109: Panel: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now….

109: Panel: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now….

Five leaders join me to talk about the wonderful, frustrating and elusive nature of hindsight. If only we’d know then, what we know now.


I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful!

Charlotte Ward 0:13
Hello, and welcome back to Episode 109 of the customer support leaders podcast. I’m Charlotte Ward. Today we have a panel session talking about if I knew then what I know now.

I would like to welcome back to the podcast today, a group of leaders who are in all previous guests and all different stages of their career to tell us to help me out with this panel discussion, where we talk about what we would tell ourselves in a former life what we wish we had known earlier on in our career. So, my dear panellists, the question is If I knew, then what I know now, what would what would we tell our former selves? And let’s I guess start with where? Where are you at now? What What are you up to? What stage of your careers are you at? How do you? How do you feel you’ve kind of arrived at this point. Let’s let’s describe where we’re at right now begin there.

Matt Dale 1:22
All right, I’ll start off because why not? So I’m Matt Dale, I’ve been the VP of support at illuminate education software company in Southern California for a while the VP of support is a recent ish title last couple years. But I’ve been growing in my role in running our support team as we grew from a small team of about three of us when we started to a little over 60 people all across the US and we’ve even got some teammates in other countries too. So there’s been a lot of growth over the last eight years as we’ve gone from that small, scrappy startup to the more I guess, mature organisation and a lot of things that I’ve learned along the way and A lot of stuff that I wish I knew now or do we wish I knew then that I know now so I’m excited for the topic today, but that’s a little bit about me.

Charlotte Ward 2:09
I always have to remind myself like I have to double think that centres if I knew then what I know now because the other way around would be really bad right?

Unknown Speaker 2:18
Right. You don’t want to know now what you didn’t do what you kind of do know now we can do that. And I feel like there was a song that was something like if I wish I knew without what I knew then I don’t know. You have to dig that up for the intro or something like that, Charlotte.

Charlotte Ward 2:30
I think you need to write it and sing it for us map.

Unknown Speaker 2:33
Alright, I’ll look it up. I’ll do some research. Awesome.

Greg Skirving 2:37
Rod Stewart.

Unknown Speaker 2:40
Yep, there we go.

Unknown Speaker 2:42
That’s a perfect segue right there. You know and talking about more experience and support, you know, dive on.

Charlotte Ward 2:49
Greg, that was either some incredible googling or a master masterful knowledge of Rod Stewart’s back catalogue, right?

Greg Skirving 2:57
Well, I my mind is a bit of a guard heap of useless information, but apparently it came in handy this time. So. Yeah. So yeah, Greg scrubbing I’m actually currently between gigs as it were, but, you know, many, many years of experience leading teams on both the support implementation and on the sales side. And, yeah, you know, many, many different things that have taken a long time that I wish I’d known, you know, years ago, couple of things, you know, I’ve came upon recently, and I’m still learning and you know, hopefully this, this session will provide, you know, newer managers, some potential potholes in the road that they can avoid.

Charlotte Ward 3:52
Awesome. That’s it. What about you? Where are you right now?

Natalie Petruch-Trent 3:56
Yeah. So I’m probably one of the newer leaders here. I am currently a senior technical account manager at cambium. I’ve been with Pandium for a little under a year, I came in as the sole Customer Success person and have been working on laying that foundation and growing the team, which has been a really exciting journey. Before this, I was managing a larger departments success department in the entertainment tech industry, and then before that, a small onboarding team. It’s definitely been a very interesting and unusual journey of leadership. And I think that’s an important thing to let people know as well that it’s not always a straight shot. Your leadership journey can be very windy and curvy and that’s entirely fine.

Charlotte Ward 4:52
Very true, very true. Cool could Simone in which you’d like to tell us a little about you?

Simone Secci 5:00
Sure, I’m Simone I’m currently head of support at doodle I pretty much help to doodle building the support team to the point to where right now I am introducing leads within the team. So I introduced for example the first customer success first I created the tier two team though there wasn’t there and pretty much just structured the whole team throughout my journey with them, which has been like a little over two years. I’ve been in support leadership since 2014. And I’ve been in support for a long time I wouldn’t mention here but yeah, I you know, since I’m about to train some new leads within my team, I wish that I mean, I hope that with the with this conversation, And I can extract some good advice that I can then use in this in this path of training.

Charlotte Ward 6:11
Yeah, and I think that’s a that’s perhaps an interesting thing we can talk about, at some point during the next 45 minutes or so is it actually leading other leaders? Because that’s quite a specific, different, specifically different skill set as well that you acquire as you as you grow? Isn’t it? Craig. What about you?

Craig Stoss 6:33
Oh, yeah, I’ve been leading teams for about eight years now. As you know, I think I will support the nonlinear comment that Natalie made a lot. Most of my teams are have been very international. In fact, my past couple of gigs have been building out international 24 by seven strategies or support departments. And so a lot of my experience is on the kind of global teams, remote teams outsource teams and Focusing on on those types of strategies

Charlotte Ward 7:06
Awesome. Cool. So, so where we do have quite a varied set of journeys actually and we and we are all relatively different stages. I like I guess didn’t do any to introduce myself at this point, however on where I definitely taught,

Matt Dale 7:26
we’ve been listening to you and then the podcast, we don’t necessarily know your story. stranger and just you’re just the emcee. Right You just carry the conversation.

