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“Building High Performance Teams” —  Girl Geek X Elevate (Video + Transcript)

April 21, 2019
VIDEO

You think the transition from IC to a manager is the hardest part of your career – until you become a manager of managers. From advancing your hiring skills to optimizing cross-team communication to letting your managers manage, join these amazing women as they share their learnings as they’ve evolved from managers to leaders.


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Transcript:

Gretchen DeKnikker: So without any further ado, so this panel is on building high-performance teams, which is something we all need to learn more about, and we have an amazing set of panelists from different types of backgrounds, different team sizes, different company sizes, so there’ll be something in here for everybody. So without further ado, I want to welcome Colleen, Citlalli, and Nupur, and let’s maybe … Colleen, why don’t you kick it off? Let us know who you are, where you work, what you do, how long you’ve been a manger, how many people you manage, and one thing that nobody knows about you. And if you can’t remember all those questions, I’ll give them back to you again later.

Colleen Bashar: Okay, that’s great. So hi, everybody. I’m Colleen Bashar and I work for Guidewire Software. We specialize in providing property and casualty insurers with an industry platform that’s designed to really transform their business during this rapid period of change. Today I lead three different organizations that all specialize in solution selling of our applications. I’ve been a manager for nine years and I have about 125 people on my team. Something that nobody knows about me, after graduating from college, I drove across country with one of my best friends. We stopped in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We fell in love with the town, canceled all our plans, got an apartment within 24 hours and stayed for two years as professional ski bums.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Where were you going to go?

Colleen Bashar: We had plans to travel Europe, believe it or not, and we canceled everything.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Slight detour.

Colleen Bashar: Yeah.

Gretchen DeKnikker: That’s awesome. How about you, Nupur?

Nupur Srivastava: Hi everyone, my name is Nupur Srivastiva and I lead product here at Grand Rounds. So Grand Rounds is this awesome company that is trying to improve healthcare outcomes for everyone everywhere and our basic premise is we try and remove pain and sufferings from patients, and we do that in a couple of ways. We spent a ton of time trying to understand what makes a high-quality doctor and we match patients with the right high-quality doctors for them and we also give them tons of navigation support so that we can help them with any medical questions that they have. So I’ve been a manager for about six years, and in my career, I’ve managed teams that were sizes of five people all the way up to 50, and currently I lead an awesome product team of about 20 people, and that’s predominately product management and design. So something that not that many people know about me, so I was actually on a national basketball team, but the nation was one of the smallest nations in the world. It was Kuwait and there weren’t that many women that played basketball in the first place so it was like being the tallest midget, but I was on a national basketball time, and that was really exciting.

Gretchen DeKnikker: We need to have a three point contest or something. You’re going to win because I don’t think any of the rest of us can play so that’s awesome.

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah, to be honest I don’t think I’ve touched a ball in 10 years so I think you guys would win.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I still think you’re going to beat me. Great. Welcome, Citlalli.

Citlalli Solano: Hi. So my name is Citlalli. I am a senior manager here at Palo Alto Networks. At Palo Alto Networks we develop software for security for enterprise, so our mission is to protect our digital way of life by preventing successful cyber attacks and very much on that mission. I have been a manager for five years, currently manage the backend team, so we develop all the software that supports the platform for public cloud. The size of my team right now, it’s 25 distributed in four teams and as Nupur’s mentioning and Colleen that I’ve been managing teams very small, little, big. Something that people don’t know about me, so I love figure skating and I used to do figure skating. I am from Mexico and you wouldn’t match Mexico with-

Gretchen DeKnikker: So much ice, yeah.

