Read time: 20 minutes
Read time: 20 minutes
In this episode, we talk about some of the challenges leaders face communicating change to their teams, aligning the OKRs to unleash growth, and the tools used by Google, Disney, and Pixar to tap into the talent and drive the most effective team meetings. We also touch on topics like transparency, trust, and frameworks to create high-performance teams.
To discuss more, we are joined by an expert, Joseph Trodden. Joseph works with entrepreneurs who have reached an inflection point in their business journey where they want to move away from being at the epicentre of everything and towards building an organisation.
Listen to the podcast for the conversation with leaders from across the world to discuss the forces, opportunities, and challenges that are shaping the future of sales and marketing.
Lee Hackett 00:07 Hi everyone. Welcome to the B2B Game Changers podcast. I’m your host, Lee Hackett. B2B Game Changers is the result of my hunger to help all companies of shapes and sizes unlock the value in their business. This podcast is my attempt to synthesize what I’ve learned in the process of working with some of the most successful companies and individuals in the world. We’ll be featuring leaders from across the world to discuss the forces, opportunities, and challenges that are shaping the future of sales and marketing
Lee Hackett 00:46 Hi everyone. Welcome to the B2B Game Changers podcast. Got a good one for you this week. Really interested. And probably going to be a better therapy for me this as well. You’ve got Joe Trodden joining us today, josephtrodden.com. We’re going to talk about high performance in particular with teams. And I think, as a business owner at any level, this is going to be an issue. This is going to be a challenge. It always is, always has been. But the good news is, there’s experts out there like Joe, who were here to help. So, as the purpose of this podcast is to get, you know, really interesting people in and talk about these kinds of topics and some of them kind of difficult topics. Joe, just want to thank you for joining us today.
Joe Trodden 01:28 You’re welcome. Thanks very much for having me, Lee. Great to be here.
Lee Hackett 01:30 Cool. So Joe, let’s start at the beginning first and then talk a little bit about how did you get into what you’re doing now working with entrepreneurs and teams to get high performance.
Joe Trodden 01:42 The short story is go to school, do quite well, go into a law degree because I wasn’t really thinking about who I am or what I was supposed to be doing with my life, just that you get good grades, so you go and decide like law. So, I did a law degree, came out, then to IT for a year because everybody will say that. I wake up about like, early 30s just walking into work, could’ve been the same route to work that I used to take those days. And I just thought, “I can’t continue with this, like, what have I doing?” I don’t care what happens at this IT job today. So, from there, I’d always been interested in people’s heads, looked at mental health for a while, but it became not exactly nurturing but it wasn’t about like high performance. It was about getting people just back to a place of like a baseline of almost safety. That wasn’t really right for me. I’d always been interested in creating change and business was the way to do it.
Joe Trodden 02:44 So, the more I sort of explored it, the more it was about people’s mindsets, how they operate. And then using business as the mechanism to affect change and bring ideas to life, these are the things that really exciting. So from here, I worked with an accelerator then a couple of bits and pieces in between, but I worked with an accelerator, which is quite a pivotal change point for me. There was a guy in there, Jim Duffy, who really opened my eyes to mindset and performance. And from there, I split off and did my own thing. And now, I focus specifically on a particular set of entrepreneurs who are going through one of their, what I call, inflection points, one of their growth stages. I don’t technically work with enormous businesses because they move too slow for me, man. I like businesses that are going out and making things happen, and that build teams, which is part of the conversation that we’re going to have today.
Lee Hackett 03:35 Now, definitely. What made you go on your own, you know, working in an accelerator, which is I guess a lot of kind of entrepreneurs and startups, and fast-moving businesses? And then, what was the lead to go and do it yourself?
Joe Trodden 03:49 There was a push because we were supported by a bank. And honestly, it was great. The support they gave, fantastic. But then, they took the accelerator inhouse, which made a lot of sense, so they could align it with their own objectives and KPIs. But I just don’t work well in large organizations because of it, like I said, the pace and things happening. You need a fingerprint and a lock for you to change a color on a document. I get it and you need to do that at certain level, but it’s not for me. I’ve always just had my own version and my own way of doing things. I really like to take 100% on something and then create something from that to stand on the shoulders of giants. So really, it’s about I want to work with a certain set of people, and I want to use certain tools and methods and ways with them, and to do that, you’ve got to strike out in your own, to do your own way. So, I always have that drive to create my own thing.
Joe Trodden 04:50 The best way for me to do that, I found, is through working with entrepreneurs to do their thing. I wouldn’t actually class myself as an entrepreneur, because I’m not trying to build a large organization. I like the agility and the multiple different scenarios and arenas that I get to operate. But yeah, you can just choose your own path the same as any entrepreneur can.
Lee Hackett 05:13 Yeah, it’s interesting. There is a soft difference between a big business and a smaller business. It’s interesting because, I read a lot of books, I know you do, too, and over the last 10 years, what I’ve noticed is a lot of the bigger businesses are trying to use the methodologies that are been born in startup businesses and then tried to take that kind of template and plug it into a big businesses is really, really different, difficult. We see that all the time with our clients in terms of that whole machine is just a bigger machine, a bigger challenge, and often dressed up as change, which is that word “change”, which I hate, change management in particular because it’s so generic, meaningless. It’s kind of being a trash can for kind of everything in business. So, I want to explore that more and I also want to explore the tools because I think that’s unique about you, we’ve known each other for a while now, but it’s also unique about your approach. I think, in this industry or the industry that you’re in, in terms of consulting around change, teams and high performance, there’s too much talk and theory, and less practical.
