Momentum Podcast: 210

Are You Tanking Your Team?

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Culture and performance is always a reflection of leadership. You can’t expect your team to be available at any time every time. When you set that expectation you also set the expectation of interruption. When you start to manage this way, you start to create the habit. If you’re growing a business where everyone is available all of the time, you’re scaling a broken system. Defend against being available to your team all the time.

Full Audio Transcript

I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast: made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.

While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.

Are you tanking your team?

Culture, performance, what you get done as a team is always a reflection of leadership. Therefore, if you are the founder, the person in charge, the CEO, the entrepreneur who's running things, then the performance of your team is a reflection of how you're showing up in the business. And it's been my goal over the decades I've run multimillion dollar businesses to show up in a way that makes it so that my team feels better about what they're doing, so that they're more empowered, so that they can get more done, and so that we as a team accomplish more. But it isn't really instinctive to look at building a team that way. In fact, oftentimes our instincts are in exactly the opposite direction.

Let me share with you a case where this happened this week with a client that I respect like crazy. I haven't asked her permission to share this story so I'm not going to use her name, but she runs a multimillion dollar business with just two people and she is growing like crazy. And they are right now in the process of hiring people and rehiring a team. They had a team it. They ended up letting most of the team go except she kept one person, the person she's been operating the company with. And because they're in my program now, they're in the process of rehiring a team.

Because the way I coach is we build teams, we build organization, we build the structure that's going to carry the business into the next evolution of what it's going to do. And we do it really fast. And she left me this message and said ... And we had an exchange where the question she asked was, "Hey, how do you make it so that your team's available to you? Because when I'm growing a team and even when I have a team and after I've hired them, if I need something, I'm really frustrated and irritated when they're not available to me immediately when I need them."

And my reply back was, "You have to get over that. You can't want to be immediately connected to anyone on your team all the time at a moment's notice." Because here's what that means, that means that when you look at your team, you're expecting them to be interruptible at any time. You're gonna break their flow, you're going to interrupt them, you're going to throw them off every single time you reach out to them. That's why in a lot of ways today, I think technology holds us back just as much as it helps us.

There's programs out there like Basecamp and Trello, and then there's communication platforms like Slack and Voxer where people are literally available to you all the time, 24/7, seven days a week. People are getting messages. And on a lot of these platforms, during business hours, there's almost the expectation that somebody will get right back to you and I just can't stand working that way.

See, I've been in business long enough to know that you don't need to have direct connection to everyone. I've been in business since before direct connection was even possible. When I first started running a business, there was no such thing as a messenger. We barely had email. I'm old. I'm 45 years old. And I started running businesses in my teens. And back then, we got a ton accomplished by having a really clear outcome, clear accountability, and measurement or scoreboards as to what we were doing, and as a team getting together then going and getting our work done. These days, part of the problem in small business, part of the issue with businesses getting things done, is that we are far too interruptible and we are creating the expectation that everyone on the team should be able to be interrupted at any time.

Well, let me tell you something. As a CEO, as an entrepreneur, the thing you're going to have to defend against with your life is being available to your team all the time and being interruptible by your team all the time. Because this whole open door policy, "you can talk to me at anytime for any reason," doesn't make sense. What makes sense is, you communicate in a structure and in a system where people know when they can talk to you. They know when they can connect with you. And the rest of the time they figure things out.

Now if there's an emergency or somebody really needs to get in touch with you or somebody feels like it's urgent, or if one of your team members really feels like they need you, then you should be available, but interruptible all the time just doesn't make sense. And today the systems around us tell us that you should be. Now, if you're doing it this way, I don't want you to blame yourself for growing your team the wrong way, or for managing your team the wrong way. In a lot of ways, we are taught to interrupt our teams.

Here's what the most recent research on human performance tells us. The less we are interrupted, the better we get. Each time we're an interrupted, even for a brief moment, it can take us 12 to 17 minutes to get back to the point of focus we were before. Each time we're interrupted. What we're learning is, the more we focus on a singular thing and drive towards a destination on that singular thing, the better we do; and that multitasking really is just a massive myth. But then at the same time, we want our entire team to be available to us at anytime all the time. And here's what I love about coaching the way that I coach, is that I work with entrepreneurs who turn on a dime.

Alex Charfen: When I left that feedback and said, "I don't think you want your team to be interruptible. Here's what I really think," She left me a message almost immediately and said, "You know what? I can see what you're talking about. You're right. I want to pay people to get work done. I don't want them to be interrupted all the time. I don't want to have to be interrupting them all the time." Because here's what happens. If you're managing your team in a way where you interrupt them all the time, that becomes your management style. And again, we're taught this crap. There's this management tactic called "management by walking around." It is the dumbest tactic there is. So if somebody's told you to do this, and they're a coach or consultant, you fire them. Tell them to go away because they don't understand what they're talking about.

