"One of the things that managers and leaders need to get right is their metrics. What are they measuring? And what is it that's important for them to continually strive to achieve? Set the wrong metrics, measure the wrong things, and you can really be in trouble."
In this episode
We often have a preconceived notion that leaders must remain calm and cool under every circumstance. However, managers shouldn’t always appear stoic or unflappable.
On episode 99, Karen Hebert-Maccaro, General Manager of Education at Morning Brew, shares why extreme unflappability is not necessarily a good thing.
Karen also shares the metrics managers should focus on and how it impacts their image of success.
Lastly, we dive into her four-step delegating framework to ensure effective task management.
Tune in to hear all about Karen’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.
Bringing the human back to leadership
Unflappability as a leader
Metrics for management
Leading, lagging, and current indicators
Karen’s must-read resources
- Follow Karen on Twitter
- Check out Learning Brew and Morning Brew
- Read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goldman
- Read Radical Candor by Kim Scott
- Read Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Read Drive by Daniel Pink
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 00:34
Karen, welcome to the show.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 02:28
I’m so happy to be here. And thanks for having me.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 02:30
Yeah, I’m super excited for this. I was just telling you, before we hit record that I am a daily reader of the morning brew, one of my favorite things to do is drink coffee in the morning and read the morning brew. And you know, for those who don’t know, the morning brew, and I have a feeling that a lot of our listeners already do. But what is the morning brew?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 02:51
Sure, yeah, morning brew is a company that was started by our co founders, Austin reef and Alex Lieberman when they were both University of Michigan students. And the whole idea behind morning brew was that they were seeing all their business colleagues and friends in their business classes, not read the Wall Street Journal, and you know, the New York Times cover to cover and they thought, you know, there’s got to be a way for us to make it digestible and easy for people to get business news, you know what they need to know, in a fairly quick and fun kind of way, while you’re having your morning cup of coffee. And then this newsletter was born. And of course, the newsletter has become quite well known morning guru has over 4 million subscribers now, across its newsletters. And we do more than just the daily, there’s sort of all sorts of newsletters for people who are interested in things like emerging tech or human resources, or retail or marketing. But really, it’s just an amazing company that has become more than just a newsletter company. It’s become a company that’s focused on helping people’s career accelerate and grow as individuals and professionals. And my favorite part, perhaps about morning brew is that we make this bold claim on the websites become smarter in just five minutes. And it’s simple, but it’s really true. The idea is that every time you open up something for morning, morning brew, you’re gonna get you know, a little bit smarter, and you’re going to do it in a way that’s enjoyable and fun.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 04:18
Yeah, 100%. I mean, I think I agree, every time I read it, I definitely take away a few points that I didn’t know before. And I get kept up to date, which is amazing. And so you have a special role at morning brew, it sounds like you’re building something new. They’re almost like a new startup within morning brew.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 04:36
That’s right. Yeah. So during 2021 The team at morning brew prior to my arrival, made a decision that they were interested in pursuing a professional development experience designing a cohort based course, which they labeled are called MBA the morning group accelerator program, and they went to a small subset of the morning for subscribers and they said we’re going to build this eight week per program are you interested? And they got about 1000 applications for 150 seats. And they ran this program, which was a program focused on basic business acumen skills for leaders and managers. Right. So it was, you know, you want to learn how to communicate better how operation works inside a company want to learn how to innovate and spark creativity amongst your team. And this program was such a wild success that the leaders that morning Brewer at the time decided that they had something here that they wanted to continue to build out. And so they went searching for a GM and I joined the company as the GM of education in August of 2021. And my goal really, was to figure out what was next MBA was a big success. And they had already started recruiting for a second cohort of this program. But what was going through education going to become and how were we going to get there. And so over the course of the last six or so months, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve sort of built out a strategy for you know, morning brews, ed tech division, we’ve launched a bunch of other products. And we really are building a business within morning brew that is adjacent to the newsletter business, but incredibly connected in terms of, you know, we take the same morning brew tone in our content, we strive for hyper relevance in HyperCard, so that everything that people are learning in our program is sort of ripped from the headlines, if you will, and we deliver it in a way that we think makes a lot of sense for managers, for leaders, for people who are working today and looking to accelerate their careers.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 06:27
