25. Operator Roles

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/25. Operator Roles

25. Operator Roles


Earlier this week I was transitioning out a role that I’ve had for some time and got the opportunity to hear how my team members felt about me. The team member that replaced my day-to-day duties had some particularly insightful things to say about the role and what she found when transitioning into it. It got me thinking about the various roles that operators have to play within their team, often within the same day.

These are all critical to leading and inspiring your team into action so I wanted to unpack these various roles in today’s episode.

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So a little bit more serious episode, as we get into some various things that have been top of mind lately, definitely more serious than yesterday, if you didn't hear yesterday's episode is really all about setting up your workspace and some of the various things that I like to have around me in close proximity and how I've actually set myself up for success with my workspace and the various ways that you can do that as well. Especially if you're finding yourself like this is going to be a profession for you, you're working remotely. And this is going to be full time. If it's gonna be a long term thing, like you're going to love setting yourself up for success in that right. So if you didn't hear that episode, and you are in that position, go back one episode, check that out. And I'm happy to I do owe you some pictures to put on the site. of the things I do have in my workspace that definitely helped me out here. So earlier this week, I was transitioning out of a role that I've had for some time role that I helped create, as the, like the really full time operator within the main company I've been working for.

And I transitioned out of that day to day role to pursue some other interests. That being said, I still have a vested interest in that company. It's just at a different role now. But as part of my leaving the full time capacity, we definitely had like a farewell. And it was quite emotional zoom call. But one thing I really got out of it was I got to hear from my teammates, members mouths, like the various ways that I had impacted their lives and their work lives. And it got me really thinking about how each of them was very distinctively different. Some some are similar, but each one had their own little flavor. And there were different areas of support that I provided. That met them all in a different way. So everyone had their own experience, everyone had their own area where they went out and you made such a difference because of X, Y or Z, they were all distinctively different from one another and got me really thinking about the fact that like, you have to put on different hats at times, that's part of the role as an operator, you are yes, you're in charge of keeping the trains running on time, keeping the company running even keeled. But you're also in the people business. You know, you have people and personalities that you're working with, that you're helping facilitate their work.

And so like that comes with, you have to approach people in different ways, you have to sometimes put on a different face put on a different way of approaching things, you can't always approach things like a stone cold operator, which I'll get into what that means in a second. Yeah, it really inspired me to think about these various roles that I've played. And some things that have helped me to play those roles to be the person that my team or my team member needs me to be in that moment. So I just want to unpack a couple of the different roles that an operator will have. The first is the bread and butter. That's where you'll spend most of your time and I just call this stone cold operator. You know, what is the stone cold operator, I mean, it's the guy who gets stuff done, guy or gal that gets stuff done, you are in charge of the company are in charge of keeping things running on time making sure things run smoothly, and you need to do that job and not get flustered. Never, especially Never let your team see that you're getting flustered. You need to keep things even unsteady. One team member said it was it's like there was always waves going on under the surface. We knew there were but you kept them a bit at bay. You handled the waves, you handle the turbulence.

And let us stay up here in our zone of genius while you took care of the turbulence. That was really interesting to hear it that way. Because there are it gets messy. You know running a company running people running complex projects gets messy. Are you able to get your stuff done to provide that even keel that even platform for your team members to thrive in? That's your job to do your job provide that framework that they can work from and be able to then have success. And the weird thing about it is It's like it's one of those. It's a thankless job in so many ways. Because if you're doing it right, no one even knows it's getting done. They just recognize, oh, Adams been busy, what has he been doing? I don't know. But everything's running great over here, that means you've done your job perfectly, you've taken care of things, and gotten things organized and in the right place, so they can do their best work, and their best job, and keep things moving forward in that capacity. And it's definitely something like you don't need cheerleading or an attaboy, that you successfully did your job, you just do it, and you'll get that done for the self satisfaction of knowing that, that's my job, that's what I do. It definitely does require you to be super organized, able to see the forest for the trees.

If you're working on a big project, you know, all of the little details that have to go into that you don't rely, it's really not your team members responsibilities to remember all of that, that's your job. And, yeah, just keep that coal in the oven, you got to fire up that train, keep everyone moving forward, together. And a big way to do that is as the so called operator, you know, main project manager working on those all under the under the hood tasks that just keep the company churning forward. So your team members do not have to worry about that everything is already there for them. The second one is emotional support. So a friend of mine said that, you know, an entrepreneur is the motivational leader on a team. But the operator is the emotional leader. So how does that sit with you, like you are the emotional leader, people will come to you. Because your team is full of people, you're in the people business, your team will look for you for support, they're gonna come you first with all of this stuff that gets built up, not just work related stuff, but you're gonna hear about personal stuff that you're like, Dude, why are you telling me about this stuff, because they had to tell somebody, they had to tell somebody, especially if you're remote, we don't have the same structures that a office will have where you can go gossip in the coffee room.

