetings changed recently at GoSquared.

They got quicker.

They got clearer.

They started more promptly.

The need to be in every meeting reduced.

And the amount of “he said she said” reduced to zero.

What happened?


We started recording meetings.

At first, it was an alarming change – it felt weird.

Was it a step towards overbearing surveillance? Could this be used against me in the future? We all had concerns when starting out.

But a few months in, and the results have been undeniable.

The inspiration came from learning of Ray Dalio’s approach to running Bridgewater Associates. At Bridgewater every meeting is recorded, and direct, clear, honest feedback is strongly encouraged.

As with Bridgewater, recording meetings is part of a wider understanding across the team that we want to grow as individuals and as a team, and if we don’t hold each other to a high standard then we’re letting everyone down.

Now every individual in a meeting is aware that anyone else in the business has the opportunity to listen at a later date. It encourages everyone to bring their best to every meeting.

Why do we do it?

The key reasons we started to record meetings:

  • If someone can’t be present and wants extra detail on why a decision was made or how an idea came to be, there’s a place to understand that.
  • So anyone in the meeting can reflect on their own performance – just as a sports team reviews their performance after a game, it gives us a chance to review our own performance.

How do we record meetings?

There’s nothing complex:

  1. Start the meeting.
  2. Remind everyone the meeting is about to be recorded. If someone isn’t OK with it they can veto the recording any time. Consent is required.
  3. Open the Voice Memos app on your phone.
  4. Hit Record.
  5. Remember to hit Stop at the end of the meeting.

To be clear, we don’t record absolutely every internal meeting – private one-to-one catchup conversations with the team and similar situations where discretion is critical are not recorded.

Customer conversations are a different ballgame entirely. There's a huge benefit to recording conversations with customers and potential customers. The emphasis on consent is even greater here, and is a topic for another day.

It’s worth noting that we’ve evolved how meetings are run at GoSquared a heck of a lot over the years. Those learnings are also for another post – stay tuned.

I hope this is helpful, and reach out to me on Twitter if you have questions about our approach.

The 5 dysfunctions of a team

The dysfunctional team pyramid - 5 dysfunctions of a team

We recently grabbed lunch with another London based startup, and during conversation with the founder, he recommended a book I hadn't come across before – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni.

As anyone who has managed people before will know, building a team is really hard. You work your socks off to hire the best people you possibly can, but getting those people to work together as a single unit doesn't happen by magic.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team applies a relatively simple set of guidelines to spot and resolve problems within your team and encourage everyone to collaborate effectively.

Absence of trust

If people are unwilling to be vulnerable within the group, it can be hard to build trust within the team.

Fear of conflict

If the team seeks "artificial" harmony, it can harm your ability to have a constructive and passionate debate.

Lack of commitment

A lack of buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the team resulting in outcomes that no one sticks to.

Avoidance of accountability

Members of the team avoid the responsibility to call out peers on counterproductive behaviour, resulting in low standards being accepted across the group.

Inattention to results

Individuals focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success causes the team to suffer.

Overall, each of these attributes is no surprise, but having a framework to align your team is incredibly helpful.

Is your team performing well in all five of these areas? What can you do to address any "dysfunction" within your team today?