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I didn’t know about this new division. And I think that sounds really cool. So she joined as GM. And so you know, one of the things is, you’ve obviously done a lot in your career, you know, some of the titles, I was just looking up your LinkedIn earlier, you’ve been a talent management, executive Chief Learning Officer, Chief Content Officer, you’ve been executive coach, Business, School Professor, management consultant, you’ve done many, many things, and, you know, have been involved in many, many teams. One of the questions that we like to kick things off with is, do you remember when he first started managing or leading a team? What were some of the early mistakes that you made in those days? And maybe you make less of today?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 07:08
Yeah. But a great question. So yeah, I distinctly remember, my first professional management job, I was fairly young, at the time, around 2526 years old. And I was sort of leading a team of about six or seven direct reports. And maybe there was four or five people below them, not a really big team, but it was my first real role in leadership in managing others. And I distinctly remember that one day, I was taken aside by my boss who went on to become a mentor and a person, I would consider a friend. And she said, Look, Karen, you have to remember to ask about people’s weekends. And, you know, her point, of course, was not just about, you know, small talk about weekends, her point was about slowing down a little bit, and being willing to let in a little inefficiency for this, you know, for the sake of this conversation, and for the sake of connecting with the people on your team, right, the idea that it was important that people felt like they could say, you know, yeah, I had a great weekend, I went skiing or something like that seemed to my fairly novice management brain, like, oh, well, that’s, you know, that’s that, that’s the weekend. Now we’re focused on task one, two, and three. And I think one of the things that she taught me was that it’s really important to get to know people individually, to see them as people to see them as human beings, and to understand that as much as I’m the kind of person that is pretty task oriented, and I want to sort of take us from A to B, in an efficient way as possible. That process has to be human, it has to be inter personal, it has to be relatable. And so people will follow you if they feel like they know who you are, and they respect you. And there’s a need for that. So that’s one thing that I learned really early on in my career, which is, there’s a lot of pressure on new managers, you know, you suddenly are supposed to have the authority to get everything done. And you’re supposed to know all the right answers and all these things. And I think I was so sort of tightly wound about that, that I forgot about the people side of things.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 09:13
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I know you have passionately talked about just this concept of being human, you know, when you are a leader, so maybe you can elaborate on that. So it seems like this, this might have been a learning that you had very early on. Yeah. But if you were to just almost like have a chance to send a message out to all managers and leaders about being human like, what does that practically mean? And what are some things that people can do?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 09:40
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I do love this notion. I don’t love the term necessarily, because I haven’t come up with a better one bringing the human back to leadership. But first of all, I think it’s as simple as p is seeing people as people and not just thinking of them as employees, which you know, again, might be a little bumper sticker, but people are complex. They’re multi dimensional. They’re not simply the sum of all the various parts of a job description, right? I mean, in some ways actually think the pandemic forced managers and leaders to face this fact like head on, suddenly, we were propelled into people’s living rooms with their children and their pets, and you know, all their lives unfolding around them. And I think the most effective leaders that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over my career, are just kind of human beings who genuinely want to do what’s best for their team, the organization and the people individually in them. And that I think, is a win win. So first of all, it’s simply recognizing that your employees, the people that you manage the people that you work with every day, they have lives, and those lives are demanding. You know, the second thing is, I think leaders can advocate for more human centered approaches to work, policies that support everything from parental leave, to flex time to vacation, mental health, financial planning, those types of things, are just policies that either if they’re in place, right now, they may exist, but people may feel still compelled to not take advantage of them. Right. You know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with people. So yeah, we have a parental leave policy, but I’m the dad, and I’m not picking any of the time off. Because you know, no other dads take the time off. And it’s not just a policy, it’s also you know, sort of the practice the culture of, you know, we have this for a reason, we have vacation time for a reason, we have support systems in place for a reason, it’s because we know that in order for you to be good at your job, you need to have certain things in place at home. So I would say, looking at human centered policies and approaches to work, and then just being human yourself, allowing people to see yourself as a multi dimensional complex human being. And I know there’s some difficulty in that, because there’s a line to be walked between bringing your whole self to work and sort of, you know, letting it become this really deeply personal place, and being professional. And there’s some levels of disconnect or distance that needs to exist. But I think there’s a line that can be walked there around just making people feel like they are recognized as full human beings.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 12:10
