Artwork for podcast Decoding Digital
Decoding Supermanagers: Aydin Mirzaee on Developing Great Leaders
Episode 2610th August 2021 • Decoding Digital • AppDirect
00:00:00 00:29:00

Share Episode

Shownotes

What does it take to be a great manager? Host of the Supermanagers podcast, Aydin Mirzaee, is on a mission to find out. The CEO of Fellow.app speaks to managers from leading companies to discover what traits make good leaders great and how to drive success. In this episode, he shares his findings and explains what makes a “Supermanager.”

Press play to hear Aydin’s thoughts on…

 How Practice Makes Perfect

“You have to treat this just like a professional athlete would. Just like a professional athlete would do drills and practice and look back on their week and figure out what conversations they had and how they went and how much feedback did they give and how did the feedback get received. The world's best managers are also practicing, and they're very deliberate about all these things."

The Risks of Imitation

“Often, we try and look at a leader or a manager, and we'll try and emulate, right. And we'll try and be like them. And the big takeaway I had was that you really have to try and be like yourself. It's not about emulating anybody else. You just have to really understand yourself, just like you understand your team. You have to understand yourself, understand what your strengths are, and what the authentic you looks like, and then be that person, not trying to necessarily emulate others.”

The Bottom Line

“The thing that I hear most often is, it's all about the people. At the end of the day, you really have to treat everyone like real people, really understand them, and treat them like human beings.”

Transcripts

Speaker:

One of the things that we say

Speaker:

often is great managers are not

Speaker:

born, they're made. The good

Speaker:

news is that it's never too late.

Speaker:

It's something that you can keep

Speaker:

working on, and with enough

Speaker:

effort, enough repetition, you

Speaker:

too can be a supermanager.

Speaker:

That's Aydin Mirzaee, CEO of

Speaker:

Fellow.app, a fast-growing SaaS

Speaker:

company that helps teams have

Speaker:

better, more productive meetings.

Speaker:

As part of his role at Fellow,

Speaker:

Aydin is the host of the "

Speaker:

SuperManagers Podcast," a weekly

Speaker:

show where he interviews leaders

Speaker:

from across the business

Speaker:

spectrum to tease out the habits,

Speaker:

attitudes, and experiences that

Speaker:

helped them be amazing managers.

Speaker:

Aydin has been leading Fellow.

Speaker:

app for almost five years.

Speaker:

Before that, he was the co-

Speaker:

founder of Fluidware, a

Speaker:

bootstrapped company that he

Speaker:

helped grow from to a $12

Speaker:

million run rate and almost 100

Speaker:

employees. After six years, he

Speaker:

led Fluidware through an

Speaker:

acquisition by SurveyMonkey.

Speaker:

Aydin is passionate about

Speaker:

entrepreneurship. He is also the

Speaker:

co-founder of freshfounders.com,

Speaker:

a non-profit organization with

Speaker:

the vision to create a community

Speaker:

of young business leaders in

Speaker:

every city around the world. In

Speaker:

this episode, Aydin will delve

Speaker:

into some of the lessons he's

Speaker:

learned, both from talking to so

Speaker:

many successful leaders and from

Speaker:

being a successful entrepreneur

Speaker:

himself. Are great leaders born

Speaker:

or made? Get ready for a

Speaker:

thoughtful discussion on that

Speaker:

topic and more. This is Daniel

Speaker:

Saks, co-CEO of AppDirect, and

Speaker:

it's time to decode

Speaker:

supermanagers.

Speaker:

Welcome to "Decoding Digital," a

Speaker:

podcast for innovators looking

Speaker:

to thrive in the digital economy.

Speaker:

I'm your host, Daniel Saks, and

Speaker:

I'll sit down with other

Speaker:

founders, CEOs, and changemakers

Speaker:

to decode the trends that are

Speaker:

transforming the way we work.

Speaker:

Let's decode. Aydin, thanks so

Speaker:

much for joining the podcast

Speaker:

today. I love this because I was

Speaker:

recently on your podcast,

Speaker:

SuperManagers, and I know you've

Speaker:

been running it for almost a

Speaker:

year now and you just broke 50

Speaker:

episodes. Congrats on

Speaker:

SuperManagers and the 50-episode

Speaker:

mark.

Speaker:

Thank you. It's crazy to think

Speaker:

it's been a year that we've been

Speaker:

doing it. It's exciting. It's

Speaker:

the sort of thing that once you

Speaker:

get passionate about it, I could

Speaker:

see myself doing this forever.

Speaker:

It's awesome.

Speaker:

There's nothing better than

Speaker:

chatting with interesting people.

