In this episode:
4 Levels of Thinking as a Geek Leader – This easy-to-read graphic clearly illustrates the 4 Levels of Thinking, individually breaking down each level.
Season 1 Episode 9 – tips to delegate well
- What information do I need to get? What information do I need to share?
- Is it a good time to talk about their professional development?
- Are they stuck? Do they need my help with anything today?
- How are we doing on goals – is it time to check in on progress (at least 1/quarter)
- What do I need them to do next? (delegation)
- “This is your time. My goal is to be accessible to you, to help you and for you to use this time to your benefit. I expect that you’ll come to this meeting prepared to talk to me about what YOU need. In fact, the first 10 minutes are dedicated to YOU – the meeting starts with your agenda. Come prepared to talk about:
- What do you need from me? Where can I clear roadblocks for you? What information or contacts can I give you?
- What do you need me to know?
- What is next for you? How can I help you with your goals/professional development?
Becoming a Geek Leader, Season 2, Episode 10.
Sponsored by Geek to Great
Tom: I spoke with doctor Pierre Bamberger from Tel Aviv University’s Business school about engineers becoming leaders and he said…
Pierre: If you take an engineer and you want to turn him into a leader in an organization, you can’t just assume that [inaudible 00:00:21] know or sort of learn over time how to become a leader.
Pierre: Some of them will. The vast majority won’t.
Tom: Some of them will but the vast majority won’t. So here you are. You’re a talented engineer. Maybe you’re running a team of technical folks but the fact is they won’t magically get better at things like communicating clearly or delegating effectively or dealing with conflict in a healthy way. They need to learn those skills. That’s why I created Geek to Great 101. It’s a simple way for you to help your team members with an easy plan to improve these skills and more. For less than $500, your team can start to make progress. Find more information and get immediate access to your first free lesson at brighthillgroup.com/helpinggeeks. That’s brighthillgroup.com/helpinggeeks.
Welcome to the Becoming a Geek Leader podcast. My name is Tom Cooper. As a geek, I’m on a mission to figure out better ways to lead others at work and at home. Through the Becoming a Geek Leader podcast I’m sharing what I’m learning so I can help make you more effective at leading people too. Ready?
In today’s episode I’m talking about tools that a manager can use to help lead your team well. Now, if you’re not a manager today or even if you don’t want to be a manager, stay tuned because even if you’re not the boss you can use these ideas too. Let’s say your boss isn’t doing these things well now. You can take advantage of the ideas I’m about to share with you to help your boss do a better job being your boss. And if you hang with me, I’ll show you how you can get your boss to start using these ideas and how you can have more success, too.
Also, I want to take a moment to note that this podcast marks the end of season two. I can’t believe we’ve already covered two seasons together. I went back and looked over some of the topics that I’ve covered so far in the first two seasons. Things like performance reviews, dealing with disrespectful team members, what to do when you make a mistake to make up for it, networking, listening and how to get promoted. We’ve covered a lot and as I’m working with my clients, new ideas come up all the time and I’m excited to share time with you and I appreciate you for including me in your life. I just want to say thank you for bringing me with you today.
In this episode I’m going to cover two ideas. First, in a mentoring segment I’m going to talk about how to deal with employee performance problems on your team. In the coach’s mailbox segment, I’m going to answer a burning question from Samuel about “How am I supposed to do one on one meetings? I don’t have time for that?” And also including a behind-the-scenes segment where I’m going to talk a little bit about the technology that enables people to find a podcast like this one and how I get the word out about the podcast. I’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started.
In today’s episode, I’m talking predominantly about what a manager can do to get better performance from team members. Now, these skills are skills you’ll use if you’re at level three of the four levels of thinking as a geek leader.
Level three, team leader. Level three, as the boss of a team, your job is to recruit and develop individuals and team members who follow your lead.
Tom: As I work with clients, one of the issues that comes up over and over again is team members who simply aren’t delivering. Now, we’ve all had that time when we thought we delegated a job but it turned out that delegatee didn’t deliver what we wanted. When you’re the boss, that’s your problem to solve.
