After a year and a half, it seems that more people than ever are looking for a change in their lives. In this episode I look at how to handle team changes in the wider context of what some have dubbed "The Great Resignation".
As a planet, we're in unprecedented times – and it's no wonder that many teams are going through a tumultuous time with changes never seen before.
If you're anything like me, handling team changes is one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager and leader. I find it hard to even know where to begin on this topic, but I thought I'd share my latest thinking in this episode with the hope it will be valuable to others out there going through similar challenges.
Actions / take aways
- Every change is an opportunity to look at the business – what is going well, what isn't?
- Understand people’s goals and desires and ensure they’re on the right path.
- When someone leaves there can be tremendous opportunity for others on the team to grow into new roles.
- Be clear with yourself on the goals and needs of the company.
- Remember: everyone is on their own journey. You can’t control that! Focus on what you can control – organisation design, encouraging the culture and performance you want to see, leading by example, and making people the hero on their own journey.
- You’re not alone. This stuff is hard. Talk to others and you’ll realise that many others are in the same boat and going through similar challenges.
Links and further reading
- The Great Resignation on Google Trends https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=great resignation
- What is driving the Great Resignation? https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation
What is Lost and Founder?
Being a startup founder is not all private jets and parties. Truthfully, being a founder is a lonely, difficult, stressful, yet rewarding way to spend your life. James Gill started GoSquared with two friends from school in 2006, and in this podcast he shares his struggles, excitement, and everything in between with refreshing honesty.
James Gill: Hi, everyone!
I wanted to start another episode and it's been a little while, but lost and founder
continues stronger than ever.
And I just wanted to talk today about a
topic that's been on my mind, quite a lot.
I think the term was surface to me.
A while ago by various other
founders that I talked to called
the the great resignation.
And if you look at
Things like Google trends.
You'll see that this is a term
that's become incredibly highly
talked about and searched globally
over the course of this year.
And especially in the latter months
September, October, Going into November.
And I guess, yeah, I want to kind
of use that as an opportunity
to talk about the topic of.
How, as a founder, you deal with
people leaving your team, team changes
and And, and the wider global kind
of climate right now with, with
people wanting to change careers.
I feel like everyone I've spoken to a lot
of people I've spoken to are going through
very similar challenges as founders in
terms of lots of team changes, but also.
Speaking with lots of people that
actually have jobs and work throughout the
companies wanting change in their life.
So I thought it'd be.
Overall quite an interesting
topic to discuss.
So yeah, thought it'd be good to dive in.
So, first of all, I thought it would
be a good place to start by looking
at like, what is this term called?
The great resignation and why might
it be a term that a lot of people are
thinking, talking about researching.
I can't profess to be an expert on global.
Trends and anything like that.
But I guess from my own perspective
I feel like obviously the last year
and a half, almost two years now.
Everyone obviously has been going through.
Some of the perhaps toughest
experiences they've actually.
Had in their lives I mean, when
you think about it as humans,
I guess from myself, like.
All through my life.
I've had a routine where I have
lived in one place, and then I have
gone to another place during the
day and then returned to that place
afterwards, you know, school you'd.
Well, at least I would get the train
into school, dare to school, come
home at the end of the day, I'd
have that change of environment.
And then later on in life, I had home
work going into the city, coming back.
And obviously most of us are a lot of us,
very fortunate to have holidays as well.
Time away in different places, different
locations, often getting on a plane.
I guess For some period of time in
2020, I think for a lot of people.
There was suddenly this change with
the pandemic and we've locked downs.
That meant that, oh wow.
We can now be at home then.
And there was this I've
sensed a short term period of
I guess change there that That meant
people could try different things
out experiment with diff different
routines, different lifestyles, but
as that progressed and prolonged,
and as that, wasn't just a few weeks
of change, but became something that
essentially has affected us for.
Well over a year now.
And I think still hangs
over us in many ways.