Or go out to lunch with someone and have that moment away, your team is going to come to you. And they're going to expect that outlet and expect for you to be an active listener. And that's really the trick I've learned on this is. So often, when people come to you, with their stuff that they just want to gripe about, they're not actually looking for a solution. They're just looking for someone to listen. Someone who can be on the other end of that conversation, just so they know, they were able to get their emotions out to get this out of their mouth, and someone was listening to them. So do take notes and let them know you're actively listening, you are taking notes, it's not something you're always going to be able to solve on the spot. And you shouldn't put yourself up to that pressure to try to solve everything on the spot. But just to be an active listener, take notes. And let them know what they want next. It's often as simple as that. Your team is human, they know you're human as well, they're not going to expect you to be Superman, if you go trying to solve all their problems for them. Like it doesn't turn out. Well. I've made that mistake once where I tried to solve a problem actually, within a team called did not turn out. Well. It was super awkward.

And I realized at the end of it, what did my team member really need to do? She just needed to express herself and know that someone was listening. So really, just everything will be determined by your reaction in that moment when a team member is in distress. How will you react? I would encourage silence and just listening. That's my number one tip. Just listen. And if they asked you to solve it, you know I can try to punt that and say let me take let me think about this. Let me meet with the CEO or meet with so and so maybe their line supervisor, whatever. Don't you don't always have to solve it on the spot. Don't give yourself that pressure. Instead just listen. Okay. So that's really the best thing you can do as far as emotional support goes, Listen, take notes, circle back to it in leadership meetings or in other meetings and try to solve it at that front. But just be that listener when their team member is in distress. Okay, despite the fact that the CEO is the motivational leader often that does fall to you as well. So that's really the third one you do have some motivational leadership to do as an operator. Man, you

gotta get team fired up, you know, when you're moving through big projects or your Getting ready for a major promotion. My team always knows when it's coming to Black Friday because I'm like a giddy schoolgirl, I love Black Friday, it's my favorite time of the year, because I get a nonstop endorphin rush, rush from sales to be perfectly honest sales pumped me up. And so Black Friday is like that nonstop, never ending endorphin drip, or it's just continuous sale, sale sale sale sale, you know, you're getting them several times, you know, sometimes several times a minute, if you're doing it right. So motivating your team and letting them know, yeah, this is gonna kind of suck but look how excited I am. Just seeing that excitement on your face will go a long way. Because they do appreciate that they will look to you to inspire them through the various tasks that need completed. And that's just a simple fact of the matter. Your CEO can definitely help out with this.

But because you're there emotional support sometimes coming from you can often be even more significant. So sharing in that enthusiasm, and that motivation is a huge factor. Really the final thing is in counselor, now you are a counselor to your team members. What are we looking for when we hire team members? Are we looking for us? I mean, there are various types, of course, you know, sometimes we're just hiring that VA that we don't ever expect or really want to progress. We just need them to do those tasks for us get those tasks off of our desk. But for a team member that you're looking to ascend, I recently ran through this with two different team members where I hired them with the deliberate intention of Yep, you're going to start and you're going to start at these, you know, skill level one task, and I'm going to quickly ascend you into higher level stuff that I'm trying to get off my desk. So you're you're definitely part of that you're part of their career advancement, helping team members continue to grow, giving them training different books, I bought a number of books for team member just had them sent to their house said, Hey, read this book, or, Hey, I got this training series in my Dropbox, let me share it with you. So providing that is a huge factor to what you're doing. And anything you can do to help continue their progression to help answer those questions. So they continue to grow with the company. And you're doing that long term retention of your team members and helping them move up as well. Because that's how we all started, right?

No one starts as an operator, we always started at somewhere else, and found ourselves in a more advanced position, at least I don't think anyone starts as an operator, we all got in the online game. At some point I my first online job was at Facebook posting, it was literally you could have paid someone in the Philippines five bucks an hour. And I didn't get much more than that. But it was my way in. So yeah, reciprocate, do that now to your team members help them grow. And with that, as counselors, sometimes you have to do conflict resolution, it's inevitable inside a company where someone's going to think something, someone should be doing something or someone's gonna have a problem with someone, I don't like it either. I'm really not good on conflict resolution, where I just want to tell them all to shut up and just get on with it. But again, sometimes being that active listener can can definitely take you a long way, there are various things you can do from the project management side, oftentimes, conflicts, especially on remote teams are less interpersonal, more professional. So if it's someone not accomplishing their job, or someone being late or behind, that's something that you can solve from the project manager perspective as the operator. So the conflict resolution is certainly part of it and making sure that everyone feels supported, and they can come to you when they do have conflicts.

Alright, that's kind of a quick run through of like four of the areas where I've note, you know, different personalities, different leadership attributes that I've had to bring to the team. Like I said, let's review. It's number one, bread and butter is to be that stone cold operator, just get stuff done. Number two, provide emotional support to your team, especially through the skill of active listening. Being a motivational leader getting your team fired up for when those big moments or big projects come around. And yet career counselor, I mean you are helping people in their career helping them to advance. So seeing opportunities for them, ways they can up their game and move into higher levels in the company. That's if you're their front suit, first line manager, you're their supervisor, like that's part of the job. And so accepting all these things for what they are. We're all going to have our strengths for sure. But these are all the things that I've noticed I've had to use in my time as an operator running a a large organization.

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