Episode Eighteen

Why your team SHOULD disagree

Nov 7, 2018
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Show Notes

In this episode of Workflow, Brian and Tom talk about why your team SHOULD disagree.

00:40   What’s happening Brian and Tom (Coming soon in Rindle: Tasks, sales calls)
05:53    Topic intro
08:00   In a team meeting, each role has a different agenda
18:07    Team members will have different perspectives based on their personalities
22:00   Setting ground rules for discussions
30:23   Tips for taking action!

Useful Links

If Your Team Agrees on Everything, Working Together Is Pointless

Full Transcription

Brian: 00:00 This is Workflow, episode 18.

Brian: 00:14 Workflow is the podcast that helps teams figure out the best way to work, collaborate, and get stuff done. Brought to you by Rindle.

Brian: 00:28 Hey everyone, I'm Brian.

Tom: 00:29 And I'm Tom.

Brian: 00:30 And we're the co-founders of Rindle, and this is our podcast, Workflow. Today we're talking about why your team should disagree.

Brian: 00:37 Before we do that, what's going on Tom?

Tom: 00:40 Yeah, so we are just wrapping up tasks view, which is exciting. The dashboard is basically going to ... what currently is the dashboard in Rindle is going to become this new view called the "tasks view," which that is basically what our existing dashboard is. It is a view of all your tasks, all the tasks in Rindle, actually, not just your tasks. We are just wrapping that up, which is pretty exciting. Should hopefully be getting that into the production app hopefully by the end of the week.

Brian: 01:14 Yeah. It's pretty cool with the change from dashboard to task view, we kind of reworked everything from being a filter where we are pulling potentially thousands of tasks, which is labor-intensive for our servers and kind of seems slow, so I think we are making it more of a search tool at this point where it's going to spit out results. A better way for our users. We also enhanced the search, as well, to get some more flexibility and added saved searches, which means you can actually save predetermined searches, which makes seeing different views of tasks easy.

Tom: 01:50 Even better, it sets us up nicely that now we can actually have a true dashboard, eventually.

Brian: 01:59 Yeah. I think that will be really useful because a true dashboard, hopefully we can get hone in on the user and what they are looking to accomplish and see their notifications and upcoming tasks, stuff like that are really focused on that.

Tom: 02:14 Absolutely. Awesome.

Tom: 02:16 Brian, what's been going on with you?

Brian: 02:19 Just got to talk about bad sales call experiences, because I bite sometimes on cold emails and things like that if it's interesting to me and it feels like it can help me or help us as a company or whatever. So I opted into a sales call and it was a terrible experience. For one, they set up a Zoom call, which we use Zoom ,as well, and didn't turn on the video. I had my video on. Again, not required, but would be enough nice touch, I think. Whenever I do demos or any sales calls or anything like that for Rindle, I always make sure I have my video on, even if the customer decides not to. But I feel like it's more personal. It could have been a better experience over all. Just the fact that the whole attitude of the sales call was not that great. The whole experience was bad. It's just shocking to me that they go through all this work to get you on a call and then have a crappy experience.

Tom: 03:21 Yeah. It makes you wonder how some companies are doing so well, right? Especially, I have been on sales calls with well known, well respected companies and feel a very similar way and you're just like, "wow, how are you so successful?" Just really shocking.

Brian: 03:40 So, yeah. I had a couple of those, especially where it's not very personal. They start the call with the normal ... it almost sounds scripted like the normal song and dance where it's like, "Oh, how's the weather over by you?" Very scripted. I get it. You are trained a certain way. I'm sure they have certain things that sales people do to make conversation; all that stuff. I just feel like on top of not seeing the person and not having the personal touch with the video, and having what sounded like a scripted intro really turned me off. I had a previous call that literally the person was reading from a script. I stopped the person. I said, "I'm sorry, but this isn't for me. If you are reading from a script, I don't think we are going to have a real valuable conversation here about your product."

Tom: 04:36 Sure.

Brian: 04:36 That's another thing. We don't do that, obviously. We get on a call, we talk about ... actually, I structure my call my call mostly off what our customers say are as far as their problem or their pain points. I can tailor the conversation to their needs, not just this scripted kind of thing that happened. So, anyway.

Tom: 04:51 You like to feel the warm and fuzzies. I understand, Brian.

