With Martin G. Moore

Episode #147

Huddles, Handovers and Peer Envy: Q&A with Marty & Em

In this Q&A episode we have another couple of great questions to work through! First we’ll deal with how to manage the fallout of peer envy. There’s no doubt that when you start to rise above the pack, the pack will try to pull you back to them (especially in Australia – say hello to Tall Poppy Syndrome).

I saw a lot of these situations in my corporate career, and watched some people deal with this better than others! I’ll be sharing with you what I think works best.

Secondly, we had a great question come in from one of our Leadership Beyond the Theory alumni, Kaleb, who asked how he can more effectively manage handovers between teams on a change of shifts. We’re going to broaden this one out a little to start with all handovers, and then narrow down to the specific situation Kaleb has described.

This is one of our longer episodes, but it’s well worth the listen because we get really detailed on all these topics – it’s a deep dive you don’t want to miss!

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Episode #147 Huddles, Handovers and Peer Envy: Q&A with Marty & Em

Marty: Hey there, and welcome to Episode 147 of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. This week’s episode; Handovers, Huddles, and Peer Envy. It’s time for another Q&A, and we’re still getting some great feedback from you about this format. I can understand how some of you might be getting a little bit sick of hearing my voice after 146 episodes, so it’s always good to break it up with Em’s bubbly energy and millennial perspective. Today, we have another couple of great questions to work through.

First we’ll deal with how to manage the fallout of peer envy. Now there’s no doubt that when you start to rise above the pack, the pack will try to pull you back to them. Especially in Australia, I saw a lot of these situations in my corporate career and watched some people deal with this better than others. Today, I’ll be sharing with you what I think works best.

Secondly, we had a great question come in from one of our Leadership Beyond the Theory, alumni, Kaleb. He asked how we can more effectively manage handovers between teams on a change of shifts? We’re going to broaden this one out a little to start with all types of handovers and then narrow it down to the specific situation that Kaleb has described. So Em, back in front of the mic again. You’ve been so busy, the last Q&A must only seem like a week ago. In case I haven’t told you yet, I’m absolutely in awe of your productivity and energy, and I bet our listeners would like to hear what you’ve been up to since our last Q&A.

Em: So much. Honestly, I could fill the next 20 minutes with what we’ve been doing, but I will try and keep it short. As you know, we are in the final rounds of hiring for our new customer success manager, which is really exciting. I can’t wait to bring someone new into the team. Tash has been here for just over 6 months now, and honestly, I cannot imagine doing what we’re doing without her. So I’m really excited to add another awesome brain to team YCM. On the book front, we are so close, like probably a week away from launching our new website. We’ve been getting a lot of US press interest, since our PR team has started to talk about the book, which is a really great sign. We’re in the 90 day stretch now, so for anyone who is keen to support us by grabbing the book, listen out over the next few weeks when we release the pre-order and some epic bonuses to go with it.

Marty: Oh, that’s awesome, Em. And I’m so glad you’re running that book campaign, because an old mate of mine, Mark Rosenberg said to me a little while ago that the best thing that my business had going for it, was you. True story.

Em: That is very kind, but you know, I couldn’t do what I do without you for so many reasons, so I’d say we are a pretty good team. Now, one thing that I did want to mention on today’s podcast episode is that you’ll remember a few months ago we did some podcast advertising on one of my favourite podcasts, What You Will Learn with Adam Jones and Adam Ashton. I’m super excited for them and they’ve just written their first book, The Sh*t They Never Taught You. I’m a few hundred pages into it and I am loving it so far. The book takes you through all the best lessons that can only be found in books and essentially the things that aren’t covered in traditional education methods. And you know, we’re all about practical learnings. You can grab yourself a copy at theshittheynevertaughtyou.com. And no, this isn’t a paid ad, I just think the book’s really cool, and I love supporting fellow Aussie authors. All right. Should we get into the first question?

Marty: Absolutely.

Em: Cool. First question is from one of our podcasts listeners, but we’re going to keep this one anonymous, given the nature of the question. “I’ve been doing really well over the past six months and because of that, my boss has given me the good jobs. Inviting me to extra meetings, etc, which is great. I’ve got a few peers who aren’t so supportive of this though. And they’ve been isolating me a little. I’ve heard them saying and doing things to pull me down. How can I manage this? I don’t want to go to the boss and look like I’m complaining. I want to be able to handle this myself.”