And I think a lot of the effects of
all of those changes have, will have
continued knock on effects for many,
many years to come perhaps forever.
Now there is this point where.
Things are starting to change.
They're not necessarily returning back
to normal, but there's a sense that
perhaps the deepest, darkest times of.
This global pandemic are
at least in some places.
Hopefully behind us and.
And I think.
Just because things are
starting to open up and.
New experiences can happen again.
I certainly sense that.
A lot of people have
just been so exhausted.
Burnt out by the monotony and.
Almost captivity that they've
experienced over the last year.
It's really not surprising that many,
many people all around the world.
Are taking this as an opportunity to
think about the life they want to lead.
And to rethink some of the.
Things that may be used to be assumed.
And using this as an opportunity
to really think about how they
can change things in their life.
And one of the things that you can
change or that many people can change
It may not be where you live.
It may not be.
Everything about your lifestyle, but.
A lot of people can at
least consider changing.
What their job is, and maybe even
wider sense what their career is.
I think to.
All of these sort of trends, culminating.
It feels like there's a lot
of people that are out there.
Really taking this as an
opportunity to rethink things.
And that might be employees.
It might be founders as well.
And that might be anyone and everyone
and And so I guess that's in my
eyes, at least how I understand.
This increasing global trend or
this, this trend that's been growing
over the last year and a bit.
And And I guess.
Yeah, that's, that's my take on.
Secondly, I wanted to talk about handling.
Team changes as a founder.
This podcast is of course called lost
and founder, and a big reason why.
Like doing this podcast is to surface
some of my own thoughts to help me.
Think a bit more clearly
for myself, but also.
I get so much Enjoyment and I find it
so rewarding to speak to other founders.
Here from other founders who are
going through similar things to.
And to reassure others that.
They're not alone.
And I know along this journey at times
I have felt quite alone and often that
really, really helped to talk to others.
Especially when times get tough.
Because you very quickly realize
you're not the only one going
through these challenges.
And and I think on this topic,
it's particularly tough, especially
for those in smaller teams where.
I know firsthand how much
your team matters to you.
So I guess I wanted to talk about how
to handle team changes as a founder and.
And just some of the things that I feel
that I've, I've been learning along the
way, and if they're helpful, then great.
But he, by no means have to
take my city words, his gospel.
I guess, first of all, in terms
of handling team changes, I guess.
I always I'm very clear.
So myself with is that.
No one has to work for.
Any company that at least that I have.
Ever been part of people
have a choice and people are.
On their own journey.
And I think the more I remind
myself of that, that everyone's
got their own goals in this world.
Everyone's on a journey of some sort then.
Everyone has different
priorities and needs.
And And I guess when you're
building a company and a team.
At least from my perspective, I've
always tried to ensure that there's
a lot of alignment between what
the company needs to do and the.
Goals of the people on the
team and in the company.
And I think there's some
real magic that happens when.
The team is made up of people that.
Are in the right places.
And then in the right positions and
that each of those people is on a
path and a trajectory and has their
goals very clearly aligned with.
Exactly what the company.
Needs from those people too.
And I think.
A lot of the challenges for
running a team, managing a team or.
A lot of the challenges for
individuals in a team come wet from
when those things are not aligned.
You know, someone wanting to.
A different job to the one they're in
and the company needing them to do.
The job they currently do.
Not the one they want them to do.
Or the company needing more
of someone and that person not
wanting to do more of that thing.
A lot of these points are where things
become tough and in a small team
often with extremely constrained.
Budgets and resources.
It can be really difficult
to navigate these things.
And I think from my.
Experience at least I think often the
mistakes have been around bending the
company too much to try to please.
A single team member or employee.
Because it sometimes feels
like the right thing.
You want people to be happy?
And you want people to be satisfied and
often you don't want to lose people, but.
There's a balance to be struck where.
You've got to be clear and
objective about what the company
needs, what the team needs.