Brian: 04:55 I just think it should be conversational. I just think we have a lot of success when we talk to our customers. We are being real. We are being just regular people. I feel like that goes a long way. Maybe it's my personality. Maybe that's what I prefer. I just feel like most people generally prefer that. They don't want to feel like it's this car salesperson, right? Like that old saying, where it's like, "you are like a car salesman, right, where it's a little bit cheesy, a little bit scripted, all this stuff. I don't know. Maybe it's me.

Tom: 05:27 Alright. Before we get started, if you have any questions, topics, or team scenarios that you want us to tear down, give us a call. Our number is 860-577-2293. You can also email us at workflow@rindle.com

Brian: 05:42 Also, if you are liking what you are hearing, please leave us a review. Certainly helps us reach more people like yourself. Helps us keep rolling out with episodes every week.

Tom: 05:52 Yes it does. Cool.

Tom: 05:54 On to the main topic: Why your team should disagree. This is going to be a good one.

Brian: 06:01 In recent months, have we have had internal discussions about disagreements and challenging conversations that we've been having on our calls. Some of them creative/brainstorming calls. Some of them hit our standup meetings. When our conversations get out of hand, we go with other topics. I stumbled upon an article from the Harvard Business Review. "If your team agrees on everything, working together is pointless." That totally hit home when I read it. We are really going through this, ourselves. Brings up really good points about ... what we deal within our teams, and I'm sure other teams dealing with, as far as meeting cadences, meeting with the team and getting work done and kind of obstacles that happen with these kind of disagreements or really challenging conversations are happening.

Tom: 06:51 Cool. Yeah. The article was pretty good and it really gave a three point kind of high level outline on basically how to kind of drive this sort of environment in order to make things more successful, right, for your team. So, it talks about how each person has a role in order ... and their role is specific to drive different agendas. Then they talk about the team members, who will have different perspectives on issues, based on their personalities. Finally, it talks about how to set the ground rules for discussions, which is really interesting because I think that a lot of people might actually have this kind of like disagreement type thing going on, but they actually don't set any ground rules. It made a lot of sense to me, actually, reading the article that you should definitely do this, right? You don't want to go into this without actually having these rules set.

Brian: 08:01 Cool. Let's hop into the first point. Highlight how each person's role is there to drive different agendas. I think this has really hit home for me. This was like the biggest point, when I read the article. I was like, "this makes sense." Our team, even, as far as products are concerned, we get into some pretty hefty debates. They use an example in their description of this is like: How a meeting with sales and production both have different agendas of what they are trying to accomplish, because they are roles in the company. They have different jobs to do. A production person might be advocating for more standardization, control, and efficiency in the process and things like that. The sales person is advocating for the exact opposite: More flexibility, customization, agility, customer needs, all those things.

Brian: 08:53 If they're both dong their jobs really well, the sales and the production leads should conflict, right? They actually have different agendas. They should conflict with one another and they should ultimately get on a path by conflicting and having those challenging conversations to an optimized solution, hopefully that accommodates both needs.

Brian: 09:10 One quote that they said in the article, which I thought was really great was, they quoted somebody saying, "You mean I'm supposed to fight with that person?" Yes, you are. Outlining the roles within a team and understanding like, hey, everyone has their own agenda for different reasons, different focuses. Making sure everybody is aware of that and kind of accepting the fact that, hey, we should be arguing about this stuff. We just have to do it in a great way that comes out to an optimal solution that's better for whatever you are building, working on, solution for the client. Whatever it is. I think that is really the biggest point I took away from this.

Tom: 09:47 Yeah. I just think it's word in here. Were not talking about physical fighting here. Were not talking about actual scream matches, even though sometimes it can transcend into that if you are really passionate about various topics. We are more talking about when you are getting in the room in a meeting about this sort of stuff, everyone should be an equal around that topic and it's okay to butt heads, right? It's okay to have different viewpoints. That's actually really helpful because if everyone was constantly in agreement about stuff, it would really stifle creativity.

Brian: 10:36 Good point. We're not talk about Wrestle Mania 5 here. That's really dating myself.

Tom: 10:43 I don't even know what that is.

