In this episode we talk with two founders and leaders of HR tech companies about the challenges of leading and managing teams…with a lens toward Marketing Operations teams.
Our guests were:
- Kate O’Neil, Co-founder and head of Marketing at Teaming
- Sophie Wyne, Co-founder and CEO of ariglad
We covered everything from resources and challenges, to how parenting applies to leadership.
Recorded live on May 27, 2021.
Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou, and I Mike Rizzo. And this is ops cast, a podcast for marketing ops pros and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros, the number one community for marketing operations professionals. Tune into each episode, as we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.
Hello everyone. Welcome to episode 11 of ops cast by the MO Pros. If you’re a regular listener. Now, you know that we’re now on several platforms, including, Spotify, apple podcast, Google, and a host of others. If you are a regular listener, please rate and review, we would love that. Help us get the word out.
I’m your host, Michael Hartmann. And I’m joined with my coat by my cohost, Naomi, Lou and Mike Rizzo. Say hi, everyone, everyone. Hello? Uh, today we have, uh, an interesting topic I’m really excited about, and we’ve got two guests to help us with that. The first is Kate Oneil, the co-founder and head of marketing at teaming, a HR tech startup, and Sophie Wine CEO.
And co-founder of our glad, hopefully I pronounced that correctly as well. Also an HR tech startup. So you might see where this is going for this conversation. Topic we’re going to be talking about is really. Managing people and in particular, how that applies to the marketing ops function. So let’s get started.
Kate. Sophie, thank you for joining us today. Let’s start with, yeah, we’re excited about this. Let’s have the two of you start by just introducing yourselves. Um, Kate, how about you go from. Sure. I’m Kate O’Neill co-founder of teaming.com as Michael said. Um, my background is in marketing, mostly of the B2B variety.
Um, I am, uh, I’ve held marketing ops roles before, um, and I’ve led marketing ops teams. Um, but I would say I know enough to know that I don’t know enough about marketing ops. Uh, so I’m excited to be here and talk about leading. Fantastic have this great community called the MO Pros where you could come learn a lot about.
Just use a shameless plug there. This is good. Why don’t you tell us, tell everyone a little bit about teaming just real quick and how that applies. Sure, sure. Yeah. Teaming is a platform to help lead your team. Um, we do the typical things like help. You have one-on-ones and team meetings and keep track of your goals.
The thing that makes us different is around coaching, learning to coach your team and being coached as a manager, understanding your strengths, your weaknesses, your blind spots, um, and. Awesome. Sophie, how about you? Yeah. Um, well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to be here. Um, so yeah, I’m the co-founder CEO of RD.
Glad I’m actually not in the marketing space. Uh, in terms of my background, my most of my experiences in cybersecurity, customer success, uh, and tech in general. So, um, you know, marketing has definitely come my way as a founder unexpectedly, but I’ve actually really enjoyed it. And. In terms of RA GLAAD, I guess the best way to describe it.
And one of my favorite ways to describe it after our customer mentioned it is this kind of like the happiness engine of your team. So it identifies opportunities for, um, co team culture improvement and bridges trust with employees, by making sure that leaders stay accessible and accountable while streamlining peanuts for leaders.
Um, so through, you know, nudges over slack or anonymous communication, just making sure that everything’s captured and organized. That’s awesome. Yeah, I was excited. And now may you should be glad, I think last time, our episode Texas was winning at this time. I say, you know, Canada is winning because we got two of you from Vancouver.
All right. That’s right. We need that. All right. Uh, so Kate, Sophie, you and I, we all spoke, uh, earlier, you know, kind of thinking about this as an episode and seeing if there was a fit. And one of the things I know I shared, uh, just partially from personal experience and, you know, partially from what I see from other people is that I think most organizations do a pretty poor job of.
Yeah, preparing, supporting, you know, people who are, you know, potential new managers and new managers or leaders so that they can be successful from the get-go. And I think one of the things that worries me about that is because I know that people go to and leave jobs because of their managers in a lot of cases.
So this is like, what’s your take on that? Um, I’ll let either of you go for. Yeah. I mean, I can, I can go first. Um, so I think promotion opportunity is such a funny thing because promotions often surround the skillsets that you’ve been honing in your specific role. So whether that’s in sales or in accounting or what have you, um, you know, typically you are promoted because you’re doing really well in that particular capacity, in that skillset.
And I think. You know, for example, if we look at like marketing or sales, um, you might be really outgoing. You might be great with customers, but that doesn’t necessarily automatically translate over to being an amazing manager. And so I think when it comes to promotion, opportunity is something that we have been really trying to drill down into the cultures of the customers that we work with is focusing less on the.
