4 Team Rapport Building Questions

As part of creating a high performance team, it’s important to build rapport and understanding of each person at the human level. I’ve found that introducing an ice breaker or personal sharing element to off-sites or planning sessions is a great way to get to know each other and develop a foundation of trust.

Here are four simple team rapport building questions:

  1. Where are your from and what was it like growing up there?
  2. How many siblings do you have and what’s each one like?
  3. Where do you fall in the sibling order and how did that impact growing up?
  4. What was your most interesting or difficult challenge as a kid?

The next time you’re planning the agenda for a team meeting, whether it’s a one-off strategy session or a weekly meeting, consider adding a personal element for people to get to know each other better.

What else? What are some more thoughts on team rapport building questions?

Transitioning from Free Flowing to Structured Organization

As a new startup is getting off the ground, and the team is focused on product/market fit, there’s often little organizational structure. Everyone is heads-down focused on building something people want to buy and, with a small team, everyone knows what everyone is working on. Only, as product/market fit is found, and the organization grows, the need for organizational structure grows. Yet, many entrepreneurs, especially first-time entrepreneurs, are so caught up in the whirlwind of the business (especially when it’s going well!) that they don’t step back and start to put in more process and structure. I’ve even seen an entrepreneur scale well beyond the $1M run-rate milestone and not even have regular leadership meetings.

Here are a few thoughts on transitioning from free flowing to structured organization:

  • Implement a Simplified One Page Strategic Plan immediately (even while in the free flowing stage)
  • Don’t add too much structure too early, but do take time to ensure everyone is aligned with the organizational goals or OKRs
  • Consider the appropriate meeting rhythm, and if more frequent communication produces better team results, implement daily check-ins for everyone
  • When the team is the size that everyone doesn’t know what everyone else is working on, more structure is needed

9/10 times when I ask someone in a startup what their company values and goals are, they can’t provide a consistent answer. While the free flowing style works at the beginning, over time more organizational structure and process is needed.

What else? What are some more thoughts on transitioning from free flowing to structured organization?

Document the Organizational Process

With the start of Q3 upon us, it’s a great time to reflect on last quarter and go through the exercise of what should we start doing, what should we stop doing, and what should we continue doing (start, stop, continue). As part of this exercise it’s important to have the organizational process documented in something simple like a Google Doc. Similar to how the Simplified One Page Strategic Plan is updated quarterly, this document should be updated on a regular basis as well.

Here are some example items that would be included in an Organizational Process document:

Entrepreneurs need to document the organization process and be intentional about how their organization runs.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea of documenting the organizational process?

The Weekend Update Email

One of my favorite management tools that I’ve seen entrepreneurs implement with great success is the weekend update email. Every Sunday night the entrepreneur sends out an update about the past week to all employees, advisors, mentors, and investors. The email has both qualitative and quantitative information and is a quick five minute read by the recipients.

Here’s a simple weekend update email format:

  • Team greeting
  • Summary paragraph of the week and any highlights
  • Company goals for the quarter and current progress towards them
  • Sales, Marketing, Support, Customer Success, Product (individual sections for each of the major departments)
    • Metrics/Goals
    • Highlights
  • Customer stories
  • Culture stories
  • Closing

Entrepreneurs that spend 90 minutes every Sunday night preparing and sending out the weekend update email will see greater focus, accountability, and alignment. While it’s a serious time commitment, the results are impressive.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the weekend update email?

Video of the Week – Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

For our video of the week, watch Matt Abrahams in his video Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Communication is critical to success in business and life. Concerned about an upcoming interview? Anxious about being asked to give your thoughts during a meeting? Fearful about needing to provide critical feedback in the moment? You are not alone! Learn and practice techniques that will help you speak spontaneously with greater confidence and clarity, regardless of content and context.

4 Ideas for Employee Feedback

Recently I was listening to a CEO give a talk and he mentioned how listening to employee feedback was one the most important things he does every other week. Naturally, this got me thinking about the many different ways leaders solicit feedback and ideas.

Here are seven ideas for employee feedback:

  1. Facilitate bottom-up daily check-ins across the company
  2. Use a UserVoice idea exchange and let employees submit ideas and vote up their favorites
  3. Hold a weekly town hall where any employee can ask questions or provide feedback
  4. Run an anonymous quarterly employee survey using Survey Monkey asking for feedback and capturing an employee net promoter score (NPS) (note: some people think anonymous surveys are bad because it is a crutch for cultures that aren’t healthy enough to share things out in the open while others find it to be very valuable)

Employee feedback is a critical part of healthy organizations. Try these four ideas and find out what does, and doesn’t, work for your organization.

What else? What are some more ideas for employee feedback?


Companies Grow as Fast as the People Grow

One of the important leadership lessons I learned at Pardot is that companies grow as fast as the people grow. Some companies have a preference for bringing in experienced people from the outside that already have grown to the necessary level. Other companies have a preference for promoting from within and looking to grow their own people. Have a high growth company? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Entrepreneurs would do well to build an environment that recruits, trains, and grows people as fast, if not faster, than the growth of the business.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea that companies grow as fast as the people grow?