Yeah, I think this makes a lot of sense. And it’s also interesting, like, as you brought the pandemic, and I agree with you that it’s almost become a like forcing function for you to if you weren’t there before, it would have accelerated your, I guess, journey to that endpoint to kind of figure this out. It’s really interesting, actually, as you were saying this, I don’t know. I mean, you remember, like back when we were all going into offices, asking about people’s weekends, or like chit chatting in the beginning of a meeting. I feel like it happens now more during remote meetings. Like it’s almost like every call, I do start with some chit chat. But I feel like when we were back in the office, it was maybe happened less often. Maybe I did it for one on ones, but I don’t know that, like, most of the meetings throughout the day had that. And as you know, do you also agree, was it like that? Or am I not remembering this correctly?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 13:05
I think you’re right. And I don’t know if this is the you know, sort of the reason behind it. But I do suspect anyway, or have a hypothesis, that, you know, a part of that is that we are literally looking into people’s homes. And so it’s easier to see them as fully, you know, sort of formed human beings with other lives when we’re engaging with them in this method, whereas everybody’s in a conference room co located together in a professional building, you know, it’s easy to get caught up in just sort of the environmental cues of that and stay really focused. And by the way, that’s not a bad thing. You know, staying really focused and not being very wasteful of time is incredibly important. And so I don’t want to over index on this notion of sort of being able to chit chat. But I think on the whole, I think there’s a balance that can be achieved, and that you don’t have to over index on sterility, and no informal chit chat. And you don’t have to over index on, you know, it’s so much chit chat and so much informality that nothing’s getting done. There’s a line to be walked there, like much of management, its balance, its judgment, its nuance, but I think if you go too far into one direction or the other, you have problems.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 14:10
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And the other thing that comes to mind is that I think like employees have different expectations as well. And and you’ve talked about this in the past, what would you say? Or what has changed about people’s, like, the employee expectation around what they’re signing up for now, when they are joining a company or a team?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 14:31
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things that have changed. And, you know, again, you know, not to keep talking about the pandemic, but I think the pandemic accelerated a lot of these trends, not that they weren’t there before. But you know, one of the things you know, I think has changed quite a bit is that people are really thinking about their careers, from the perspective of not simply just things like convenience and compensation which both of those things are important, you know, how far do I have to travel if I’m going into a job, you know, What is my compensation going to be? All those things, of course, are important. But people are also now thinking about it in the context of their lives. And I think again, this was a trend that was starting to happen already pre pandemic. And I think the pandemic really gave us a lot of white space to think about, what do we run out of our lives. And when everybody wanted remote, certain constructs, like the daily commute, and, you know, a variety of other things suddenly shifted, and we saw good and bad out of that. But I think that, you know, it’s really important for managers and leaders to understand their team members on an individual basis, like what does motivate a, what does motivate Karen, because each person is going to be slightly different in terms of, you know, what they’re looking for out of their career, what they’re struggling with what their aspirations are. And it seems like a pretty simple idea, but it can be really hard to remember, you know, to try to take the time to understand the person in front of you, not just the product that they’re producing for you. Because really, people are now looking for that they are looking for their career to be meaningful in some way. They’re looking for a company or an organization to care more about just their product to sort of think, you know, hey, this is going to actually be a positive experience for me a growth experience for me, if something that’s going to be personally and professionally fulfilling is part of the equation Now, in addition to convenience factors, and in addition to compensation factors, and I think, you know, leaders and managers need to keep that in mind.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 16:25
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And I know that we’re maybe Now it may seem like we’re talking a lot about the pandemic. But there is just like this other topic that I know that you have opinions on, which is just this notion of unflappability. And you’re obviously, you know, controlling emotions as leaders, especially when you also then have to, I guess, deal with the reality of the emotions of the folks on your team, just emotional regulation is an important topic in general. And we’ve seen a lot more of that, boy, has it been a volatile world in the last two or three years. So I wanted to get your thoughts on this. What have you learned about like emotional state management and like what people need to do?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 17:10