So let’s say that you’re a boss and you have a team member who just isn’t performing. Why is it that they’re not performing? Are they lazy? Are they unmotivated? Are they unskilled? Unfortunately, because you’re the boss, it’s your job to figure that out. there are three reasons that employees do not perform well. First, they just don’t know what you want them to do. Second, they don’t know how to do it and three, they don’t know why it should matter to them or the team or the company. I want to tackle these in order.
In a previous episode, I mentioned that I once worked for a boss who insisted that he was “crystal clear” about his expectations. He wasn’t. it was not clear to me exactly what he considered excellent work, and I did struggle to deliver what he wanted. Sometimes I nailed it and other times, well, not really. So one problem is your team member might not understand exactly what it is you want. The one thing you can do to tackle this is to ask them to repeat back the assignment. I point out that many times a boss gives an assignment but doesn’t define how they will know when the assignment is complete. It’s a good idea for you to be specific and clear about exactly how you’ll know it’s done. Let me give you an example. You might say to a team member “This month, I need you to take ownership of creating the monthly report. You’ll need to collect input from everyone on the team, combine their input into a single report showing our accomplishments this month and then I need you to edit it so that I can forward it to my boss without having to make major changes. The report is due on the 30th. That means I’ll need a final draft from you no later than the 25th so that we’ll have time to make any last minute changes and still deliver it on time.”
Here I’m clear, specific and I’m including a due date. What is it that needs to be done? The next problem is people might not know how to do the work. If this is the case, if you have a team member who is not skilled enough to do the work clearly and properly…let me point you to season one, episode nine where I talk about delegation. You can go to the website brighthillgroup.com, you can search for delegation. That will bring up season one, episode nine. I’ll also include a link to that in the show notes for today’s show. In that episode, I talk about ways that you can delegate work effectively even if a team member’s not well skilled or you can help uplevel their skills and minimize the amount of time you spend doing or redoing their work. So that should tackle helping a team member know how to do the work.
And the last problem is one of motivation. I want to say here that no one can motivate someone else. There’s been a lot of work done in this area. I recommend the book Drive, the surprising truth about what motivates us by Dan Pink. There’s some good research that he covers in that book and it’s a good read too but let me just say that you can’t make someone else feel motivated. There’s nothing you can do to do that. You can set up an environment that unleashes their internal intrinsic motivation but you just can’t create motivation in another person. A while ago I wrote a little bit about this in a blog post which talked about three things you need to do to retain great employees and I will include a link to that post in the show notes as well.
So you can’t motivate me and I can’t motivate you. Motivation is an inside job. It’s an internal thing. So what can you do to unleash my motivation? Here’s all you have to do. Get your stuff in alignment with what they want. Now, I don’t have time in this episode to go into all the detail of how to do this but I do have a couple of ideas that can be of help to you. First, answer the question “Why does this task matter? Why should we do it at all?” It might be that it’s for regulatory compliance and if it is, that’s table stakes. You don’t get to play the game unless you put up the stakes. If you’re out of compliance, you’re out of business so some things are not negotiable and they’re a requirement in order to function.
But let’s say that it’s not regulation. Let’s say it’s something else. For example, getting that software release done is going to have a business impact, right. Launching that new product is going to have a business impact, right. What is the reason behind the request? Why is it that you’re asking this person to do something? What is it that you’re hoping to get out of it in order to deliver value? If you can identify that for your team member, it’s going to open the door for them to align their feelings with the request so that they say “Oh, now I get why I should do it and they work hard on it.”
In a perfect world, you would have clear and direct path between the organization’s goals, your department goals, your personal goals and all the goals of your team members. I know that that’s not always the case but what you can do is look for ways to link the work assignment to something bigger and when you do that, you touch on purpose. Why do we do it? People want to have a purpose that’s bigger than the task itself. Nobody wants their work waster and when you link the task to a higher purpose, that is a great way to get people to buy into doing the work. When your team member is not performing, there’s a very good chance that you’ve not made clear what they need to do or you haven’t made clear how to do it or you haven’t aligned their work with a bigger why. Why do this task at all?
Now, let’s say that you have done your job properly. You’ve made sure that they know what to do and how to do it and why to do it and they still aren’t delivering well. You probably need to give them better feedback and that comes down to being specific about what you wanted, noting how what they did didn’t match expectations and then telling them that you want them to do better next time.