Speaker:

I find it to be great. When we

Speaker:

talk about supermanagers,

Speaker:

there's an obvious question for

Speaker:

you, which is what's a

Speaker:

supermanager? Beyond that, what

Speaker:

are some of the takeaways that

Speaker:

you've had from interviewing so

Speaker:

many leaders and supermanagers?

Speaker:

That's a good question. The term

Speaker:

supermanagers, it's a term that

Speaker:

we invented. We have to talk

Speaker:

about what a manager is. We

Speaker:

think that the purpose of a

Speaker:

manager is through their

Speaker:

involvement, you'll get a lot

Speaker:

more out of the team than if

Speaker:

they were not involved with the

Speaker:

team. A supermanager to us is

Speaker:

someone, through their

Speaker:

involvement, you get almost 10

Speaker:

times as much impact than if

Speaker:

they were not involved with the

Speaker:

team. They have a lot of

Speaker:

characteristics. One of our

Speaker:

favorite characteristics is that

Speaker:

they're always working on their

Speaker:

craft. They never take it for

Speaker:

granted. It's like continuously

Speaker:

focusing on becoming a better

Speaker:

manager and leader. It's

Speaker:

something that they think about,

Speaker:

they practice. They're very

Speaker:

deliberate. Just like an athlete

Speaker:

would practice their free throws

Speaker:

and do that on a consistent

Speaker:

basis, supermanagers are

Speaker:

constantly figuring out how they

Speaker:

can do what they do better.

Speaker:

That's the broad premise of it.

Speaker:

It's not everyone, but you'll

Speaker:

notice that the ones that have

Speaker:

that mentality and mindset,

Speaker:

they're always thinking about

Speaker:

how they can get better. That's

Speaker:

why you were a great fit for the

Speaker:

podcast. That's the sort of

Speaker:

person that we've tried to have

Speaker:

on.

Speaker:

Thanks so much. I'm curious,

Speaker:

what are the common threads of

Speaker:

things that supermanagers are

Speaker:

consistently trying to work on?

Speaker:

There are a lot of things that

Speaker:

we've figured out that

Speaker:

supermanagers do and also a lot

Speaker:

of lessons that we've taken from

Speaker:

them. One of the things is, for

Speaker:

example, they're always focused

Speaker:

on understanding their

Speaker:

employees on an individual level.

Speaker:

Part of that is there's this

Speaker:

great quote from Peter

Speaker:

Drucker. He basically says, "

Speaker:

Effective executives understand

Speaker:

and build on the strengths of

Speaker:

themselves or team and their

Speaker:

organization to make everyone

Speaker:

productive and to eliminate

Speaker:

weakness." Part of that is

Speaker:

they're always trying to figure

Speaker:

out, what are each person's

Speaker:

strengths? What are their

Speaker:

weaknesses? It's not to say

Speaker:

individually remove a weakness,

Speaker:

but it's more, "Let's figure out

Speaker:

how, through using a team, we

Speaker:

can actually eliminate weakness

Speaker:

in that way through the use of a

Speaker:

team." They're always

Speaker:

understanding who their team is

Speaker:

on an individual level. There's

Speaker:

a lot of great examples that I

Speaker:

can bring up, and I've written a

Speaker:

few of these. One of them was

Speaker:

they're always focusing on

Speaker:

different models that you can

Speaker:

employ, that there's no one-size-

Speaker:

fits-all for these things. One

Speaker:

of the things is we had John

Speaker:

Michel, who is the now-leaving

Speaker:

but CTO at Shopify and one of

Speaker:

the things that we talked about

Speaker:

with him was this concept of a

Speaker:

25:50:25 leadership model. What

Speaker:

that means is a lot of people

Speaker:

will come in and they'll say

Speaker:

that, "Oh, well, it's servant

Speaker:

leadership. My job is strictly

Speaker:

to just unblock other people."

Speaker:

What's interesting about the

Speaker:

model that, for example, he

Speaker:

talked about was 25 percent of

Speaker:

the time, I'll be your manager

Speaker:

and I'll instruct you and guide

Speaker:

you. 25 percent of the time,

Speaker:

you'll tell me what to do and

Speaker:

what you need from me. 50

Speaker:

percent of the time, for example,

Speaker:

we're peers. We're going to work

Speaker:

together and we're going to

Speaker:

brainstorm, and this is going to

Speaker:

be a very collaborative process.