Citlalli Solano: I know. Exactly. Right. It’s so cold and so yeah, so that’s not something typical but I love it. I haven’t done it in decades probably but I love it.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So we’re going to have a figure skating basketball competition in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, right after Elevate ends, right. All right. So we here at Girl Geek X like to talk about the real stuff, the actionable stuff, not the high-level, fluffy whatever, so we’re going to get right into it. So first thing we’re going to talk about is the worst hire you’ve ever made, how you made it through, what you learned, what you do different now, and in the interest of transparency, I will say the worst decision I ever made was in the .com boom, we had to do a whole bunch of layoffs, and I decided that we should keep someone from my team and put them on someone else’s team, and get rid of someone off of that team because in my head, of course, it was the boom, and it wasn’t really over, and we were going to start rebuilding the team, and we shouldn’t lose this amazingly talented person from my team. And it turned out to be awful, which you guys are probably already like, “Yeah, that was stupid.” But it seemed like such a good idea at the time, and what happened is a person who was really good at their job didn’t have their job anymore. Someone who was really good at one job had a job they hated and a manager had a resource that they hated, and that was entirely my fault.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So now that I’ve bared my soul and my horrible things, how about we start with you, Nupur?

Nupur Srivastava: So one of the worst hires I ever made was probably my first hire and I think I made a lot of classic mistakes that you make while hiring. So I was at a small startup. We were really strapped for resources. We had a lot of work to do and I hired very quickly out of desperation. Basically the first person who I thought could do the job from a technical standpoint, but one thing that I didn’t focus on was whether there was a strong value set and whether this person was actually aligned with where the company was growing, and unfortunately, a year after, I actually had to let this person go because it was a mismatch, and I should have really spent some time trying to understand. My biggest learning from that is there is a classic saying that you need to hire slowly and fire quickly, and really take your time to make sure that the person you’re hiring in addition to being technically competent is really the type of person you want to bring in the company, and their longterm goals are aligned with where the company is going.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So how did you figure out–What were the clues? There was something along the way that you could’ve maybe picked up sooner or that you looked for in the next person, right?

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah, for sure, and I think a lot of it comes down to the types of questions you ask in the interview process as well as what you get from the references. So it’s less about, “Hey, do they know how to write a PRD and do they understand how to do user stories?” The types of things you really need to figure out is, “How have they made their decisions in their career in the past? What drives them? What motivates them? What wakes them up in the morning? When they were put in difficult situations, what is the value system that drives who they are?” So a lot of what I’ve learned is really focusing on getting to know the person and what drives them, and what’ll keep them happy, and specifically trying to even ask that questions of the references that they provide, so that in addition to the technical skills, you make sure that they’re someone that’s truly open to where your company’s at and what you need from them. And I think it’s different for different stages of the company. It’s different for different values that the company has, and I think very important to draft the clarity in addition to the technical skills.

Gretchen DeKnikker: What kind of questions do you ask to sort of suss that out?

Nupur Srivastava: So there is an amazing book that our CTO recommended that has a great question set, so it’s called Ideal Team Player, and it focuses on this notion of hiring people that are hungry, humble, and smart, and it’s something that has really resonated with me. So with hungry, there’s tons of questions that the book actually offers. You don’t even have to buy the book. You can google The Ideal Team Player interview questions and you’ll get a list of really good questions, and it really tries to suss out, “How do you make sure that this person that’s joining your company is hungry for impact?” [inaudible 00:09:20] very much driven. We really want to impact the quality of healthcare all over the world so we need to make sure that people are hungry for that impact. The humble component is self-explanatory. People that are low ego and humble are incredibly important. Actually, if you’re having someone work for healthcare, you need to make sure that patients are suffering through things that you may not totally understand, and humility to emphasize with that and build the right products for them.

Nupur Srivastava: And then smart is actually interesting. It’s not the IQ smart, but it’s people smart, so there’s a base level assumption that obviously, you’ll be able to do the job, but it’s incredibly important that you do it in a way that brings people along, that makes you a teammate that people actually want to work for, and it’s one of the best interview set of questions, and I use them time and again, and it’s a long list. Really interesting questions. One of the things that I’ve been using in my recent interview is simply asking everyone, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever worked on in your life? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” And it gives you a sense of their work ethic and what they consider hard. Sometimes they even answer on personal questions, and it just gives you a good window into who this person is, and whether it’s a person that you want on your team.

Gretchen DeKnikker: All right. Good suggestions. I know that there are people who are writing down the name of that right now, so thank you for that.

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay, Colleen. Deep breath. Now let’s go down that path and relive your worst hire.