At this very moment in time and be
very aware of how that has changed.
I might change in the future.
And there's a, yeah, absolutely
a balance to be struck to ensure
that every member of the team is.
Happy satisfied, excited,
driven as possible.
But also to make sure that that.
That person is in the right position
to have the greatest impact in the
business at this very moment in time.
And when those, those aren't aligned.
That's often where things, things
get tricky and where team members
will maybe want to change.
And sometimes they may want to leave.
All where you as a founder or as
a management team, have to make
difficult decisions about who.
Stays and who may need
to move on from the team.
And I think.
I think over time, I've realized that.
When you bring talented
people into a team that.
No one is going to be
on your team forever.
Teams change and a fluid and people.
Have career paths that span decades.
And to think that you'll work with
someone forever is, is kind of crazy.
Just being aware that sometimes
Relationships don't necessarily last
forever or working relationships.
Don't last forever.
Employees don't stay forever.
And just being very cognizant of.
What is going on with that?
That situation and not trying
to feel like the world is.
Caving in or that you're
doing everything wrong.
If Someone chooses to leave your team.
Because it might be that it's
something totally out of your control
or something that you shouldn't
even necessarily be working to.
Change your address.
It's more often, something that you
can work through and often come out
stronger the other side and is, can be
something that's better for both sides.
So in terms of.
Trying to think about this.
I, I, I feel that sometimes there's
a danger in a small team that.
You feel more like a family?
I know that.
Throughout the time I've always.
Worked on GoSquared.
I've always felt that We have a very
close knit team and you become incredibly
good friends and build incredible
bonds with the people you work with.
You know, at times that's been
harder through remote working.
But we've still, I think, tried to
nurture a really supportive and close-knit
culture and we've always done that.
But sometimes it can be really
hard to break free from that.
Think about things, not just as a family.
Or a bunch of friends, but
as a actual business with.
Inputs outputs and cold hard.
And sometimes it even feels dirty
talking about that stuff in a world
where we want to talk about culture.
We want to talk about.
Really supportive working environments.
And of course, all of that is true.
At the end of the day, you will say.
Trying to build a business and a
business has needs, and those needs
are often changing and evolving.
I think some, some people often like
to make the analogy that actually when
you're building a team and a company.
It's sometimes better
to think about the team.
More like a sports team.
Where you have a certain number
of players on the field and.
Each of those players is
in a critical position.
Those players need to be really
good in those positions and that.
The success of the overall sports
team is dependent on everyone.
In those, in those possessions,
performing at their best.
And performing together.
And and I think that's a more helpful
way of thinking about building a strong,
high performing team and company.
It's not necessarily like a
family, it's more of a sports team
and everyone needs to perform.
Everyone needs to be
in the right positions.
Everyone needs to be communicating
and working together really strongly.
And if people want to step outside
of those positions or do different.
Roles on the team then.
That can be figured out,
but that it shouldn't.
Prioritized over the success of the
overall team and And that thinking
like that and thinking about the
overall output and performance
of the overall team and company.
Is ultimately the most
important thing and that.
Trying to balance and ensure
your, each of your team is as
happy and successful as possible.
Is a critical part of that.
I wanted to close out the shade today.
We have a few takeaways, actions and
I advice, I guess I kind of saying
these more as advice to myself.
To anyone, but if that's
helpful to you, then then great.
I guess, firstly, I'd say.
Whenever there's any changes in the team.
I think it's a good opportunity to just
try and step back a little bit and just
try and look at the company from above.
Zoomed out view and a.
Sometimes if, if someone does leave
the team, there's an immediate Reaction
to say, we need to replace that person
with like, for like alternative and
a lot of fare that comes about from,
from the uncertainty of whether
or not you will find that person.
But I think in reality, it's actually
an opportunity to reevaluate things and
understand what the business needs today,
because the likelihood is that when you
originally brought that person on board,
The company was in a different state
and become penny is likely changed.