Speaker:

There's a lot of individual

Speaker:

lessons like that. For example,

Speaker:

we had Vlad, the CEO of Webflow,

Speaker:

on. This is something that I've

Speaker:

heard from a bunch of other

Speaker:

people as well. Oftentimes, we

Speaker:

try and look at a leader or a

Speaker:

manager and we'll try and

Speaker:

emulate and we'll try and be

Speaker:

like them. The big takeaway I

Speaker:

had from that episode was that

Speaker:

you have to try and be like

Speaker:

yourself. It's not about

Speaker:

emulating anybody else. Just

Speaker:

like you understand your team,

Speaker:

you have to understand yourself,

Speaker:

understand what your strengths

Speaker:

are and what the authentic you

Speaker:

looks like, and then be that

Speaker:

person, not trying necessarily

Speaker:

emulate others. There's a bunch

Speaker:

more, and I can list these out.

Speaker:

There's been a lot of great

Speaker:

guests. One of the main things

Speaker:

for me is after every episode, I

Speaker:

always learn something. Even if

Speaker:

nobody else listens to the

Speaker:

episodes, it still works,

Speaker:

because I'm learning a lot.

Speaker:

Obviously, people will listen

Speaker:

and learn, too.

Speaker:

For sure. It's such a great

Speaker:

group that you've been chatting

Speaker:

with. I've had a lot of

Speaker:

takeaways from your podcast.

Speaker:

When it comes to a lot of these

Speaker:

supermanagers that you talk to,

Speaker:

one of the things that I've

Speaker:

observed is a lot of them have

Speaker:

had to make adjustments in their

Speaker:

communication style and their

Speaker:

motivation style, particularly

Speaker:

over the last year. What are

Speaker:

some of the strategies that

Speaker:

you've seen be particularly

Speaker:

relevant in this digital-first

Speaker:

environment?

Speaker:

One of the things that we

Speaker:

focused on was trying to get a

Speaker:

lot of guests that had a lot

Speaker:

more experience with remote and

Speaker:

had a lot of things that they

Speaker:

could contribute so that

Speaker:

everybody else could learn from

Speaker:

what they had been doing. One

Speaker:

of the guests that we had on --

Speaker:

it was very early in the

Speaker:

pandemic -- Job, who is the CEO

Speaker:

at remote.com. Before that, he

Speaker:

was VP of product at GitLab,

Speaker:

which used to be the world's

Speaker:

largest remote company. One of

Speaker:

the things that we talked about

Speaker:

right from the beginning was

Speaker:

that remote is harder. It's

Speaker:

harder to run a remote company.

Speaker:

You have to do a lot more. You

Speaker:

have to be more purposeful, you

Speaker:

have to think about things in

Speaker:

different ways, but it is worth

Speaker:

it. The reason that it can

Speaker:

become worth it is because you

Speaker:

get to access broader talent in

Speaker:

so many other places. It's not

Speaker:

like it's not going to be more

Speaker:

work. Some people might have

Speaker:

assumed that, "Oh, we're just

Speaker:

going to get into remote and

Speaker:

it's going to be the same amount

Speaker:

of work." It's a different

Speaker:

ballgame. That was a really

Speaker:

interesting thing. The other

Speaker:

interesting thing that we talked

Speaker:

about with Job was this concept

Speaker:

of documenting everything.

Speaker:

There's this culture that they

Speaker:

promoted at GitLab, and

Speaker:

certainly, something that we've

Speaker:

also adopted at Fellow, which is

Speaker:

this concept of respond with a

Speaker:

link. When people ask you a

Speaker:

question, don't give them the

Speaker:

answer. Go write it in the wiki,

Speaker:

and then respond with a link, so

Speaker:

now it's documented. It was

Speaker:

interesting when he first told

Speaker:

me about that. I said, "Oh, but

Speaker:

that's a lot more work. It's

Speaker:

going to be slower. It's a lot

Speaker:

more work." He brought up a very

Speaker:

good point, which is, "No.

Speaker:

Actually, it's faster. It's a

Speaker:

lot faster." The reason is you

Speaker:

only answer your question once.

Speaker:

It's not just about having a

Speaker:

repository of knowledge. It's

Speaker:

also about when you have people

Speaker:

in different time zones, imagine

Speaker:

if you want to ask a question at

Speaker:

5:00 PM someone else's time zone

Speaker:

and they're leaving. Now, you

Speaker:

have to wait for the next day.

Speaker:

The more that you can think

Speaker:

about documentation and

Speaker:

responding with a link for a

Speaker:

company know-how and knowledge

Speaker:

and processes, it speeds things

Speaker:

up. You just have to operate

Speaker:

differently once everybody is

Speaker:

not in the same physical

Speaker:

location and all the same rules

Speaker:

don't apply.

Speaker:

Can you tell us a little bit

Speaker:

more about the founding premise

Speaker:

of Fellow and how you help

Speaker:

managers become supermanagers?

Speaker:

There are a bunch of things.