Charlotte Ward 7:36
Wow, just think of me as the person with no personality that’s just here to help your shine, right? Yeah, I’m, I guess I can be as valid a part of this discussion as anyone else on this call. So I, I hope everyone at least listening to the podcast knows that I’m Charlotte Ward. And if they don’t, then I am Charlotte Ward. I have been in support for 25 Yours I’m not too ashamed to admit that to admit that it’s been that long, because it really has been slightly more than 25 years if I’m honest. And I’ve been leading support teams for 16 of those, and just Well, maybe nearly 17. And actually, certainly for the last 16, I’ve been remote feeding support teams as well, which has been an interesting journey. Thing quite life changing that time. So, shall we having introduced ourselves much more thoroughly than we usually do, shall we? Should we talk about day one? Because I think this is always an interesting, an interesting question. I remember a couple of years ago, somebody said to me, actually, that they were about to embark on a new role and what advice did I have for them at that point, and I got a bit better and I ended up writing an article about it, and the article was somewhat inspiration for podcasts panel actually, but that article was very much focused on day one. And my, my distillation over the course of writing that article myself, my single piece of advice for day ones is that nothing is ever seen as simple as it seems at the start. And I and I went on to kind of elucidate on that a bit more. But that was my opening gambit. For day one, nothing is as simple as it seems the day you turn up. Let’s think about our our day ones, whether they were the very first day you moved into a leadership position, or that you moved into a particular role and and found a particular set of challenges or made a particular discovery or have that eureka moment on a day one. What what date, what day ones can we talk about that might be of interest to our listeners right now.

Unknown Speaker 9:55
So I’d like to talk about two that I’ve experienced that have kind of two different takeaways. The first one was Kind of when our CEO of the small company that time said, Hey, we need someone around the support team, and I think you’re the person for it to go ahead and do this. And it’s like, Okay. Alright, I guess I’ll do this. And there were some challenges that were kind of unique to that period, I knew the team pretty well, because we’d all been working together. But because of that, knowing them really well. And there were some challenges because they all saw me kind of as the same as them, we were all working together supporting the same product. And suddenly, I’m the guy that’s in charge of approving time off and kind of working to become a less startup being more kind of like a business with with management like that. So I think that experience that day one is a very, it can be a challenging day one and kind of helping people see you in the new role. It’s almost easier if you’re able to come in and start fresh at a new company in a management role, because you’re not being judged and seen on how you acted before. So that was kind of for me one of my like, kind of big day ones and I don’t have any like specific oh my gosh, here’s exactly what what you should do to fix For us, it was more of a process over the next probably six months where I

Matt Dale 11:05
slowly showed them, hey, these are some of the things that I’m being asked to do. Here’s what we need to do as a team together, and kind of define that role. As a separate part of the team, even though I was still helping on the queue, even though I was still, you know, answering phone calls and things like that, adding on some of the responsibilities and making that a little bit more visible, without completely upsetting everybody’s feelings and all that stuff. But I think that’s for me kind of the first kind of a day one. The other one that that comes to mind when we talk about day ones is is our company’s acquired a lot of other companies that can be done probably six or seven acquisitions over the last couple years. And so for me, I’ve had an opportunity to have a day one with these new teams who were a small team, and they suddenly got gobbled up by this bigger company. And I think one in particular when I got to fly out to New York City to our to our office there, and I spent some serious time on it, getting to know the folks that I was working with helping them understand that about myself, and really kind of using that time so that everyone knows everybody else. It’s really easy to say, hey, there’s no there’s our team lead or VP or director, whoever it is, but they don’t really know who I am. And so when I’m in those situations, I think my biggest thing that I focus on is, let’s sit down and have a conversation. I’ll start the day with a halo, we’re meeting as a team. I am Matt, here’s a little bit about me. And here’s what we’re going to do today. So everyone knows what to expect, and then break off and spend time with each person on the team and some cases. One of the guys it was it was a temporary worker, he’d been working for three weeks, he’s like, I have nothing to say like, I’m excited to be here. I’m glad to meet you. But I don’t know anything about the product. And then we had another person that had been there for several years. And I think we spent about two and a half hours together talking to her, Hey, what’s working well, what are the things that we need to do better next, like as we as we come together as a new team, you know, what do I need to know about you here, let me let me tell you about myself what makes me tick as a person, and those are really really rewarding, but they’re also So that can be really exhausting. So that’s like an emotional long day and a really good day. So those are my two day ones as a leader and support, and maybe some of our listeners are experiencing something like that right now.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 13:15
Yeah, um, I would say, I would say similarly, I have two interesting day one experiences, I’ll keep them short and sweet. I would say the first is a little bit of an edge case when it comes to a leadership or management position. And that’s when you’re coming in to basically build a support team where there is nothing there. So it doesn’t necessarily or might not necessarily feel like a leadership position because you’re the only one but you need to be thinking about the future and what you’re doing there and how you’re laying the foundation so people can follow you and so you can manage and help people going forward. So I think that’s that’s just an interesting thing to think. About and that some people in that position might just be thinking about how can I do things most efficiently, what process works for me. And you need to be thinking about laying down those roots and how they can be repeatable by someone who isn’t you are also what other members of the team have to look at. If you’re, you know, hit by a bus, I love falling back to the old bus rule. And then the other side of that is as well is you don’t have to create all these processes right away. I think that’s another trap that people fall into wanting to just document and put in place very firm processes to mitigate issues from the get go. But sometimes when you are working with a smaller startup company processes at an early age can be more of a hindrance than helpful. So I think that’s just One thing to think about that I’ve definitely, definitely felt and bent in. And then on the other side is coming into a leadership position for a small medium sized team. As I said, I’m probably one of the newer leaders in this group. And for me, that was really intimidating because there were members of my team who had significantly more years of experience than I did. And I think that a lot of people have felt a little bit of that imposter syndrome as well. So that was definitely something that was a little bit scary for me coming into that role and something that I had to talk down to myself internally, but also, rather than being afraid of the situation, use it to your advantage, talk to the people who have been there longer than you who have been working at that company and in this industry for longer than you and see what you can learn from them. And then also you were hired for a reason you’re going to be able to add perspective. And skills that people who have been in this industry for, you know, 20 years might not necessarily be aware of. And also, interestingly enough, that position was a I had a very volatile customer base with some very aggressive instances that came up came up regarding illegal behaviour and pornography and minors. So that was also something that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for in that leadership position. But when you’re the person at the top of the chain, no matter how crazy something can be, you have to be the one to handle it. So I think that’s also just another kind of piece of advice that you need to be prepared for the unexpected, as best that you can and just Keep in mind that you’re doing your best. Stay calm, stay relaxed, even if you have to hop on the phone with the FBI equivalent in Canada.