Marty: Yes. A great question and so common. First of all, I’m assuming this is an Australian podcast listener. I could be wrong, but in Australia we have a thing that we call ‘tall poppy syndrome’. And in ‘tall poppy syndrome’, which is very pronounced here, when someone rises above the pack, as I said in the intro, the pack tries to drag them back. And maybe, I don’t know, this comes from our convict heritage. We shun any sort of flashiness, and instead of admiring achievement, we tend to ridicule it. Now in the U S research shows that people do actually really like the achievement, because anyone can make it in America. That’s the American dream. And if you put in the effort and the work and the smarts, you can get there, anyone can no matter where your starting point was, which I love. So a lot of people, they see a convertible Bentley driving along and they go “Check out that Wanker”. Whereas I drive past and I’d just give him a big thumbs up, “Hey, good on you, right? You’ve obviously gone out there and done something with your life. Good on you”.

Now the corporate environment can be quite competitive, which can bring out the worst in some people. And I’ve at times, let it bring out the worst in me, which is not great. But that’s was when I was a little bit younger. What happens is that there’s a range of ways that people can manifest this. One of them is that they can possibly withdraw their support and make it harder for you to get the things done that rely on their cooperation or help. Now, this is a really tricky one. I’ve even seen active and willful sabotage, which is even worse. Quick story, one imbicile that I worked oh sorry, did I say that out loud?

I meant to say one colleague who I worked with had the CEO’s ear, and didn’t like the success that one of my teams was having. And yeah, okay to be fair, I’d also called him out on some of his bullshit in an exec meeting once, which he never forgave me for. But he actively tried to discredit my team’s achievements. Even to the point where he loosed a team of internal auditor’s onto me, to try to prove that some of our achievements were bogus. I mean, seriously. Now, they weren’t. But if they had been, it would have caused an enormous issue, not just for me, but for the CEO and the Board. And how’s that for stupid?

Em: That is honestly the worst. I don’t know how you dealt with that. Tell me.

Marty: Yeah, my blood boiled, I got to tell you. But I dealt with the same way I deal with most things, right. Head on. So the first thing I did was that I had a meeting with the CEO. And I said, “Look, I understand that, you know, I’m getting the knives put into my back pretty firmly at the moment by this individual. I just want you to know that I’m just going to ignore that, right. I’ve just got to get on with it and deliver results. And if I’m delivering results, I’m assuming I’m going to be okay with you”. And he said “Yes”. Although it didn’t stop him from listening to the rumour and slander and innuendo. I also went to the individual in front of him too, and had what’s commonly known as a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting, where I just basically said to him, “Mate, I know what you’re doing and you’re not going to slow me down. And I don’t give a shit how much you want to put the knives in my back. I’m not going to come back and attack you. I’m just going to keep doing my thing, but just, you need to know, that I know, what’s going on”. And that was it. Now, did he stop? No, he didn’t stop. But he was much more cautious about who he spoke to how.

Em: Yeah, I think a lot of that comes down to your integrity as well. Although I’ve got to say not everyone has your level of confidence, so what are some options here?

Marty: Well, look, I think the principles are pretty right, that I just walked through. Everyone’s going to do that in a different sort of way. Some a little bit more softly or maybe not as directly as I did. But I think there’s still value to be had in that. So for example, if a peer is undermining you to your boss, you probably need to have the conversation with your boss. And you can say something that’s pretty straightforward, like I said before. “Hey, look, you know, I wouldn’t want you to betray Greg’s confidence, but I know that he’s been undermining me around the grounds, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s in your ear too. And I just want you to know that I don’t play that game. I’m just going to continue to get on with it and deliver value for the business. And all I ask of you, boss, is that you judge me on my results, not on any speculation or rumours that you might hear floating around”.

Em: Yeah. I love that. That’s a really good way to address it without sounding like your complaining or wanting them to kind of step in and do something. It’s just saying, yeah, this is what I’ve noticed and I’m aware of it and I want to move past it.

Marty: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hopefully, as I said, I don’t think it stopped either my boss or the peer that was rubbishing me, but, you know, but it did certainly make a point and made them more cautious knowing that I knew what was going on.

Em: Mm. So how do you change things with your peers then?

Marty: Well, there’s a few different scenarios that you’ll face. So let’s take a quick look at each because they are slightly different. The first one is when you’re relying on someone to deliver something for you, that contributes to your accountabilities in your success. So what I’d say with that is just play a straight bat, right? You hold them to account the same way you’d hold anyone else to account. Don’t let the noise distract you. Don’t let the crap that they’re going on with distract you. Just basically, hold them to account for what they need to deliver. Their timelines, their level of quality, what they’ve committed to you to do, to contribute to what you’re having to achieve and deliver. So I think that’s probably the number one thing. And as with anyone else, if anyone’s not delivering, regardless of their intent, there’s always an option to escalate, if things aren’t being done the right way. So you can always take that option, as you see that play out.