Speaker:

When we originally started the

Speaker:

company, one of the things that

Speaker:

we started thinking about is

Speaker:

software enables behavior change.

Speaker:

One of the things with work-from-

Speaker:

anywhere, and work-from-remote,

Speaker:

and hybrid, and all these

Speaker:

different concepts is you have

Speaker:

to use technology to make these

Speaker:

sorts of communications possible.

Speaker:

Technology can help behavior

Speaker:

change. One of the things that

Speaker:

we thought about when starting

Speaker:

the company was we looked across

Speaker:

the board and we said, "

Speaker:

Everybody in every sector has

Speaker:

software for them. Salespeople

Speaker:

may have Salesforce. Marketing

Speaker:

people may have a Marketo or a

Speaker:

HubSpot, but nobody had built a

Speaker:

tool for managers of teams and

Speaker:

taken that lens." When we first

Speaker:

started the company, we wanted

Speaker:

to focus on building what we

Speaker:

like to call a manager's co-

Speaker:

pilot. In the same way that you

Speaker:

hire an account executive and

Speaker:

they might use Salesforce, you

Speaker:

would use Fellow, and Fellow

Speaker:

would be that manager's co-pilot.

Speaker:

As we started digging in, what

Speaker:

was interesting was we saw that

Speaker:

where managers spend most of

Speaker:

their time is in meetings. Over

Speaker:

50 percent of their week is

Speaker:

spent in meetings. When you take

Speaker:

that lens, it's such a massive

Speaker:

area to help and deliver impact.

Speaker:

Over the course of time, what

Speaker:

Fellow's become is we like to

Speaker:

call it a meeting productivity

Speaker:

and team management tool. We

Speaker:

lead with a meeting-centric

Speaker:

approach. What we like to say is, "

Speaker:

Turn all the chaos of meetings

Speaker:

into productive work sessions,"

Speaker:

and then we layer on team

Speaker:

management concepts, one-on-ones,

Speaker:

and feedback, and goal setting.

Speaker:

Those things are married in but

Speaker:

with a meeting-centric approach.

Speaker:

There's a lot of interesting

Speaker:

things about meetings as it

Speaker:

relates to digital and remote.

Speaker:

For example, a very common

Speaker:

concept, I don't know how many

Speaker:

of these you do, Dan, at

Speaker:

AppDirect, but do you have

Speaker:

asynchronous meetings? Is that a

Speaker:

practice you employ, at least in

Speaker:

your teams?

Speaker:

It's not. I would love to learn

Speaker:

more about it.

Speaker:

One of the things that people

Speaker:

realized is when we went all

Speaker:

remote, part of it was, "Let's

Speaker:

do the exact same thing we did

Speaker:

in the office, but let's run

Speaker:

those exact same meetings

Speaker:

remotely." The dynamic changes.

Speaker:

There's certain meetings, and

Speaker:

specifically, status meetings,

Speaker:

and stand-up meetings, and those

Speaker:

sorts of things are the first to

Speaker:

go. Any sort of status meeting

Speaker:

doesn't actually need for

Speaker:

everybody to be there at the

Speaker:

same time. It's a matter of

Speaker:

making sure that those things,

Speaker:

people are putting in their

Speaker:

updates at a certain point in

Speaker:

time by a certain date and time,

Speaker:

and then making sure that

Speaker:

information is available for

Speaker:

everyone. That's, in general,

Speaker:

the concept of an asynchronous

Speaker:

meeting. It's something where

Speaker:

not everybody needs to do it at

Speaker:

the same time. People can finish

Speaker:

this on their own time, but then

Speaker:

you can view things afterwards.

Speaker:

Not every meeting should be an

Speaker:

asynchronous meeting. For

Speaker:

example, one-on-ones should not

Speaker:

be asynchronous, because there's

Speaker:

a lot of purposes to it, but

Speaker:

relationship building, for

Speaker:

example, is a critical part of a

Speaker:

one-on-one meeting. Those are

Speaker:

the sorts of things, for example,

Speaker:

that you should do on a

Speaker:

synchronous basis. If there is

Speaker:

discussion and debate, a lot of

Speaker:

those things benefit from real-

Speaker:

time interaction. Other things

Speaker:

don't need to be that way, and

Speaker:

so they can be done on an

Speaker:

asynchronous basis. That

Speaker:

concept brings more time in

Speaker:

people's days, allows their

Speaker:

schedules to be more flexible so

Speaker:

that you're not in a situation

Speaker:

where all you're doing is back-

Speaker:

to-back meetings. That style of

Speaker:

communication is also more than

Speaker:

that. For example, we had Sarah

Speaker:

Milstein on our podcast. At the

Speaker:

time, she was director of

Speaker:

engineering at MailChimp. One of

Speaker:

the things that we talked about

Speaker:

was this concept of, if not

Speaker:

everybody needs to be there

Speaker:

synchronously...Sometimes, you

Speaker:

have a presentation or a meeting

Speaker:

that is basically like a

Speaker:

presentation format. If that

Speaker:

doesn't need to be synchronous

Speaker:

and you're going to get

Speaker:

everybody to read the deck or

Speaker:

watch the video of someone

Speaker:

presenting, how do you know that

Speaker:

that's effective? Part of the

Speaker:

culture that also needs to

Speaker:

change is the way that we react

Speaker:

to these things. If you're

Speaker:

using a tool like Slack or MS

Speaker:

Teams, it's about reacting to

Speaker:

messages. You read a message,

Speaker:

it's about putting eye emojis or

Speaker:

some reaction to say, "Yes, I

Speaker:

read this." Or, commenting on

Speaker:

things on purpose, or when you

Speaker:

distribute a presentation or

Speaker:

something important, checking in

Speaker:

with people after the fact and

Speaker:

literally going out and

Speaker:

messaging them and saying, "Hey,

Speaker:

what did you think?" and

Speaker:

proactively looking for comments

Speaker:

and feedback. The communication

Speaker:

style does change in a world

Speaker:

where not everybody's always in

Speaker:

the same physical location.

Speaker:

Those are some of the things

Speaker:

that we think about when

Speaker:

building the product and

Speaker:

building Fellow is, how can we

Speaker:

make all those workflows easy to

Speaker:

do and build all the right

Speaker:

habits for people who want to

Speaker:

use the product?

Speaker:

What's your vision for how

Speaker:

technology can help support a

Speaker:

manager, and how far do you

Speaker:

think this technology can go?

Speaker:

The technology can go a really,

Speaker:

really long way. It starts from

Speaker:

habit building. It can create

Speaker:

the framework so that you can

Speaker:

basically make sure that things

Speaker:

that you need to do, that you do

Speaker:

them often and in the right

Speaker:

workflow and in the right format.

Speaker:

When it comes to an organization,

Speaker:

it's always hard to make sure

Speaker:

that everybody is doing things

Speaker:

the same way. You don't want it

Speaker:

to be copy and paste across the

Speaker:

board, but broadly, at the same

Speaker:

structural way that, say, one-on-

Speaker:

ones are held or meetings are

Speaker:

held across the organization, to

Speaker:

have a consistent approach

Speaker:

across the board. Why wouldn't

Speaker:

you want to find workflows that

Speaker:

work and make sure that

Speaker:

everybody does them? That's one

Speaker:

thing. The second thing is data.

Speaker:

Having data at your fingertips

Speaker:

and looking at this stuff and

Speaker:

understanding, based on the data,

Speaker:

what decisions you should make,

Speaker:

that starts to go a long way.

Speaker:

The third layer as we get more

Speaker:

futuristic is now we start to

Speaker:

get suggestions on what we

Speaker:

should do. This is where the

Speaker:

software can aid us beyond just

Speaker:

showing us data. It can also

Speaker:

start to make recommendations on, "

Speaker:

Hey, you should talk about this

Speaker:

topic in your one-on-one," or, "

Speaker:

You should really meet with this

Speaker:

person," or, "You should really

Speaker:

consider using this workflow for

Speaker:

that meeting because this is the

Speaker:

type of meeting that you said it

Speaker:

was." Over the course of time,

Speaker:

first, you start with the basics

Speaker:

of, "OK, here's workflows." Then,

Speaker:

there's, "Here's data to make

Speaker:

better decisions." Third is now

Speaker:

this offer starts to make

Speaker:

suggestions on how you can

Speaker:

implement a bunch of these

Speaker:

things. I have some

Speaker:

controversial views on this, too.

Speaker:

I think that, for example, in

Speaker:

the long term, as technology

Speaker:

starts to get better, and this

Speaker:

is maybe a controversial

Speaker:

viewpoint. I think you fast-

Speaker:

forward 10 years from now,

Speaker:

technology will get so good that

Speaker:

you're going to be in a

Speaker:

situation where you and I might

Speaker:

maybe hang out socially, but the

Speaker:

second that we want to say, "Hey,

Speaker:

let's talk business and let's

Speaker:

actually have the meeting,"

Speaker:

we'll want to use technology,

Speaker:

and that'll be a better meeting.