Charlotte Ward 17:14
I Well, I mean, talk about baptism by fire for a start. I mean, that’s, that’s a heck of a start to roll. But I think both what you said around your first story, just trying to do everything at once. Is it good? I’m always tempted by that. But I think everything that everything else you said and going back to the point I made earlier about day ones, which is that nothing is as simple as it seems at the start. I do think it’s a mistake to try and put everything in place at the start, but I think if you can accelerate your Understanding and frankly uncovering of all of them kind of, you know, the, like the rotten wood floorboards underneath the carpets or whatever, right that you do yourself a huge favour if you can uncover as much as possible as quickly as possible, good or bad, right? If you can give it some shape as quickly as possible, because that allows you that information allows you to prioritise what you actually need to do first, instead of doing all the things first, it’s actually it really targets your efforts much more, I think,

Natalie Petruch-Trent 18:31
exactly. It’s like making your to do list and tackling the rotten floorboards one at a time.

Unknown Speaker 18:38
When I think to that point, it’s important to remember to what stage the business is at and where you’re at kind of in your career. And so where you’re at as a startup, where there’s one person on the team or a very small team is very different than coming into a team that has 40 or 50 people or a team that’s looking to scale and like Craig’s talking about, you know, 24 by seven coverage and things like that. There’s some very different scenarios that you’re in and so what You’re in that phase be ready for the next phase, be aware of where the company is going where your team needs to go to be there to support that. But also, it’s easy to get too far ahead of yourself too. So finding that balance between you know, having everything perfect, which is going to kill you, and and not having enough for the next step is going to be coming in a couple weeks, so I know where you’re at.

Charlotte Ward 19:22
Definitely. Let’s um, let’s think about how imperfect things can get then let’s move on to talk about our, our mistakes, the mistakes of our past.

Unknown Speaker 19:36
Yeah, I can think of something right away. So I think that when I started as a as a leader, I was kind of in a situation where I was brought in because there wasn’t a crisis situation emergency and it was sort of like we’re drowning in tickets, please fix it. And so that was kind of like, how I was brought in and then I was brought in to bring guests Many boards that were necessary to fix this mess without any understanding, or, for example, to do forecasting for per diem. At the time, I barely know how to do it now, thinking about like many years ago, I definitely did not know, like how to calculate that at all. And that brings me to my point, which was like, I figured out the measuring either way, right? I’m kind of like, in the beauty of professional where like, I’m obsessed with data. And I’m always like, referencing and talking about it. And I just did a presentation to the oil company a couple of days ago about support data. And really, one big mistake for me was speaking a language that was not as, you know, the database, there was no statistical there was no numerical when I had to justify choices that we were making Aya to figure out how to solve a problem and I’m just You know, I’ve realised in the last few years, how much easy it has been to get my point across to get what I need, you know, being backed by some solid understanding of how to put together a visualisation of data measuring of data. And so I would say that, that’s definitely something that I wish that I got to we’d like some years in advance.

Greg Skirving 21:29
Yeah, I’ve got one that actually I just learned this in the past couple of years. I solidified it in the past couple of years. You know, early on in my career, and I know we’ve all been on groups projects, you’re implementing a system or you’re doing business requirements or working on a process, and everybody’s got their own opinion. And meetings go on forever. And, and, you know, if somebody wants this, it’s this feature or this, this feature, this process to do This and we got to add that and, and it’s tough to get two people to agree on something, let alone six or seven. So I always wanted to make sure early on if it had to be perfect, and it had to have everything I needed and the people that I represented. And, and then I realised that, well, in practice, what I end up doing is, is agreeing to stuff and then, you know, staying within the framework and interpreting that process or that’s using that system within the spirit, but not necessarily as rigorously as the process dictated. And, and like I said, it literally dawned on me just a few years ago, you need a process, you need to document some of these things, because if you don’t, it’s just it’s a free for all, but it doesn’t need to be absolutely 100% perfect, you know, if, if, if we’re good managers, and we we encourage people to make good decisions that achieve objectives, and maybe be a little creative with the process. far more important than wasting cycles and getting upset that that, you know, what you’ve worked on collectively didn’t turn out exactly the way you wanted it to. I think

Charlotte Ward 23:12
so sorry, Craig. I was just gonna just chip in on on Greg’s final point there, which was that, you know, the The other thing to bear in mind about capturing some of this stuff in in document form is, that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone and actually, getting something documented in an imperfect or as is kind of state is better than waiting until it is perfect, or finalised to document it. Because if you capture it, as it is as imperfect it as imperfect as it might be, you can at least iterate it and the documentation then kind of writes itself as you discuss those improvements. Anyway.