The next situation, perhaps you aren’t relying on them directly, but they are distracting others, who you are relying on. So a classic example is, re-prioritizing someone’s work, when they’re doing things for the both of you. And getting themselves into that space where they can say, “Hang on a minute. Mine’s more important”, sort of dragging them off your case. So work through, with the individual who’s supposed to be delivering and ignore the peer altogether, in that case. Don’t even talk to them. Just once again, hold the person who’s supposed to be delivering to account, do that consistently, do it fairly, do it with connection and empathy, like understand what’s going on for them, and you’ll be in pretty good shape.

The last example is when it’s just internal office chit-chat. When someone’s just bad mouthing you or undermining you. And I’ve got really good advice for that. Do nothing. Ignore it, ignore it. Just ignore it. Like who gives a shit, right? Not everyone’s going to like you, we know that. Respect before popularity. Smile, move on, out-perform them, and get promoted above them. You can do something with them then.

Em: Yeah. I love that, outperform them. That is so something that I would do. I would just focus on winning. That’s one of my, one of my personality traits. And I think these are all really great tips, Marty, but just from an emotional standpoint, like it’s really hard to come to work and be happy if you’re being isolated. It’s, it’s bullying in my mind. The way that I see it.I don’t know, emotionally, do you just completely cut off from it? I find that really difficult.

Marty: Oh, it is. It’s incredibly difficult. But I think this is why it comes back to the ability to handle conflict and the ability to put respect before popularity and to live with that as a mantra. And to know that not everyone’s going to like you, and particularly if you’re drawing the crabs, for me, that’s a way of me being able to say to myself, “All right. I must be doing really, really well here, if other people are finding the need to try and drag me down. Like I’m right on track, I must be doing really, really well and other people are noticing”. And so I take that as a form of encouragement. You know, if no one’s disliking, if no one’s making any noise, well, you’re probably not doing anything. You’re not achieving anything. So for me, I see that as a good sign. Now, not everyone is as dysfunctional as I am. You know what I mean? If you can get your head around it that way, then you’re much less likely to get upset about it. But you’re right, the isolation, it’s going to create a twinge in you even if you’re very, very robust. It’s still going to create that twinge sometimes.

Em: Yeah, and I guess it comes down to resilience at the end of the day, doesn’t it?

Marty: Oh, sure, absolutely. Yeah. You just got to be able to weather it. A lot of larger organisations in particular are hotbeds for political shenanigans. And you have to understand the politics, otherwise it can really bring you down. But if you play the politics, you just in the wrong space, you’re putting all your energy into stuff that doesn’t create value. So, eventually you will lose out I’m sure.

Em: Love it. That’s a great answer, Marty. I hope that is useful, to not only that listener, but for anyone else who’s in a similar situation. I think that’s gold. All right, let’s get into the next question. This one’s from Kaleb, but one of our Leadership Beyond the Theory alumni. He asks, “I’m in the process of creating a handover huddle type meeting between the day and night supervisor to ensure that information is communicated correctly. Is there anything that you can recommend to get this right?” And Marty, this is tricky. I haven’t seen many handover huddles go particularly well. And on the flip, like when we talk about handovers in general, I’ve seen massive documents created that are never read. So I’d love to dig deeper into this topic.

Marty: Oh indeed. The dreaded handover. It’s always hard to get right. And, and like you, I haven’t seen many that actually have worked well. So let me start with handovers in general and why they tend to be ineffective. Really good analogy I use sometimes, if you ask me on the spur of the moment to tell you a joke, I would just struggle to think of one. You’ll say, tell me a joke. Oh. I don’t know. I don’t know any jokes.

Em: You always have a joke.

Marty: Well I do, but, I’ll tell you why I always have a joke. Because if a situation occurs or a phrase or a string of words to prompt me, I’ll recall a joke that I’ve neither told nor heard for decades, and I’ll tell it flawlessly. And no, that’s not just old age, that I can’t remember what happened this morning. It’s exactly the same if you hear a song that you haven’t heard for years and years and years, and all of a sudden you’re singing it word for word as it plays. And it’s the same sort of thing, but you’ve got to have that prompt and stimulus there before it pushes the mind into action. So, when you say to someone, “Hey Marty, before you move on to your next role, can you please hand over to Em”. It’s exactly the same principle as, “Hey Marty, tell me a joke”. Right? Anything useful that comes out of that is likely to be purely coincidentally.