Colleen Bashar: So saying this out loud actually sounds awful, but it was giving someone a second chance. That was a very big mistake and I can explain that, so a lot of the roles that I hire for require a presentation, so they go through multiple regular full interviews, and we love them, we think they’re going to be great, and then they come in for their presentation, and the presentation was a disaster. And so my gut feeling is this person isn’t going to work. They have to present for a living. We should just cut them, but there’s something there. They’ve shown a personal side and I have this feeling. Let’s just give them one more chance and give them a redo, the opportunity to completely redo it. I’ve actually made this decision three times. I did not learn the first time and every time I make it, we end up hiring the person, and within six months, it’s super clear that they’re just not a fit, so you really have to trust your gut. I think that’s the biggest thing that I do with hiring is trust your gut.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, good. I would say if they’re five minutes late for the interview, I’m not going to interview. This is your best day and it seems really harsh, but if you can’t be on time for this, if you couldn’t plan for this, you can’t. You’re not going to be able to exist in this super high-paced intense world. If you can’t plan that far in advance, you should be at the coffee shop a half an hour early down the street just to make sure that you’re not like whatever. So what do you do now? Obviously, not giving the second chances, but what is it that you feel in your gut that you ignore now or you know it’s the wrong feeling?

Colleen Bashar: Really, now within the first five minutes I can make a determination if this is going to work or not. Personality is a really important aspect of it because values at Guidewire are extremely important, and you have to be a specific individual to make it work, to fit in and know that you’re going to thrive in this type of environment, so it’s actually pretty quick now that we can filter in and out. The unfortunate part is I can’t do that until we’re face-to-face, and so a lot of times, we go through a lot of phone interviews where everything seems great, and then the face-to-face is the deciding factor.

Gretchen DeKnikker: All right. All right. Last confessional coming up with Citlalli.

Citlalli Solano: So I think in addition to that, something very, very important for me, and I made that mistake a couple times a few years ago, is setting very clear expectations. Of course when as people are coming, they’re motivated, they’re excited generally because you get some surprises sometimes. But in general, they wanted the job. They’re like, “Yeah.” You ask them all these questions and they’re like, “Yeah, I want to do it. This sounds great.” But also when people come in, and of course, life is not perfect. We have inefficiencies in engineering. Sometimes you don’t have the documentation you would want or you have processes but they’re not perfect, and then you get the victim. You get people, “Oh, I cannot do my job because this or because that.” And yes, it’s true. They have a point where obviously things are not perfect and that’s] why we’re hiring people to help us together build this, but then when people go into that victim mode over and over, there’s really nothing. It’s just a sink hole that you keep … okay, what do you need? How can I help? How can I enable you? How anything? So those have been, I would say my worst hires, and the lesson I learned in the interview, just paint a very realistic picture.

Citlalli Solano: “I think you’re a great fit. I really want you to work for us, but you’re going to face this, this, this, and that,” and even in the questions ask them, “How have you dealt with this type of situation?” So, “Tell me the worst mistake you’ve made and how you came out of it.” And you can tell when people have done it and when people also, that reflects their own transparency. So one of my values that are very much in sync with our values here is transparency, so as a leader, I would rather know the good, the bad, and the ugly because then I can do something about it. If somebody is just pretending, “Oh, everything’s fine. It’s okay.” And then there’s a lot of stuff happening underneath. That’s a big problem for me and outside that-

Gretchen DeKnikker: Are there questions where you feel like, “Oh, when I ask this, I can kind of get to it?” Because I think you can ask these direct questions, but there are other ways that you probably have of getting to that.

Citlalli Solano: It’s a lot. Also, I think as Colleen was mentioning and you were mentioning, the interview, one piece is the content, like the question and answer, but a lot of it is on how people behave. You can tell when somebody is kind of making up something. You can tell when it comes from reality versus this very happy story that I’m telling. Also, the way they reply even if they’re late to the interview, or as you are messaging back and forth with your recruiting team, some people get back to you really quick. That shows how motivated they are. Some people are like … or lots of excuses sometimes. Of course, we’re all humans and maybe you have emergencies, but if this keeps happening, and happening, and oh, interview reschedule, and oh, this that. I have seen generally that reflects … I have hired people with all these and they come here and then same story.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right, yeah. Yeah. This is the best impression you’re ever going to make on me, and here’s how we started off and I can only kind of expect it to go downhill from there. Yeah, for sure. Okay. So now that we’ve all bared our souls, we can talk about some more fun stuff. So the other end of the spectrum is you get these top performers and then how do you retain them? Have you lost one? What did you learn from that? Balancing all of those things. So, Colleen, advice there for everybody?