Craig Stoss 23:53
I was going to extend on Greg’s point to that. Another common thing that I think I made as an early leader is Focusing on solutions up front, as opposed to the problem. And, and something that I’ve definitely learned from that mistake is, you know, quite often, you know, new leaders are very eager to show their that they’re going to be good at this job, they’re going to drive value. And so they, they start to, you know, think about these great new processes or new tools or, or whatever it might be, that’s going to change the fabric of the team and drive better see sad, and whatever it might be. When really, you need to come, you need to make sure that you understand the problem. And when you’re talking to different stakeholders, and Greg said about convincing six people, if you go into a room and say, here’s a problem I’ve identified and four of those six people don’t even understand the problem. And then there’s no point in really talking about a solution yet. You know, you’re not you’re not at that point. So that that I think is a big mistake. I think the other one that I’ve learned over the years is you know, leaders by their very nature tend to want to lead or own conversations or be kind of the the person that, you know, owns the room and in some ways, and one thing that I think I’ve learned is, you know, I think about a one on one meeting is I, I asked, as opposed to me booking the meeting and be setting the agenda. I asked my team to do that. Now. And I think that what that does is it gives them the empowerment to think of it as their meeting and not not my meeting as a leader and I and again, I think that’s a mistake that I made early on of what I’m booking a one on one, it’s, it’s I’m owning this meeting, and I’m talking first and whereas I really do feel that the better approach is to, to flip that on its head and say, I know you own this meeting and I’m, you know, I’m giving you so my card because I want to have these conversations, but you you tell me what you want to talk about you talk first and if I have points, if we have time, I’ll save them for the end.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 26:00
Yeah. And then I think just jumping off of what both Greg and Craig were saying is, um, I think also saying no. And as Craig was saying, as a leader, you always want to say us always want to please everyone. But there may be circumstances where you just need to say, No, this isn’t a good idea for my team for my employees. Here’s the data or reasons why but nope, I’m not going to do this.

Charlotte Ward 26:29
Yeah, for sure. Sure. I think actually, the saying no, is kind of important in terms of managing as well, you know, as a, as a leader, as you said, you know, no, I’m not going to do this. And no, we’re not going to do this. This isn’t the right time or this isn’t the direction I actually want to take this team in. Particularly as you get more more experienced, I think as a leader, you become more confident because if you do get to a point where frankly, you’ve seen not all of it before you but you’ve done He’s in a lot of it before. And I think you, you kind of have much more of a gut instinct for what you know, is a good idea and what is just not going to be worth investing even in any kind of investigation timing at certain points because people who don’t come from a support background, and we’ll still feel like they have some brilliant ideas for how support should should do x y Zed, right? And I think that it’s okay to say, Oh, yeah, that’s not gonna work. That’s just not where I see this team going. That’s not how we want to do things. That’s not part of my strategy. We don’t have the tools or the processes or the, you know, the data or whatever to support that. And even if it’s just yet, or frankly, that’s just a really bad idea, because I’ve seen it fail for other times. So let’s, let’s think about the things you did right then. So So we’ve we’ve all done some questionable things right.

But But again, like we all learn lessons as we go through through the port and we spend time in support and leading teams and support. Now, looking at where, where you are now, what were the biggest successes, what would be the biggest achievements that you had? What actually did you get really right?

Unknown Speaker 28:25
I have also that because just because I think I have achieved a level of like, you know, safety and in acknowledging things that I’ve done right, through the feedback that I got from people because I’m unable to, and in a similar way now with the idea of the imposter syndrome, like I had a lot of that like going through all steps of my god here. So I just learned how to rely on the opinion of the people there that worked in my team, you know, if they would have been if they were not like leaving the team, if they were, you know, giving good feedback, then I learned my knowledge and say, Okay, I did this right. And I think that one thing that I can say for sure is, I was very concerned at the beginning of this effort in leadership about a lot of like, human aspects of the management aspect of it, how to deal with people to manage people, and for reasons completely unrelated to management itself. And, and professional reason. I was like, actually not having difficulties in that at all. Like, for example, I don’t know managing people that were older than me, that are more experienced than me, and things like that. But just being the person that because of like my culture I’m bringing in so to have to talk my way through life. This is sort of like, you know, I think of like the place where I’m from, but also Yeah, just been No candy with people, I’ve never tried to sell them like the whatever specific value that like certain company for that were, that were the values that we usually bring up but just like you know, like it was said before Like I said before, listen to people and like also understanding out to get them to really talk about what they what was biting them when when what was the issue and adapting a style and having different styles or in different approaches with different people like understanding what would work with one person doesn’t work with another there’s no school of thought there’s no management style and there’s no like course that you can take that will teach you. Okay, use this and then you know the men to match maybe some big code I can think that that works, it does. So, you know, just I think this and this having a human approach to management, understanding this relating to every single person as a single person and adopting what, what works with them, I think, and being candid and honest and the approach like this is what we need to do. This is who I am, I’m not selling you anything. You know, I’m not getting you to buy into anything. Like we need to do some honest work together. We need to make this team work together. And you know, that’s how we’re gonna do it.

Charlotte Ward 31:38
Yeah, you’re right, that there is no course although, of course, people could take time to listen, listen to such podcasts as this where they get everything they need in one panel, right. approach, approach, really efficient learning experience. Thanks, Tim. That’s great, Greg.