Speaker:

A meeting done using technology

Speaker:

or a remote meeting might be

Speaker:

better than an in-person

Speaker:

experience. The reason is while

Speaker:

we're talking and we mention

Speaker:

something, or I mention a Peter

Speaker:

Drucker, I get pulled up

Speaker:

information about him on the

Speaker:

side. We talk about another

Speaker:

person and the action item for

Speaker:

that person gets recorded and

Speaker:

gets sent to them right away.

Speaker:

There's a lot that technology

Speaker:

can do. We look at it based on

Speaker:

the technology we have today and

Speaker:

we're like, "Well, clearly, in-

Speaker:

person interactions are the only

Speaker:

way to go." Imagine now, 10

Speaker:

years of everybody focusing on

Speaker:

this over the next decade, it's

Speaker:

going to be game-changing.

Speaker:

Super powerful. What happens

Speaker:

when we think about AI, as well

Speaker:

as contextual search, as well as

Speaker:

augmented reality, and voice-to-

Speaker:

text, and other elements? Do you

Speaker:

feel like we're going to be

Speaker:

interacting traditionally in

Speaker:

conversations like this, or are

Speaker:

we going to be interacting in

Speaker:

totally different ways?

Speaker:

I think it's going to be very

Speaker:

different. A couple of

Speaker:

interesting things that I've

Speaker:

been thinking about here. One of

Speaker:

the things about being on camera

Speaker:

and the way that we are and

Speaker:

we're conducting this

Speaker:

conversation is you have no idea

Speaker:

how tall I am. I've my whole

Speaker:

life, been basically the

Speaker:

shortest person in the room. All

Speaker:

of a sudden, on video, that's

Speaker:

democratizing. It doesn't matter.

Speaker:

I started my first company when

Speaker:

I was very young, and I know you

Speaker:

basically started straight out

Speaker:

of school. Selling enterprise

Speaker:

companies as a very young person,

Speaker:

especially in some rooms, it's

Speaker:

nice to have some grey hair

Speaker:

sometimes. I think that over the

Speaker:

course of time, it might be that

Speaker:

we have different filters when

Speaker:

we have conversations, or maybe

Speaker:

my voice has changed a little

Speaker:

bit. A lot of these things may

Speaker:

sound crazy as we're talking

Speaker:

about them. It's not normal for

Speaker:

me to have an avatar or a

Speaker:

slightly different persona when

Speaker:

I'm talking to different people.

Speaker:

That, over the course of time,

Speaker:

might become something that's

Speaker:

the norm as we try and

Speaker:

democratize the way that people

Speaker:

can interact with others.

Speaker:

That's one of the things that,

Speaker:

for example, I think it's going

Speaker:

to change. It's not going to

Speaker:

matter if you're young or old,

Speaker:

or how tall or short you are. A

Speaker:

lot of those things will start

Speaker:

to change. The other thing that

Speaker:

I think is going to start to

Speaker:

change is, again, if you get

Speaker:

very futuristic about this, you

Speaker:

can replicate a lot of these

Speaker:

environments. Certainly, there's

Speaker:

a lot of technology in the world

Speaker:

of AR and VR, where you can

Speaker:

replicate being amongst a lot of

Speaker:

people and interacting with them.

Speaker:

I know there's a company that's

Speaker:

doing some cool things in this

Speaker:

space called Spatial VR. They're

Speaker:

replicating in-person

Speaker:

interactions in the virtual

Speaker:

space. You mentioned AI and how

Speaker:

can AI help with these sorts of

Speaker:

things? Imagine if you and I are

Speaker:

talking. I am the super

Speaker:

interesting person, so you would

Speaker:

never get bored if I'm talking.

Speaker:

Say that you were, I could get a

Speaker:

flag that, "Dan's not paying

Speaker:

attention now," or, "This

Speaker:

meeting's productivity score is

Speaker:

low because three people are

Speaker:

clearly browsing or doing

Speaker:

something else," or, "You're

Speaker:

going off-topic," or, "This

Speaker:

person has talked too much

Speaker:

during this meeting." There's a

Speaker:

lot of things that we can do

Speaker:

live, even as meetings and

Speaker:

interactions are starting to

Speaker:

happen, to guide those

Speaker:

interactions into a good place.

Speaker:

I have to tell you about a cool

Speaker:

tool that I've been using. Do

Speaker:

you ski?

Speaker:

Yeah, of course.

Speaker:

Cool. Have you used a product

Speaker:

called Carv?

Speaker:

No.

Speaker:

This is an incredible product.

Speaker:

You insert these sensors into

Speaker:

your ski boots. It can connect

Speaker:

your AirPods. What happens is

Speaker:

it's got 250 sensors on each

Speaker:

foot, and it's guiding you on

Speaker:

how you ski, and it's scoring

Speaker:

you for every single run, how

Speaker:

you did, how is your balance?