Lee Hackett 06:32 That’s definitely something about this podcast. We want to make it a resource where it’s really getting practical and exploring some interesting ideas. So look, let me start in my experiences as an entrepreneur and the business owner working in big businesses, small businesses. I like both but I am definitely more of a special force type CEO, small teams. That’s my definition of a team, kind of a high performance, special forces. That’s what I want to be. That’s what I want to develop and grow. Getting there is the difficult bit. From my own experience this morning, I had a team meeting and I won’t go into too much specifics, but I think it’s a very, very difficult thing to do because it is about mindset. It is about understanding where everybody’s at and understanding some of the challenges. One of the things I’m really keen on to explore, this topic of transparency. I want to get your view on that. For me, that’s a fundamental piece of the jigsaw, but a very, very difficult thing to actually do in practical terms because of the way we work. So, can you talk a little bit about that and transparency, and how you use that, and maybe what you do with your clients?
Joe Trodden 07:57 So, one of the key things here, I mean, I want only to do much about the benefits of teams, right? Everybody should know the benefit of those, the different perspectives they’re going to bring, the different experiences, cognitive diversity, the way people interpret the world and think. You want that. You don’t want a team of clones because nothing will happen. You know, you need all of those different perspectives. Some of the challenges around in getting the most out of that team is this whole sense of identity and true transparency. So, if you look at the thing that Google talked about in psychological safety, that our team should feel the psychological safety, that they can voice things, that they’re not going to be attacked, that it’s okay to admit mistakes, the theoretical premise of that, yes, I 100% agree with, but that is incredibly hard to actually implement. Because what you’ve got is people’s sense of identity around the table. I often ask about, like, “Who are they bringing in? Who’s the person that’s coming into this meeting, and what is on their agenda?” Because if they are coming in with them, they are protecting, or they fight them. They’ve got their own objectives and that’s what they there to defend.
Joe Trodden 09:20 Every conversation they want to have is to defend that they’re doing a good job, that other people aren’t, or this meeting should be geared towards me obtaining my objectives rather than actually thinking to level up from that about what does the company actually need. So, you’ve got this sense of identity that comes in. And of course, the power dynamics as well. I work with growing companies and there’s a group typically of what I call “the originals”, and they call themselves that as well inadvertently. So, the ones you’ve been there from the start, that seems to confer some sort of unspoken length of tenure about how much they can challenge in their position. It’s not even relative to the hierarchical structure of the organization or experience or anything like that. It’s this length of tenure thing. So, you’ve got this group of originals, and then it’s trying to integrate the new key people into that. So, you’ve got like all these various identities that are flowing subconsciously into that dialogue.
Joe Trodden 10:27 So, when you’re asking people to be transparent, you’re putting all us out on the table, right? You’re saying, “What’s the fear that you’re bringing in here? What’s the thing that you’re trying to protect in your identity? Who are you around this table?” And they are very difficult questions for people to want to answer. That takes a massive commitment to say, “Yeah, I do actually think because I’ve been here longer than you, I can overrule you.” I mean, don’t be saying that, there’s this stuff that’s happening under the table. This is why transparency is quite hard, but it can be done if you have people to commit.
Lee Hackett 11:00 Definitely. Just to explore that a bit, because I’ve seen that in my own experience in big companies as well as smaller companies, but it definitely is more prevalent in smaller companies where you have that kind of founder syndrome. I kind of build in teams as close as you can get to a family environment. At the beginning of the journey, everyone’s aligned. Everyone’s together. Everyone is sense of direction and everyone wants scale. The reality of that is to scale, is going to have to change because you can’t do what you were doing in the first six months three years later five times as big. So, you kind of have these issues, like you’re talking about in terms of meetings, “I’ve been hear longer.” Maybe there’s other people in the room who may be perceived to be smarter, perceived to be doing a different job, and kind of don’t care that you’ve been here 10 years. They actually just want results.
Lee Hackett 12:15 Like in a family, you’re trying to keep everybody together as we go through those changes, one of the qualities that I’ve kind of tried to zoom in on or try to focus on to achieve that is just trying to preach, sorry, preach don’t work, promote open-mindedness. Just be open-minded and then try to find those individuals because it’s not for everyone. Some people will need to exit the business. Some people will need to exit the team because you’re trying to do different things. But those individuals who could just be open minded have a great chance, in my experience. It’s not the kind of thing that you see when you’re working with teams.
Joe Trodden 12:58 Yeah, and depending on the founder, sometimes there is … I don’t know if misplaced loyalty is exactly the right term, but the people that have been with them quite a long time it can be quite hard at times, certainly, to exit them or even to pull them up to say, “Look, this isn’t the same as it was.” You raise a great point there, it’s not about going, “This is how it worked at the start so we just do that at five times.” You don’t. The dynamics are completely going to change and the ownership, and people get more specialized. Things are going to change and it’s the question of whether they want to adapt with that. I mean, if you look yourself like a villain, you don’t have somebody who goes out and does the market and function and stays with the company long-term. If the person who goes in to run the market and function when they’re at this type of size and that type of turnover, and when they cross the threshold, then they leave, they go and do the same rule in another company that size because it’s a very specific type of role.
Joe Trodden 14:06 So, rather than trying to sort of play catch up in terms of their learning, that’s not what they want to do. They want to be the person who will take you from B to C, or from C to D. Just about like modern work as well. That’s why I say I like to work with a set of entrepreneurs because I recognize what those challenges are. So like I said, sometimes it’s about a misplaced loyalty. The problem can be as well that it just creeps up. It’s not like a power dynamic fit, it’s just fear. They just appear because then you can deal with it. It just kind of creeps into the conversation that, and at some point, there is like a line in the sand of, “Hey, this is what’s really going on here. What we want to do about this situation?” Sometimes it requires incremental change that can mess things up, and really that passion and being honest about what they really want. It’s like me leaving, that was great. I love working for entrepreneurial spark and it would have been quite cozy, I guess, to stay there without good exposure to more entrepreneurs but, it wasn’t who I wanted to become. But I’ve also been through various, you know, I’ve run my own business, I have worked in various same, other jobs. I was up for the change. If it wasn’t giving me who I was wanting to become, I wasn’t afraid of like leaving and doing something else. So yeah, I think it’s a line in the sand sometimes that needs to be drawn.