Yeah, well, first of all, you’re absolutely right, emotional regulation, you know, emotional self awareness, the work of Daniel Goleman, on sort of emotional intelligence, hugely important. I’d call it almost seminal work for managers and leaders.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 17:22
Oh, interesting. Who’s Daniel Goldman.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 17:25
So Daniel Goleman, is the author of emotional intelligence, and also of primal leadership, and a few other great books for leaders. If your listeners are interested, they should definitely go check them out. They’re essentially about understanding that in order to be successful, and I’m definitely distilling this down to one core thing, and it’s so much more than this. But in order to be successful, that individuals professionals, people need to understand the IQ and the EQ side of themselves, the IQ pieces, the, you know, are you functionally trained? Well, are you competent? Do you know how to execute on your role, but the EQ is, do you understand yourself? Do you understand how to view your own strengths and weaknesses? Do you understand how to regulate your emotion? Do you understand other people and your impact on other people? And so there’s a great model that he’s built that is really fascinating, and I think it applies here. But specifically around sort of this notion of being unflappable. I really started thinking about this because as we covered I’m you know, sort of in the early stage startup part of morning brews entity and this is a day by day changing subgroup of morning brew, the learning routine is really in Build mode. And it can mean that there are days where things are, you know, sort of going wrong or not as we’d expected. And I was thinking about unflappability or, or being unflappable and how so often we think about a leader, when we think of the sort of traditional notion of a leader or a manager, we think that they must remain calm and cool under every in all circumstances, you know, we, we want them to be stoic and essentially just get the right answer on the moment and on the fly. And there’s some real value to that there’s Super Value in cool head in a difficult or challenging situation. But I was also thinking about the counterpoint on that. And I was I was thinking about how sometimes if you’ve ever had this experience, where you’ve been, you know, working for a boss or manager, who sort of you felt like you couldn’t express your frustration, you couldn’t say, you know, this has been a difficult day, and this went wrong, and this went wrong. And this is how I’m going to fix it. But it was frustrating, because you were fearful that that person would think, you know, somehow less of you that you were frustrated by the circumstances, then it sort of started to occur to me that sometimes extreme unflappability is not necessarily a good thing. And then, you know, it might be okay as a leader to say, I understand this was frustrating, I’m frustrated by this, but now we’re gonna move on, you know, so acknowledging the emotion of frustration or disappointment, and you know, even maybe allowing some of that to come through as a manager. I think might be something we’re afraid to do a little bit. But that on occasion, and again, if not used in extreme, I think can be a really powerful way of sort of resonating with people. Yep. It was frustrating. I got frustrated, you got frustrated now we’re going to fix it. And so that’s sort of some of the way I think about unflappability and that aloof, stoic, super calm leader image that some of us have.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 20:25
Yeah, I’d love to dig in on this a bit more like, is there a situation either at morning brew, or maybe some of the other companies that you’ve been involved in? Where, you know, for example, you were maybe not unflappable? And that was a good thing? Yeah,
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 20:42
sure. You know, I will give you an example. And I’m this is becoming the conversation about the how the pandemic has affected management, which it wasn’t intended to be. But I was at Babson College as the CEO of executive education. And I joined the organization in that role in August, August before the pandemic hit in the United States in North America. And so in March of 2020, I was only a few months into the role, when all of a sudden, our business which was 100%, face to face training and development of senior executives, was shut down entirely. And we had no online alternatives already established. And I remember that moment for a variety of reasons. And I remember the look of I wouldn’t say fear, but sort of surprise and confusion on the faces of this team of people that I was working with around like, Well, what do we do now? And I remember in that moment, you know, sort of being equally sort of surprised whether we should have been, or we shouldn’t have been being equally surprised that, you know, we were in this situation and, you know, knowing, sensing the urgency of it in order for us to continue to serve our clients and you know, continue to grow the business. And so I remember, I was not what you would call entirely unflappable in that moment, you know, I said, Look, this is a huge shock. This was very early on in the, in the pandemic. And so, you know, people were worried about their families, they were worried about their health, they were worried about their jobs. There was so many unknowns. And I think in that moment, being really human and a little flat, I guess, in the sense of like, yeah, I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. But we’re gonna figure it out. And yes, this wasn’t what any of us anticipated, but we’re going to figure it out. And I think that that moment was a powerful moment. And not to belabor this example. But one of the things that happened in that situation was, we made a decision. If this was quite early in March of 2020, that we were going to take, we were going to bring six programs online in 10 days. And we did it. And you know, part of that came out of that sense of, we were all in this together, we were all lost and kind of confused and frightened about what this pandemic was going to mean, we all had to rethink what the business was going to look like. And we created something pretty spectacular. And it wasn’t all perfectly seamless and stoic, but it was under control. And it was thoughtful, and it was you know, sort of acknowledge and move on, acknowledge the emotions are there, the concern is there, the worry is there, and then move on, figure out how you’re going to solve it.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 23:22