Speaker:

Every measure that you can

Speaker:

imagine, it scores every run.

Speaker:

Then, when you're on the

Speaker:

chairlift, it tells you and can

Speaker:

coach you. There's even live

Speaker:

coaching so that you can listen

Speaker:

to it while you're skiing. It's

Speaker:

instructing you on how to do

Speaker:

things. That's the analogy of

Speaker:

sports. All we have to do is

Speaker:

take those things, and then

Speaker:

apply them to knowledge work so

Speaker:

that we can make ourselves

Speaker:

productive and performing at our

Speaker:

best in the knowledge work that

Speaker:

we do.

Speaker:

What's preventing that

Speaker:

technology from existing today?

Speaker:

The example of we're in a

Speaker:

meeting with 20 people and ten

Speaker:

of them are tuned out on their

Speaker:

computers, browsing other stuff,

Speaker:

is that technology out there

Speaker:

today?

Speaker:

We're focusing on it. It's just

Speaker:

a matter of, what should

Speaker:

everybody focus on? The events

Speaker:

of the last year or so has made

Speaker:

it so that it's become

Speaker:

acceptable that we can have more

Speaker:

digital so that you don't have

Speaker:

to fly to another city just to

Speaker:

have a meeting, and then go back.

Speaker:

Before, these were not

Speaker:

acceptable things. If I got on

Speaker:

the phone with you and you were,

Speaker:

say, in your kitchen, I might

Speaker:

maybe think that, "Oh, that

Speaker:

might be unprofessional." Now,

Speaker:

it's an accepted norm. Now that

Speaker:

we've run this big experiment,

Speaker:

you'll start to see that not

Speaker:

only at Fellow, but many, many

Speaker:

other companies, they have been

Speaker:

and they will continue to

Speaker:

basically introduce a lot of new

Speaker:

technology on improving our

Speaker:

meetings and interactions. This

Speaker:

is a space that you're going to

Speaker:

see all this attention and all

Speaker:

the smart minds are now focused

Speaker:

on this area, and you're going

Speaker:

to see a lot more good things

Speaker:

come out of it.

Speaker:

Got it. How, at Fellow, do you

Speaker:

calibrate managers? At AppDirect,

Speaker:

we think about a calibration,

Speaker:

what we call a performance grid.

Speaker:

We look at the what and the how,

Speaker:

the what being the output based

Speaker:

on your OKRs, or objectives and

Speaker:

key results, and you're KPIs,

Speaker:

which are your key performance

Speaker:

indicators. The how is values

Speaker:

and competencies, so values

Speaker:

being, how do you execute based

Speaker:

on our values, which include

Speaker:

humility and positive mental

Speaker:

attitude -- we coach on that --

Speaker:

but also competencies such as

Speaker:

communication skills and coding

Speaker:

skills or other skills that you

Speaker:

may need? We have tracks to

Speaker:

help enable our teams and

Speaker:

managers to progress to be able

Speaker:

to excel at not only being able

Speaker:

to maintain and execute on their

Speaker:

own OKRs and KPIs but if they

Speaker:

become a manager, how they can

Speaker:

do that on behalf of their team.

Speaker:

That's our methodology on how to

Speaker:

calibrate a manager. How do you

Speaker:

think about grooming and

Speaker:

calibrating managers at Fellow?

Speaker:

This is a very good question

Speaker:

because your approach makes a

Speaker:

lot of sense. You had all the

Speaker:

right elements in there. There

Speaker:

is a performance element,

Speaker:

there's a cultural element. All

Speaker:

those things are very important.

Speaker:

Some of the things that we've

Speaker:

come across that a lot of other

Speaker:

people have talked about is

Speaker:

factors like retention. Do

Speaker:

people stay when a manager is

Speaker:

responsible for that team?

Speaker:

That's an important one. You

Speaker:

also have to counter that with,

Speaker:

you don't want them to stay

Speaker:

forever, because you want

Speaker:

managers to be able to grow

Speaker:

leaders and for those people to

Speaker:

go on and do other things and be

Speaker:

successful. There's also this

Speaker:

element of people who have

Speaker:

worked with the manager, how

Speaker:

often do they end up becoming

Speaker:

leaders and continuing to grow

Speaker:

and being promoted in their

Speaker:

career? The things that are very

Speaker:

outcome-oriented and

Speaker:

characteristic-oriented, but

Speaker:

then there's also these aspects

Speaker:

of the team. Those are some of

Speaker:

the aspects that make a lot of

Speaker:

sense, and then there's some

Speaker:

other aspects. For example, one

Speaker:

of the factors that is very

Speaker:

important is trust.