Lee Hackett 15:36 I’ve definitely experienced that myself. I think the open mindedness for me, and this isn’t, “This is a dynamic, we should state this.” “This isn’t a dynamic, that is just about founders.” This is about managing teams, right? So, I could take over a business or an individual listening to this podcast could be taking over a team and some of those team members might have been there for 10 years, and it’s exactly the same dynamic. One of the things that I said, open-mindedness is one of the things I’ve tried to distill down into, you know, what are the characteristics of open mindedness. I think you’d then have a chance if that individual in that team is pining for what it was like, “We used to do things this way and everything was great. It was perfect. There was never a problem, and everything was great.”
Lee Hackett 16:35 Or the other side of it is the, I’ll use one of your terms in terms of these individuals become saboteurs then, I’ve seen unbelievable examples of people who literally cut their own legs off underneath them just to not support some of those changes. I kind of step back sometimes and go, “Wow.” That’s actually, like, literally cutting your own legs beneath you just because you don’t want to support that other individual or that decision, or that direction. It’s crazy.
Joe Trodden 17:12 Again, for me, that’s identity and power dynamics, the identity if I knew who I was in the old world, but I had the status. I had this amount of knowledge. I had a modus operandi, like all of these certainties conferred a certain status on me and an identity. How do you let that go? Because if you’re talking about these growth organizations, it is going to change. If you are in that large organization, you can stay in that identity for pretty much as long as you want, if that’s what you want to do. When you get to a certain size in an organization, you don’t want the people that are always striving. You don’t want everybody to be like that. You could do it with a few set of players, then you know they’re going to do a role for you, they’re going to do it really well. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about passengers; I’m talking about people who are called “rockstars.” Who was it that came up with that? I think it was him, some radical kind of I don’t know, but they talk about rockstars and shooting stars is the one I use. The rockstars are the ones who do an amazing job for you. They also want to learn more about how to do their particular role better. The shooting stars are the ones who do a pretty good job at each level, but always want to be pushing through. And you need these combinations, right?
Joe Trodden 18:29 But, you need people to be aligned to the strategic aims of the organization. So, when you were talking about family, I know we talked before about Reid Hoffman’s Alliance, the co-founder of LinkedIn, and he said that families and friends just didn’t work as a metaphor for what it was like in the business. Allies was, “We’re probably not going to be together forever, but it’s about seeing why we’re together, help us with the aims of the company, and we’ll help you do the things that you want to do.” And this really helps with that alignment and making that choice. So, if you’ve got a strategic timeline that goes out say for three, six months, “Okay, so this is where the business is going. Who do you think you need to become by the six-month point?” “Oh, I’ll just be the same person I’m now.” “Okay. There isn’t a job for that person in this reality, though. This is a strategic timeline, right, so that job won’t exist. So, do we need to have a conversation about you perhaps finding something else?”
Joe Trodden 19:27 The shooting stars, even the rockstars as well, but the others will find a way, well ‘find a way’ is the wrong term there. The others will ‘want’ a way that they can develop. If you create that culture of perpetual development, they’re looking at that align to timeline going, “Yeah, I can be better at public speaking here.” or “I want to learn more about management or even that skill set, that technical skill set. I want to master that.” And these are the tools that really help people to align, because I talked to you before about people make the choice. You don’t say to them, “You need to be this.” It’s is about, “This is what the company needs, is that who you want to become?” And then, the ownership is on them. So, if you talk about practical tools. Again, it’s a good book, The Alliance, but that whole thing about ‘the choice is yours’. We talked about no excuses as well. We share that as a pretty much our favorite mantra to go, “This is on you.” You take ownership. You take responsibility. That’s a really good tool, so look it up.
Lee Hackett 20:29 I agree with that. I think that’s definitely one more we’ll put in as we will put everything into the show notes. I think we’re both fans of Ray Dalio. Although, that’s probably at the extreme out of a lot of this stuff and to have bought certainly, definitely my end. One of the things in that book that was profound for me and one that we have in our businesses is this concept of how you deal with what you don’t know is more important than kind of anything else. That’s why it keeps coming back to me to that it was a definition of being open-minded. I understand that in this team, and I said this team could be a board or it could be a marketing team or a sales team, is I don’t know at all and I’m more interested in what I don’t know, and I’m willing to kind of put the ideas out there. I’m willing to let people kick the tires and I’m going to be completely open-minded but I’m going to respect the people around me. It is a massive, massive issue and what I’ve seen actually make a lot of sense for people and make some big improvements.
Lee Hackett 21:47 So, that’s definitely one that people also should read as well, principles, if you really want to get into the hardcore of this stuff. Transparency in particular is a topic, I’ve talked to you about this offline, but it is a culture. Culture is often another one of those words that is kind of banded around. What does it mean? A definition of culture for me is transparency and has to be worked out over a period of time. It isn’t something that’s going to happen quick enough. I’ve experienced that in my own businesses. And also, transparency with customers, transparency with your partners, all of these kinds of things. It’s a philosophy rather than just a statement.
Joe Trodden 22:34 The key thing for me increasingly is about these mechanisms to encourage people to think in a certain way. So, if you look at A.G. Lafley, the CEO of Procter and Gamble, Playing To Win is his strategy book. It’s not bad. It’s dated, but there’s some really good stuff in there about how they run Procter and Gamble and the changes he made there. There’s something great in that about his leadership team. So, he noticed that, again, he had all these brilliant people around the table, but it just became a battleground. So, he got them to shift to dynamic from advocacy, which is where you come in with an idea or a presentation and your main says, “I am right. You know, I am right, I’ve got this thing. I’m right and I’m going to defend.” to what you call the center of inquiry, which was, “This is what I think is the right thing, but I’m probably missing something. Can you help me to see what that is?”