Em: I just had so many light bulb moments there with that analogy. That is gold. I love that.

Marty: Yeah, it’s good, isn’t it? It just helps you understand that principle a bit better.

Em: It makes so much sense. And now I am looking back at my career and going, aha, I see why that happened. So that’s all well and good, but there surely has to be a way.

Marty: Yeah, well my view is that by the time you get to the point of handover that you’ve either done it or you haven’t already. Now last week in the episode on succession planning, I spoke about documenting things in processes and procedures so that people with little knowledge, but some capability, can work out what to do. Not everything lends itself to this thing here though. And also when executives leave, they often leave in a hurry. You’re more likely to work out what you need to do by spending time with the team you’re coming in to lead, rather than the person that you’re replacing. Now in the last, I don’t know, probably seven or eight years of my corporate career, when one of my direct reports was leaving, I didn’t even bother to have them do a handover. I figured I was just better off dealing with the new person and directing them the way I wanted to, to get them to hear the things I wanted them to hear, and understand the things that I thought they should understand. And I always thought it was better to get the executive quickly out of the organisation and on to gardening leave, so that they didn’t have an opportunity to poison the well. And look, I know this is, a bit negative, I guess, in terms of not trusting people to exit properly, but if they haven’t left well, then sometimes you just can’t avoid it. Sometimes it’s completely just the way it’s going to go, even though they have the best intentions.

Em: Yep. I think that’s smart. I was having this exact conversation with a friend of mine who is running a business. Exactly the same thing happened. She just went, yep. You know what? You can just finish now and get the toxic stuff out of there. So I think that is really handy advice. In some situations you can just put them on gardening leave.

Marty: Absolutely. And I’m happy to pay out your notice period for the privilege of not having you in the office.

Em: That’s it! So let me get this straight…are you saying that handovers are completely useless? Did I hear that right?

Marty: Ah, look, let me just equivocate a little bit here Em. I’m saying that almost, but not quite. I think what I’m saying is you can’t rely on them for anything sensible over and above what’s already been well documented. So my advice would be, make sure you know where the person’s key documents and files are, in case you need to do any historical research or verification. Make sure you have access to their email trail, so that you can see what interactions they’ve had with people around them and obviously external to the organisation. Get them to explain what they think was important to the next person, if that’s possible. But rely on yourself and the team to brief the incoming person on what you want to see from them. So the process is easier, funnily enough, the higher up you are, because the knowledge happens to live in more people’s heads. It’s hardest, at the lowest level at the individual contributor level, of the organisation.

Em: Okay. That feels a little counterintuitive to me. Isn’t it more important, the higher up because of the increased impact and value of your decisions?

Marty: Yeah, I used to think that as well. But I found that in general, knowledge hoarding is greater in technical disciplines. And as people go up through the layers, they do become broader in their scope and broader in their understanding of things. And they know they need to rely on the people below them to a certain extent. Even micro-managers know that. That the lower levels of the organisation, there are fewer people that have access to the same knowledge, data, and information, I guess, because there’s a lot more specialisation at those lower levels.

Em: Yeah, okay. That actually makes sense. So I guess the overriding lesson here is that you really need to rely on the people who remain, more than the people who are leaving.

Marty: Yeah, I think so. The person who’s leaving just wants to get out as quick as she can. And the person going into the role wants to discover for themselves and put their own stamp on things. So it’s not a conducive environment to having a high value handover.

Em: I think every single person listening to this podcast has just breathed a massive sigh of relief. Marty says that spending 4 weeks creating a handover Bible, is not necessary.

Marty: Well, what I’m saying, it’s unlikely to be valued the way that you think it will be if you spend all that time and energy doing it. And even if you use your best intent and intellect to do it, there’s going to be a whole lot of important stuff you leave out just because, “Hey, Marty, tell me a joke”.

Em: I love it. All right. Can we narrow back down to Kaleb’s question then?

Marty: Sure. And I think the point I just made is a pretty good place to start actually. When you’re doing a shift handover, you’re talking about the person who’s ending the shift. All they want to do is go home. And the person starting the shift is keen to just get straight into it. And so by its nature, it’s going to be difficult to get a high value outcome.

Em: That sounds like a recipe for disaster. How do you manage to get a good handover then? Because I guess that’s really important, especially in industries that you’ve worked in, like the energy industry. I imagine that’s incredibly important. Mining, safety is paramount.