Colleen Bashar: Sure. I think the most important thing you can do with a high performer or with anyone, for that matter is to individualize your relationship, figure out what it is that motivates them, that makes them tick. It doesn’t have to necessarily be something professional. It could be recognition. It could be praise. It could be individual one-on-one attention or it could be a small gift. And if you focus your area on providing individual attention, for instance, because you think you’re doing the right thing, making them feel special, they might not care about that, and really all they want is a little plaque on their desk that says Guidewire. And you have to be able to adapt to that and make sure that you’re providing each individual person with a different level of attention.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And then when you do have a top performer on your team, how do you keep that going? I had someone really early in my career and I was just shocked when she left, and really had to spend a bunch of time sort of figuring out what I could’ve done differently, and really having honest conversations with her about what would’ve needed to change so that she wouldn’t have left. Do you have advice on how you keep those people, particularly on your team while obviously caring about their career advancement too?

Colleen Bashar: Right. So I think everybody has career aspirations and sometimes they’re hesitant to tell you what they are because they may not be on your team. It may be an aspiration outside in a different organization, and creating an environment where people can feel comfortable being vulnerable and telling you that can change the game because now they feel like there’s a special relationship between them and their manager where they can be honest upfront, and their manager can help them develop skills that will get them to that next step, and in that skill development, they might find that the relationship they have with their manager has made them grow so much that they no longer want to leave the organization. They want to stay within. But it was the willingness to have that conversation of, “I don’t care if you want to go to a different org within Guidewire. Please let’s just talk about what makes you challenged, and happy, and inspired.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, great. So, Nupur. Advice there?

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah. So this may be slightly controversial, but as painful as it is, top performers will leave you at some point, and the thing that I try and do with all members of my team, definitely the top performers included, is develop a close … similar to what Colleen was saying, develop a close relationship with them and truly understand where they want to go long term. Just that when the opportunity arises and you know that there is something else that is drawing them away from you, you’re at least doing it in a way that doesn’t surprise you. So a recent example, I actually just last week had somebody leave the company and she and I had worked together for four years, and she was definitely an extremely high performer, but she gave me a four month warning because we were actively talking about where she wants to go and what drives her.

Nupur Srivastava: And one of the reasons she wanted to leave is she joined this company when were were like 50 people. We are 500 now and she’s just ready to try something different. I think that the most important thing is to have that level of trust with a lot of your team such that you understand what their career goals are and you’re together making the decision on when it is the right time for them to leave so that you’re not surprised and you can prepare for their departure in a way that is not disruptive. So they are going to leave you, and it’s painful, and all of us have been through that, and it’s like a punch in the gut that it’s so painful, but I think the least we can do is just not be surprised by the decision. And almost, at some point, maybe for the sake of their career, you want them to leave because you know where they’re trying to go, and you do believe that they’re at a place that they should just opt to go elsewhere. And as long as you’re doing it in a joint manner, and there’s trust and transparency, and openness in the conversation, it’s not the end of the world.

Nupur Srivastava: I think what’s hard is when you’re surprised. That’s the worst. And [crosstalk 00:22:04]-

Gretchen DeKnikker: You’re like, “I’m not going to cry right now. I am so not going to cry right now.”

Nupur Srivastava: Or you just cry. That’s okay.

Gretchen DeKnikker: That’s okay. I’m not going to make you feel bad. I’m going to go in the bathroom and cry.

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah. Yeah, or go home and cry and drink for several hours, not that that happened to me, but-

Gretchen DeKnikker: No, never.

Nupur Srivastava: No, never. Exactly. But I think my general philosophy is everyone has different goals in life and the most we can do is try and do your best to not be surprised, and if anything to help influence what they do next.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, absolutely. All right, Citlalli.