I was talking with a client one time and she said: “I specifically told my team member to do X.” But she did the exact opposite of X. Now, I was dumbfounded. I mean, it is upsetting to think that you would tell somebody to do X and then have them do the exact opposite of X, right. I asked her “How did you respond when you found out what your team member did?” My client replied “I didn’t say anything about it.” “Wow. You did nothing? You said nothing? Fascinating.” Now, let me ask you this. Do you think that problem went away? It sure didn’t.
For some more details about how to give feedback, in the show notes I’m going to include a link to an article I wrote on how to give feedback and in that article I’ve embedded a short video on the topic as well also including a story about a time that I got some feedback at work that wasn’t so great.
So let’s go back to that report I mentioned above. Let’s say you gave that assignment to a team member and they’ve done a report before so they definitely know how to do it and they understand the importance of the report but in this case, it was due to you on the 25th, right, because you said “I need it by the 25th in order to get it done and turned in on time by the 30th.” But in this case, they sent you a document on the 26th, so it’s a day late, and they did it at the end of the day and it doesn’t have everybody’s input. It only has some of the team members and what they did was they just copied and pasted all the updates from the team members they did talk to and emailed it to you at the end of your work day.
So I’ll go back and ask you how are you going to respond in this situation. After scanning that so-called report, I’d be pretty unhappy and I’d want to understand what happened because, clearly, something got disconnected somewhere. Now, I would want to respond in person. Not over the phone and not via email. Sometimes you have to but any time you’re providing correction, correction is best delivered verbally and in person. If you put it in writing, all sorts of things can go sideways. You sometimes have to put it in writing if you’re dealing with HR or you have to document a performance problem but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about giving some feedback to a team member as part of their regular work.
So I would let them know that I need to speak with them preferably in person, not via email, and definitely not on the evening on the 26th, right. When you first get it, you’re hot about the fact that they’ve totally screwed the whole thing up. you don’t want to do that but let’s say, in this case, the next morning, the morning of the 27th, you swing by that person’s office and you say “Hey, when you get a minute, can you please stop by my office? I want to catch up about the status report.” Now, when they arrive, you can say “I got your email last night and the report wasn’t exactly what I expected. I’m curious. What do you remember about the assignment?” Now, here you’re not judging them, you’re not criticizing them, you’re not condemning them. in fact, what you’re doing is communicating curiously. Now, clearly, you had a set of expectations and, clearly, they didn’t meet them but your job here is to determine why that happened. Did they not understand it? Did they blow it off? What happened there?
Now what’ll probably happen is they’ll probably know that they’ve dropped the ball and they probably will have a ton of excuses about it. Your job here is to listen to what they have to say and repeat back their recollection about the assignment and, by the way, if they don’t actually ever answer that question, I would ask the question again. “Hey, I appreciate your reasons for not getting it done. I’m curious, though, I didn’t hear your answer to my question. What do you remember about the assignment?”
So you repeat back their recollection and you can repeat back an excuse or two. “Your dog ate your homework, your kid was sick, the car broke down.” Whatever it is, right? Then ask them this “May I offer you some feedback?” Now, they will say “Yes.” They will. Almost a 100% of the time at this point of the conversation they will say yes. If they say no, which they won’t…but if they say no, your next conversation is with your HR rep. Seriously. You’re trying to give some direct feedback to a team member and they’re flatly refusing to accept that feedback? That’s a conversation for HR.
Now, feedback, when you’re giving it to a team member, needs to be direct, it needs to be honest and it needs to be kind and here’s an example of how you can be direct, honest and kind. You can say something like this. “My expectation was…” And repeat the expectation as you originally assigned it to them. “We talked about it being on the 25th and we talked about it incorporating input from everybody and we talked about editing, right. All those pieces that we talked about in that original assignment.” You just say “My expectation was…” And then you say “I can’t help but notice that you missed a deadline. The content is not edited in a way that I can send it to management and it’s not complete because it doesn’t include everybody.” Just being specific. You’re not giving out an opinion. You’re saying “I noticed these facts.” Then you say “I need your report done properly. I have to send it to my boss in three days. How soon can I expect to get your new, final draft?” You don’t have to get mad at this point. You are the authority. You don’t have to get mad if you’re the boss because you are the boss and you’re not giving them an opinion. You’re not saying “Hey, that report stinks, right.” You’re not doing that. You got a report that was not according to measurable criteria and you’ve been clear and you’ve set the expectation. Now, at this point, they can propose a date. If you’re okay with the date they propose, fine. If not, tell them when it needs to be in your hands. You’re not being mean. You’re holding people accountable. It’s good for them and it’s good for you. When you define your expectations upfront, you make sure they know how and why to do the work and then hold people accountable, that’s a formula for getting more great work from your team members and that’s today’s mentoring segment.