The needs of that role may have changed.
And the needs of the overall
business may have changed and
other priorities may exist.
So I would, first of all, say, it's
just an opportunity to look at.
At what their company overall needs today.
And to, to make sure you evaluate that
critically as objectively as possible.
Secondly, I'd say really try to make sure
you understand people's goals and desires.
And the career paths
that each of your team.
Over on and want to be on the
more you can understand that
the more you can understand.
How you can help those people
grow in their careers and thrive.
And hopefully do that.
Within your team and within your company.
And I think from my perspective,
that's a critical part of my job
as a, as a leader and a manager
to make sure that I take time.
In my schedule to understand other
people's goals and desires and.
I can always do better than that.
I think I'd also say that whenever
someone does choose to leave a
team or whenever someone does
leave a team for whatever reason,
There's also a huge opportunity for
others in the team to step into a new
role and to grow and to take on more
responsibilities, to get exposure to.
New parts of the team of the company
and perhaps Hiring from within and
growing individuals on the team is.
Is is the opportunity
that that could exist.
And I think that's an
incredibly exciting part of
Of team changes overall that the other
people might be ready and willing.
And excited to take on more responsibility
into, to step up and to grow.
And I think we've seen that it
goes great on many occasions.
And it's, it's excited me so much
and it's filled me with so much
Enthusiasm and excitement and
And they, there's nothing better than
seeing people really grow and thrive.
And seeing what some might
see as a negative and seeing
it as a true opportunity in.
Positive in that.
An exciting path forward.
I think as a leader.
It's also really important to just
continue being clear with your goals for
the company, and to also try to make sure
you communicate as clearly as possible
with the team about the goals and.
How everyone fits into that and where
that positions are, why they're so
important and getting clearer about that
and how everyone fits together as one.
Overarching organism or unit.
It can be really helpful for
everyone to see where they fit
in the whole scheme of things.
And then finally, I guess I wanted to.
Everyone's on their own.
Has their own path, their own.
Goals in life, their own.
Different things going on
and You can't control that.
You need to focus on what you can control.
And as a leader that is.
Building a great company,
building a culture that is.
High performing, but also
enjoyable to work out.
You can lead by example and
set the time for the kind of
business you want to be running.
You can take time to understand
people's goals and desires.
But at the end of the day,
you can't control what people.
And I would encourage you
not to spend time trying to.
Necessarily change peoples.
And goals and desires like.
Those are quite.
Personal to people and
deeply embedded in people.
And I would encourage you to work
with those goals and understand where
you can fit and where you can help.
And be clear with yourself
and where you can't.
And To stay strong and Make sure you,
you just focused on what you can control
that, worry about what you can't.
And I guess finally, finally, I
would also just emphasize that.
You're not alone.
As a founder or as a team member,
there's always people you can talk to.
And I know from my perspective,
one of the best things.
I do when I'm going through tough
times as I talk to other founders.
Other people that are going
through similar stuff.
And every time I do that, I
realized that my problems are.
Not unique if anything.
Not as big as other people's problems.
And it helps put things in perspective.
If you're listening to this and
you feel like you don't have anyone
to talk to then do drop me a note.
Whereabouts via Twitter via email.
I'm always happy to chat and I find
it incredibly valuable hearing other
people's stories and And I think.
You critically realize if you do
that, that, that you're not alone.
And a lot of people are in the same boat.
So so yeah, I hope that's
been a helpful show.
It's a, it's a topic that I think is on
many, many people's minds at the moment.
And hopefully in this episode, we've,
we've done some justice to the topic and.
How team changes or not.
Not always a bad thing and a.
And everyone's on their own path and a.
And you can play a part in
helping to support that.
If you're, if you're
struggling any of this.
Just chat with people, talk to people and
and you'll, you'll be stronger for it.
So, thanks again for listening.
And I'll see you next time.