Team building

GroWTF? podcast E2 – How to build a great team

This time, I’m talking about my 20 years of experiences on how to build a great team. I spend the last 18 months on more than 100 interviews to build a great growth team but more than that, we want to build an amazing team for our company Usersnap.

“Better to have an A-team with a B-product, than the other way round.” (unknown) … A great team is the foundation of build great products and a successful company.

To my personal podcast

We aim to have a lot of seniority in our company, we want to get people onboard from whom we can learn and find those that will shape the future of Usersnap.

Please, don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list.

The podcast will touch the following topics:

  • Values + Goals – why these are the constitution
  • Communication
  • Hiring
  • Collaboration
  • Feedback sessions
  • Career path

I hope you enjoy this episode of my podcast.

Side notes: I’m thrilled to launch it, although I messed up a bit with the recording and didn’t record the presentation in presentation mode.

But I think I got the audio quite right this time and it can be used for an audio podcast too (this was the initial goal). Thanks to Will and John Ramli, I learned that Zoom has an option for high-fidelity audio and this improved the audio 10x. Thanks!!

I’m intentionally not re-recording the sessions and keep them with their little failures. You never get it right the first time, but it also reminds you how you improved.

Feedback If you have any kind of feedback or suggestions, just contact me on Linked.


Please, don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list.

Transcript of the podcast:

this is the grow what the f** podcast a growth podcast of hog klaus-m.

hi my name is klaus-m. schremser and i’m head of growth of usersnap, a user feedback platform that helps companies collect actionable customer end user feedback to build better more successful products and services we provide solutions for feedback around the product development life cycle from feature requests to mps and from visual bug tracking to user acceptance testing i’m a serial entrepreneur and i launched my first website in 1994 in the last 20 plus years i co-founded three companies within the martech industry, two of them got acquired and in the third one, usersnap, i’m currently working as of today and in this podcast i want to talk about successes but more about failures and learnings as a co-founder and head of growth

hey hi so to the second episode of the grow what the [ __ ] podcast it’s great to have you here and today i want to talk about the topic of how to build a great team um yeah it’s the second one i’m energized it’s great to talk about these topics and one of the next ones i will get someone onto the podcast so you don’t hear only myself okay so how to build a great team this is something which was and is one of the most important things for me building companies because companies are constructs where the team and people are the the foundation of that and so for me i think this is one and the most important task to have a great team before you have a great idea and the great idea can only be implemented when you have a great team and this is also why i call it the secret growth hack number one it’s always like one quote that followed me was like better to have an a team and a b product then vice versa because with an 18 you can develop the b product to an a product but if you have it the other way around it’s pretty hard to do that but of course when we start like when i joined the company and it’s happened to me quite often in many companies it’s uh first you have to find out okay who is in the team every team is different so you cannot like just take your um measurements you you you learned and uh over the time and you had in your experience um but you have to figure out you know do you have the right team for this endeavor for this company and are they in the right setup so one thing i want to um to mention beforehand is that i think that you know everybody or most almost everybody um can do a great job in a certain environment yeah it’s just that some people are not in the right environment or they are not in the right company yeah um so whenever i’m talking about someone you know taking someone out of a team or yeah replacing someone then it’s not about this person himself or herself it’s more about that this person was not probably hired well you know so it’s it comes back to yourself and um if you’re in if you’re um responsible for hiring and so the first thing i when i also joined this company was like finding out do we have the right team and do we have enough seniors so this is a common problem and and i did that on my own you know like this is not my first company so my previous companies we we tried always to hire juniors and to develop them which is not a bad um idea but especially in the beginning when you have a smaller team you know everyone you have to make everyone count and and so seniority is is a very important topic to have in your company so you have to figure out do you have enough seniors otherwise you become the bottleneck because you have the knowledge and you have the experience and you have to train and mentor everybody um and they can only be as good as your own resources are but if you really want to scale a company you have to to bring a lot of people on top on board who who might or who should tell you where you know how to do something and and where maybe to head um to find the right place the other thing is like our team’s collaborating um also a common problem um and i you know tapped this trap quite often this booby trap um to to maybe focus too much on one team and not seeing the the the the company from above and how people are cross-functional collaborating and last but not least which might be one should be one of the first ones to mention uh problems that you should look at is most of the time when i looked into companies and it also happened for us in the beginning when we started in user snap was are the goals clear are there goals you know do do we have a a clear goal setting process because people can only work toward the goal when it’s clear you know and if you don’t know the goal and i think this is is happening everywhere you know if you don’t know for which sport you are training so then you don’t know what you have to train and how you have to train um so probably it’s not that good to trim basketball if you want to become a triathlete and and that’s the same here so goal setting is it has a lot to do with building and and growing your teams so we had a lot of these um issues in the beginning and when we joined the company and so our first objective we set on that end was raise the seniority level in the team and provide a clear direction and of course also for us not everything worked out in the beginning and we did a lot of like let’s call it failures and and and or caused a lot of failures so the the goal setting um i think we just started that like after a lot of like many months passed before we started that and uh in the beginning the hiring like was really hard so sometimes we chose also intermediates and almost like kind of junior people and or yeah i had to correct quite some of my mistakes in the beginning and this is this is happening yeah the important thing is to rethink where you are where you want to be and then do it again yeah like not the failure but try to come back to the initial you know concept when you say you want to raise seniority then you shoot highest and you already then you have to do the steps and set um and activate or set define the processes that are necessary to um to get seniors yeah there is a lot you have to do nowadays especially in in startups and and developer like when you want to hire developers it’s super hard we know we all know that but you can do a lot of steps you know building the right brand um setting or defining a certain environment building a certain culture to to make your company attractive and get the right people on board so i want to talk about some of the the steps we did to improve um the environment to improve the culture to improve um the setup and and the place uh for for the team and and to to establish a certain foundation where you can build on and i think one of the most and uh most important ones are um setting or defining values and setting goals yeah so this is the constitution kind of the company culture so we we started in the beginning we had a