Um, quantitative aspects of like the KPIs, you know, the, the goals that you’ve been meeting in terms of your sales that quarter. Uh, but also looking at those qualitative aspects, you know, have you been helping your team with presentations? Have you been supporting new? Co-workers have. You I’ve been that, um, kind of shoulder to cry on her, you know, those, those kinds of elements that are maybe more unspoken in the workforce, um, I think is just super important when you think about who should be promoted and, um, yeah.
Alongside of course being, being good at your job. Yeah. Kate and, and this really fits kind of right in where you guys focus. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Um, you know, everything, so we said is, is so on point about, you know, we, we get good at, uh, a particular function and then we get promoted and, you know, at least I felt like I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t know what the skill set of being a manager was. Um, and so, yeah, that’s, uh, you know, I think organizations have traditionally done a good job. You know, a long time ago there was training programs and management programs and mentorship programs that took sort of this long period of time, um, to learn the skillset of leading a team.
Right. Um, but you know, call it the last 20 years now. You know, 10, 20, um, the businesses have been moving too fast to be able to take the time to learn the skillsets of management. And so, um, so yeah, I think, I think. Okay organizations right now. Um, aren’t doing a great job. Um, but they are learning, right?
We’re, we’re learning different ways to learn management ways to learn on the job. Um, ways to learn in a frequent, small decoupled approach, right. Rather than this kind of big, long management training. Um, and so, so yeah, I think we’ve, we’ve got a long road ahead of us to, to make that work, but, um, I see organizations, um, wanting to, to be able to create that skillset in their teams, um, and with their managers.
You know, some, some organizations look at it as the single most important thing. Um, I was on the phone recently with a HR leader from a $2 billion tech startup. And she said, the only thing that’s keeping up our entire executive team is leadership training. Learning how to lead is the thing that will either make us or break.
Yeah. And it’s so true. I was just saying that that’s, that’s so true. And, and, uh, I’ve been around a few different startups now. Um, definitely have had different experiences with leadership that totally changed. The culture, the feel the, you know, the sense of responsibility, not just to your role and the function, but also to the organization.
Um, but I think what’s, what’s really interesting about this particular question and this topic for me is also that, um, and, and maybe you were going to get there later, Michael, so I apologize if I’m jumping the gun at all, but, um, just thinking about. Career progression. Doesn’t always mean people management.
And so I don’t know that there’s enough organizations that openly talk about that either. Um, I’ve talked to organizations, large ones, um, I won’t name names, but I I’ve talked to some larger organizations that really do hone in on this idea of like, Hey, you don’t have to be a people manager. You can actually have a really successful career and, you know, make a good living, um, and continue to just be a very technically savvy individual.
Uh, But I just, I, just, to me, it doesn’t seem like that’s talked about enough and I’m just, I’m wondering like Kate or Sophie, how much of that you’re seeing through your interactions with your customers? I can top it on that one. Um, yes. Uh, I think that’s, that concept has been accelerated, uh, in, in the pandemic.
Right. Um, it has been more emotionally taxing to be a manager than it’s ever been. Um, and so people are like having this moment where they’re like, wait a minute, this isn’t what I’m passionate. Like the, the 10 years I’ve spent in this function, I’m really passionate about the work, not about the management.
Um, and so they’re there, um, you know, either decided to go all in to learn more about management, to take a more scientific, more, um, framework based approach to management, or they’re wanting to be enrolls or be with companies that really help them to, uh, accelerate on the, the non-management path. Yeah.
Yeah, that’s that’s um, that’s really cool. I know at, at Mavenlink for example, which, um, I boomeranged back to so tells you their culture’s really nice. Right. Um, and their company has a good mission and vision. We’ve recently invested a lot into this concept of, of management training and, um, and a lot of what it sounds like both of your organizations are helping to support from the culture and, and just kind of management training perspective.
So. I think it’s, it’s critical to the success of organizations, but I also, I also want to, like for our listeners out there that are thinking about like career progression and stuff, like, um, you know, I think, I think it’s probably worth just suggesting to your manager or your leadership that like, Hey, you know, is there, I’m just asking the question, is there a path, you know, upward, um, in terms of my success as an individual contributor here in this organization where I don’t have to manage people, but I can continue to.
Um, climb the ladders of success and whatever that success looks like for you, whether that’s salary or title change. And I don’t know. Right. It just, but just thinking about those things. Yeah, definitely. I think it’s, I was just, I mean, just piggybacking off of what Mike was saying, um, that, you know, do you guys ever find that there’s people that, you know, find themselves in leadership positions that maybe didn’t have that in their career path and yet.