Speaker:

What's interesting is we were

Speaker:

just talking about "Manager

Speaker:

Tools" and we just had the

Speaker:

founder of that podcast on the

Speaker:

show. He was talking about a

Speaker:

very large study that they ran.

Speaker:

They basically got all managers

Speaker:

to rate what they thought the

Speaker:

trust level between them and

Speaker:

their employees was, and then

Speaker:

they got the employees to also

Speaker:

rate the trust level that they

Speaker:

had with their managers. On

Speaker:

average, managers scored what

Speaker:

they believed their trust

Speaker:

between their employees to be as

Speaker:

a 7.1 and the employees rated it

Speaker:

as a 3.5. It was drastically

Speaker:

different. Over the course of

Speaker:

time, through systematic one-on-

Speaker:

ones, and understanding, and

Speaker:

level-setting, and asking for

Speaker:

feedback, that flipped. It would

Speaker:

be nice for the trust level to

Speaker:

be at a 10, but what's more

Speaker:

important is for the trust level

Speaker:

that the employee rates the

Speaker:

manager to be higher than what

Speaker:

the manager does for their

Speaker:

rating. Part of that is

Speaker:

managers have to understand it's

Speaker:

like driving, everybody thinks

Speaker:

they're a better-than-average

Speaker:

driver. It's coming to

Speaker:

understanding that the trust

Speaker:

level is maybe not what they

Speaker:

think it is, and it's also

Speaker:

consistent work to make those

Speaker:

things happen. Again, what you

Speaker:

said outlines very, very well

Speaker:

some elements that you have to

Speaker:

do. If we think about team

Speaker:

structure and some of those

Speaker:

aspects, some of these other

Speaker:

aspects are great ways to

Speaker:

understand if someone is a good

Speaker:

manager or not.

Speaker:

As the host of SuperManagers,

Speaker:

what's the one piece of

Speaker:

management advice you would give

Speaker:

the listeners on the podcast?

Speaker:

What I would say is, and the

Speaker:

thing that I hear most often is,

Speaker:

it's all about the people. At

Speaker:

the end of the day, you have to

Speaker:

treat everyone like real people,

Speaker:

understand them, and treat them

Speaker:

like human beings. Secondly,

Speaker:

what I would say is that you

Speaker:

have to treat this just like a

Speaker:

professional athlete would.

Speaker:

Just like a professional athlete

Speaker:

would do drills, and practice,

Speaker:

and look back on their week and

Speaker:

figure out what conversations

Speaker:

they had, and how they went, and

Speaker:

how much feedback did they give,

Speaker:

and how did the feedback yet

Speaker:

received, the world's best

Speaker:

managers are also practicing and

Speaker:

they're very deliberate about

Speaker:

all these things. Those are the

Speaker:

two things I would say is it's

Speaker:

all about the people and you

Speaker:

have to work at this. One of the

Speaker:

things that we say often is

Speaker:

great managers are not born,

Speaker:

they're made. The good news is

Speaker:

that it's never too late. It's

Speaker:

something that you can keep

Speaker:

working on, and with enough

Speaker:

effort, enough repetition, you

Speaker:

too can be a supermanager.

Speaker:

Amazing. Inspirational words.

Speaker:

Aydin, so great to chat with you

Speaker:

on Decoding Digital.

Speaker:

Thanks for having me. This was

Speaker:

super fun.

Speaker:

Amazing. Take care.

Speaker:

On the next episode of Decoding

Speaker:

Digital...

Speaker:

This is not like a small little

Speaker:

tweak to your business. It is a

Speaker:

fundamental transformation of

Speaker:

your business model. It needs to

Speaker:

be board and CEO-sponsored and

Speaker:

you need to think holistically

Speaker:

because it impacts every single

Speaker:

process. It impacts how you

Speaker:

develop products, how you market

Speaker:

them, how you sell them, how you

Speaker:

service them.

Speaker:

Once you're on this journey,

Speaker:

you're all in. You have to stay

Speaker:

patient and you have to stay

Speaker:

persistent on this journey. You

Speaker:

can't turn around in six months

Speaker:

and say, "These things are not

Speaker:

happening fast enough." To turn

Speaker:

around a ship, it takes time.

Speaker:

David Sovie, senior managing

Speaker:

director, and Vik Viniak, the

Speaker:

managing director and senior

Speaker:

partner at Accenture.

Speaker:

Thanks for listening to Decoding

Speaker:

Digital. Make sure you never

Speaker:

miss an episode by subscribing

Speaker:

to the show in your favorite

Speaker:

podcast player. To learn more,

Speaker:

visit decodingdigital.com. Until