Greg Skirving 31:59
Yeah, no, no going to say, seminars, so you don’t subscribe to the beatings will continue until morale improves. And so that’s good for you. And sort of on that note, and I think I, you know, every manager I’ve spoken with, has gone through this. I think you don’t know how to manage people. When you first start, you know, I think, you know, a lot of people have won the manager, and they have that, you know, they’ve got to manage and I’m your mother. And I said, so and, and you just, and, and everybody kind of reaches a point where it says, manager on your business, but you, you you make the turn to being a coach and mentor, and, you know, hasn’t Greg talked about that in terms of booking the meetings? And, and, you know, the more you can I don’t even like the word empower because that suggests that I have the power to give it to you, I think, I think you know, people do their jobs. They make thousands of decisions a day. I’ve got my own decisions to make, how can I make the decisions of 13 other people 15 other people on my team. And and once you hit that point, it’s almost it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s enlightening. And then you you you manage differently you support people. And, you know, you you stop telling them and it’s like Newton’s third law, the harder you push, the harder they’re gonna push back. So you still need to manage and, and and course correct with various people but like I said, most managers I spoke with that have done it for a long time will reach that point, stop managing and start mentoring and coaching.

Craig Stoss 33:39
I think the biggest thing that I did right was take take chances. You know, I think that one thing that you know, I wish I knew then what I know now was that careers don’t have to be super linear and taking chances as part of that, you know, I’ve After a job because I got offered an incredible opportunity, and I’ve been laid off from a job, you know, and had to reassess where I wanted to go, I quit a job because the the culture and leadership was not a great fit for me. You know, all of these things are part of establishing who you are and what you want to do. And I think that people don’t often jump at some of those opportunities because of imposter syndrome because because of some misplaced loyalty to their company. I had a former lead that reported to me, who came to me, you know, he has to take me out to lunch one day, and he, he sat, we sat down at lunch, and he said, he said, Craig, there’s this opportunity in Germany to lead a team. This is we’re based in Canada, and he said, you know, do you think it’s something I should go for, you know, and he was a young guy with a young family and and I had previously lived in Europe too. And so it was kind of like, yes, you know, like this is this is an opportunity of a lifetime to go and learn, you know, support in a different culture. I lead a completely different team of people, you don’t necessarily know that well. Now luckily, he spoke German already. So he didn’t have to worry about the language barrier as much, but it was just something where it was a no brainer to take that risk. And and at the very least, you know, he would get some experience and come back and, and be back in Canada, you know. So I think that I don’t regret any decision I made as much as some of them did cause me pain, long working hours. You know, it’s also not nice to be laid off or be in a position where you have to quit a job but all of those things were learning experiences that that probably made me a stronger leader today.

Matt Dale 35:43
So I think when I kind of think back about what I did, right and and kind of mistakes that I’ve made. Initially, I had one of my mistakes was not delegating. Like not feeling like I had to be the person that had the keys to the kingdom and if I controlled it, then they wouldn’t have to come to me, you know, my position. My job would have value. As I’ve gotten more experienced in my management and leadership, I realised that it’s actually much better if I can let go, the more things I can let go, the more things I can delegate people who are, you know, starting in a different place in their career and growing, the more effective we are as a team. So if I can replicate myself across the whole teamwork of three or four people in the team, I’m not the only person that runs Zendesk and says, but I’ve got two or three others that I can rely on. Suddenly, I’m not the bottleneck when we get busy and when things are going, you know, as we’re growing and so, so I’ve been really happy and pleasantly surprised when I started letting go and delegating. Because I’m a perfectionist, I want it done my way where it’s not good enough, and that’s 100% wrong thinking. That’s terrible. And that’s immature, as a manager, if you’re thinking about that stuff, like, check yourself and go, this is better if we if we get it done at 80%. That’s so much better than if we only get a few things done at 100% because I’m the only one that can do it. So I think that was Kind of like, one of my big mindset shifts as a leader was moving from, I’ve got to control it all to I need to delegate as much as I can, and empower my people so they can grow. And they can do really cool stuff. And that kind of ties into the second part, which I think is the training or replacement idea, which, you know, basically, if you’re not preparing other leaders in the company to grow with the role, and then if you leave, or if something changes in the company grows, you’re not going to have people that can step into key roles. And over the course of the last eight years, we found ourselves in situations where leaders moved on to different roles. And suddenly we’re like, oh, we weren’t preparing a new bench that was having someone are a couple people that were ready to take on that mental leadership. And as a result the team suffered, we got through it, but but it would be much better if we could say, Hey, we’re investing in all these people and the ones that are want to move into different directions on other parts of the company. That’s awesome. But But if they want to stay here, we want to make sure that they’re ready to take on that leadership. And the way that you do that is, is obviously through that delegation, both from my level to my direct reports but now as we’re multi level company like to their direct reports to so that they’re able to kind of pass that on, so I need to model that good behaviour and then you know when when crisis happens or someone gets that job offer to work in Germany and having an awesome experience and they take it, we’re not left going oh my gosh, how are we going to survive as a team because this key individuals got