Were promoted internally within because they had so much success in what they were doing. And then all of a sudden found themselves with a bunch of direct reports and like I’m really far away from the technology or whatever it is. I, you know, I’m really successful in, and now I’m in a position where, how did I get here?
Like, what am I doing here? And I don’t, this is not what I want to do. It’s interesting because there’s actually a thread on the MO Pros community, slack channel right now about kind of this topic. And it’s around, you know, career progression and, you know, people wanting to move up in their career. Really also wanting to let go of the technical piece and being out of the weeds and like, well, I want to be a strategic thinker and be viewed as a thought leader, but I also don’t want to, I wanted my wall, my cake and eat it too.
Right. And so I’m curious to hear what you guys think about, you know, coaching leaders who maybe are reluctant leaders, I guess you could. Yeah, I love that you brought that up. Naomi. That was exactly what I was going to going to bring up is I think so we work with a lot of really high growth startups, um, startups that are, you know, hiring 40% of their staff in a quarter.
And in that rapid growth, you see a lot of managers becoming senior managers or VPs, even in those kinds of scenarios because you’re just scaling so fast. I think what’s really important. Is understanding what a manager is in that organization, because you have some people, I know some people that are amazing people, people, and they love supporting groups, but they don’t think that they have what it takes to be a manager because they don’t feel like they can be as hard on people or they can’t, you know, drive those goals or they can’t demand things from their team.
And, you know, that’s what that manager means and that organization, or at least that’s what they perceived. I think it matters a lot to understand, you know, what are the attributes that I have naturally, um, that might align well with being a great leader, but also, you know, and I’m, I guess I’m speaking out to any leaders in an organization that’s kind of setting the tone for what a manager is and your, your company is making sure that you’re ma you’re kind of aligning your internal values, um, with what a manager should also be encompassing when they’re communicating with their team.
Yeah, I w I totally, um, pick up on what Sophie’s saying. I think, um, you know, maybe to, to bring it home with this audience, I think this is incredibly important in the marketing ops function, um, as well. Right? So you have the technical skills. Of marketing ops professionals, um, and the growth path there. Um, man, you know, if people are feeling like there isn’t a growth path, um, I would love to talk to them, um, because the, you know, the needs of customers are changing so rapidly.
Um, you know, I, I got to believe that that there is a path or there can be a. Um, and that’s, that’s the job of the leader, right. To help create that path. So that’s the skill set, a leader needs to lead a marketing ops team. Um, and then the other, like sort of thing that I noticed at least leading marketing ops teams in the past has been, you know, there’s leading the people and then there’s managing the work.
Um, and there’s sort of two different. I mean, they’re obviously interrelated, but, um, but particularly, um, with marketing ops, how you manage the work is I would argue the most important or one of the most important parts of an entire marketing team, right? Because it’s helping to serve so many different groups within marketing and the company.
Um, so how you manage the work, that might be something that you, that really attracts you to management and there are. To being just someone, not just someone, but, but someone who gets really jazzed about managing the work and organizing the work and the processes. Um, and then there’s the leadership teams, uh, the leadership part of leading teams.
And that’s a totally different skillset. Um, I’m not sure if that’s something that you guys relate to, but yeah. You know, not knowing enough about marketing ops myself. Um, but being tasked with leading the team I learned quickly, there is a big difference between managing the work and leading the people.
Yeah. I, I was, I would add at least one other, um, dimension to it, which is kind of managing all the. So various stakeholder groups, including up and out, right, right. Managing up to your leadership and managing out to all the other people who you interact with it. Because one of the that’s one of the things I like about ops roles is all this interaction with so many different parts of a business.
If you do it right, you’ve got sales, marketing, customer success, or customer sport, finance. Legal, right. It’s can you kind of are interacting with all those different teams and they all care. And so really, and sometimes it’s difficult to, to juggle all those and do those other two things, which I think most other managers or leaders have to deal with.
Anyway. Um, and you know, there’s always some component of managing up and up, but I think it’s really, um, a big one for those in marketing ops leadership roles. Um, so, you know, this is, this is interesting. Uh, I would like to do it. I mean, you all see lots of this in your clients at different kinds of functional areas, I suppose, as well.
Do you see, uh, You know, any variants, you know, whether good or bad across different functional areas. So for example, right, are people in it, leadership roles or finance leadership roles or sales, leadership roles, you know, are they, do they tend to be more or less prepared or more or less effective as managers and leaders from what.
Yeah. I mean, I, I I’ll go first. Um, so I personally, haven’t seen a huge difference. I think there’s a lot of, um, you know, maybe preconceived notions of, you know, accountants are quieter or salespeople are louder. I don’t think that’s, um, often true, but I do think that something that’s important to think about when you’re thinking of different departments or groups of people, stereotypes, aren’t always true.