Okay, they’re just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not single spaced font, you know, lots of tax. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to Fellow.app slash blog to download the Definitive Guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. Yeah, I think this is an example that a lot of people like it basically hits very close to home. And one of the things that I have found is in circumstances like this where there is a lot of uncertainty. Sometimes you can’t just, you know, pretend that it there isn’t any uncertainty. But what I found is sometimes what you can do is just almost state like your decision making framework and circumstances right, like we don’t know what’s going to happen. But here are the factors that we would consider that would affect these sorts of things. And I feel like there can be certainty and knowing the process by which you’re trying to make a decision or uncertain things and
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 24:58
totally agree and I think that What you just did, right there is a great example of how leaders and managers and people in positions of authority can provide structure in a time that is chaotic or lacking in structure where there’s a high degree of uncertainty. Nobody can predict the future. In that moment, there’s a lot that still needs to be determined, you can’t say, you know, everything’s going to be fine, no one’s going to lose their job, or whatever the situation is. But you can say, this is what we’re going to do next. This is how we’re going to handle this. This is the next, you know, the process by which the next few days, weeks hours, whatever it is, is going to unfold where we’ll get to some answers, where we will together create some certainty. And that’s the process of leading in a crisis. But it’s also the process of leading in any high uncertainty environment, you know, any environment startup environment, a very small turbulent environment, in an innovation environment, all those environments have high degrees of uncertainty and some risks. And we don’t have all the answers and to pretend that we do, I think is problematic.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 26:05
Yeah. You know, in terms of having answers and predicting the future, I know that you mentioned to meet before the call that morning, Boo recently celebrated 4 million subscribers, which is an insanely large number of graduations on that, I would imagine that a lot of your day to day involves metrics. And you’ve had a lot of writing around the types of metrics you should focus on. I mean, I know people have heard terms like, you shouldn’t follow that that’s a vanity metric, or some things are, how do you think about metrics? How do you divide them out? And how do you know which ones to use to guide your team and your progress overall?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 26:45
Yeah, what a great question. And I’ll start by saying that one of the things that I think managers and leaders need to get, right is their metrics, what are they measuring? And what is it that’s important for them to continually strive to achieve, set the wrong metrics, measure the wrong things, and you can really be in trouble. So, you know, I think it’s important for leaders to go through an exercise by which they really ask themselves and their teams, you know, what is it that they’re trying to accomplish? And then what are the indicators that will help them understand if they are on track off track with regard to that to those accomplishments. And so I tend to think about indicators like others as coming in at least three categories, right, lagging current and leading indicators. And I think folks generally do a better job with lagging and current than they do with leading. And actually, let me give you some examples. And I think this will help sort of flesh out the leading lagging and current indicator categories. So a lagging indicator. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s something that helps you understand the degree to which something you’ve already done was successful. So for example, morning group, we run cohort based courses. And at the end of those courses, which are 783, shortest three weeks, and as long as eight weeks, we examine NPS score, NPS is Net Promoter Score. And that gives us an indicator of, you know, the student’s experience in that program, how many of them would recommend it to someone else. And it’s also a lagging indicator, because we asked them that after the program has ended, and we can’t do much at that point, to change their experience. If it’s a high score, we know that we’re doing something well. And if it’s a low score, we know we’re doing something that isn’t resonating. But that’s a lagging indicator, an example of a lagging indicator that we look at things like revenue and profit are also lagging indicators. To some extent, right? There’s a variety of, of steps that come before you get to revenue and certainly profit. And by the time you get there for a quarter, it’s already happened, let’s say and I know what your revenue is, and you know, what your what your profit is, but there’s not a lot you can do to change that what has already happened in that quarter. Current indicators are those that, well, they’re current, there are indicators that are collected and observed during the act, the