Joe Trodden 23:35 Now, that is a really small change but massively powerful. Because now, instead of that thing being you’re on trial at the front, you’re supposed to be saying, “I know that I’m missing something because I only bring in one perspective.” And it really helps if people understand their identity and their cognitive style because they know the things that they will miss. Like for example, I know that I always want to close the loop on things, I always want to move forward, move forward, and I don’t let things emerge enough. I know that I don’t always put people’s feelings at the top of my agenda, about how people are actually going to feel because of my progress move move. So then, I know that because I’ve got a certain style, and it’s good. By definition, I’m going to have these blind spots, right. So, him having his board through me and saying, “That’s the position to adopt. Here’s what I’ve got.” And as good a point, don’t show up with sloppy work, “Here’s what I’ve got, but I’m probably missing something. Can you help me to see what that is?” I mean, that’s an awesome shift in terms of changing the conversational dynamic.
Lee Hackett 24:40 Yeah, massively powerful. And then, again, I think Ray Dalio talks about something similar in terms of just be willing to put it out there and let people kick the tires and who’s the most believable in the room. Believability for me is another real practical tool, certainly for decision-making. But behind all of that, which is again, something I want to deep dive into is this concept of crucial conversations. You provide me with that kind of badge, right? That’s a bumper sticker kind of management technique. They go on, but don’t. Do not go on and off in a business. The kind of framework of trying to set out a conversation. It’s not for everyone, this kind of thing, because actually, thinking about every conversation you have, what type of conversation is it, what outcomes do I want out of it, but in business practicality setting, it’s so, so powerful. We’ve experienced that. We’ve seen that in our own business in a way where you help us with that. But can you talk a little bit more about that and crucial conversations, the tools, the techniques, how to set up a conversation and educate the teams?
Joe Trodden 26:05 So, you’re looking at crucial conversation. These are the ones that are tough. So, you’ve got difference of opinion that likely to be emotionally charged. What happens in that is that people will either go to what’s called silence or violence. They will either attack. Say, I’ve got a problem with you, then I voiced that and then you’re going to react in a certain way. And again, it’s your amygdala, the fear center in your brain, it’s all to do your identity again. I don’t like this situation. Either you go with violence if you feel, “You said I’m not smart enough. You say that I’ve done something wrong.” or depending on your psychological makeup, you go, “Oh, no. I’ve done something wrong. I want out of this situation, though.” So again, this is all about identity, right? All from how you react to certain situations, but your amygdala is doing it.
Joe Trodden 26:58 A quick sidebar on your amygdala, though, is that it holds memories that you can rewire. So, in your amygdala, if you think about public speaking as an example, people are terrified of that. You can’t just say, “Well, I’m just not going to be terrified of that anymore.” Tada! It doesn’t work like that. You need to put yourself in that situation repeatedly, which is what Ray Dalio’s is doing with his company, right? He’s repeatedly putting people in those difficult situations. You either adapt to that because you want that or you leave because the psychological load of that it’s too much for you. So, you have to protect your take. So, if you have a difficult conversation, amygdala flares up, you will attack or you will withdraw. And then, you’ll technically either try and force a point of view, so you don’t get any commonality. There’s no ownership. It just becomes a hierarchy or you dilute what you’re going to see, so you don’t really make the point but you’re like, “Well, I had the conversation but it didn’t go exactly the way I wanted.” So, the key thing with that is about narratives. And first of all, agreeing that, “Look, if we are going to make progress, we’re going to have difficult conversations.”
Joe Trodden 28:09 The motive is the important thing. If the motive is, “I am going to get one over on you,” forget it. “I don’t want you to come near me.” If you’re in a facility but just trying to score your own, keep your own scoreboard. But if the motive is, “We’ve got a common goal.” Again, this all comes back to the framework, the strategic framework. “We’ve got a common goal that we’re trying to get to.” And this is the story that I’ve got about what’s happening at the moment, not, “Here is what’s happening. Here’s what you’re doing. Here’s the situation. My objective reality is not yours.” We’ve got the difficult scenario that’s happening up, “Here is my story.” Too often people will give an opinion without narrative. An opinion is an endpoint of a thought process. So, if you start talking about opinions, it’s just another battleground. The crucial conversations are saying, “We’ve got this objective we’re trying to get to. We’re going to have a difficult conversation.
Joe Trodden 29:06 To prepare you for that, we talked about that framework that we’re going to use. I feel that we’ve got a level of trust where I can use it. And, you may not like what I’ve got to say, but I feel it’s important. Here’s my story.” Not, “Here is my opinion about … Here is the story that I’ve got, and why I think that’s going to cause us problems on our roadmap.” So, we have this dysfunction in the team and if we don’t have people aligned, I don’t think we’re going to be able to approach that customer in the right way because it will depend to who the speak to. So, I don’t think that teams are trained enough. You know, “I think we might have a problem there.” “Don’t say that about team Bravo.” No. It’s about, “Okay, tell me more about that. What’s your story?” And then you come to this commonality at the end. The key thing with that, more ever so important, man, honestly, more of so important, and that’s back to identity that if you’re there to just protect yourself and your faith term and your identity, your sense himself, and you will do that on a subconscious level as well, that’s going to be really hard to do.
Joe Trodden 30:05 If you can follow a framework and get people to agree to things like that, what a difference it makes. I mean, I do it. We’ve had that situation where I’m going, “Look, we need to have a crucial conversation.” The other person knows exactly what it is. They know that my motive is sound, that I’ve got the best interest of the company and then at heart, but it’s going to be something that may jar with them. But we’re ready for it. We’re psychologically prepared. And we know we’re going to try to work to this common outcome on the other side. So again, that’s a really great book and great framework to use. Definitely one for the shownotes.