I immediately flashed to someone that works in our accounting and collections department. And she is so fun and, and just out lots of energy, like, yeah, she calls herself like the hunter because she goes and gets all those people that haven’t paid yet. Oh, it’s it’s, I mean, we work, we work with HR all day and there’s no more stereotypes than, than HR.
So, um, definitely can attest the fact that it’s not always true, but I think. You know, one of the, the Mike rally cries that I’m probably gonna be repeating a few more times during this podcast is psychological safety. Psychological safety is the most important part of any successful team. Um, there was a really, really great, um, research done at Google a couple of years ago, to understand who are the best teams at Google and what makes them so great.
And. Kind of red thread among all of those different teams with psychological safety and essentially to be psychological safe, it’s pretty simple. And, um, you basically need a purpose and the team needs to feel like they’re doing more than just answering emails all day. And they also need to be able to be vulnerable and, you know, make mistakes, take just chances and feel like their team has their back.
Um, and so I think to get back to your question, Michael, about, you know, different departments, Different departments, different groups of people are going to achieve a cycle of Juul safety differently. So I remember when I was working at a larger organization, you know, the sales teams will be going on playing laser tag after work.
And, you know, that was kind of their way of bonding and getting to know each other better, but that wouldn’t have worked with my team because we had a lot of parents, you know, they had school pickup after school, after. And so, you know, that might’ve made them feel left out or made them feel like they didn’t belong.
And so I think it’s important to take into account what makes a group tick, um, and making sure that you’re achieving that purpose and that vulnerability, no matter who you’re kind of working with.
Okay. And how about you? Um, yeah, so I would say I don’t see a difference, um, between the functional groups. Um, what I do see is, um, or what I think can impact a leader, um, is how much the organization values being a good leader. Um, right. Are you, are you, um, rewarded or you recognized, um, Being a good leader.
Are you supported, um, in becoming a good leader, right? Those, those things, is that valued by your team? Right? Um, it, it sounds crazy to say, right, but, but feeling valued as a leader for those skills is a really important thing for, um, actually becoming a good leader. So yeah, I would say, um, how much the organization values.
It is really the only probably difference I’ve seen in, um, You know whether or not a functional group has a good leader or not. No, it’s interesting. Cause I think there’s probably a lot of folks who have a perception that, uh, People in marketing ops probably are not going to be as good as a leader starting out.
So it’s good to hear, right. That that’s not necessarily the case. So, you know, I know from my own experience right, that, um, I went through an early couple of times being a manager and through whatever. Right. And I ever T lack of support, lack of training. Um, you know, there was these unspoken expectations and rules.
I didn’t know about, and it made it really hard to be a good manager to the point where I almost said, I don’t ever want to do that again. Right. And I’m glad I changed my mind. Um, so, you know, for people who are either. Early on in managing people or aspiring to do that. Right. You know, we can kind of say like, if they choose not to go down the, the, the professional, like, track, right.
As opposed to leader track, what, like, what piece of advice would you give them to be, get, be ready or to be more effective as soon as possible? I think that’s a great question. Um, I have a whole list of resources, which I know you, you asked about. I think that’s something right learning and having your own sort of self discovery path is important in addition to whatever support you get from, from a, um, from an organization.
But I would say, um, the bit of advice is, is, um, yeah, it, you know, You can read I’ve I think I’ve read every management book. There is, um, which sounds ridiculous, but I honestly probably crush one every week, um, because I feel like I want to learn, right. I want to learn what people are saying about leadership.
I want to be a better leader, um, and they’re great resources, but I would also say that, um, listening to your own intuition and knowing yourself right. Knowing. You as a person, um, helps you to understand what your strengths are as a person. Um, and those strengths can be applied to, to management. And, um, and that helps you to kind of write your own leadership book, right?
It helps you to write your own guide to being an effective leader. Um, and so that would be my advice is to read everything you can, um, learn about how other people do it, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you got to make this journey, you know, Yeah, I would agree. Um, I think in terms of learning and kind of growing as a human being, a huge part of that is just checking your ego at the door.
I think some people, when they become a manager, they think that they’d have to show how amazing they’re going to be or how they are going to lead their team to greatness. And it can kind of overshadow the fact that you’re supposed to really be the support system of these people. Um, and I think. You know, one of the things that we really focus on that Ari GLAAD is we focused on feedback from employees and trying to make sure that we’re teasing out feedback, whether it’s anonymous, you know, check-ins once a week or, or, you know, kind of all hands questions or random questions, it all kind of encompasses this feeling of vulnerability and feeling like you can kind of.