a strategy meeting or a strategy workshop and and we spent quite some time on the preparation on the after work and one of the first bigger blocks was setting the values and we came up with quite some good uh five values and these values uh you know what i and i experienced is quite often they they’re they’re they’re setting these strategy meetings and after that they are like they painted on some walls or they’re in some internet um but they’re not really you know they’re not you they’re not companies often don’t lift them yeah and we spent a lot of time afterwards to to to give the team the possibility or to to build them into the daily routines you know to to repeat them quite often to have meetings um where where everyone who hold a talk there they had to say for which value is this important yeah or um we have a kudo system yeah where um peers teammates can can give kudos in an unlimited amount to to their peers to the other teammates and they just have to say you know how did the this uh teammate live up to our values uh this i think helped us to establish the values and and then when you really deeply look into your own personality i think that you will find out that values are the things that drive you and that that direct you and and lead you every day so this is why i think that values also for companies are super important they should be actionable and they should be implemented into the daily routines apart from that the leadership and um in combination in collaboration with the team should set on the goals and and we started quite late with that and of course we took the i think currently most famous one the okr the objective key results um goal setting mechanism and i i think i will do another um another podcast episode about that because uh we are currently 15 months into that we already had four iterations in changes in turning it around it it aligned us kind of but currently i wouldn’t say that we are super um strong in into that yeah so we still have a lot of issues where we we moved around too much like we we set objectives every quarter we couldn’t align them to annual goals uh and and we’re trying now a new iteration where i’m very confident that this will lead us hopefully in the right direction so values and goals are the foundation of of of having of crafting or building a great team another one is communication and for that we we implemented two important meetings so the one is a monthly m team update so empty means for us the management team we call it like that um i once mentioned that management is not my my favorite term as i want to have a team which is our self in self-control there they’re not have don’t have to be managed they just maybe have to be mentored but okay this term is here we call it m team updates it’s kind of a company breakfast and we’re only talking about the future so we are talking what’s coming up next and where are we heading so this is kind of an information from the leadership team to the rest of the team the second one and this is uh like one a very important one it’s called the lightning talks and bi-weekly we’re sharing or the whole team is sharing what’s currently going on so every team can or everyone can like just sign up for we only have five of them um there are only five slots and they’re five like i have a five minute time limit and you can share what you’re working on and doing that you know the beginning it like quite slowly um started like in the beginning we had to set up quite a lot of them um and and later on like everyone like today we have the problem that too many people want to share what is going on and this gives a super cross team uh look into their what what other teams are doing and you can add questions or maybe give some information what some some additional information from your site so communication our mtm updates the weekly updates is helping to direct where where is something going like what’s coming next so this gives a clear clear information clear perspective clear um direction from them from the management to to your team and the lightning talks is where you’re sharing your uh where everyone can share their current work so it’s you know you should not share your current uh work as the management team and you should lead in the future probably one of the most important ones especially in the beginning when when you have to build up the team is hiring and i think this stays as a constant uh important task so hiring is kind of you know the fuel for your growth engine for your team growth engine and in the beginning when like i think we i always had a very uh very well crafted um survey questionnaire uh for for the interviews and hirings and i i early on um started to have more than one hiring interviews to to always get a second perspective on the person but i think in in user snap in the last two years i quite changed with the knowledge also of my partner and uh um the approach how to hire so first of all we tried to get an inspiring message also out there you know you’re you’re kind of you have to convince also the candidates and and not only vice versa you know um so you have to convince that your company is great and then that someone wants to join it and that there might be a challenging in a positive way um environment because people want to develop yeah so they don’t want to go in a in a boring company and they want to find challenges there and and how they can develop themselves and we also make use of hiring agents so um i mean apart from linkedin which is a great hiring source uh we are constantly using all kinds of platforms agents all the money was spent although they are quite expensive at least in the beginning it looks like um but they’re this this this really pays