Brian: 10:45 Exactly. We're not talking about physical fights, but certainly escalating, like you are saying, into something that's more aggressive, potentially, in conversation or whatever it might be. Our team, as an example, we are a cross-functional team. When they were talking about the sales and the production, teams talking together, or people talking together, having a conversation. It made me think of ourselves. Really, I am the product manager and deal with all the customer things and the business side. Tom, you are heading up development, leading the whole technical effort, managing everything from development, everything like that and Scott's focused on UX, the user experience and front end. Everybody has their different roles and what they're doing. Of course, when we talk about things, which is always frustrating, we don't always agree on everything, right?

Brian: 11:37 It made a lot of sense to me that, hey, Scott does have a different agenda than you do sometimes, right? You have a different agenda than I have which that comes up all the time, because we talk about road mapping and features we want to build and customer feedback. I'm advocated a lot of times for customers, right, because I'm talking to them all the time and I'm getting feedback. You are advocating development time, how much effort it's going to take, resources, all those things, right? There is a fine balance, right? We want to prioritize the right things. Do the right things at the right time. I think it actually does, when we work well together.

Brian: 12:09 It does get the optimal result, right? It is the best result for the scenario because hopefully we are appreciating both sides of the coin, right? It's not just me putting my stick in the sand, as I always say, which I don't even think is the right analogy. Stomping my foot and saying, “Hey no. I don't care. This is how it is and you are not seeing that.” Obviously I will fight for my opinion, but you have to take into consideration other things, right? When you do that, hopefully there is a compromise somewhere in the middle.

Tom: 12:38 Yeah. I typically have a hard time doing this on an initial call about things. I am very much like I'm going to convince you that is my best way and then usually takes cooling off and really reconsidering the problem before I ultimately come back and inspect the situation from the other party's perspective. And possibly come back with more of a solution, I would say or more of a compromise. Everything's about compromise within meetings, right? You gotta give a little and take a little and basically you're ultimately trying to meet somewhere in the middle to get the best end goal, which in our scenario, is obviously the best product but this can apply for anything, right?

Brian: 13:38 Yeah. I think that Compromise is key. I if you don't have that ... if you are living in a collaborative space, like we are., and we want to run our team in that way and everything like that. I think a lot of teams do these days. If you don't have that, it seems a little more like a dictatorship where somebody's coming in and saying, "this what we are doing and why. Go do it," as opposed to everybody collaborating with their expertise and experiences and hopefully coming up with a better solution then what one person could have, right, and is dictating everything.

Brian: 14:04 So, I think that ultimately, compromise is key. You have to be ... to have a constructive team that's collaborative moving towards a common goal, you have to have that, or else you will literally get nowhere. You have to be able to sometimes step back and, like you, I'm not ... sometimes it takes me a little time to even understand what point you are trying to make, right, because I am so focused and passionate about my point, right? I'm almost thinking, "hey, I don't understand why they are not getting my point." I'm not hearing the other points sometimes.

Brian: 14:33 So sometimes, the next day or that night night, right? I'll message you. Ah, I understand what you are saying now because I had some time to think about it in my own space and really digest it and not be so passionate in the moment, then I'll be like, Oh, I understand now. I actually agree with that. Let's consider this moving forward and blah, blah, blah. If it's really conflicted conversation, sometimes you can't get to a solution right away. It's not going to take 20 minutes to decide. Sometimes you have to take a break and I think if your at a dead stop sometimes, that's the best way to approach it where it's like, okay, let's table it for now. Let's think about it. Let's bring it up tomorrow and see where we are at. Having time to digest it always helps.

Tom: 15:16 I think another major issue is so that the person that brings up the feature or whatever, or has done the most research, or has spoken with the clients, they obviously have a completely different perspective and if you are just bringing this topic up for the first time with the team, it's really important that the team set back and evaluate things from a client perspective if you have a client-facing product, which I think most teams are in some capacity.

Tom: 15:48 I think the reason why that's important is because if you are just taking some random new feature, right, and throwing it into a room and being like, "okay, build this," obviously, you're going to build it the best way you should think it should be built. But more often than not, that's not what the clients are really asking for, which we run into all the time, which very often causes a lot of the arguments. This isn't to say that the clients have the best way of doing it or we shouldn't always listen to the client's way of doing it, because the clients don't always know what's best for them. It's definitely really important to understand things from the client perspective.

