Episode 080 (Primary Angle Video)
[00:00:00] Welcome back to the show. Today, we are talking about how to make team operations easier. So one of the things that I hear so much when I talk about the work that I do around driving team operations and around helping business owners optimize their team operations, uh, is. Sadly, is that, Oh, I don't want to think about all that.
[00:00:21] That's all too complicated. And you know, this is something that I want to help us reframe today. Let's shake that perspective because the reality is, is that team operations are about simplifying everything but making it easier to get your work done. But before we get there, let's talk about, well, why do people think that it's too complicated?
[00:00:42] And I think a lot of us have experienced a number of the same things. You know, first we've maybe introduced something to solve problems like a work tracking system or a timesheets thing that's really, really complicated and cumbersome. And we got something that has all the bells and whistles, all the features.[00:01:00]
[00:01:00] I've heard this happen with things like ClickUp, uh, Sonnet, they're like very slack, even they're very robust. They do tons of things. And that becomes the problem. We're trying to solve every single problem with everything. And we're trying to get people up and running on that system quickly. We haven't really trained people of how to use it.
[00:01:15] We're just like, Hey, we're going to use this new system to track things. And so people think, Oh, I don't want to use that. It actually slowed people down. It actually made things more complicated. And so that's one of the big issues. I think rolling out a complicated system that's supposed to solve everyone's problems and both not landing, you know, why are we doing this?
[00:01:33] Not training people onto the system and kind of leaving people to sort of sink or swim. Well, the reality is they often swim and then they think, you know, copy like processes are complicated. We don't want to do that. Another issue I think that can make team operations feel complicated is when we haven't really diagnosed, well, what are the problems that we want to solve?
[00:01:53] Um, and so we don't look into that and we think, Oh, we need a new process for this. And then we need to process this. And we [00:02:00] implement a bunch of processes, which feels pretty heavy handed. And then we don't really, again, do the work to train people and I explain the why. So we'll think, Oh, process, like it's so hard to get things done.
[00:02:12] It's so bureaucratic. It's so corporate in this company. And so that can make team operations feel complicated. So for example, um, I was working in a team where we didn't have a system for, for how to track our work. And out of the gate, a lot of the designers that I was working with felt like, well, you know, I don't want to sort of feel like I'm being monitored or, or.
[00:02:34] You know, all my work is sort of under a microscope. I kind of just want to like make sure that, you know, I, I have time to ideate and I'm free. Um, and, and I think one of the assumptions that was right there was that, well, if we sort of kind of lift the hood up and I start looking at how work's getting done, we're going to start kind of, um, making the process too rigid.
[00:02:55] And that assumption is one of those things we want to shift. Because when I introduced the work tracking system and [00:03:00] landed, you know, what's in it for them and how to make it easier, it ended up really making things, you know, worked as intended, making things easier. But we had to first bust that assumption.
[00:03:09] The third thing I think that can run in, that folks can kind of run into, which, which makes team operations feel complicated or. Like it just creates new issues is maybe you've hired a consultant or you have someone working on team operations and they start uncovering all these different problems and they maybe write a report or give you a readout or tell you, um, you got to fix everything about your business.
[00:03:34] Sorry. And, and they give you, uh, the problems without solutions. And I think it's from having worked in tech where, um, especially at a company like Google, like you don't present problems without coming up with solutions. Like that's not helpful. And it's really recognized kind of in the culture of the company that you got to present problems and solutions.
[00:03:54] But I think a lot of times we work with folks and they don't present it that way. Um, [00:04:00] they sort of present the problems and you're supposed to figure it out on your own and then you're left hanging. Or maybe you hire a consultant and the problem diagnosis costs one thing, but the implementation is really where they make their money and they're actually leaving you hanging on that side.
[00:04:12] And that can be pretty frustrating because well, maybe you don't have the, you know, the funds to be able to fund the implementation. And so when we feel like we've been unearthed all these problems that then we have to solve that we don't have the budget or we're not kind of have the skillset to solve it.
[00:04:27] Well, yeah, we can feel like I don't want to even go near team operations. So I get it. And the reason I'm bringing these things up is because, you know, the heartbeat of your team, the way to make things run more smoothly. Is through having re a lot of clarity, as clear as you can being as clear as you can around how to get things done on your team.
[00:04:48] There's really nothing more important. And everything I talk about on managing made simple is about really clarifying the, how we talk about expectations, about delegating, about feedback, about priorities. [00:05:00] All of this ties into how things are done in a team because when team members understand what success looks like, what the priorities are, you know how decisions are made and communicated when we come together as a team and meet when everyone's really clear on that, now we can be firing all cylinders.
[00:05:18] And these things are not complicated. They don't require complicated processes. So I would ask you if you're feeling like work tracking is complicated and approvals are complicated and how we budget or is complicated or all like these kind of little sort of process you related things are feeling complicated.
[00:05:38] I invite you to ask yourself the question, how can I make this simpler? How can I reduce steps? How can I make things more clear? And really the solve here, this perspective shift that moving into simplicity, this is going to come from a lot more communication. And I think one of the biggest things, the biggest gaps on teams is [00:06:00] we assume a lot of people understand this, you know, like with the tracking system.
[00:06:03] Maybe some people have used that system before, but other people haven't. Maybe some people have been on the team longer and so they kind of understand your shorthand for what you want for something and other team members don't. The biggest way we create this clarity is through communication. And that's why I create literally a playbook for businesses on how their business runs, how, how we get things done, how decisions are made, right?