Citlalli Solano: So I think a lot of it, it’s … and that’s the main thing. So it’s a matter of fit, so in the end we’re all human. We have a journey. We’re going even in our own careers. We have left a team. We have joined a new team. We have grown and we have outgrown in a sense. So try to not be surprised but also kind of be prepared for the worst. It’s not that you’re going to be super worried all the time, and, “Oh, my God. What if they’re interviewing? What if they’re trying to leave?” Just organize your teams and give this advice to your own managers. Have the processes. Have the succession plan. Make sure nobody … if somebody gets sick, let alone if they leave the company or your team, if somebody is sick and they are out for a week, make sure you can still operate. Make sure that you can still make progress, and it’s just a matter of when people are going to leave. And again, I love my team and I don’t want anybody to leave, but it’s just part of life. Eventually us, we are going to move on to the next and we are good team players. We better set the plate for the people that are coming, the new blood, the new ideas.

Citlalli Solano: So I think that’s my approach. Now, kind of shifting it a little bit, on keeping people happy, I have a thing for justice and equality, so whenever … in a team you always have your top performers, kind of like the general, and kind of people that are struggling. So for me it’s kind of a big deal to make sure not only you’re rewarding appropriately, but make sure people are at least holding theirselves and they’re pulling their weight, because it’s also a drag for and very frustrating. I have been an engineer myself and I used to get very frustrated, like, “Oh, my God. I’m working so hard. I’m producing all these results and somebody’s just not quite doing that,” so that’s why turning it back to the previous question, I think it’s important for the team, and for the morale, and for the efficiency of everybody to make sure you are not staying with people that don’t fit in for too long, and don’t fit in not because of any personality or anything. Just for the culture, for the type of work, for the skillset, for the attitude, and it’s even better for them as well.

Citlalli Solano: So you’re setting everybody for success. You’re setting everybody to grow and to even prepare them for the next. Hopefully, within your company, but even if it’s not within your company, I get very satisfied when I see people grow. I hire somebody out of school and I see how they’re growing, and yeah, eventually they will leave my team and go somewhere else, but I have that fulfillment that, oh, my God, I contributed a little bit to that.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, no, I love it. I always call them my babies, but then I’m like, “But I’m not your mom.” So the analogy only goes so far. Okay. We should do Q&A in a second. I did want to talk a little bit about leadership style, and something we’re going to touch on in the next set of sessions also on … there’s a lot of hiring for diversity and sort of talking about that, but also once we get people with at least some level of cognitive diversity, ideally some racial, gender, and other diversity as well. But how do you, as a manger help create that environment where these people who might be the only in the room feel a sense of belonging. Sorry. Colleen.

Colleen Bashar: Sure. So first of all, before you even get into that room, I think in general with your entire organization, you have to talk about it. It can’t be something that people talk about in the hall. It has to be very open and very public. We held a gender diversity column in my specific team, and it was amazing to hear the stories that people were sharing from their past, and how just bringing visibility into our organization about this. People started to act and to think differently. But I think one thing you can do is try to learn about that individual. So something that I appreciated from my manager was that they really understood different personality, and gender, and racial differences, introvert versus extrovert, visual learner versus thinker, man versus woman, and really adapting that to a meeting and making sure that everybody has a fair voice, I think is incredibly important and it makes the meeting so much more beneficial and productive.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right. Right. Citlalli.

Citlalli Solano: So I agree with Colleen. It doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room. It has to be something that we all talk about. Fortunately, nowadays it’s become more common. It’s part of the conversation. Make sure not only diversity, but inclusion for everybody because in the end, we’re all different. We all have … even we may be the same gender or the same country of origin, or whatever, but we’re also very unique, and it’s a matter of setting that tone, and keep talking about it, and even when you’re in meetings, not necessarily force, but kind of facilitate because it’s not only about … you have to talk to both parties. So perhaps, one person doesn’t talk too much and in your one-on-ones you can say, “Hey, by the way, maybe I can help with this.” Some people also don’t like talking and then I think you should not force them to talk. Maybe different channels of communication, but also on the audience, because if people are too used to your same profile, your same ideas, everything is just cookie cutter, then we’re just … it gets boring even. So it’s more on preparing and keep saying this, and explaining it because right now it’s also inclusion and diversity is the thing, so everybody’s like, “Oh, yeah, I’m a woman.” But that’s not what it means.

