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Setting audacious goals to let team step-up

Leadership
Micromanagement
Collaboration
Sharing the vision
Motivation
Product
Internal Communication
Managing Expectations

6 December, 2017

As he realizes he micromanages his team, Tido finds inspiration in Elon Musk's first principles, and radically changes his attitude to improve his leadership.

Problem

I was in charge of a recruiting team and our close rate was not good enough. We had been using a lot of agencies and it had contributed to lower our close rate. As the manager of the team, I was very concerned about it, and thus suggesting my team members a bunch of tactical ideas to improve this close rate. Without realizing it, I was micromanaging them, and hindering these great people in my team to show their creativity to solve this problem.

Actions taken

As I was thinking of solutions to boost this team's productivity, I got some inspiration from Elon Musk. When worried about the cost of production of a rocket, he generated a very "naive" view of the problem and added up the cost of each of the materials of the rocket. Since the cost of production of a rocket was too far away from that, he challenged the team to get much closer to this naively excellent view. This anecdote forced myself to look more naively at the problem... I looked at the set of inputs I had and the outputs of the problem. Why not starting by sharing my main concern with each member of the team, in order for us all to move in the same direction? So I made things super simple, to give people the opportunity to think of solutions by themselves. "We need to close 8 of the next 10 offers we make". I wanted everyone to figure out in their everyday job what they could do at their level to reach this objective. After that, everyone was much more excited and collaborated better in my team.

Lessons learned

My main mistake is that instead of communicating to my team the main objective that was obsessing me, I suggested them some tactical ideas. Without noticing, I contributed to defocus my team and to deteriorate its efficiency. In order to work in the same direction with your team and to set audacious goals, I think there are two critical components:

  • You need a compelling story ("imagine what X customer is going to be able to do!" "we're breaking our promises with Y customers!""wouldn't it be nice if our team wasn't wasting X% of our development time every day dealing with this")
  • Think about what a tidy final end state looks like: this should be simple to explain and solve the aforementioned problem in a satisfying way

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