off uh they they do a lot of um like pre-qualification and there is a lot of time you can say from your own time when you hire someone um they have like uh all the ads out there for for your um job for the job roles you’re looking for and my let’s see mini playbook i’m using for my hiring and probably as i said this this might also be another um episode uh worth an episode i i first have a 30 minutes phone call when i did the pre-qualification on the on the cv and and their profi profiles and whatever i find on google and within the 30 day uh minutes i try to to figure out um you know is this person in general like the right person and and does it match what i’m looking for also did this person did she or he um like had a look at the company uh which which gives me all the the clear direction that this person cares about usersnap and after the 30 minutes we follow up with a one and a half hours um in-person meeting with a peer so a second person is joining the interview so that not only your opinion counts and in that meeting we’re quite going quite deep of course this meeting uh also took place um on zoom sometimes when it’s not possible because we are hiring internationally so we have in we have a lot of people from all countries around the world which makes usersnap even uh a more great and fun place to work at and also culturally very inter interesting place um yeah and finally we have the the meeting with our management team um and if we’re after these three meetings which is quite a lot of work so i think i went through 100 interviews in the last 18 months here but if i’m still convinced then you know then i hire especially from the seniority level and and we always start with a 90 days plan so we have an onboarding plan and that’s super helpful because the person starts here they’re a new environment and then this gives them a clear like a real where they can hold on and and also know uh in terms of what you are expecting so the expectation management is clear what should be done what should be achieved in the first 90 days there is a lot still to improve uh so we’re here more in the beginning than at the end um like our improv employer branding is quite weak currently probably should hire someone who is like kind of a talent sourcing role because hiring should be a constant um a constant activity and and right now i see how like how like i’m not spending enough time on that but you know you always have to like improve it’s you can’t always get everything right so hiring as i said is the fuel make it count spend a lot of time i spent like last year i spent like more than five months or six months almost like 50 to 60 percent of my time only on hiring and now i have a great team together um and this is just was possible because i focused too much on hiring next one um is collaboration um you know we’re still here and try to to to raise the seniority and to provide a clear direction to to build the uh best teams in the uh we can possibly have but to make that happen you also have to not only set the goals but get the processes right and the tools and in the beginning it might come more from your site but later on uh when you hire seniors they are coming with their own processes and that’s great you can learn a lot so when we started like we defined every project had to be in confluence and we worked collaboratively on that so that’s this was an important part um and because we formed teams there um people had to like come up with a campaign with a project and when they defined the goal for a project then they had immediately to set up a team and discuss it and quite often the goals changed after some smart people came together in a room and discussed a goal where you i i had it in the past where often started with a a goal on my own and then i thought okay it’s already well crafted and then you start and later on you realize that you’re totally missed um not not the goal itself but if the goal is not pointing the right direction the the campaign you know is always can easily be misaligned with what you initially thought you will achieve and then later where you’re heading with your uh campaign and then the results are um not in the way and not in the like where you want them to have yeah uh so yeah so this this process around you know how to set up goals um for for projects and then what possible uh was possibilities what possible options do you have to reach this goal this is done in a team and this this process kind of helps us to to build cross-functional teams and this was not the way you know how it was in beginning because when i when i arrived or when i started here um we the the development team or the product team said like built the product but only after it was finished it was handed over to the marketing team or to the growth team and there was no you know collaboration on the beginning when you set the goals what do you want to achieve and i think this process aligned our team and it really improved for where we are heading and we see now how the people work together and how this makes the boundaries or the bound like the bonds stronger the boundaries the bonds stronger and how it also brings us like a step ahead to to our goals so collaboration setting the collaboration process is right starts with you know how you set up projects how you like what tools you provide like we are using confluence zoom and slack these are the three main tools for collaboration and and getting the goal right and having that discussed in a team and bringing all the smart minds you need for that into a room is i think one of them was the most important one to to no not the most mobile was one of the important ones to to be to get a great team um and to build a great team