Citlalli Solano: It means be open to all ideas from everywhere. Let’s say for us, if we are a security company, hire people and take input from people from totally different company. Sure they have fresh eyes so it’s more on the setting the tone, day-to-day, and modeling with your own. So if somebody comes and gives you feedback, don’t shut it down, but take it into consideration. Encourage feedback and just be humble, and say [inaudible 00:29:37]. “Oh, I was doing this but somebody gave me this idea. Why don’t we try it?” And if we fail, also be humble and say, “Okay, it didn’t work out. Let’s try it a different way.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. Nupur?

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah, so maybe I’ll share something tactical that has been really interesting. So one of my biggest learnings as a leader over the years has been … this is going to sound really silly, but outside of the diversity based on race and gender and what have you, there’s tons of diversity in personality types and the way people are, and the way people like to do work, so we’ve tried to use different frameworks, so the team recently … our head of data science made a bunch of us do this StrengthsFinder gallup. Each of us did this questionnaire and we identified as different types of people. Like are we activators? Are we deep thinkers and what have you? She put us in different groups of people that are alike and we all just discussed things that we may want to teach other groups that have types that are opposing to us or different than us. And it’s really interesting, whether you use StrengthsFinder. Another thing that we’ve used is DiSC. It’s super interesting, like we put the entire product team on a DiSC and what it gives you empathy for is how different people want to show up, different people want to debate ideas. Not everybody is comfortable being presented a problem and immediately jumping in and giving their thoughts.

Nupur Srivastava: Some people want to think about it, spend a day, come in with their thoughts prepared, and I think for me, the first step is just awareness. Where do people fall either in the DiSC profile or with StrengthsFinder? What do I need to be aware of as their leader or their leaders need to be aware of so that you’re creating a comfortable environment and creating a space for them to actually speak up. I can remember the first realization I had when I was like, “Oh, everybody doesn’t like coming in a room and talking loudly about their ideas? That’s interesting. I thought everyone was exactly like me,” and that’s obviously not the case. And there was actually someone on the team who gave me feedback on, “Why don’t we do a silent brainstorm? Why don’t you give us papers and put the questions and we would be better to write them down, and then take turns speaking up?” And so diversity comes in many ways. Obviously, the most obvious ones that we talk a lot about are gender, race, sexual orientation, and what have you, but I think the biggest learning I’ve had [inaudible 00:32:08] is creating the environment to welcome diversity, whether you call it personality, or the way we engage, or the way we do work.

Nupur Srivastava: I think using some of these frameworks has been incredibly important because it not only helps you understand and put a cross check around someone, but it also helps you realize how your type may be showing up for that person and what things you may need to temper, especially as a leader, because you’re setting up the tone for the team and that’s been quite interesting.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. You’re making me think I want to recommend one more called the Basadur profile. It’s B-A-S-A-D-U-R, and it puts you in four quadrants of your problem-solving style, which I find especially when you’re working in teams, it was incredibly useful. And also to think about the quadrant that I’m in, there are these people that scare me because they just take something and they do it, and it doesn’t seem like they stop and think about it, and then I guess I appear to stop and hesitate too much. And so you freak each other out and it was really good to know that because suddenly, you feel like, “Oh, okay. Maybe their style isn’t totally ridiculous,” but I think-

Nupur Srivastava: Well, I would definitely be someone you would be freaked out by, but the realization [inaudible 00:33:24], oh, my God. I will be freaking out members of my team so I need to make sure … I literally have someone on the team that’s a polar opposite to me in the DiSC profile, and I will literally run ideas by him and make sure that he can beat it down before I take it to the team because I’m … learned that I’m just hyper-excited and trying to tell everybody everything.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, yeah. And I like that it’s also not like a … and it sounds like that one is also that they’re not personality profiles because I feel like that’s interesting for learning, but I think when you think about how people’s styles of problem solving in a team, I think is more important than …

Nupur Srivastava: 100%

Gretchen DeKnikker: … whether or not I’m an introvert.