Natalie Petruch-Trent 38:20
um, and kind of tying in to what Matt said, but also going back to a lot of what was said about empowering your people and empowering your employees and I feel like I’m being the negative Nancy here, but I feel like one thing that I did right was learning that the customers is not always right. And I what I say that is or the reason why I say that is because one of my asked positions that I have came to learn that none of the employees felt that they were able to do anything if they were being mistreated by the customers, because there was such a culture at that company that the customer’s always right. And I think that that’s something that I did right by telling and talking to my team and letting them know that even though you’re working as a support person, you are still very much a person that deserves to be respected. And you have a right as a human to set boundaries and limits of how you will and will not be talked about toxic jail. And if someone is continuously talking to you in a negative way, you have a right to bring that up to us and for them to be dealt with in a certain manner. So I just think that ties into a lot of checking in with your team seeing how they’re doing remembering that you’re working with people and not a A group of robots Yeah,

Charlotte Ward 40:06
very true. Very true. I, you know, my I’m completely with you, I’m such a perfectionist. And I really do. Yeah. Just it’s really hard to step away from stuff and say, You know what, I’ve got to trust you to go and do it. And, and something that many of us have touched on in terms of either mistakes or what we’ve got, right is is bringing people on to, you know, helping people to succeed. And, you know, moving to that kind of potential leadership role that you you’ll create through growth or other other changes in the organisation. But it’s great actually, if you give people that opportunity to like if you’re willing to let go of those reins a little bit, right.

Unknown Speaker 40:58
One thing on that too, I think He can be very stressful for the people who report to you when you suddenly go from. I’m a control freak, and everything is mine to Hey, I’m giving this to you, because it puts them in a situation where they feel they have to do it exactly like you would do it. One of the things that my, my team and I’ve kind of worked on is this idea of like, give me a 70% version of that, like, let’s say we’re working on a project or presentation to maybe to the senior leadership in the company. I don’t have time to do it. I’m not the right person to do it, because I don’t have the keys to the kingdom on our reporting in Zendesk. But, but you know, I’m working with my director who does say, Hey, here’s kind of what we’re thinking about Can Can you get me something like this in the next week or two days be a reasonable amount of time? here’s, here’s what here’s what I think success looks like but don’t stress we’re not worried about the final perfect product. Can we just pull some information together we can sit down and have a conversation. And what that allows them to do is kind of pull everything together without paralysing them going I’ve got to get this perfect eight plus presentation because I know it’s going to be seen by you know my boss’s boss and, and and all that and they can go cool like I can do 70% like we can We can get this and then then the two of us can sit down together, we can work on it. And I can give a little bit of insight on hey, here’s where we might want to work on this or that. And in reality, the 70 percents, usually close to 85, or 90%. And we can get a little polish and move along. But, but the idea of setting those folks up for success and not just going hand holding, you do this really high standard, because you know that I’m a person that has a really high standard, but saying, Hey, this is we’re in this together, let’s do this together. I’m here for you. And, you know, that’s much more successful. And I’ve seen a lot better results in that when I first started, which was like, let’s let’s do it this little, this isn’t good enough. It’s like no, that’s that’s not going to help them be successful.

Charlotte Ward 42:39
Yeah, certainly being there more as a sounding board. Like, I’ll give you a framework of what I want. And you know, I will I might check, particularly as you let go those reins like you said, if, if people are a little bit freaked out by the big request, where you suddenly say, Hey, can you just give me this? Give them nothing. Nothing to go on. At least giving them the reassurance that you’ll check in with them but make that reassurance right make that check in rather than a checker. And I think that if you say you know we can check in and as you said that kind of 70% thing let’s check in at a certain point and whether that’s time based or whether you know you get so far along and we’ll have a little check in and see if it’s in the right direction. And that builds confidence definitely

Greg Skirving 43:30
agree I was gonna say yeah, no, I was just gonna say very quickly Charlotte than mad you use the term perfectionist I fall into that category but I prefer the term recovering perfectionist.

Unknown Speaker 43:43
And Thanks for pointing that out and being the perfectionist so that we can you know, aim for that high standard.

Charlotte Ward 43:49
You know what they say about recovering perfectionist? Is the ex perfectionist such as the one the worst non perfectionist, right? or something to that effect, I think. Anyway, let’s move on. Let’s move on. Oh simony jumping.

Unknown Speaker 44:08
Yeah, one thing I wanted to say in regards to delegating. I think that one thing that connects the bathroom like somebody that you’re bringing into leadership, from the moment that you start training them as an agent, is one key skill that like is going to be one of the most important things as they are leaders, which is time management. So one thing that I hear the most from people is, I don’t have the time to do such and such, when they start doing more than one thing, right? I can’t do some read up on the support resources they share with me because this takes too much time. And I don’t know, when you know, to do it, I don’t know when to stop doing this and do this and that kind of thing. So I think Time management is a key skill, like starting from the moment that you managed to cue so I’m an AMA slovers Don’t talk fast. I come from a culture that is like notorious for relaxing, you know? So my D is always like, I work smarter, no learn to I sit down with people, and we look at the big picture. So how can we, I don’t know, reorganising you so that you work faster, get some stuff out, put some stuff together. Like how can you approach this in a more structured way so that like, it optimises your time and then you, you apply them metal to everything right? And so then when I’m looking at somebody’s performance in the beginning, and I’m trying to help them out, aside from just giving them a duel or anything like that, and try to get them to understand one piece of advice them, one of my earliest mentors shared with me, that was like, I really appreciate your commitment to help people out and like your empathy. But you have to see the big picture which is we need to well the biggest amount of people out there. And as we do that, we you know, because if you spend 2030 minutes on this one person, there’s somebody else that needs help, but that is waiting to always like, take that into consideration, right? And so this the same thing with like, a management of skills. So don’t manage things, tasks that you are that you that you have to do, right? How do you? How do you manage them effectively, like, look at the big picture, I know that and I know that you would like to make this perfect by some, you know, you have to understand when to stop and move on and dedicate time to this other thing. And so I think that that’s like, that’s going to be one thing that really makes the difference in your ability to teach that to people.