What you need to say to your manager, which really is, um, the ultimate goal for any leader. And I think to be honest, it’s one of those things where you forget that being human and being there for your team and making sure that you are coming across as you care, and you’re making your one-on-ones and you’re genuinely asking how you’re doing it goes so far.
And I think that’s something that people don’t give it enough credit. It’s just that element of, of humanity. Um, and I think, you know, to kind of back to that feedback point, you know, for example, in the marketing obstacle world, if you’re selling to a certain demographic of customers, the most important thing that you want to understand is how they respond to your product or what you’re selling.
Um, and the same goes for your own team. And unless you are. Getting them to feel at ease. So you’re getting them in a place where they can give you that honest feedback. You’re never going to know exactly what they need in order to be successful. And so I think that element of drilling down, opening them up so that you can kind of drill down to what they actually need, um, is just a huge part of being a really successful now.
Yeah. And it seems like it’s even more important, you know, given what’s happened over the last, you know, 12 plus months. Right. And I think I shared with you all, um, at least Kate and Sophia Harvard business review article that just came out that was really talked about that in the specifics included, talking about the two different kinds of career paths.
Naomi, I’m going to, I’m going to pick on you a little bit here, cause you’ve been a leader in, in kind of a larger organization for a while. Like what, what do you, uh, Do you, what do you do in terms of coaching or training or people who have potential or desire to be a leader? I think versus identifying it, if people on my team want to be an individual contributor or if they want to lead a team and I think leading.
Uh, being, uh, being a leader, doesn’t always mean. And I think we’ve talked about this earlier in this recording, is that being a leader doesn’t always mean leading people, it can be leading processes or leading, you know, relationships between our company and vendors. Right? So I think that for myself, it’s really identifying those folks that, you know, want to eventually, you know, maybe have a direct report or an intern or somebody that they can mentor and where they want to go in their career.
Oftentimes when you’re starting your career, you don’t always know either, right. You kind of have to experience those things before you can say, you know what? I really like the technical and hands-on piece. I don’t really want to be responsible for someone else’s growth or, you know, relationships or anything like that.
Just tell me what to do when I want to do it and I can do it really well. Um, but I think a lot of that is exposure as well. And so, you know what I’ve done with, um, you know, people that have reported to me that don’t necessarily. How did that answer yet is okay. You know, we’re evaluating a tool, you manage the relationship between us and the vendor, right.
Because a lot of that is also, you know, setting expectations, communication, um, you know, project management, it’s, you know, setting guidelines and timelines and all of that stuff that happens as well when you’re, when you’re leading folks and mentoring them as well. So, and oftentimes you’re like, I want to do that again.
I’m like, okay, good. And sometimes it’s like, I never want to do that again. Okay. Never, never again.
Yeah, I’ve done. I’ve done things like that as well. I, you know, the thing that strikes me though, and this is it, I think there’s a lot of expectation on people, especially early on their career to be. Like honest with themselves about what really, what they really get. Um, you know, I’ll use the Myers-Briggs term, right?
What they get energy from, right? Whether they get energy from leading or doing, uh, But, you know, are there like, I, I was like that, right. I think I always saw it. Okay. The path is defined, right. Especially when I was in a consulting role, it was very obvious rate consultant, senior consultant manager, senior man, like that was, there was the partner track and it was upper out.
Right. There really was no other one in that kind of. You know, that led me down a path that I think I was, I was, did really well right for awhile. And then I hit that manager level and it was like, okay. Things changed and nobody told me about it. Right. Um, so I think, I always struggle with trying to help people through that thinking process about like, what is this.
That they really want to do. So I I’m really interested in how, like how you, I like your ideas now may have tried to give them projects to get them exposure, to sort of validate that. Are there any other tools or, I mean, I mentioned briars sprigs. I know I was kind of a, not a believer in those kinds of things.
At first I’ve come around to at least they’re at least valuable to help understand what you really, you know, kind of who you really are. Um, but they can also be a trap if you over, you know, you believe too much.
I can take that one. Um, our product uses the disc assessment, which is similar to Myers-Briggs. Um, and, and yeah, that you can over-correct, um, or you could, um, potentially when we talked about stereotypes, right? You could, you could limit someone’s, uh, the view of someone to only what. There type is, um, the reason I like disc is that it shows everyone can flex to different areas.
Right. Um, in different situations, it’s just a framework to help you understand when that happens. Um, and, and when it doesn’t naturally happen. Um, so, so yeah, I think, you know, you touch on knowing, knowing yourself, um, right. That that’s sort of like step one. Um, and then I would say, you know, the one thing I’ve seen.