There's this tactic where a CEO gets up and walks around the building and looks at what's going on and talks to people and has conversations and build relationships. And if you look up management by walking around or management by wandering around, which sounds twice as ridiculous but has just as many references on Google, you'll see that it's this tactic, this completely ambiguous and has no point. What it amounts to is a CEO, bumbling around their company and having random conversations that really have no purpose. How safe do you think that really is?

And here's what happens. We think that it's okay to bumble around the company and interrupt people because for some reason were more important than everyone else and they're interruptible. But the fact is is that the first thing that anyone experiences when you're doing management by walking around and walking up and asking questions is they're irritated. You're interrupting them and they feel like they're being interrogated.

And the difference is, I don't just coach people and then not see what happens. I've worked with entrepreneurs for years and years and years and what management by walking around does to a team is crazy. When somebody tries to manage that way, the team is constantly on edge. They're always looking over their shoulder. They don't really know what's coming next. And when somebody walks around and ask questions, the team never really understands why. I've talked to teams, especially after a CEO or an entrepreneur has implemented management by walking around, and teams will say things like, "It's really weird. He went down to Florida and he came back and ever since then, at around 10:00 or 10:30 each day, he walks around the office, asks all of us how we're doing, stands in front of our cube for a minute or two, listens to us, and then goes back into his office for the rest of the day. So we know that he learned some type of a tactic."

Or I talk to teams and they say, "Yeah, we don't know what's going on. He's just out here, or she's out here interrupting us all the time, and always asking how we're doing, and wants to know what's happening, and wants to know where we are on projects, and if she would stop asking, we would be doing better."

Well, expecting your team to be available all the time, anytime you reach out is exactly that same thing, but for everyone on the entire team. And as a CEO, as an entrepreneur who's going to run a business and grow a team, you need to know that immediately what you say is heard through a megaphone and what you do is seen through a microscope.

So what you say is exaggerated. What you do is exaggerated. So if you're calling one person more than everyone else, it's going to seem like there's something different going on with them than other people. What you should be doing is communicating within a system. A series of meetings. We call it a cadence. A cadence through which your team always knows when they're going to hear from you. They're not waiting for word from on high. There's a system and a structure with which you talk to them. You meet with them on a daily basis in a huddle so you know if there's any issues that you have to help somebody clear so that they can create momentum. You also know where people are creating momentum. You connect with them on a weekly basis so you know exactly what's happening with each of them.

And if you do these things, what happens is you don't have to have your team always available. In fact, you create a team where people think for themselves, they drive the outcomes, and they get things done. And part of the massive challenge we have today in the entrepreneurial world is that people are being taught that you should manage or lead a company through an app. And in so many ways the apps and the programs and the systems that are out there right now are killing entrepreneurs' chances of actually growing a business.

Because everybody says "I'm about to grow my business," and then they open a freaking app. And the challenge is you can't create a company in an app. You have to look up and start actually seeing how you're doing things and how you're treating the people around you . And the more time you have uninterrupted to get things done, the faster your business will grow. That equation is equivalent for everyone on your team. And this isn't to say that there won't be the day where you have to reach out and interrupt someone. I do. It happens to me all the time. But I do it a fraction of what I used to. Less than 10 percent of what I used to. Probably less than two percent of what I did when I was first starting out as a CEO.

Because today, I use a structure where my team knows exactly what we're driving towards. What is our outcome? How many do we want to sell? What project are we going to accomplish? What are we going to launch? What are we going to do? What is the thing that we're all chasing down as a team? My team has clear accountability for who's doing what. We have an org chart. We know exactly what the role, responsibilities, results, and requirements for every person on the team is. And my team knows the scoreboard. What are we measuring to see if we're successful? Either what number are we measuring, what number of sales, what number of things done, what number of leads? Or, what milestones, what steps in the project are we checking off? So because I know these things about my team, I can have people all over the world who I check in with for a half hour a day and we never have to talk outside of that

And that's how you grow a leveraged team. Because here's what you have to know, is if you're growing a business where everyone's available all the time, you are scaling a broken system with each new person that you hire. And if you continue to grow a business where everyone's available to each other all the time and that's the culture you build, you will always have human beings that are operating at a fraction of their capacity.

So if you grow a business where you expect everyone's available to you all the time, you have to know that they're going to treat each other that way. And the more you can create a system and a structure and a cadence around how you communicate, so that everyone knows how they work within your organization, the less you're going to ever want everyone available all the time, but more importantly, the less you're going to live a life where you feel like you have to have everyone available.

If you're ready to grow your business, build a cadence. Have a system where you communicate with your team so there is no ambiguity as to what's going on. Reach out to us. Go to Answer a few questions. You'll be given an opportunity to sign up for a call with a member of my team. We look forward to talking to you and have you be a case study for working one on one with us and understanding the programs we have available.

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