Brian: 16:42 Yeah. I think it's about being solution driven. If I were to bring something back in our scenario, it's a piece of client feedback and I'm all excited about it, right, because like, ah, that makes sense. I've heard this multiple times. Let me take this back to the team. There is an angle driven from that. The client's opinion, my opinion, whatever that may be. If I present that to the team, and, like you're saying, hey, that may not be the best way to do it ... As long as you are solution driven, and you are not just like we are not doing that, right, because that makes no sense to me. Okay. Well, what does make sense to you, right? Can we talk about the problem of clients actually having. Maybe it's this isn't the solution. Maybe it's another solution. Maybe it's a different feature in our scenario. Maybe it's a different approach, right?

Brian: 17:23 I think those tend to be the most constructive conversations because we're still ultimately trying to get to the same solution. Maybe it's a different path. Maybe it's a different way of going about it because we all have different agendas, but ultimately, we are still focused on a common goal. Sometimes that gets lost, right, like you are so passionate that you're like, wait a minute. I just don't care what you are saying. I only care about what I'm saying and that's the right thing and you always have to have your, "is this the best solution for what we are trying to do and how do we get to the best solution?" That could be tabling it, not doing it right now for us. It could be doing it in a different way. It could be doing it next year, right? Whatever that might be, but talking about tt in a constructive manner is always good.

Tom: 18:06 Sure.

Tom: 18:07 So, moving on to basically, we have hit this a little bit. Team members will have different perspectives on issues based on their personalities. We definitely run into this all the time, right? A team member that is technical is going to be approaching problems from a technical perspective. They obviously might have different viewpoints than someone who is not technical, not understanding technical challenges. Mind you, that isn't really a good reason for them to, the technical people to always get their way right? You, as a technical person, should be challenged and try to think of clever solutions. Obviously if something is impossible, it's just impossible.

Brian: 18:53 Yeah. I think in the same aspect, as far as personality, I can say when you have very passionate people in our group, like ourselves, and I consider myself a passionate person, especially around things that I care about, same with you. I know, for a fact, if you are talking about ... your mind automatically goes to the technical side, like you are saying. That is passionate for you. You want to put the best technical thing in place first, right, or look at it from that angle, first, before we get into even whatever we are trying to solve, right? Is this really technically challenging or not where I'm very passionate about, can we solve this problem? Doesn't matter how technical we do it. That could be up to you guys, however it might be. But that is my focus, right? I am very passionate about that, but it also comes into stubbornness where we sometimes conflict because you keep bringing up technical stuff. I keep up bringing up customer-centric stuff and it's almost like we are speaking two different languages.

Tom: 19:52 Sure.

Brian: 19:53 And you are kind of like, “no, no.” But I'm talking about this and I'm like, but I'm talking about this. It comes down to personality because we are both very passionate and stubborn in ways that we want to make sure that our point is made, right? We are not passive where you might have a passive person in a group and that causes issues because now they're not chiming in and the conversations going on, right, and there's happening, solutions happening, and plans of action. Then the next day this person chimes in and says, "Oh, I had an opinion," right, because they are very passive.

Tom: 20:26 Yeah.

Brian: 20:26 They didn't say something in the moment and that puts a wrench in the works.

Tom: 20:31 It really does. You definitely need to have a team that feels comfortable speaking and. Obviously it is difficult when you have strong personalities. If someone is a little less vocal, but definitely you should basically be promoting some sort of environment that allows everyone to feel comfortable speaking out and they won't feel as though they are going to be chastised for having a different opinion.

Brian: 21:02 Yeah. I think it's good. Even if you look at the just the previous point talking about agendas and personalities being different and having that conflict is healthy. Imagine if it was the other way around and everybody was like you, Tom, where everybody is looking at the technical side only, right? That would be a different solution potentially than one that all three of us came up with together, right? Where it's going to be very technical first, not thinking about any other things first. That ultimately is not potentially going to be the best solution for the problem because the problem is multi-faceted. Same thing with personalities. If you had everybody who is stubborn and will not back down, that's going to be challenging, right? It's probably going to lengthen our conversations. We've had some of that where we feel like we are talking about something too long, right? Where everybody's passive and submissive then you probably just assume not make a decision or you're not really getting the best results because nobody's speaking up and giving their opinion.

