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How to Optimize Your Team's Productivity: A Culture Handbook for Founders

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How to Optimize Your Team’s Productivity Powered by


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This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews with Jenna Abdou.


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Table of Contents Assemble a Team of Winners - Jean Brownhill Lauer, Sweeten Page 4 Onboard like a Pro - Matthew Faustman and Mason Blake, UpCounsel Page 17 Put People First - Saman Rahmanian, Managed by Q Page 22 Lead with Vision - Randy Ross, Cinematique Page 29 Cultivate a Culture of Entrepreneurship - Anna M. Counselman, Upstart Page 36 Maintain Your Culture Through Scale - Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co. Page 56 Credits Page 64


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Assemble a Team of Winners Jean Brownhill Lauer Co-founder and CEO of Sweeten @Sweeten_home


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“No matter how many books you read, or the number of CEOs who tell you about it, your first hires are so critical. They are going to embody the very best parts of you, your culture, and also, the worst parts.” Be cautious about “mirroring your own work habits and personality… Screen to compliment and correct.”


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If you only remember one thing about hiring: Character > Technical skills


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Identify these three traits in new team members:


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Identify these three traits in new team members: A winner’s mindset. “They don’t always have to be right. They want to win.”


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Identify these three traits in new team members: A natural disposition to help others.


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Identify these three traits in new team members. A high level of self awareness. No assholes. No ego.


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Implement an extensive hiring process with phone, video, and multiple in person interviews. Understand how an individual fits in your culture by inviting them to a company social and watching them interact with the team.


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Your most important goal as a leader is to ensure that your message is clearly heard. “It doesn’t matter how you say something. It matters how people hear it.” Ask team members to explain how they interpreted your conversation to be certain that you’ve clearly articulated your message.


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“At a startup, you manage people to not only work effectively inside of the structure. They’re building the structure as they are inside of it.”


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Combat uncertainty with a rigorous testing culture. Make it a core organizational tenet that each experiment is a source of data. Evaluate individuals on effort and execution, not results.


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Maximize transparency by using an app like Waggl that enables team members to anonymously submit questions to the CEO.


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Empower individuals to be themselves at work. “People don’t show up with their best ideas if they aren’t happy or if they don’t feel like they can come to work as their whole selves. You need them to come in with everything so you can get their very best.”


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Onboard like a Pro Matthew Faustman & Mason Blake Co-founders of UpCounsel @MatthewFaustman @Mase


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Be obsessive about making the right hires. “A great hire can 10x the organization…If you are going to bring on the best people you have to make sure that you’re setting them up for success.”


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As a founder, relinquish the idea that an individual, regardless of how talented, will join your team and be successful on their own. On every new hire’s first day, have an intimate conversation about the company’s vision, how you’re going to get there, and the direct role he or she will play achieving it.


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Your early dialogue should map out a clear set of goals for an individual to achieve during their first week and month. This not only enables them to experience early success, it provides a safe gateway for them to contribute to team conversations.


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Make intellectual honesty a core value. Encourage team members to share ideas, openly disagree, and engage in healthy debate. “It’s not just one or two people making the decision. It’s the company as a whole.”


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Put People First Saman Rahmanian Co-founder of Managed by Q @Saman325


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As a founder, your most important job is that everyone in the company whether they’re a senior executive, software engineer, or intern - is treated equally.


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As a founder, your most important job is that everyone in the company whether they’re a senior executive, software engineer, or intern - is treated equally. “We wanted to make sure that everybody gets the same quality of treatment and experience. Everyone has the same types of benefits and expectations of being an employee at Managed by Q.”


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Make it clear that no job is beneath any member of your business - Including you. At Managed by Q, “Everybody cleans.”


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“The reason that everybody cleans is to understand the work that the majority of our employees do; To feel first hand how it works is tremendously important. Knowing the experience enables you to build better products. It grounds you and sets you on the same level. Nobody is too good to clean.”


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Develop a broader vision for your business. “I think of Q less as a corporate office and more as a center where we can start the beginning of a community life.”


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Nurture meaningful relationships by hosting fun gatherings for team members and their families. Celebrate recent company milestones, outstanding performances, and upcoming features and announcements.


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Lead with Vision Randy Ross Co-founder and CEO of Cinematique @CinematiqueHQ


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The only way to change an industry is to create “a disciplined roadmap to maximize the potential of your idea.”


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Be organized, be compartmentalized, and have a clear understanding of your fundamental goals. Don’t let media and trends impact your focus.