Marty: Yeah, it is. And I think that’s why some form of template for shift handover is really useful. So most organisations have it as just a chat. Particularly when that supervisory level is, probably only two layers away from the front line. So they’d just have a chat with their mate on the way in. “How was your day? By the way, did you see that the Broncos won?” All that sort of stuff goes on in a handover chat. As well as just the old, “Here are the keys. Which one opens which door”. So making it more structured than that, will be really helpful.

Em: So what does a good structure look like? What should we be aiming for?

Marty: These handovers are typically done in businesses that run 24/7 shifts. So they’re either industrial businesses or essential services businesses. And for these types of businesses, safety is always an issue and it should always be the first issue to explore. So I’d always start with questions like, “Were there any injuries on the shift that you’re just finishing? Were there any near miss incidents? Were any hazards identified? Were there any plant failures or anomalies that we need to know about?” But sometimes in his haste to get out, the outgoing shift supervisor won’t bother to talk about something that they see as being minor or trivial. So asking those questions explicitly, will help to draw out anything that might be there. And sometimes I guess the difference between a near miss and a fatality is just a bit of luck and timing. So I used to see that all of these were quite important.

Marty: So what next? So you do safety first, right? And then after that, the handover has to be centred around value, objectives, and deliverables. So questions like “What was the previous shift trying to achieve? Did you achieve it? If not, what got in the way? How will it affect the next shift that I’m just about to lead? What should I be doing to think about how I can overcome any of those issues and deliver value on my shift?” So this is a conversation that should be backed by data, right? Lots of operating businesses use what they call visual boards to show progress and to show whether or not they’ve achieved their KPIs for a particular shift. They’re easy to use. They’re color-coded, there for all to see, so there’s a lot of transparency and visibility. But they can still be gamed if someone has a mind to do that.

Marty: So after the operational handover, I’d talk about risks. What risks were observed and how were they overcome? Were there any failures of equipment or plant? I think I probably already said that in another category, but you know what I mean? And has anything arisen or did you learn anything new? And that’s actually an important question because quite often they’ll learn something new and not even think about it until you ask them. Finally, I’d probably ask about the people. Did you have a full staffing compliment? How did the team perform? Did everyone seem okay? Is there anything I need to pick up for my shift based on that and so forth. So I basically drop them into those categories and do something fairly formal around that.

Em: Cool. So there are quite a few questions there, are you saying that you pick out the ones that are most relevant for you and the shift and the things that are most important, and then just have a template and people run through those questions every single time, no matter what?

Marty: Yeah. I’d say a template and run through the questions. And in fact, the outgoing shift supervisor can probably fill that out. Most of those tick boxes, right. And they only need to put something in there if there’s been an exception. So you’re sort of managing by exception, which is a great way to do things. So they could probably have that half filled out, the incoming supervisor comes in, they get handed the sheet. Okay. Tell me about this thing here. Oh, really? There were no safety incidents. Well, that’s unusual. Tell me why. So you can have a conversation based on a pre-filled out form and the template’s good for that.

Em: Yeah. So making it that consistent process, I guess, instead of leaving it to each individual supervisor to run their own format based on their style and preference.

Marty: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So I think there’s a lot of value in formalising it. And a process will become familiar to people. They’ll get used to it. It doesn’t have to take a long time, and on the contrary, a fast game’s a good game. So if you make it a little more formal and a lot more explicit, it’ll actually improve the quality of the handover enormously.

Em: Yeah. I think that’s great, Marty. So detailed again. I love how we can cover so many questions in these Q&A’s. I love it when people send them through as well. So make sure if you have a question that you want us to answer, hit us up on our social media channels or send us an email, hello@yourceomentor.com. We would love to answer your question. Marty, why don’t you close this one out? I feel like I did the last one.

Marty: You might’ve done actually. Yeah. And look, I agree it was fantastic to get through those questions because it allows me to sort of tap into some stuff that’s quite detailed. Having said that, we haven’t edited it yet, so maybe this goes for 38 minutes. I don’t know. I’ve sort of lost sort of lost track while I’ve been talking. But regardless of that, it does bring us to the end of episode 147. Thanks so much for joining us. And remember, at Your CEO Mentor, our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally. So please share this episode now with your network of leaders.

Em: Guys, you know what I’m going to ask. If you haven’t subscribed to, or rated the podcast, please take a minute to do that now. It would mean so much to us. It’s how we reach more leaders all over the world. Thanks for having me on the episode again, Marty. Had a great chat.

Marty: Yeah, thanks Em. It was good. And I’ll look forward to next week’s episode; stretch your people, don’t break them. Until then, I know you’ll take every opportunity you can to be a no bullsh!t leader.


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