Lee Hackett 30:43 Yeah, definitely. While you were talking, I’m thinking, “How many businesses really focus on this area?” And it’s basically none. This is what it’s all about. I have a bit of a background in sport, and if I go into the professional arena of sports, I predominantly know my end goal needs to be. If I’m an Olympic athlete, I know in four years, I might have the Olympics. And I’ve got my moment in time, and I’m going to work back with my trainer, what actions I need to take. In a team environment, it’s the same thing. You have exactly the same characteristics. The kind of dressing room after the match, it’s often where a lot of those crucial conversations will go on.
Lee Hackett 31:37 But in business, which is kind of the same process, the same methodology, these kinds of things don’t get said. We may have and that’s hard, “Do we have a clear goal, a clear outcome, a clear strategy?” Then, once that’s in place, it’s, “Okay, are we working towards that collectively?” which is absolutely crucial. And then, “Is every decision we take off their part of moving us forward towards the outcome?” You know, you and I are a fan of OKRs, which I’m actually going to do a podcast in the next few weeks with someone on OKRs and that align back to that. But these things are very, very difficult and time-consuming. So, it’s kind of no surprise that virtually no time in businesses get spent in this area, but the impact is huge. Absolutely massive.
Joe Trodden 32:32 Sure. I mean, it’s this thing of how much grown do you want end? This is another challenge during conversations and working in teams. First off, that point there about the alignment, if you don’t have that, you can forget it. You’ve got to have the team all good. Your leadership team should be able to tell you what the strategy is. Not like, “I, as the CEO, can present the strategy.” So, you’ve got a leadership team of six. Everybody should be able to give that presentation. “Okay, they can use the PowerPoint. They could use the notes.” Everybody should be able to explain what that is and why. Because if you don’t have that, then when you do run into things like the difficult conversations, you can’t point to any objective. You can’t point to the OKRs and go, “Yeah, we’re trying to hit this number. So, the story I’ve got in my head is, if we continue on that path, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that. What’s the story that you’ve got?” Bang! What a totally different conversation that is you’re not doing your job properly. “Because I’m doing this and here’s my sales target or here’s my whatever the target is they’re working towards.” If you can always pull that back to “Here’s the main strategy and here’s my narrative about how we are off the thing that we agreed that we were going to do, that’s not up for debate anymore. We’ve had a debate around that strategic timeline. That’s what we’re doing.” So then, it’s the conversation and my story, it’s, “What have you got? I’m probably missing something. What’s the thing that you’ve got? Totally different conversations, but it’s about giving people those tools, and everyone subscribing to that way of working and that’s got to be explicit.
Lee Hackett 34:22 Yeah, I think the key is you’ve got to give people the tools. In my own experience working with clients, working in businesses, and in all of the best circumstances, there’s been a relatively detailed … and I like detail. I’ve become to like detail. A relatively detailed, let’s say, strategy operating model or whatever you kind of want to call it, plan, sales plan, marketing plan, get it 90% down the line. I think that’s the leader’s job, right? Put something on the table. Be willing. But once you put it on the table, you’re going to be called dictatorial. But that’s part of the kind of circumstances and say, “Right, let’s kick the tires of this.” as you said, right? Like, “I don’t know it all. I’m open-minded, but this is what I think we should do.”
Lee Hackett 35:22 And then, get that alignment around it, and then provide people with the tools. So, you now got a strategic plan in place. Now, let’s provide people with the tools to not be threatened every time something comes up in regard to sharing numbers or sharing performance or looking at someone else’s performance. And as you said, that amygdala comes back and it instantly hits you and you go into that kind of threat mode. That’s the key I think, because in my own experience, I’ve seen individual’s personal development and who want to learn, reading books, thinking about these things consistently but there’s very few of them. Sort of at a scale, you’ve got to provide those tools. It’s absolutely crucial because CEOs or leaders are great at expecting things. People forget it. I’ve experienced that in my own career. Expectation management or expecting people just to get it was definitely one of my philosophies at the beginning of management and I learned the hard way there.
Lee Hackett 36:35 But, before we get into the tools, I wanted to talk about some of the practical tools that we’re talking about here. What are the kind of concepts that the listeners can kind of do more research in or reach out to you on because the this is where I think it becomes really valuable because it’s easy to watch lyrical about this stuff over and over again? But what are the practical tools? I want to touch on this subject of honesty. Again, I get your view on it. It’s an overused word. I think you’ve pointed to some of this already. It’s my honesty, you know, when I think I’m being honest, that’s my perspective but not the other individual’s perspective. So, the difference between transparency, “This is what I think. This is what I see. This is the story that I see.” and not presenting as, “This is what’s happening. This is what I honestly believe for you to be doing.” Do you differentiate them? Is that a value in differentiating them in practical terms in meetings with teams or one-on-one management?
Joe Trodden 37:54 The evidence is important. So, OKRs is a system. It says, “Did we do this or not?” You know, rather than it being an ambiguous, “Yeah, we’re kind of making progress.” You know, like having the clarity of that target. And being able to have the good reason if you’re off track, and not wait until the deadline to say, you know, as another cultural mechanism, as soon as you’ve got a clear target, as soon as you don’t think you’re going to hit that, go and speak to your leader about it. you know, go and speak to the team about it. Don’t wait until the meeting to go, “You only got that to 50%.” And you knew that a fortnight ago. So that again, this is a bit of a cultural thing to go in there. So, if we look at the honesty, you need that evidence in there. But again, if we’re talking about the dynamics in the team, the permission to use clumsy language, the more of the intention is there, then the group can call out.