Charlotte Ward 46:49
Yeah, that that time management skill comes down to a real sense of being able to prioritise things as well, right that is constant. I don’t have time actually only go so far, because otherwise you’re stuck on kind of a hamster wheel of doing the same stuff that fills your day all the time. Anyway. Um, so let’s move on then to our advice column. The last question is for particularly, I guess, for new support leaders, but I’m sure that any listeners out there in any stage of their career are about to get some, some golden nuggets of wisdom from this panel, as I asked you all for your one piece of advice for other support leaders out there, and I’m going to come to you first, Greg.

Greg Skirving 47:45
Thank you. Yeah. So my piece of advice is make your own mistakes. You know, you’re gonna make mistakes, and that’s good. You know, failure is, is success practice. But if you believe it, do it You know, don’t listen to somebody else. I’ve been caught on that one a couple of times myself. If you believe it, go ahead and do it and if it’s a mistake at least it was yours.

Charlotte Ward 48:15
Yeah, yeah. I love that failure success practice and I’m sure I must have used my favourite other word about failure. My entirely made up word about failure on this podcast at some point in this year, but that failure where you put a lot of effort in and you get it almost right isn’t failure. It’s a Fuccess. It’s like it’s, it’s nearly success. And that’s, that’s my favourite. That’s my favourite is SU CCESS. In case you’re wondering.

Yeah, yeah. So As I know now, Scott, another piece of advice they’d like to draw,

Unknown Speaker 49:02
I’ll jump in here. I think we’ve kind of touched on it. I’ve heard a few people mentioned it. But just speaking to a new leader, I would say that just about everyone I talked to, as leader who you might look up and say, Hey, that person’s got so much experience doing this or that, whatever it is that we all deal with the imposter syndrome, like the feeling like that we aren’t worthy of what we’ve been asked to do that we don’t know what we’re talking about that we don’t know what we’re doing. And I just would encourage you like, at least for myself, that’s a very real, it’s an ad with every day. In fact, I’m really stuck on a project at work right now, because I don’t know how to do it. And I don’t feel like I can do it. And I’m going to get through it. And I’ll have it done tomorrow morning, because it’s due tomorrow morning. But if you’re feeling that feeling maybe for the first time or maybe it’s something you’ve struggled with, I just would encourage you, like, push on through that you are hired for a specific reason. And there are resources like this great podcast, there’s other people in the larger support community. There’s people in your life that you can look up to who are mentors and share With them where you’re at, share those feelings, maybe that’s maybe that’s your boss at work, if that’s a safe person to talk to, maybe that’s, you know someone else, but work through those feelings and know that we all feel that way. And you don’t have to have all your stuff together to be a good leader, you have to be a good listener, you have to, you know, work at it, you have to have some successes are whatever that is some failures, but that’s how you get better. And so don’t don’t be paralysed or don’t take a new role and don’t miss out on taking new role because you’re worried that you’re not qualified or you’re not the right person. So don’t let that an imposter syndrome. get you down.

Charlotte Ward 50:36
Yeah, yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And just your point about mentors, Matt, I think it’s also worth bearing in mind that mentors don’t even have to come from the support community, right, we that I actually get some of my best help and most valuable advice from a friend of mine who doesn’t work in support. And while I don’t share numbers specific to mark to any organisation that I’m working with or anything. Sometimes I do, I do run things past and like, I’ve got this kind of thing. I’m thinking, like, I will frame it like this, what do you think of that? Let’s just bounce that around. But what do you think like if the presentation takes shape like this is, you know, and these, just these kind of more general conversations that you can have with people who actually have other persons, like they don’t have all the inside knowledge that we have, necessarily they, they’re not inside our heads in the same way that everyone else in our organisation certainly isn’t inside our heads. So try it like it’s almost like, if you can explain it to someone else, then then you’ve probably got it mostly right.

Matt Dale 51:44
And if they don’t have the same experience, that diversity of opinion or from their particular viewpoint, they may see something you don’t you don’t see too, so I think finding a mentor or mentors in your life, and again, not necessarily in your particular vertical field. And again, my dad is one of my mentors, like I talked him on the phone a lot. And he and I have a great relationship, but he knows what’s going on in my work world. And he can I can ask things to him and he can kind of go back and forth. And I’ve got a former professor, that’s a mentor. And I’ve got a good buddy, who were kind of mentors for each other at different stages. Sometimes I’m mentoring him, sometimes he’s mentoring me and having people in your life is really important. So yeah, hundred percent on all that just, just don’t get caught up in the you’ve got to do this on your own. And you’re not good enough, because we all feel that way. And you can get through it. Yeah, absolutely. Massively.

Natalie Petruch-Trent 52:37
Yeah. So this is a little bit cliche and ties into what other people were saying. But I would say really just focus on your communication and specifically, there’s a communication practice, I guess, that I personally find really, really enlightening and really interesting. The communication compass if you haven’t heard of it, I Highly recommend checking it out. But basically it breaks down everyone into fundamentally four different communication styles. And it’s definitely worth reading about it, maybe doing a team building exercise, because it really makes you think about how different people process and receive information. I think that’s something that’s definitely, really necessary to be aware of is that it’s not necessarily that you’re saying a incorrect thing, or that what you’re saying is wrong. It’s how you’re delivering messages and how you’re communicating things. And that the way you deliver a message to one person on your team may have to be entirely different than the way that you’re communicating that same message to another person because everyone’s different. So that would definitely be a piece of advice. Like I said, communication compass, check it out. It definitely changed my life.