Tom: 22:00 Sure, which actually just rolls into the next point, which is setting ground rules for discussion. If you give the team a clear picture of what is and what is not acceptable behavior, it makes things a lot smoother and honestly, this is probably something that we didn't actually needed this way back when we first started these 'discussions,' air quotes there, about different features, but they definitely make things go a lot smoother. I think everyone feels a lot more comfortable if everyone realizes that these are the rules, right? We're in a boxing ring here, so you need to have some ground rules. You can't hit below the belt. Yeah, et cetera, et cetera.

Brian: 22:52 Yeah. If you are finding, like especially, if you just find the calls or conversations or whatever you are doing collaboratively getting out of hand, where it is either lasting too long, people are just really fired up and upset about what was discussed or how it was handled, whatever those scenarios might be if you are having just a negative experience around these conversations/discussions. Then that's a great time to look at well, should we be setting some ground rules. I think we did this, like you said, ourselves.

Brian: 23:22 We didn't really think we'd ever need this. As we work tother more and more, obviously, we get more passionate. We are working on tons of stuff and always going and it gets frustrating sometimes. We start to say things we don't mean or not participate the way we meant to, or whatever it might be. I think what we did was, for us, we came up with three rules, basically, that we follow and I think the biggest one is, 'in disagreement, majority rules.' So, if we have really a stand off where it's like, hey, I'm not going to come around. I don't agree, but you guys agree, so I'm going to back down and we are going to move forward in that direction. That actually has worked, I think.

Tom: 24:05 It's also important to note we are all equals at the table so majority rules, everyone has the same power, if you will, or voting power.

Brian: 24:15 Yeah. And we are really all equals sitting at the table meaning, with our roles, right? Everybody has an equal opinion and insight. So from the product side, the UX side, from the technical side, whatever it might be, it really does work well, I think, because there are many times that we don't necessarily agree on something. When we all agree, it's really easy. It's like, “oh, we all agree. Great. Let's move on.” And the times that we don't, it's very hard, I think to get somebody to turn over, even after lengthy debates and discussions about your opinions. Majority rules really helps keep things shorter, “okay, you can't come around. We do, we agree, so let's move along and swallow your pride and okay, we're going to move along." Like I said, I think it has really helped us, because we were having multi day conversations at times where we'd be talking about the same things and that's frustrating to begin with ...

Tom: 25:07 Yeah.

Brian: 25:07 ... because we are talking about the same thing over and over again and we can't move on and get over the hump and continue moving forward. I think it's been good.

Tom: 25:15 Yeah. Definitely. If we can't agree, sometimes we are divided, even three different perspectives. We can't come to a full agreement about something because topics are not always one dimensional, right? It's not binary, like this way, or this way. Sometimes there are a lot of things to consider. We table things. We'll come back to it this afternoon, come back to it tomorrow, when people can think about this a little bit more on their own and then come together again and have another, hopefully, more productive conversation.

Brian: 25:57 Yeah. I think this is super powerful. Like we discussed before in our own experiences like myself, like cooling off, like looking at something from a fresh perspective four hours later after the call or something and I'm like, “ah! I see the light now.” And like yourself and cooling down and kind of looking at things, and I've seen other people, too like Scott and other team members where the next day they have a different attitude when they come to call next because they've actually thought about it. Maybe it's not so bad as they thought, right, maybe it is a compromise Maybe they'll get some of what they wanted, whatever, and it really can make for a tolerable experience as opposed to trying to force getting a result in one sitting.

Tom: 26:39 Sure.

Brian: 26:39 There are many times when we all have different opinions and literally will stand still. We could talk for four hours and nobody will come around.

Tom: 26:47 Right.

Brian: 26:48 I'm not saying we literally did that, but we could because we're all kind of defending our views and it's better just to cut it off. I'd say if it goes beyond 30 minutes of conversation, maybe even before that, if you can. That's probably a warning sign to be like, hey, we should table this and maybe put it on for another day and see if we can't come to a different agreement tomorrow.

Tom: 27:11 Yeah. I think it's also important that members feel comfortable that they should be able to say, “hey I'm getting like frustrated with this conversation. Let's table this for a little bit. Let's regroup on this later.” Nothing's really too time sensitive that you have to make a decision today when it comes to this sort of stuff. I think absolutely speak up and hold off on making a hasty decision or that people aren't happy with, more less.