the as we are a feedback company feedback is quite an important part of of the process to build and the best teams and uh we have two two meetings that help us to get feedback and to to become better persons you know to learn to to grow personally so the one is we’re holding bi-weekly one-on-ones with all our um teammates yeah and sometimes also outside my own team yeah i’m setting up a one-on-ones and important thing and i’m adding uh in the description of this podcast i’m adding a template of our current one-on-one playbook important for us is that we are not talking about operational things so not about projects etc so we are we’re establishing and making our relationship stronger we are asking for feedback learning you know also what we as a um leaders and managers how we are perceived in situations and what how can we improve to become even better leaders um and of course you know are the goals clear how this person how the person feels right now is anything like on their mind which we should talk about how were the last two weeks you know was something worrying you is something what was exciting and how are the goals clear what is our company goal number one what is our team goal number one always just to see and like and find out if if if we set as as the leaders if we set out the goals and and let’s see the the funnel how you can grow with the company in the right way or are there confusions and and unclear situations what where we could improve can improve and uh provide a better setup for you as a teammate to um yeah develop yourself and grow the company and the second one is more like uh maybe if you’re in a management team you have the same situation that there are decisions peop like your your peers your management peers your leader peers behave sometimes in a way where you’re not happy with it and there are emotional conflicts uh and you don’t know how to tackle them yeah and sometimes you know they get maybe very emotional and and you don’t know how to discuss them so what we set up is a monthly m team feedback so management team feedback and in that feedback we are asking the other person how they perceive and how they feel about ourselves and if they have clear observations so this is an important part we are not we’re trying not to share any interpreted interpretations but we are sharing um we are sharing observations and the feelings how how did this observation made us feel and this gives offers the other person the possibility to to accept what you’re saying so this is a perfect way we are spending one and a half hours on that and this gave us an opportunity to and removed a lot of um of maybe indifferent interferences in different in okay maybe unclarity in the team emotional distraction and a lot of conflicts you know because you know always know you can write something down and discuss it in the monthly weekend uh in the monthly uh uh and team feedback so last but not least um we also set up a clear path of how you can develop in inside the company we set up like four experience levels which is junior intermediate senior and principal even if you’re a small company it’s important from our perspective that your team knows you know where can i how can i develop and how can i also where where i where i am and where can i uh where how to which place can i grow to which stage can i grow what do i have to do to grow so we set defined these four experience levels junior intermediate senior and principal and for each of these state levels uh we defined competences and and we are constantly rating um so we’re rating the the the team member is rating and the peer of the team member is rating and with this rating you know you know where standing and where i might be bottlenecks where you can develop and so this is where we develop uh where we define the the next development steps how we define them so sometimes these are um functional competencies and sometimes these are soft competencies like you know can you promote um your your activities in the company in the right way or do you monitor information so are you have everything on your plate so you know where you’re heading yeah the results um currently we have a great team with a lot of seniors um the our team is collaborating on projects and their goals so we kind of reached cross-functional goals the goals are helping us to focus so we also know what not to do and this this can bring the team to a better performance the personal development path are clear more or less i think we can improve a lot on that so there is a lot of room for improvement i don’t want to say that we are perfect on that end there is a lot of improvement as i said goal setting is currently like not our strongest site um the development path the competencies like we worked for nine months and reworked them four times uh there is always something to improve but important is that you have quite clarity on what you provide and how you can do your next steps

as always grow with the magic power feedback personally and as a company so never forget that feedback ask someone for feedback about your own behaviors it might give you a magic moment and you might learn something about you thanks a lot for listening to the this episode of the podcast i’m happy to get your feedback so please if you have any comments or ideas please share them on linkedin with me and yeah hope to hear you soon bye bye

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