People getting a little bit stuck on the tracks, right. Or even sometimes exposure to different projects. Um, as managers, I think sometimes we can see people struggle with a challenge, um, and. And they may come to us and say, I’m struggling. I, you know, I’m not sure what to do, or I think we can only do this thing or this thing.
Right. Um, and we read that as, as managers, as this might not be the, the track for them. Right. Um, but in reality, they are. You know, to your point about energy, we want to have challenges, right? Whether it’s management challenges or IC challenges, it’s how you, um, work yourself through them, right. That that’s the, you know, whether or not we can.
Fulfilled afterwards. And I think a really good coach, um, or, or helping coach someone through that process of being stuck or having a challenge is what helps to give them or helps them to understand whether or not this thing gives me energy. This thing is a positive. Um, for my career, I want to continue doing that thing.
Right. Um, we kind of need that the framework of coaching to be able to know at the end, did I want to do this thing? Do I want to keep doing this thing or, or don’t I, I love Kate. Um, I want to, I want to kind of elaborate on that idea of being able to be coached on what you’re enjoying, what gives you energy, but also what you’re good at.
I think something that we’ve definitely seen, um, with our customers and kind of teams that I’ve been working with is you have people that get energy from leading. They like telling people maybe what to do. They like having that kind of position. They might be horrible at it. They might be really bad at actually managing and giving their team energy and making them excited to come to work.
Um, and so I feel like that’s something that we’ve been really trying to crack is how can we ensure that managers are getting. Input from their teams on what they need to improve on. But even to Naomi’s point, I really liked that she was mentioning you to do some test drives of, you know, should a manager really just be thrown into a position where one day they are just, you know, they’re singular employee and now they’re leading a team.
There really should be a little bit more, um, kind of exercising in between. And also from an outside perspective evaluating, you know, how did the project go from your perspective, but also how did it go from your team’s perspective? Because I think that’s something that is often left out in terms of how you’re actually impacting the people around you.
You might have be having a blast, but it might not be going so well for everyone else. Yeah. I think that also requires, um, the person who is a leader. Like now let me just suggest that there’s also being, being comfortable, giving it that honest feedback, right. Whether it’s good or bad. Right. And, and not, um, Dancing around it.
I think that’s, to me, um, I’m kind of, sort of coaching, mentoring, a couple of different people right now who are new in management roles or new again. And one of the things I always tell them, like, one of the things you have to be prepared for are difficult conversations, right? Because you’re going to be uncomfortable and that’s especially true.
If you got promoted and now you’re leading people who were your peers? And like changing your mindset from that and having to hold people accountable and give them tough feedback. Um, it’s just, it’s a really tough transition if you’re not prepared for it. I mean, now they did, you were, you were nodding your head for those of you listening, you can’t see, but Naomi was nodding her head.
Like, what do you like, how does it, that seems like a hit for you? Um,
I’m just trying to figure out how do I want to frame frame, frame this? Like there’s so many different ways you can approach that. Do you want to come to ask why. Ask me that again, in a different, you know what I mean? Do you see the same thing where like people who are like you did, maybe I know I experienced it early on.
I was told sort of point blank that I was too nice. Right. As a manager, you mean, you just said, you just said yes to every. No, no, that I didn’t, it was mostly the other way. Right. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t holding people accountable to the way I should probably should have. Right. Well, I would say that like, I guess right now, it’s, you know, I’m actually going through this right now where I, you know, one of my direct reports, I.
You know, giving her the ability to manage a vendor evaluation and you know, it, I’m not just throwing her to it. I’m not just saying, okay, go evaluate this vendor without any instructions on what to do. Right. I’m definitely shadowing her on it, giving her, you know, feedback on next steps. Um, uh, Piggybacking on all of the calls and, and also just, you know, giving her feedback afterwards as to, you know, what the next steps are, who she should be reaching out to.
Um, how do you evaluate whether something went well, how do you get stakeholder buy-in because at the end of the day, you know, you’re convincing people to part with their money, right. Especially on the vendors are on our side to acquire the vendor internally. Right. Um, and making sure that it’s not something that we’re just forcing down people’s throats it’s that they actually do want it.
And it’s solving a business case because I never want to spend money on something that. You know, there’s not going to be adoption for that. Right. It has to be fully adopted properly. Um, and so it’s, it’s been really good because it’s, I’m kind of. Shadowing her and leading her on how to, um, conduct this evaluation.
So I have no doubt that, you know, the next time I ask her to do something like that, she’s got all the steps down and knows exactly what to do. And it’s like, okay, you know, and there’ll be times where I’ll step in and send an email or send a note out to the vendor or send a note, recapping things out to, you know, um, our business partners.