Tom: In the coach’s mailbox today I’ve got an email from Samuel and Samuel writes “Tom, I’ve heard you mention the idea that I should be having one on one meetings with my team members but I don’t see how I can ever make the time to do that. My boss expects me to get stuff done and taking time during work hours to meet with team member, time that neither one of us is actually working on work seems like a real waste of time. Is there some way that I can make one on one meetings productive? I mean, is it okay to combine that in a working session?”
Well, Samuel, thanks for the email and I can appreciate where you’re coming from because it can seem like time talking is just time wasted especially when you and I have both been in meetings that were a total waste of our time. Most meetings, they’re actually useless. There, I said it. If I had a nickel for every useless meeting I’ve sat through, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. Although I guess I did get paid for attending most of those meetings so I guess I already got those nickels but let’s go back to your question. Why bother having one on one meetings at all? Your goal really ought to be using those one-on-one meetings to make your team more productive and your one on one sessions ought to be directly linked to better team performance and if they aren’t, then it is a waste of time and you shouldn’t do them. So let’s talk a little bit about what a good one on one meeting looks like.
Having a regularly scheduled one on one meeting with a team member is going to help you achieve a number of goals but only, only if you do it right. So let’s talk about what’s the purpose of a one on one meeting. I can think of five possible reasons to have any meeting with a team member. Here are the five reasons. One, a status update or to give them feedback on the status. Two, planning their professional development or maybe teaching them something they need for development. Three, collaborative problem solving. Four, goal setting or task planning or five, delegation or giving them a work assignment. Those are the only five reasons I can think of that you would want to meet with people.
Now, in a series of well-planned one on one meetings, you can realistically tackle all five of them but you cannot tackle all five in a single one on one session which is why I think you need a process because your process is the key. If you have a simple and repeatable process for one on one meetings, you’ll find that they can be time really well spent and if you have a formula for those meetings and you follow the formula, it’s going to be simple for you and simple for your team members too. it’s going to pay big dividends to you in terms of your productivity.
Now, Samuel, you mentioned number three, collaboration. Now, collaboration can be a good thing but generally speaking, I recommend that a collaboration or brainstorming or a teamwork session, not happen in the one on one. If you stray too far from the core purpose of the one on one which is about individual performance, then you’ll forget why you’re there and then the meeting roams all over the place and you don’t get the value that you’re after but if team member’s stuck and they bring it up in a one on one, that is a good time to collaborate. If you find that the question they’ve asked is a bigger question or it’s going to take a longer time to resolve, you might need to schedule a separate working session just on that particular topic. You want to make sure that your one on one is focused and stays on its original schedule.
Also, when it comes to collaboration, most of the time it’s relevant to have more than just you and that one person involved. So setting a specific meeting up just for that collaboration can be more effective than just doing it in a one on one setting with your team member. So let’s say that you schedule a 30 minute one on one meeting with your team members every other week. Even if you have 10 people who report to you, that’s only about a day a month and that investment of 10 hours should pay back at least double that in terms of productivity, better quality and less rework and if it doesn’t, then either you’re doing it wrong or you just need to stop doing one on ones.
For your one on one meeting, you need to have an agenda and I’ve got a list of questions that you can ask yourself as you’re preparing for the agenda. So these questions are going to be in the show notes, so feel free to look at the show notes for that information and here are the questions, questions you’re going to ask yourself. One, what information do I need to get from my team member? During this one on one, what do I need to learn from my team member? Also, what information do I need to share with my team member? What is an update from the business, from the leadership, from the project status, whatever it is, other people in the team, what information do I need to convey to the team member?