Brian: 27:48 Cool. One of the other things we do if we can't find a majority, if we can't agree after postponing and tabling things. Another option is not to do it at all. Maybe it's too complicated. Maybe just not the right timing. A lot of times, it goes across industries and teams, if you can't come to a decision, maybe theirs another reason why you can't. Maybe it is not the right time. Maybe it is too complicated. Maybe you don't have the right problem or the right solution that you are discussing and you really need to put it off right now and not do it at all or do something different that would accomplish something, a part of that or a piece of the problem. I think that we've actually had these conversations, ourselves, where we talked about things for a little while and we're like, "maybe we are over complicating our lives, more complicated than we realized. That really doesn't fit into our agenda now. Maybe let's put it into the ice box and deal with it later."

Tom: 28:48 And we've done this a number of times, actually, and to little ill effect. It's kind of surprising how you might think something's super important and when you just don't do it, it's not.

Brian: 29:01 You know, it's funny just in the agency world, too, where I dealt a lot with clients and scoping out projects and a project was estimated, it was closed and then things come up from the client, right? “I want to do this. I thought I was going to do this.” And to your point, a lot of times we would have lengthy conversations about why we should put it in and suck up budget, if we lose money, we lose money. Or should we go back to customer and say, " you know what? We can't do this for these reasons."

Brian: 29:34 A lot of times we'd go back to the client, and I was big on this after I started to learn the effects of what happens when you try to let your scope expand and scope creeps in and what happens. After that, we have to be really forward with our customers and say, “hey this just doesn't fit into the budget and these are the reasons why.” A lot of times, the customer is like, “okay. No problem. I get it” and they move on. Sometimes they put up a fight, but a lot of times it isn't as bad as you think it is, right? With our stuff, even, we'll decide to table stuff and say, “hey, this is too complicated. We not going to do it at all,” to no ill effect, right, like it wasn't a big deal. We moved on. Same thing with a customer situation like in an agency any other type of thing. Probably making a bigger deal than it needs to be.

Tom: 30:23 Awesome. I think that brings up the tips for taking action.

Brian: 30:28 Cool. So the first one, self evaluate. Conflict is good, but make sure it is good and healthy and productive. Like I was saying before, If it gets to a point where you are starting to see some odd behavior, some kind of like, for us, I kind of self evaluate and look and say, “hey, I don't think anyone's having fun doing this or enjoying our calls at this point because we're not just agreeing.” Things weren't flowing. It just wasn't great. We should be looking forward to our calls, right, and all those things. If all of a sudden people are feeling like, “ I don't want to do this call. All we are going to do is fight for an hour or argue about this.” That's probably a tell tale sign that, you know, you might have to look at something and make some changes. It's no longer healthy and productive. Make sure you evaluate that and kind of be aware of what's going on.

Tom: 31:17 Awesome. You know, if things aren't being healthy, take a step back and take some time to evaluate and reconsider maybe the other point of view. Cool off and come back to the topic at hand, right? That could be later on in the afternoon, that could be the next day, that could be the next week in some scenarios, right? It's not healthy to just let things continue to spiral out of control on a call if you see it going like that sort of direction.

Brian: 31:49 Yeah. I think, too, looking at why is it spiraling out of control. Take a look at why, because there could be personal things happening. There could be somebody's feeling disrespected maybe, on the call, right? Therefore, not coming around, not participating the same way they would normally, maybe they feel like their voice isn't being equally heard, where it is supposed to be an equal opinion based thing. Their voice isn't being heard. All different kinds of reasons things might be escalating. Sometimes, take a look at why is this happening. Let's get down to it. Maybe it's some individual conversations separately that you have. “Hey, why are you so upset? What's setting you off? What's going on?” It'd be easier to look at as a whole and come up with some solutions, based on some of the points you made today.

Tom: 32:38 I think that about wraps us up for the day.

Tom: 32:40 If you have a question for us, you can call in to our voice mail number at 860-577-2293 or you can email to us at workflow@rindle.com.

Tom: 32:51 Our theme music is an excerpt from Thunder Rock by Magic Studio use under creative comments.

Tom: 32:57 Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for Workflow. And visit rindle.com/workflow-podcast for a full transcript of each episode.

Tom: 33:08 Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.