product, the service. And so just keeping with this whole morning brew education example, after our each unit in our programs, our units are roughly two weeks long, we do a short survey with our students to collect feedback, and the program is still underway. So we could act on feedback that is helpful and that needs to be acted upon and make changes before the course is complete. outside of the realm of morning brew, you might think of things like point of service data or point of sale data that somebody might collect or employee satisfaction surveys that are done on the regular employees are theoretically still there, you can make changes, right? So those are current indicators. And then finally, a leading indicator, which I think is the space where a lot of managers struggle I know that I’ve struggled is quite a bit different because a leading indicator is not yet a fact or truth, right? It’s an assumption or a hypothesis that you want to test. So for example, some of the ones that I think people might be familiar with are the index of consumer competence. You know, that says how confident are you going to be to spend, you know, or the initial jobless claims report? How many people are, you know, filling that out? And, you know, what is the estimates there that are leading indicators that will give you a sense of things like what’s going to happen to the economy, for example, you know, so you’re getting a fair amount of early warning signs, that’s another way to think of, of a leading indicator. And this is really hard, because it’s hard to just try to understand what’s going to happen next, it’s hard to see connections between things, it’s hard to try to predict a future state. But learning through like a leading indicator might be, for example, in any kind of significant shift that we’re seeing in the types of jobs posted in the business space, or in the marketing space or in you know, we could pick up a bunch of functional categories. Let’s say for example, we’re suddenly seeing a huge need for mid level marketing managers across a whole bunch of companies that could help us think about, okay, what type of courses and preparation could we help provide these people or these companies who are looking for people with these skills? And we might look at something like the, you know, the sort of the projected size of the ad tech industry, and the spending of b2b and b2c clients in ad tech to understand okay, what’s that going to do to us? What’s the trends looking like? or consume, we might try to get consumer attitudes around in a professional development and how that’s changing. Those could all be leading indicators for us. Does that answer your question? Yeah, I
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 31:27
think that answers the question. And so where should you focus your time,
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 31:31
I don’t think we have the luxury as managers and leaders and big or small companies, to focus our time on only one of these things, I think we have to be continuously tuned to all three, we have to be collecting. And the good news is that we’re in a place technologically and in terms of sort of consumer behavior, where it’s pretty much expected that you’re going to be able to get access to good information, leading lagging and current to help you understand the state of your product or services the state of the industry you’re working in. And I really don’t think that there’s, you know, sort of a, you must spend all your time in leading because that would be problematic, you would be hypothesizing all sorts of things and looking for what’s coming next, as everything that you’re currently doing is falling apart. But I don’t think you can also ignore leading, which is I think, more likely to be happening in a lot of management situations, then ignoring current and lagging. So I would just say, make sure you’re looking at all those indicators. And on a fairly regular cadence, whatever makes sense for your business? Is it weekly? Is it monthly is a quarterly is it bi annually, look at these indicators and keep them refreshed so that you understand the state of what you’re producing and how its faring?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 32:46
Yeah, it’s almost like by paying attention to all of them, you’re almost like validating certain things. So for example, if you know, certain things are leading indicators, then and you hit those metrics or your targets there, but then the lagging ones don’t actually do what they should have been doing, then maybe it’s time to revisit some of those leading indicators. So by having your pulse on all of them, that probably helps you tune it. But in terms of, you know, one of the things I’m curious about is, so you have this, what was a startup when you first you know, join morning brew to work on. So this is something new. So you come in and say that there isn’t very much there, before you arrive? When is the right time to even start thinking about metrics and things like that, like when did you set those things for your teams.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 33:34