Second, is now a good time to talk about professional development? Third, are they stuck, do they need help with anything? Now, maybe you’re going to have to hear that from them or maybe you’ve observed that there are some things that haven’t gotten done on time and if that’s the case, maybe they’re stuck and maybe you can help them. Fourth, how are we doing on our annual goals? Is it time to check in on progress? Now, your progress on goals ought to happen at least once a quarter.
And then five, what do I need them to do next? What’s something that I need to delegate? What’s a task I need to delegate to them? So those are the five questions and as I said, I’ll include those questions in today’s show notes. I know you’re busy right this second and your hands aren’t free to write this down. I also promise you this. If you make the time to think through these questions before each one on one, you’re going to find that time is very well spent. In fact, I’m guessing that you’ll have so much to talk about that it’s going to be tough fitting it into 30 minutes which is fine because you’re going to have another one on one in a couple of weeks so if you can’t get to everything on the agenda today, you can roll it into the next one on one. It’s not a problem.
Now, how do you get your team members to engage in the one on ones so that their time is used well? Well, I recommend you position your one on ones with your team members like this. You could say something like this “This one on one session is your time. My goal is to be accessible to you, to help you and for you to use this time for your benefit. I expect that you’ll come to this meeting prepared to talk to me about what you need. In fact, the first 10 minutes are dedicated entirely to you. The meeting starts with your agenda. Come prepared to talk about one, what do you need from me, where can I clear a roadblock for you, what information or contacts can I give you? What do you need from me? Two, what do you need me to know? Is there a status update, is there a place that things are working or not working that you need me to know about? Three, what is next for you? How can I help you with your goals, with your professional development or your work planning, prioritization? My goal is to help you and I need to know from you these three questions. What do you need from me, what do you need me to know and what’s next for you?”
And again, these questions are going to be in the show notes so you can grab them from the show notes and use them. The other thing I would say in that, as I’m introducing this concept to my team is “The first 10 minutes are for you as my team member. The next 10 minutes are for me as your boss and the final 10 minutes are for us to recap action items and ownership from our conversation. If we end up not using the time, that’s fine. I will let you go as soon as we’re done. Deal?”
Again, all this information is going to be in the show notes and I encourage you to go back and look at that to help you as you’re planning your one on ones. Here’s the thing. If you take the time to answer these questions and create your agenda, you’re going to find that there’s so much to talk about and you should have a clear and tangible list of action items that are going to help you and your team member prepare for the meeting and also have a clear path forward after the meeting. You’ll feel like you are actually doing stuff and not just making a list of things or even worse, just having a conversation about nothing. That would be a supreme waste.
One final note on this concept of one on ones. Remember I touched on the idea of process? What I want you to do as the boss is go ahead and schedule two recurring reminders. Each of them once a quarter, four times a year. Reminder one is “Check on progress toward annual goals.” And when that comes up, you’ll set up your agenda for that next one on one right after that happens and you’re going to bring up our progress toward annual goals as part of your agenda. This is a simple system that’s going to help you.
Reminder number two “Review progress toward professional development goals.” And when that reminder comes up, you want to add that to your agenda. Oh, and to make it simple for you, go ahead and create a recurring reminder for your goals now and then when you create that second reminder for professional development, set that to happen two weeks after the one about annual goals and that way they’re not going to hit during the same one on one because you don’t want to cram too much into each one on one and remember, there’s another one on one coming.
So Samuel, I hope that answers your question and I hope that you find that one on ones you set up are going to be effective and efficient too and that’s today’s coach’s mailbox.
Tom: Okay. So I promised that even if you aren’t the boss, you’d be able to get value from today’s episode and I just want to thank you for having in there. This segment is going to help you if you’re at level two of the four levels of thinking as a geek leader.
Man: Level two, team member.
Man: Level two is where you work well with others and together you all succeed.