And I definitely know that she’s taking all of those things and taking notes in. The next time this happens, I think she can be up and running on her own. Right. And so I’m not directly providing feedback. I’m more, it’s more hand-holding but in a good way, if that makes sense.
Awesome. Um, yeah, it’s, you know, w th this, for those of those who are, I don’t know, I don’t know everybody’s home personal lives here, but I know like, one of the things that hit me when I first had kids was how. Like raising kids actually related to managing people in a lot of ways, in a lot of ways, adult human beings are not that much different than a small children, um, in LA, especially under stress, but, uh, Maybe we, maybe that’s a book, a book.
And in the, in the, in the waiting here is to write a book about all, everything I learned about being a manager came from learning to be a parent. My co-founder says that, um, I don’t have kids, but, but he says all the time, um, he says, you know, managing is like parenting. You know, if you haven’t read any parenting books, you don’t know what phase your kids are going into next.
So when you see behavior that you’re like, oh my God, What, what is happening here, right. Um, you didn’t know to expect it and you didn’t know what it was really representative of. Um, and the same thing is true. He says the same thing is true of management. Right? You, you get into these situations. You’re like, I have no idea what to expect.
Um, and so, so I don’t know how to handle it. Um, and, and that’s kind of true of parenting or so I hear it’s a hundred percent true.
For whatever reason, thinking about a lot lately, but, um, as I’ve got one who’s, who’s soon to be hopefully, you know, leaving the nest, uh, in the next few years, but yeah. Yeah, this balance between the short term and the longterm, right. You know, it’s really easy in the moment to make a decision that is beneficial in the short run, right?
W w in the business case, it might be, I’m just going to do that work because I can get it done faster rather than teaching somebody or coaching somebody on how to do it, so that they’re going to be able to do it, which is a longer-term vision. I think that’s really like that tension is something that is real, both as a parent and as a, as a leader.
I think it’s actually really fascinating. They we’re talking about kids because, um, I don’t know if any of you have read the culture code the book, but in the first page, they talk about a very famous study where they take two groups of people and there, they basically need to create the tallest structure that they can with using mush marshmallows and toothpicks.
One group is just made out of PhD students and the other is made up of only five-year-olds. And guess which group that has the best structure, a hundred percent of the time. It’s the kindergarten. It’s the five-year-olds because they are super direct. They have no ego. They’re just like, is this going to work?
Is it not? There’s no power structure. And so I think there is actually a lot to kind of learn from that mentality of like, just keeping things simple, not always having that hierarchy in the back of your mind. Um, so yeah, there’s definitely a lot of lessons in that parent parenting conference. I love it.
Love it, not something that I thought would come up in this, in this episode, for sure. But I think it’s relevant. Oh, sorry. I just want to go ahead, Mike. And there was a, there was a thread that I came across this morning, actually on, on LinkedIn and it’s about politicking, um, and politics in, in the office.
And I don’t think you can talk about management. Without talking a little bit about politics, and I’m not asking for us to go down any type of rabbit hole about who you, you know, believe in or don’t believe in or any of those things. But, but more purely this particular thread was about how, um, this VP of marketing said he doesn’t politic, he doesn’t, he doesn’t play the game and refuses to do so.
And as such, he’s been fired from one or three jobs or something to that. Um, and, and asked for everybody’s opinion on, on, you know, do you believe that you need to learn how to play the game of politics in order to, um, climb? The ladder was really the specifics of it. Um, though some of, some more vague terms were thrown around in terms of like in order to have success as well.
I think successes is a little vague, right? That’s different for everybody, but climbing the corporate ladder, quote unquote, uh, And politics. I would love just some thoughts for Kate. Um, let’s start with you and then, and then Sophie right after. Um, there’ll be awesome. I’d just love to hear your thoughts on management politics.
Yeah, I think it’s, it’s tough. Right? Um, I think it’s particularly hard marketing. I don’t, I’m not quite sure why. Um, but I think it there’s something about marketing, um, or other people’s perceptions of marketing that, um, that either make politicking, um, uh, more of a polarizing issue. Um, but yeah, I would say.
yeah, yeah. Um, that’s it right. Um, I think, and I think there is a fine line, um, you know, marketing, I do believe you have to show value. Right. Um, and, and so sometimes. Hard to do when, when everyone thinks they’re a marketer, but they’re not really. Um, and, and so, so yeah, I think that you need to be really careful though, right?