Nupur Srivastava: Yeah, 100%. You’re absolutely right. Yeah, it’s less personality. I think it’s more of working styles, or team interaction models and what have you.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay, well we have a ton of questions that we just have a few minutes, so let’s see. Well, the most popular, I will ask is, how to get to a management role when you have all the requirements except for previous management experience. So do one of you want to take that?

Nupur Srivastava: I can try, yes.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay.

Nupur Srivastava: So I think it’s a tough question because it depends on the situation you’re in, but I think the most important thing is to make your manager aware that you want to be a manager, and work with your manager, to the point you were making earlier, to make your goals explicit, and the best way to be, if there’s someone that wants to be a manager, you need to make sure that there’s an opportunity and a business need, and an opening in the company for a manager. And the manager knows that that’s something that you want to do. I would have open conversations and realize and just make sure that you have the skills, or you have the training, or you have the support of your manager. And the biggest thing is raising your hand, making it clear that that’s the path you want to go, and then hopefully if you have a good manager, they’ll make that opportunity for you. Yeah.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Citlalli, I’ll do this one for you. What do you suggest interviewers do when they’re experiencing the worst interview? The interviewer doesn’t listen and ask the right questions, or comes unprepared. So the flip side of our earlier discussion.

Citlalli Solano: From a interviewee point of view?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah.

Citlalli Solano: Like were they prepared? Doesn’t do anything. Yeah, there have been those as well, but I think that also gives you the opportunity to shine because generally the interview panels are made of people that are in the company and potentially even in the team that you are going to join. So even though, yes, it’s true. Sometimes people are busy. They don’t do their homework. They don’t even read your resume. They may not pay attention to you, but that’s also … I’m not a fan. I know I have heard some people or teams do that. I don’t play games, but let’s say I’m interviewing for a position and I’m being ignored, or I have the worst interviewer. Then look at the positive way. Okay. What value can I provide? Try, but again, if that’s the culture of the company that you are going to join, if it’s not only one interviewer, but the panel, you’re getting that vibe, then it’s probably not a good fit for what you are looking for. Of course I would continue. I wouldn’t leave, storm out of the room, get frustrated, or anything. But again, that also gives the opportunity to evaluate the company.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, as an interviewee, you are interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you, and to not forget that power of, if this is how I’m being treated here, it’s the same as if they’re late for the interview, how important are you to them? It’s all kind of all in this evaluation. Okay. So we have time for one more. We’ll do it for Colleen. When you realize post-hire that someone isn’t the right fit for the team, how do you prepare them for the reality that they may need to be looking for a new position?

Colleen Bashar: I think the best thing that you can do is to set really clear expectations on the role that have very specific milestones that they will be measured against, and what that does is allow their manager to have very open, transparent conversations with them about how they are doing at the role, how they are fitting into the company so that it almost seems like it’s a joint decision that this person really isn’t a good fit for the role. I think that’s the most kind way to point things out instead of just all of a sudden surprising them one day and saying, “This isn’t working.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, I think that should never be a surprise conversation. When you get to that final conversation, if you don’t both know in advance what the conversation’s about, then you, as a manager really failed that person, to give them sort of, “These are the things that you need. Here’s the checkpoints that we’re going to have,” and to sort of .. you never feel good about getting rid of someone either, and so also making sure that you’ve minimized your guilt and thought through all of the ways that you could save this or change it in some way, and make sure that you feel like it’s the best decision also, I think.

Colleen Bashar: Yeah.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. Okay, ladies. This has been amazing. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Colleen Bashar: Thank you.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So we are going to take a short little break, but before that, we offered to give away socks, which there should be a pair here, yes, somewhere. Girl Geek socks. They’re so cute. Can you see them? Okay, so we’re just going to … whoever is attending live, we are just going to pick a name, any name, if I can get the Q&A out. Okay, so I’m going to spin. I’m going to close my eyes. I’m going to stop and I stopped on Susan … Susan with a really cool last name. And she is … I’m going to chat you right now and you will get these socks, and so stay tuned throughout the day, and we will keep giving away socks, and we’ll be back, I think at 11:20. So see you in a few, everybody. Thanks, again.

Colleen Bashar: Thanks.

Nupur Srivastava: All right. Bye.

Citlalli Solano: Bye.