Tom: One of the things I like to say is that the boss factory has a quality control issue. Sometimes it produces a great boss and other times, well, not so much. So what do you do if your boss isn’t one of those great ones? Well, here’s how to use these ideas even if your boss won’t. First, let’s talk about a boss that doesn’t give you feedback. This one’s easy. If your boss doesn’t give you enough information, try this. First, listen carefully to what the boss is asking you to do. When he’s giving you the work assignment, ask enough questions to make sure that you know at least generally what your boss wants from you but don’t wear your out with a ton of details at this point. After your boss has given you the assignment, go back to your desk and answer these questions. First, do you know exactly what the boss asked you to do? Do you need any examples, instruction or training to do it properly? Do you know why it matters? Do you know how your boss is going to measure your progress? How will your boss know when it’s done? And do you know when it needs to be done?
So let’s say, for example, the boss says “Joe, I need you take care of the status report.” But doesn’t tell you anything else. Now, you know it goes out monthly and you’ve seen or you can easily see previous copies of these status reports so you’ll have some example of what it looks like and what it contains but even with all that, you might realize you’re not clear on when the boss wants it or what exactly the process is to get it ready to go out. So you can go to your boss after you’ve thought about this a little bit and you can say “Boss, I have a couple of questions about the status report. I want to do it well and I just want to make sure that you and I are on the same page. Do you have a second?” And then you say “I know it has to be done monthly, but when do you need to see a copy of it to make sure that it gets done on time? Also, I want to make sure I use your time well and I haven’t done this before and I want to make sure that I do it right so my question is, is there somebody else on the team who does a great job with it because I can collaborate with them and make sure that the draft that I send you is done properly.”
In this example, what you’re doing is you’re taking ownership of the process and then you’re going to your boss with a list of specific questions and helping your boss to efficiently clear up any confusion that you have and I hope that answers the question about how to get clear assignments from your boss. Once the assignment is clear, then the follow throughout to be pretty clear as well and if you’ve been able to set up a pattern with your boss of getting good assignments where you’re clear on exactly what’s wanted and how it’s going to be measured and when it’s needed, then it ought to be pretty easy for you even if your boss doesn’t give you a lot of pats on the back. You should be able to know clearly that you’re delivering what your boss wants. When you’re specific about what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, that builds trust with your boss and that’s going to put you in a better position for your boss to give you positive feedback.
So now let’s talk about the challenge of your boss is too busy to do one on one meetings and just won’t even plan them. You want more time with your boss but your boss is just too busy. This one’s pretty easy too. What I want you to do is go back to the show notes and look over the questions for the one on one and then schedule a one on one with your boss. You tell your boss you’re just asking for 30 minutes and that you promise that if you get through your list of questions faster than 30 minutes, you’ll get out of there and give him time back on his calendar. Now, you take the time answering those questions to prepare your agenda. You want to be really clear and specific about the goals you have for the time you’re going to be with your boss. Take whatever time you need to make sure that process goes really, really efficiently. You want your boss to buy in on this, and the only way your boss is going to do it again is if it goes well the first time.
Also, make sure that you stick to your agenda. Stick to the time allotted in the agenda. If you’re running out of time say “Hey boss, I’m running out of time. I’ll put that on the list to talk to you about next time.” Or you might say “Can I set up a separate meeting just to resolve this one particular thing?” Here’s what you’re going to find. It’s going to go well and as long as you’re intentional about spending the time at the end of the time together to wrap up with your specific action points from the conversation, I’m betting your boss is going to feel it was time well spent.
Now, I want to be very, very clear about this. If you’re not willing to create the agenda thoughtfully and thoroughly before you sit down with your boss, do not bother to ask for a one on one. Seriously. Having no agenda is a recipe for your boss refusing to attend future one on one discussions.
So what I’m telling you is if your boss is not willing to do the right stuff, you can take the initiative to get clarity about what your boss wants and to schedule you own one on one meetings. I’m telling you this process is effective. It helps. It really, really works and that’s today’s mentoring segment. Well, the second mentoring segment that is.
Behind the scenes segment.
Tom: As those who podcast, there are a number of ways to let people know that a podcast exists. For example, I might send you an email letting you know a podcast episode has been released and letting you know exactly what you’re going to miss out on if you don’t listen. If you’re not already getting those emails from me every week, let me ask you to jump over to brighthillgroup.com/join and sign up. That’s brighthillgroup.com/join. Another way to find out about a new episode is to pick it up from one of the podcast directories. The biggest directory is iTunes but Stitcher in Google Play have both been gaining in popularity. I wasn’t able to find specific stats to show the size or the ranking of either one of these but most users pick their podcast from one of these three.