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As a founder, “you have to make sure that you sustain as a company. That you’re still alive tomorrow. It’s a very practical idea of survival that may mean you can’t execute on a big idea you’ve been working on for the last six months for two years.”


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When you believe in and promote an integral purpose you “allow team members to get real about ideas they’re personally attached to.” Constantly reiterate your “undying integrity to your fundamental concept.”


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While transparency should be a vital tenet of your culture be conscious about sharing information that will cause your team members unnecessary stress. Ask yourself: Will my team lose focus if they know about this?


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Be honest about the reality of innovation. “It’s one thing to put it in your marketing materials that you are an innovative company. It’s another thing to sit in a room and say that something is not good enough. It’s not out of the box enough. To ask, is this really up to our standards? That’s innovating, and that’s hard.”


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Cultivate a Culture of Entrepreneurship Anna M. Counselman Co-founder and Head of Operations at Upstart @amongayt


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“Strive to build a culture of entrepreneurship. It’s not the type of culture where you go and tell your manager to fix it for you. It’s a self-sustaining business where everyone is constantly looking to make things better.”


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Demonstrate your culture of entrepreneurship by explaining to new team members, and reinforcing to currents ones, that if they find a problem they should actively work to solve it.


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“No matter how small, you should think of every opportunity as a chance to prove how good you are.”


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Encourage your team member to go to the product team first.


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Encourage your team member to go to the product team first. “Most problems should get solved on the product level before they become operational problems.”


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Innate collaboration between departments implements a tight feedback loop, leading to fast execution. Visible improvements to the product will motivate team members and create a “self-cleaning mechanism of improvement.”


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Balance speed and sustainability. “Speed isn’t about making people work crazy hard all the time.” It’s about emboldening individuals to make fast decisions.


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Remove roadblocks to empower individuals to make judgment calls, test, and iterate.


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As a founder, it’s your responsibility to celebrate individuals unique contributions and provide opportunities for them to advance in the organization based on their career path.


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“It’s not a one size fits all approach. As a manager, you need to tailor it to the right person.”


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Acknowledging and rewarding individuals in the way that resonates with them not only inspires their future behavior, it empowers them to be champions of change for the rest of the team to follow.


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While speed is standard at startups, remember you won’t be sprinting forever.


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While speed is standard at startups, remember you won’t be sprinting forever. “There are moments when everyone is sprinting really hard with super aggressive timelines and burning the midnight oil. They come in spurts, and then you have a lull with breathing room.”


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Show don’t tell. “You can’t say ‘I want the company to be nimble,’ and then have it be nimble. You have to set an example. You have to act nimble. You have to make fast decisions. You have to launch things quickly. You can’t build consensus forever before moving forward.”


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“We ask our employees to be the change they want to see.”


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Follow these three principles to stay scrappy through scale:


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Follow these three principles to stay scrappy through scale: Hire the right team members. Translation: You want ‘Get shit done’ kind of people.


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Follow these three principles to stay scrappy through scale: Ask those people to maintain the culture. You can’t be what you can’t see.


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Follow these three principles to stay scrappy through scale: “Be vigilant about fighting bureaucracy!” Don’t let decision-making committees and rigid processes override your culture of entrepreneurship.


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Maintain Your Culture Through Scale Kelsey Meyer Co-founder and President of Influence & Co. @Kelsey_M_Meyer


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As your team scales, be extremely intentional with the way you organize company activities. Connect each new team member with a veteran in your organization who will actively make them feel welcome.


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Redefine delegation as ownership by empowering individuals to acknowledge, ideate, and execute on problems they recognize in your business.


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Delegation isn’t assigning people busy work. It’s telling them: “I want you to rise to the occasion and help me solve this problem.”


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The more your organization grows the less likely you are to be the right individual to solve a problem. Empower the individuals who are closest to the issues to take action.


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“Your job as a founder is to enable people to do their jobs right. If your team members are getting recognized for great work you’re doing a good job supporting them.”


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No matter how large your team is your strengths as a founder will multiply throughout the business. Be maniacal about coaching your team members on the good parts of your leadership style and connecting them with alternative individuals and resources that can supplement your weaknesses.


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Genuine gratitude is the most meaningful way you can support your team. Make it a habit by recognizing stand out team members each week. Try hand writing two thank you notes to team members who went above and beyond.


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When was the last time you thanked someone on your team? Show your appreciation today.


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If you have a question, submit it to 33voices Q&A for a direct answer from one of our founders or thought leaders.


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LEARN MORE


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CONNECT WITH US! Tell us what you think Jenna@33voices.com Presentation by Chase Jennings Insights by Jenna Abdou


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