Joe Trodden 38:48 Are you doing this x or y? Because, that’s not what we’ve all agreed to. I don’t know if this will directly answer your question, but I think it’s an interesting thing to be called out meetings, about, we touched on like positional and generative conversations. So, the positional conversation, you imagine yourself certainly in your leadership team or any team. So, positional conversation is, “I’ve got a position, you’ve got a position, and we’re not moving.” It’s like lawyers in court. They’re not trying to convince each other. They’re trying to convince the decision maker. So, if you’re having a positional conversation, you need to have those at times, just call out for what it is and not “Let’s, you and I, have a debate for an hour.” And at the end of it, we’re just, you know, no one’s moved an edge.
Lee Hackett 39:36 I’ve had exactly that this morning. Right. In a meeting. Yeah.
Joe Trodden 39:42 Then you can call that out, if people know that’s what that is. So there was a really interesting, there’s bit called dialogue which is really good. So, William Isaac’s talks about this thing with them. I think it was called Lion Foods in this undercover reporter agency. So, Lion Foods were up to some misdeeds, you know, food production company. So these undercover reporters went, and Lion Foods actually won a case against them, because although they exposed them, they committed fraud by applying to go in as workers. So, there’s this big case, but it’s a talk to who gets them on. And he says that what they agreed to do was to talk about the wider picture, like the ethics of what they were doing and why they would do that, and how both parties could benefit. So basically, where could the line be between being held to account and the media using spending tactics to. But that’s not what happened, right? They just had a conversation where they were like, “You guys did some bad stuff in your factory.” “Oh, yeah. But you guys committed fraud to get in there.” It’s a positional conversation.
Joe Trodden 40:50 So, five minutes into that, you can be going, “Are we trying to learn anything new in this conversation? Is there anything that you think you might be missing from your position?” And if the answer’s no, well shut up then! Because we’ve heard your position, we get it. We all get it. If you’re having a generative conversation, then you’re saying like, “We’ve touched on before. I don’t have everything. I don’t have the full picture. I don’t have all the answers.” These things are not easy. I’m talking about this like, you can just go in and go. Everyone can have crucial conversations because there’s a book on it and a framework. Everybody can talk about their identity. You can just use positional. One of the key things is like, don’t try and change everything at once. But if you can have that moment, that’s five minutes and going, and it’s not an attack. It’s just going, “Have you got a position on that? Do you think there’s anything left for you to learn about this that may sway your possession?” “No.” “What about you?” “No.” “So, whose decision is it?” Decisions made and then move on. That’s a thing when you were talking about just such a powerful tool, because it’s really simple and it just gets people to stop and think like, “Are you trying to learn anything new here or if you got like a concrete position?” Either’s fine, but just so we know, and we know what we can do this conversation from here.
Lee Hackett 42:12 Have you experienced the kind of people think that they’re becoming dehumanized by these kinds of everything’s got a framework, everything’s got a position, we’re setting out, you know, this is the conversation that we’re going to have? For me, this is why I know, I think it’s Amazon that don’t use PowerPoints, right? They also write documents and we have a topic at the moment in our business which is quite a big strategic decision. And what I said, “Look, rather than let’s talk about it, let’s put together a paper. I’d like to understand everybody’s views on paper.” Because, it’s always easy to input the cost of talking is very little. And then, what happens is what you’re talking about before, it’s kind of shooting from the hip.
Lee Hackett 43:04 You know, “This my instant reaction and I’m going to shoot from the hip because this is what I think you’re doing.” And actually, the value of that is very little. What people have said to be in a passive lock, everything’s now dehumanized as a mechanism to it. It’s kind of got half and back to the past again, right? And this is, as we’ve said from the outset, maybe not for everyone and maybe why businesses don’t touch it, or actually go towards it, see how difficult it is and then kind of back away and go, “Ah, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing before.” Maybe dehumanizing is, that’s how it was framed to me. But you see, is that an outcome of possibly implementing these tools?
Joe Trodden 43:51 I get the principle and I think, again, if you look at a large organization, they’re so afraid of somebody seeing the wrong thing to somebody, whether that’s because there’s the politics or whether it’s to do with the fear that there’ll be a case against them for you know, some… look at Bridgewater, right. So if you look at Bridgewater and you’ve got people on iPads, knowing the live feedback while somebody is talking, and by the way, your meetings being recorded, so that everybody can watch it later and give you feedback on it. I mean, I don’t know what their HR policies are like but that’s what people have subscribed to. We depend on the culture. I think that when you talk about dehumanizing, I do understand that. When I talk about my identity before, I’m like, “Yes, a framework. No, there’s a structure that we can think and operate in magic killer.” It can happen. It’s quite difficult, unless there is like a name that you can give to something. Like there’s a thing that ‘if you can’t say it, you can’t think it.’ If you can’t actually give like, “This is what the situation is,” it’s just a really difficult abstraction to manage.
Joe Trodden 45:07 So, it probably is a bit of a blind spot for me in terms of when you say to understand what you’re getting out there with weight. “All right, everybody stop. We’re having this type of conversation now. So, here are the rules. Everybody subscribe to this.” If you can get the balance right, the goal, this is it. Everybody’s like, “We’ve got a position. It feels like you’re having a positional conversation there. Is that what’s going on? Because we agreed already.” Nobody wants to spend an hour just in the trenches, right? So, you know, we can bring that up. And if people are aware, like, “I’m not perfect, but you know, I’m increasingly aware of that thing. It’s like, close the loop that I am going to forget the people.” So when I hear somebody around the table talking about that, rather than going “Yeah, I don’t agree with that.” I go, “I know that’s my blind spot.” You know, like turns out an emotional impact, X, Y, Z, or, “No, we need to give that a little bit more time before we make the decision.” But because I’ve got it, I can go “Yeah, Joe, just shut up for five minutes and listen to this because this is your blind spot.”