Now, there are others and people do use them but there are people who still use Word Perfect too. Now, if you’re a passionate Word Perfect user, please email me at HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com . I’d love to catch up. I used to be one of the first Word Perfect certified systems engineers in the US. I had demonstrated skills in all the Word Perfect tools including their amazing and now dead email technology but I digress.
Getting back to podcast directories. If you’re a podcast host and you want to be found, you have to be in the directory. Now, most of you know about the directories but I want to talk for a second about how podcasts work. As a creator of podcast, I have to generate two things. One, an .mp3 file that people want to listen to and two, a website with an RSS feed that correctly describes each episode. It’s this RSS feed that lets the podcast directory people know where to find the .mp3 file, what the title is and a lot more information about it as well. The .mp3 file gets hosted on my website so the actual download that your podcast player is doing comes directly from my website. The directory only becomes a pointer to my website.
Now, once the .mp3 file and the RSS feed exist, as the creator, I have to apply to let the directory include my podcast and basically, this is just a filter that allows the directory managers to block people who might abuse the directory. When I launched the podcast, I applied to be included in iTunes and a few months ago, when Google Play announced that they were accepting submissions, I applied for them as well and a few weeks ago I was approved as a content creator for Stitcher. So folks like you search for interesting podcasts in the podcast directories and that’s why you hear me asking for ratings and reviews. Very, very few people who listen actually go to the trouble to create a rating or a review but that rating or a review is one key way the directory managers know who likes which podcast and those ratings and reviews make a big difference in where the podcast shows up in the listings and those listings are how new listeners find me.
So one thing you could do for me that would be helpful is to tell somebody about the podcast. Word of mouth is even more powerful than any search tool and it’s pretty simple. If you’re listening on iOS, all you have to do is in your podcast player which you’re probably using right this second, all you have to do is on the bottom right, there’s a little icon with three little dots. Hit that and then select share episode, select email and then type in your friend’s name and hit send. It’s simple and it’s easy and it’s a great way to help share some information with people who might find it valuable and that’s today’s behind the scenes segment.
Tom: In today’s episode I talked about how to set expectations for team members. Now, most of the time that people fail to perform, it’s because they didn’t know what you wanted, they didn’t know how to do it or they didn’t know why It mattered. Generally speaking, if you can solve those three problems, you’ll directly address any performance problems you’ve got on your team. We also talked about how to give feedback when they’re not delivering what you need and I talked about how to have effective one on ones. I mentioned the process for your one on one is key. If you create a simple and repeatable process for one on one meetings, you’ll find that time well spent.
Now, to prove this, for today’s episode hack, I want to encourage you to schedule a series of at least three recurring one on one meetings with at least one of your team members. Now, to prove this idea is actually useful and beneficial to you, I want you to pick your worst team member, the one you think is the least likely to respond. The one you feel like is a time suck, right. Take that person and I know it seems counterintuitive but bear with me. Schedule your meetings a couple of weeks apart. In the first one, you introduce the concept of a one on one and you introduce them to their part of the agenda. You tell them you’re going to stick to the time rigidly. You’re going to get in and out in 30 minutes or less like a Domino’s pizza order and what you’re going to find is your time is well spent and you’re going to get a lot accomplished in just 30 minutes or less. I want you to schedule those first few one on ones even with your most difficult team member and that is today’s episode hack.
Hey, can I ask you something? Did you hear something helpful on today’s episode? Why not share it with a friend? On my iPhone, it’s as simple as hitting the three little dots on the bottom right of the screen, selecting share episode, enter your friend’s email and hit send. Why do this? Two reasons. One, your friend or coworker will thank you. You’ll be seen as a source of helpful and valuable information and they will appreciate you for it and number two, I need you to help me get the word out about this podcast. I’m working hard to bring great ideas and great content to you and it’s a big help to me if more people hear those ideas. Go ahead. Share it now. I’ll wait.
Thanks. This is Tom Cooper. Thanks for listening. Be sure to join me next time for another episode of Becoming a Geek Leader. Join me in my mission of discovering better ways to lead others at work and at home.