So I was very fortunate to inherit three very strong players who were working on the first version of MBA when I arrived, and they had already created just by, you know, sort of their own good judgment, a few important metrics around the success of that program, including, you know, implementing an NPS and measurement to understand student satisfaction in their ability or interest or willingness to refer to others. And they had already implemented some unit based analysis for current indicators. They weren’t doing a lot on the leading indicator side, which is very typical. And so with regard to a general answer to your question, it’s almost never too early to set metrics. You could have an idea, you could be a startup that’s about to get started, you have nothing in market yet. But understanding what those key metrics are going to be for you whether they’re going to be lagging, leading, or current, whether they’re going to be all three. Understanding what success looks like, is actually maybe in some ways, more paramount in a startup environment than it is even in a more established business where you’ve got a lot of data inputs coming at you every day. And if you miss some important key metric on some dashboard somewhere, you could probably survive without it for a bit. When you’re in a startup environment. You’re validating ideas all the time. And so you need a sense of those indicators, those measurements, those metrics, those things that are really important. And whatever you decide those are, the sooner you get clear. already about those, the sooner you know what direction you are rowing, you know, and I. So from my perspective, when I joined joined the morning routine to head up this education group, I almost immediately said, we are going to be a data driven organization. And so we’re going to collect lots of data, but not just for the sake of collecting data, we’re going to collect lots of data and inputs. And we’re going to determine which ones help us build better products, serve our students better, and answer the questions that we’re trying to answer better. And so you know, we’re still working on that. But it’s an active process. And it’s one that is I think, of paramount importance when you’re building something new and running something well established as well.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 35:36
Yeah, I think that’s a good way to summarize it. One other thing that I did want to chat with you about was one of the things that actually is, you know, it’s something that we learn when we first started leading teams, which is delegation, but it’s also a thing that you continue to learn. I feel like the more senior you become in an organization, it’s just your level of understanding how to delegate also matures and gets better. And it’s not a thing that you just learn once and then you’ve learned it, you continue to expand your understanding of how best to delegate in your current role. You have your own delegation framework, I’d love to dive into that and hear your thoughts on how you’ve learned to delegate over the years.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 36:24
Yeah, absolutely. So I would say that there are in my little framework, which I built, when I was a head of talent for a company in the healthcare tech space. One of the things that I think is really important to enable successful delegation, whether you’re a new delegator or new manager, or you’re somebody who’s very experienced is that you have three conditions. One, that there is a demonstrated competence of the person that you’re going to delegate delegate to, you need to have seen that they can perform, even if it’s not on the exact nature or tasks that you’re going to ask them to take on for you, too, you need to trust them to some extent, you need to trust that the work is going to get done. And three, you need to be willing to own a very effective communication process during the delegation. So you have to believe people are competent, trust them, at least a tiny bit, and you need to be able to communicate well. And if you can do those three things, and those are sort of the base conditions that allow for effective delegation. And this framework is tactical, right. And so one thing to note about the framework is, it sort of was built in response to a lot of the inclination of a lot of first time managers, which is to not delegate to fear delegation, in fact, to believe that, you know, they can get it done faster themselves to be worried about it not coming back in the way that they need it to, to, you know, sort of be concerned that if they delegate away something, then maybe they’re less valuable, because now someone else is doing it. And so it was written specifically for people who have a fear of delegation. But there are these steps, there are four of them, they’re really quick and I can share them with you can be applied to a master delegator, too, and to make their delegation more effective. And really, the first step is you have to select the right task. And so you want a task that’s meaningful enough, that it’ll feel like a manageable challenge for the person that you’re delegating it to. And it also has to be a task where especially if you’re a nervous delegator, the stakes aren’t so high, that anytime you misstep is going to lead to a catastrophe. Because, you know, if you’re a nervous delegator, the worst thing that you could do is hand over a task that is absolutely crucial. And if anything goes wrong at all, at that task, the whole thing goes wrong, because your stress levels will not recover from that. So step two is to assign the task. And you know, this seems so logical, except for so often I would talk with with new managers, and they’d be like, Well, I told them to do this by Tuesday. And then we dig a little bit more, and it would be like, well, it wasn’t very well described. And, and, you know, Tuesday, by what time and did you give any of them there was so much of a lack of context, in the assignment itself, the delegation was off to a rocky start and at risk, frankly. So I would say that the the assignment of the task when you’re delegating has to be done very, very carefully. Especially if you’re new to delegating. And especially if you are delegating to someone you’ve never asked to take on a project before for you. So you want to make the ASP very clear. And as concise as possible, you want to come to an agreement during that ask about what success looks like. And preferably, even though a lot of people will roll their eyes at this, right, that app, you know, this is what success at the end of the project or task is going to look like set deadlines, if the task is big set milestones, if the task is small, and it’s gonna be done quickly, maybe you don’t need a certain number of milestones or you know, interim steps, and then set expectations around communication. You know, how frequently you’re going to check in? What