Joe Trodden 46:12 So I think, it’s an awareness thing, but it does have to be in my experience, a little mechanical to start with the crucial conversations framework, like you are bumbling through that and going, “I know we agreed to do this thing but can I actually do that as something that’s okay?” They can be a little bit mechanistic at the start, I guess. It just depends what the team want to do.
Lee Hackett 46:38 Yeah, I think if it’s for you, if it’s for me, it comes back to your selection of people, you know, trying to get good fits for people who want to think, “I’m in.” The Bridgewater example is a good example in terms of, I think they’d been called a cult, rather than a culture. I could see that. Because actually, when you’re trying to bring people in, let’s call it a new way of thinking, but I’ve seen other examples as well, you know, in my own industry, in sales and marketing I were in. It was a similar thing around data. When data started to become the thing in marketing, it was, you know, “Are we being too data driven right now? Where’s the human? Where’s the gut feel? Where’s the creativity?”
Lee Hackett 47:32 And that creativity from a marketing perspective, or creativity from a sales perspective actually lets the data make the decisions. All of these things are highly nuanced, of course, in an organization. But I think, it’s an interesting kind of example. So, let’s go through some of the tools in terms of, we’re talking about crucial conversations. I think, we’ve talked about honesty and transparency. But what are the things should the listeners be thinking about, Joe, in terms of, you know, as I said, it isn’t just about start-ups or fast-growing businesses, it’s about managing teams really. But what are the practical things that you talk about your clients in terms of tool set that they can use in the business?
Joe Trodden 48:21 The first thing if you look at their identity, then a big fan of Myers Briggs. Again, it’s one of those things some people are into or not but see as an introduction to just appreciate it. Not just yourself, but your opposite. To Myers Briggs, we’ll give you four letter personality type. It’s more of a cognitive style and a personality type for me. But if you look at that, and then look at your opposite, then you can start to develop an appreciation. It’s quite easy to look at something like a Myers Briggs, so you do it at desk or any of these things then go, “Yeah, haha, I am a bit like that.” Right? But if you start to really appreciate what that means in a team dynamic, like take that up to the next level, it has to do with your cognitive style, how you process information.
Joe Trodden 49:06 So, I always want to advocate for that because I just think it’s such a powerful thing. When you look at these mechanisms, these conversational mechanisms, well, a quick shout out again for their lines, that is one of the best frames that you can pull people together to say, “This is where we are going,” because you’ve got to have that objective clear. “This is where we’re going. Is that what you want? Do you want to be on this journey with us? Because here’s what it’s going to be like, and it’s not going to be what it was like in the past.” And then, people make the choice, ownership. It gives them ownership. And also, you understand more about them, like who do they want to become and what is the skill set. So, definitely there are lines.
Joe Trodden 49:50 We’re really like [inaudible 51:53]; conversations is a really destiny’s tool for creativity. Walt Disney recognized brainstorming as a disaster for the reasons that you’ve talked about before, where if people are just shooting from the hip. They haven’t really thought on it through. Like, if you get somebody who is a bit of a wacky thinker and somebody who’s a tall cynic, it depends on the power dynamics. So, the wacky idea comes out, the cynic shoots some bone because the cynic’s hierarchically, or even if it’s not, you know, just in that team dynamic, there’s a power dynamic there. Well, that wacky idea person is not bringing anything else up because, “Now, I feel stupid.” Blah, blah, blah. All of this stuff happens. So, Walt Disney recognized that.
Joe Trodden 50:35 For creative ideas, he had three rooms, the dreamer, the realist, and the critic. So, when everybody was in the dreamer room, it was only big ideas, no criticism, nothing. It’s like build on stuff. Just go for the craziest, craziest thing that we can. Then, the whole team go to the realist room. And then it’s like, “What’s the best idea? What do we like about those ideas? How to make that a reality?” Then, the whole team go into the critic room. This is what I mean about the mechanisms. It’s those containers for people to think in. So, you’re given them, you’d be, “Hey, wacky person. We need you.” Because, the best ideas start as something that’s crazy normally, right?
Joe Trodden 51:15 So, let’s get as many of them as possible. And the people who are cynic, try to match yourself in it. You’re probably not going to come up with something crazy because it’s just not how you’re wired but learn to appreciate why what they’re doing is important. And then you reverse that other end going, I know that you think the cynics are always trying to tear your ideas, but they’re the ones that will help us to manage the risk and understand where this thing can go wrong. So, it really increased the depth of appreciation to a couple of others like Pixar’s brain trust, which is another feedback mechanism. What I like about that is that, when the creative takes her idea and that counsel, you know, this brain trust thing that’s made up of people, all sorts of different perspectives, and they’re all chipping in and you’re there to hear that, right? That’s all the purpose of that thing. But, they’re not trying to design by committee. They’re saying, “Here are all these experts points of view, you now are free to take what you want and leave what you want.” Now, if you come in a room like that, and it’s full of experts, and you disregard everything that everybody’s good to see, well, you’re an idiot. You’re off the team. There are things that you’ll see, that doesn’t sound right. “That is a good idea. I’d never thought about that.” And it opens you, your thinking up and encourages that level of challenge, but you leave with ownership. So, if you have a situation for, I bring an idea, and gets fed back on and then I leave and it doesn’t feel like it’s my idea anymore, well, it’s not ownership. You have no commitment to it.
Joe Trodden 52:52 So, I think that’s another good tool. These are all dependent on the context. You want to encourage that creativity. You want the wacky idea, use Disney. But be mindful, at the end of that process, you could end up with nothing. Because you could take an idea through and there’s just not enough in it. So, don’t set the outcome that you are always going to create the magic. There’s a guy with an organization called School of Code and he talks about stumbling across the magic. You can’t send people in a room in theory, you’ve got to create some magic, and then bring the magic code. It might happen or it might not. But it’s increasing the collisions and giving people permission to try the stuff without the pressure that “We’ve got 10 minutes to go about how to come up with the magic here.”