[00:06:27] How we track work, how we measure success, because we have to translate what is in our mind as that leader, as that visionary, as that manager. into how it's actually going to get done. And people need specific examples. They need to understand, you know, what we mean, what the nuances are and how it applies to our specific job.
[00:06:48] And so that's what I want you to think through, you know, the way to make things simpler, the way to reduce complexity with, you know, how your team is operating. Is by mapping out, is by getting it on [00:07:00] paper, because that's where we can see, well, where are things complicated? So we want to ask ourselves, what is feeling complicated?
[00:07:07] What are the sticking points? Is it that people don't understand the process? Is it that we've really unearthed too many things that we can deal with? We need different kinds of support. Is that we're just talking problems, not solutions. What is that gap? Where are you feeling like, I don't really want to dig into this, but honestly.
[00:07:23] If it's that you feel like, Oh, that's something we can solve later, I urge you to reframe that thinking because you know, the, the, we, we, we always want to be looking proactively as business owners, as managers is how can we make our team better? The worst time to solve a problem with how your work is getting done on your team is when four or five people have left the team and it's like a huge disaster and you're also trying to hire and you're having multiple people doing covering two people's jobs.
[00:07:51] That's a lot of times when folks reach out, when folks want more manager development training, when folks want team workshops, when folks want something like the ops [00:08:00] playbook is when there's a burning fire that they're trying to put out. Actually the best time to work on this is when things are working effectively so that you can keep that ship running and keep that ship humming along.
[00:08:11] So if you're feeling like I don't know really when and how to invest, the moment is now because that's what's going to get you. able to hit that next milestone. And when we start to plateau, it's often because we didn't fix things that were, you know, really sort of easy course corrections earlier. And now we're having to move a lot bigger of a ship.
[00:08:33] We're having to make a lot bigger of changes that feel costly. But I'll tell you, even that person that like looked under the hood and then covered all these problems. Think about if you were able to identify those when they were little kind of baby sprouts instead of being kind of monumental problems that now are really hard to solve.
[00:08:51] Take for example, um, a couple of folks have left your team and you're understaffed and you're having a difficulty hiring. Okay. There are a [00:09:00] lot of warning signs for a team that someone is thinking about leaving. Okay. For example, a team member is asking you, um, a lot about, you know, career growth opportunities and, and promotion and taking on more responsibilities.
[00:09:14] That is often a signal that they're feeling a little bit unfulfilled in their role. Maybe they're feeling underestimated, right? When someone says, Hey, I'd like to take on more, I think a lot of times that means, you know, I want to grow. I want to maybe make more money. Or, I don't think you're fully utilizing me in the full capacity.
[00:09:29] I know for myself, when I said to a manager, Hey, um, I'd love to get involved with this thing or have some ideas about this new space. I was signaling, I'm more capable than you're, than you're like allowing me to be, to be demonstrating. Let me try this. So that's a sign that folks often share early on.
[00:09:47] Another sign is if someone's work quality is starting to dip, right? They're starting to think, Oh, I don't really know if I like this anymore. If you notice that, that's an opportunity to check in with that person saying, Hey, You know, I love the work you're doing. [00:10:00] You're, you're usually kind of, you know, delivering at this output.
[00:10:02] I've noticed a little bit of a shift. Is there anything I can do to better support you? Okay. So recognizing it early and saying something then, um, another thing could be someone is feeling fresh or maybe they're, they're covering for another role or they're, they're feeling overcapacity and they're thinking, Hey, I'm not getting paid to do two jobs.
[00:10:19] What's this about? And so that can create someone thinking about, um, looking for another job. When that kind of thing comes up, it's a great idea to talk with someone and say, Hey, I know you're covering for someone, you know, here's the plan to find a new hire. You know, I, I, here's my plan to make sure you're compensated or recognized for this work.
[00:10:37] Right. Whatever that is showing someone, I see you, I recognize it. You're not being taken for granted. Okay. That, those three examples are something that if we identified that issue earlier, we could have prevented someone from leaving. And so then we're not solving the problem at the stage of I'm missing four key team members and I can't run my business where we, we solve it way earlier.
[00:10:59] So [00:11:00] that's the reason we want to look at how our team is being run. That's the reason we do that because if we're thinking, ah, it's so complicated, I want to get under the hood. Then there's all these things that were actually really simple that we could have solved. And that's the thing. I think if, if you're feeling like it's over complicated, if you're feeling like whatever you're going to introduce is adding too much complexity that you need a whole person to run it or roll it out, that means that's a signal the solution isn't the right one.
[00:11:24] Because I assure you from over a decade of experience driving team operations in large companies that even when, you know, there's so many moving parts, so many stakeholders, so many things going on, the solutions were always so much simpler than we, we made them out to be. And that when you make simple shifts, you get 80 percent of the way there.
[00:11:45] And wouldn't it be pretty freaking awesome if you get 80 percent of the way there on all these little things that came up, right? We think we want to use that complicated strategic thinking for, you know, where our business is going to grow, but we don't have to [00:12:00] overcomplicate, you know, making it easier to get work done.
[00:12:02] We really don't. And so I urge you to, instead of being like, Oh, I don't want to look at the operations to embrace it. And say, okay, how can I look at this? What are a couple of shifts we could make? And, and, and lean in on getting that support if you need it. Because you know, as that visionary, as the big picture thinker, your zone of genius is in driving that business to the next level in, in what are the big ideas.
[00:12:25] So get that support you need on the operations, get someone to help you map it out. Hey, that's what I do. I love helping that visionary really translate what's in their mind into getting it on paper. And when you do that, now you have a plan that everybody understands and all of your team is going to be bought into.
[00:12:41] And that's how you scale. See you next time.