are you going to expect in terms of updates, so on and so forth. And then step three is the actual act of overseeing a delegated responsibility when you give somebody a task, especially if it’s a complex one, especially if you don’t have a good long standing relationship with that person, you probably still need to be somewhat involved. So you set a time. And you follow through on that time for touch bases. Do you have questions? Is the project going? Well? Is there anything that you need for me? Can I unblock any paths for you, so on and so forth. So that’s step three, actually actively managing the process from afar, you’re no longer doing the task, but you’re a support system. Now. And then finally, step four is debriefing the delegation. Now, again, if this is a very small task, and you’re asking somebody to, you know, run something from one floor to the next, this isn’t necessary. But if you’re asking someone to take on a pretty significant responsibility, then I think, you know, the final step is to sort of debrief what worked, what didn’t work, what could you have seen, you know, what could have been done better, maybe you wanted more communication from the person journaling, or maybe the output wasn’t in the right format, or whatever it is, but also express gratitude, if it went reasonably well, thank the person for taking on a task for making it happen. This is again, just another little way you can put human back into leadership, which is to express gratitude on occasion, especially when somebody has done a good job. And those are the four steps. It’s pretty simple. But it was, again, as I said, a direct response to all these newer managers who were fearful of delegating and wanted a system that they could say, Okay, I did this and felt more in control of giving up tasks.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 41:21
Yeah, I think there’s many I mean, there’s a lot of good, I mean, all the steps make a lot of sense. And I do agree with your when you were talking about step two, where people are like, well, it’s very obvious. I told them, I need it by Tuesday. But when you Yeah, obvious to you, this is managing expectations is one of the hardest things to do. And it’s constantly practicing and making sure you do well. It’s very interesting, like a lot of things. Some of these things may seem simple, but sometimes you just need to do simple things a lot and reflect on them until you can actually get to a point of mastery. And it doesn’t I have been
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 41:59
known to say and I don’t know if this is something that actually will help anybody who’s listening to this or not. But management when you break management, effective management down into little tasks. They’re all quite simple. But the act of management is so many simultaneous little tasks, you’re building people up and you’re motivating. And you’re setting strategy, and you’re delegating and you’re giving feedback, that the act of management is complex and challenging. But the individual acts in and of themselves, if you break them down to their, you know, sort of bare bones, good management, good leadership is at the little sort of atomic level. Not that hard. And you sit down and you look at you go, yeah, that’s pretty reasonable set of steps for how to delegate and delegate well, but when you’re doing 500, other things, it can be really hard. So yeah, I completely agree.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 42:50
Yeah, that’s a really good way to put it couldn’t have said it better myself. Karen, we’ve talked about a lot of different concepts today from being human to different types of indicators lagging current leading unflappability, we’ve talked about delegating. We’re coming up on time. But the question that we ask all of our guests on the show, as kind of the final question is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft of managing and leading teams? Are there any tips, tricks, resources, or final parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with?
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 43:25
Well, there are so many resources out there these days that are so phenomenal, and I’ve truly found so many of them really useful. I’ll rattle off a few books to start. I mean, I mentioned already the work of Daniel Goleman. And I would encourage people who are interested in self awareness and emotional intelligence to take a look at those books and articles by him. I love the book radical candor by Kim Scott, which is a fantastic set of treaties on how to do others justice by being radically candid with them. Start with the why by Simon Sinek is another great book. I recently reread drive by Daniel Pink, and I really liked that I can’t I guess go without plugging shamelessly, the learning group programs and morning brew as a newsletter as a resource. We certainly have a ton of resources for leaders and managers, both in our newsletters and at learning dot morning brew.com. And then I guess, if I were to give a single piece of advice, I’d say regardless of how junior or senior you are in leading others, Stay as humble as you can keep learning, growing and developing because the world is changing so fast. And what it means to be a good manager or a leader today is and will change over time. So develop whatever methods, whatever mediums, whatever resources work best for you to stay connected and to stay current and to keep challenging yourself to grow because the one thing that probably supersedes all other management skills is the willingness to continue to grow as a person and to develop perfect rationally and personally, because when you have that, that sort of continuous desire to learn, then you have a whole world of opportunity to continue to pursue.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 45:09
That’s great advice and a great place to end it. Karen, thanks so much for doing this.
Karen Hebert-Maccaro (Morning Brew) 45:13
It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me.