If you’re seen as someone who is, um, I would say if you’re not a good communicator, if you’re not a clear, concise communicator, um, as a marketer, you can be seen as someone who’s politicking. Um, and, and I, I think most of the time I see people who are just not communicating well, they’re not intending to be, um, politicking.
Um, and, and it’s a shame. So I. S some sort of, part of me like applaud that guy for not, um, uh, not, or I assume it was a guy, but, um, for not, um, playing the game, but at the same time, I think there is, um, you have to show value and sometimes that’s really hard to do with marketing. Um, and so, yeah, I would say it’s a fine line.
I don’t know. Naomi, I’m curious to get your thoughts. Um, no, I agree with everything that you, you basically said. I think you hit the nail on the head. I don’t, I don’t. I also think that at the right company, you don’t really have to play with politics. Right. Because I, I feel like I’ve been fortunate to work for two companies that, you know, I really feel that my colleagues are my family, you know, and you know, yes, families have drama, but at the same time, we all just understand each other and we support each other.
And I personally have never felt like in my entire career I’ve had to play politics. Um, and I think a lot of that has to do with company culture too. I think that’s such a good point. You touched on something that we haven’t touched on about leadership, um, is productive conflict, right? The companies and the teams that, um, are the healthiest.
Don’t not have conflict. Um, like they, they don’t avoid conflict. Right. They are just able to make it really productive. Um, and so I think when you’re seeing it as a politicker, you’re also avoiding conflict, um, I think there’s more than just our individual responsibilities on how to have productive conflict.
It is truly a group buy-in process on making conflict productive. But if you’re constantly seen as trying to skirt conflict, you’re going to be seen as someone who’s politicking. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think, I mean, it comes up to the culture, right? I was going to say Sophie, like culturally, you know, you said, uh, Katie said it comes down to the group kind of advocating for it, but really, probably top down.
From the organization focusing on the culture of it and all that stuff. But yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too. Well, that’s exactly what I was going to say, Mike, um, you know, it kind of gets back to my earlier point of you only really need to politic in a co in a company that has a very skewed idea of what a manager should be or what a successful employee should be.
So if that means being best friends with the CEO, then you’re going to be getting a different kind of politicking then, you know, having the best sales in the company. It’s funny when you ask that question, the first thing that came to mind was actually Steve jobs, his story, which I don’t know if many of you are familiar with, but when he started at apple, he was the worst manager ever, like literally divided apple into two groups to the point where they were all wearing badges for like I’m on this side, they’re on this side and they hated each other.
Um, and so he got kicked out. It was kind of like wandering Silicon valley for awhile and stuff. It picks up. Which is notorious for having a super healthy culture and the way that they would essentially navigate those conflicts internally is by having these town halls where you would have the movie in front of the team and everyone would be free.
The intern, the guy grabbing coffee, the CEO can all give their opinion. Okay. Immediately, that’s kind of giving that, uh, no two hits psychological safety of like purpose and vulnerability and Steve jobs essentially after, you know, learning from Pixar, went back to apple and was able to kind of turn the company around with that in mind.
And so I think, yeah, it kind of completely comes down to top down. What is the tone that you’re setting for your organization in terms of how they work through conflict, how they work through their own opinions, or if they want to do things differently. And I think to be Frank, if there’s no way there’s no outlet that the organization has created for those kinds of normal feelings of employees, then that’s really the fault of the organization rather than the employee or the man.
Yeah, I think I had a very visceral reaction to that. I think you all covered it, right? I think at first it was like, it’s naive to think that there’s not politics and that you can just ignore it and ignore it. It could be like, you’re not, you’re avoiding conflict or you’re initiating conflict and not, not negotiating, which is a part of it.
But I do agree like culture, if you have, it’s one of the things I always look for in a culture I’m always trying to under. I’m going to use your term, Kate, like how has healthy conflict, you know, done there. They usually like how are decisions made? Um, this has been really, really insightful and interesting.
I appreciate everyone’s time here. So Kate Sophie, especially, thanks for your insights today. If people want to learn more about you or your companies, where can they find. Uh, you can find email@example.com, um, and me on LinkedIn. And that goes the same for me on like den. And then you could find Ari glide at Ari, G L a D dot.
Thank you, Naomi, Mike, thanks as always. Uh, and for everyone who’s listening, joining us here. Thank you. You’re a big part of this. If you have suggestions for future guests or topics, don’t hesitate to bring them up to us, either at the MO Pros dot com in our community, or, uh, hit me up on LinkedIn or email if you’ve got that, and you can always keep up with the latest episodes of the podcast on the MO Pros dot com slash ops Kat.
Uh, or through your favorite podcast player. Right. And remember, subscribe, rate, review. We need that. All right, everyone. Thanks again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.