Craig Stoss 54:03
Mine’s actually an extension of that. I was like, I was gonna start with consume information, you know, read articles, listen to Charlotte’s podcast and, you know, listen to people talk about this stuff to boost your, you know, your mind, like learn perspectives and, but but taking off from what Natalie said, You know, I was asked recently what, what the best leadership book I ever read was and I said, You know, I don’t think it’s so much about leadership books it’s more about reading about people in the mind and how people perceive you know, take in information and want to be talked to and so I read a lot of books like about psychology and and, and you know things that Freakonomics isn’t the one that you wouldn’t think is a leadership book, but it talks a lot about thinking about different patterns and thinking about, you know, concepts outside of the box of the traditional nutritional way you might think about it and those books really really do help you because you how allows you to communicate to different people differently and recognise patterns of behaviour and and people who fall into you know, the kind of the mental traps that we all fall into, even when we’re aware of predictably irrational was another book that was the same thing where not only are we making irrational decisions every day, but we’re doing so in a predictable way which is just bonkers because we’re, if we know them, how can we continue to be irrational? So yeah, I read I read you know, there’s about five or six blogs I read, I listen to podcasts. And I love having these conversations with with, you know, great leaders because it shares different perspectives. Because ultimately, every person and every company and every situation is going to be unique and so if you can bring a toolbox of 30 different perspectives into a company, you know, you’re definitely have a lot more value to offer.

Unknown Speaker 55:59
Now, when under bid And what can I said to begin with, you know, this is probably one of my favourite things, anybody that said about support, you know, their relationship with psychology, this is something at it from a database of years ago, and he presented it to how he was talking about difficult conversations specifically, and anybody sent out the work of like customer support is very similar to the work that he does in in a lot of ways and like understanding clues understanding language that people have, and I can that kind of thing. That’s like very, very important for people. But, you know, in, let’s say that something that goes along the way of communication, and then one piece of advice that I have for people is visibility. Make your team visible, not just like you already visible your dad of the team or delete or whenever you have a degree of visibility, make them visible. When you have a chance to speak in public about the team. Let them know this people that work in the DMR what they’re doing what accomplishment, you know, they made the because they are not as as good as you were in different position of making that visible to the rest of the company. So it’s your duty to them to do so explaining what contribution they they are making, to the company due to the goals of the companies of the company that they are working for. and put them in touch with like, the stakeholders that they need to. I think if you really they already understand that it’s a lot of politics involved. You are talking with stakeholders, you’re making a lot of compromises, or as Greg was saying before, you know, like his ideas like that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, but like, this is like an everyday thing. You won this much. And then you get that much and you make a compromise. You move on you make another deal with someone else and you and you move along but You also have to to represent your team and in terms of like putting them in contact with whoever is going to help them be successful in their in their tasks. So visibility is very important if your team will be invisible and bigger.

Charlotte Ward 58:19
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more and I would extend that slightly actually. Similarly, I I recorded a podcast with my credit board and one of my other guests some time ago, and we were talking about generating revenue in sport but he made a really interesting comment. And I think it follows on nicely from your,your ideal of like constantly talking about the achievements and and bringing your team into focus and whenever you get the opportunity, because I think that one thing I’ve noticed with support People with individual contributors is when you’re stuck in the day to day quite a lot, particularly when you have lost touch with or maybe never had touch with your the importance of your place in an organisation the importance of what you do in an organisation, I think it’s easy just as an individual contributors just to sit there and do the day to day and lose touch with actually the influence that you can have and the opportunities, the opportunities for growth that could be there. If only you had that visibility and the the understanding of the value that you bring that goes with that visibility. And Mike redboard said something to me quite some time ago, which really stuck with me, he said that, as a leader, really the very best thing you can do is make every conversation that is with your team, or about your team relate to growth and I think that Think that’s really interesting, he said something like, I’m trying to recall his exact words, but it was something like if, if you talk about your team in a way that is anything less than building a, like a, an increasing perception of their value and then and, and anything other than coming from a place of potential and growth that will, you know, that will come out of your mouth and every conversation that will seep out of your pores every time you spend time with people. And that is how your team will be perceived. So what you should always do is try and frame conversations about with your team and from a place of growth and potential, because they will start to feel it then as well. And then they will be, you know, effectively and I know Greg didn’t like this phrase, but they will effectively be sort of empowered and certainly uplifted and certainly begin to see the potential in what they do. And the value of what they do. And actually, I think that gives them greater confidence to have those conversations that you were talking about and m&a, you know, like with with other stakeholders in the organisation, which doesn’t necessarily happen naturally from a basis. Yeah, absolutely. Hmm

Okay, well, I think I have it This has been a huge dollop of food for thought again, another wonderful panel. Thank you so much for everyone for this. Thank you so much everyone. And thank you so much for taking part thank you so much for spending time with me. I am going to have another listen to this and digest and it’s just been so much taken so many different perspectives. And I think looking back, it’s it’s it’s nice to know as varied as our journeys have been, we’ve probably all I kind of had the same kind of experiences one way or another as well for better or worse and, and here we are learning from each other and I hope helping other people out there as well. So thanks very much. That’s it for today. Go to customer support leaders.com/109 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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