Joe Trodden 53:39 Again, it just depends on the context. So, there are loads of those different tools like Myers Briggs, [inaudible], the Disney process, and Pixar’s one. Gary claims pre mortem is another good process where you’re telling people it’s on you to tell us what’s wrong with us. You know, so if you’ve got something, tell us. Because if you don’t, and it goes wrong, then we’ve lost the reason that you’re at the river state to help us to see what could go wrong. Right? So just take that ego part out of it, like, you’ve got that permission to do it. So, that’s what I mean about those mechanisms, the rules for the discussion. Really powerful.
Lee Hackett 54:19 Yeah, completely and everything you mentioned there resonates with me in one way or another. As I said, if I think about the high-performance teams that I’ve worked in, they’ve always had characteristics of some of the things that you mentioned there. I think the great thing today is you don’t have to rely on your HR team to come up with this stuff. This is stuff that’s available, books, people like yourself that you can learn from. These things don’t happen by accident. That is a perception that business is almost like some sort of ongoing party that everybody turns up every day and it kind of all happens and it’s fantastically easy. It’s not, it’s hard.
Lee Hackett 55:06 These kinds of tools that you’re talking about, at any level, if you’re in sales, marketing, if your CEO, CMO, Chief Sales Officer, whatever you are, these are practical tools that will help you in every day to achieve results. I think that’s the magic dusters. There’s just very little time that is spent on these topics. I think it is because it’s so difficult. Because, people, the most important thing in business, they’re also the most difficult thing in business. But actually, business owners spend a disproportionate amount of time on other stuff, which is crazy, right? So, hopefully this kind of podcast, and that’s why I wanted to get people like cell phones where we can actually talk practical steps, practical tools. But Joe look, it’s been great. Where should people reach out to you if they want to know more about these tools, obviously we’ve mentioned we’ll put it in the show notes and we’ll provide links. But if they want to reach out to you and talk to you more about this kind of thing, what’s the best way to do that?
Joe Trodden 56:19 They can find me through JosephTrodden.com and on LinkedIn. I think I’ve got to try that on LinkedIn. The benefits of an unusual day, but yeah, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is my key channel, things are there as well. The key thing is people subscribing to this type of stuff, like we’re going to do this work, and we’re not going to skirt around the edges of it. When you talk about the time, you know, Abraham Lincoln’s stare kind of the exact printing but you know, if I was to cut down a tree, it’s been seven and a half hours sharpening the axe. And then, you’re saying it’s the same thing. Like, you would spend 90% of the time working out what is the problem and 10% on the solution. So, it’s about how much time people are willing to give this, having people that want to do it, and it’s not a witch hunt. It isn’t about your own development but having the people that want to do it first, having that alignment, and then the team going, “Let’s make sure we spend time working at what’s going on. Because if we get that right, everything else will flow from it.”
Lee Hackett 57:22 Yeah, completely. Well, the topic of this podcast was high performance and it’s a weird people banged around a law, but actually, this is the kind of ingredients if you… and this will help me in businesses, at work, in another industry, which was all about high performance and achieving a result. These kinds of things, although they may be being talked or called others things, all the techniques or the tools, this is what it was all about. So, it’s a definition of high performance, but it’s hard. It takes time. You have to be unbelievably patient as well, right? You mentioned Myers Briggs. That’s a great example of this stuff, right? This kind of thing, people do it once every two years. Produce a report, send it in, and I’ve done this as well. Send it to the individuals, have a workshop and then nothing else but we expect the result had an impact and then we kind of go around on a hamster wheel.
Lee Hackett 00:58:32 And in our own business, in businesses that I’ve worked with, and work with now that think and focus on this stuff, and put the time behind it, they get huge results. Massive, massive performance increases, but be patient. Take time. Speak to people like Joe because no one’s an expert and you need that outside lens, and I think that’s what Joe does really well. So Joe look, appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time. We’ll do this again and maybe deep dive. I’ll also maybe show some examples, which is in some podcasts that I want to do is to kind of deep dive into a topic and show some evidence based on stuff. So, that would be cool. We can swing back to that in the next few months.
Lee Hackett 00:59:22 You can find all of this information and more on blueprintx.com where you will find high quality show notes and other great stuff. You can also sign up for my weekly update on all interesting things I have found that week in sales and marketing. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen.
Joseph works with entrepreneurs who have reached an inflection point in their business journey where they want to move away from being at the epicentre of everything and towards building an organisation. This phase typically happens around 1M in revenue and where there is a team of around 10. To get to the next level the business needs more structure and process in place to create the clarity for growth. The entrepreneur also has to make the right hires and delegate more, letting go of being involved in every area of the business so they can focus on leading.
This is what he helps them to do. The entrepreneur can continue to create the ‘castles in the sky’ and Joseph builds the foundations underneath it.
This is combined with mindset work with the entrepreneurial leader and their team. Each person is influenced by conscious and sub-conscious drivers, if a team wants to continue to develop then they have to know what these are, how to evolve their cognitive styles and then leverage their unique abilities.
Prior to his current business, Joseph set up his own social enterprise and was short-listed for Social Entrepreneur of the Year in it’s second year, but realised that wasn’t a path he wanted to be on. It is more interesting to him to create impact across a range of industries by enabling entrepreneurial leaders to realise their own visions. Since that realisation he’s worked with over 300 entrepreneurs from every sector, and now works with a specific type of growth entrepreneur where he can add the most value.
Outside of entrepreneurship Joseph enjoys ultramarathons, and is at his happiest when running across the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.
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