"The single biggest predictor of management success is the score your direct reports give you when you ask them: how much do you trust your boss? If you get a high trust score, you're going to be fine. If you get a low trust score, you're gonna have to work really hard to even keep your head above water."

In this episode

In episode 49, Mark Horstman shares how to become a trustworthy manager.

Mark Horstman is the Co-founder and Host of Manager Tools, a podcast with more than 1500 episodes.

With an impressive career history, Mark has been an Army officer, a sales and marketing executive at Procter and Gamble and has delivered his training in The White House.

In this episode, Mark emphasizes the importance of being trustworthy as a manager… and how trust is measured by the quantity and the quality of your communication. 

Mark also shares why new positions should be hard to fill and having more one-on-ones will result in less management and more time in your calendars. 

Tune in to hear all about Mark’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Podcasting before it was cool


It’s about relationships, not tools


Can you be friends with your direct reports?


Career advice on the internet


Power versus authority, and trust


Leadership is fuzzy, management is specific


Teaching one-on-ones in The White House


Management is a set of behaviours


Hire with the bar set high


You don’t always need to hire


18 years and no resignations


It’s about people and it’s about love



Aydin Mirzaee (  01:34

Mark, welcome to the show. 

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   02:55

Hi Aydin, Thanks!

Aydin Mirzaee  (  02:56

It’s a great pleasure to have you on. I think like anybody who has cared to learn anything about management in the last two decades has come across Manager Tools. It’s almost impossible not to.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   03:09

I hope so.

Aydin Mirzaee  (  03:10

When did you first start Manager Tools? What was the story behind it?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   03:14

Yeah. So my business partner and I went to school together at the academy, we served together in the army, had talked about doing something in management leadership, because we saw a wide range of managers and leaders in the army. In fact, my best boss was in the army. I built a management consulting firm, he was a client of mine, very successful, and sold it to the employees. I kind of retired 18 years ago, which is probably too early, Mike and I were talking about doing something and he was still working. And we were trying various ways to provide knowledge about management to people and nothing was really working. We weren’t really worried about it. And then for Christmas in 2004, his wife got him an iPod. And he started researching iPods back then it wasn’t all music all the time. 

Aydin Mirzaee  (  04:03

And so this was before Apple podcasts was even a thing. Wow.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   04:08

He thought that, you know, he learned about the single podcasting. And he called me one day and said, I know we’re going to do I said great what he said. We’re going to start a podcast and I said, Okay, and then about a second later, I said, What’s  a podcast?” And the story continues in January of that he then created like a 12 page, Microsoft Project Plan, with all the things we had to do like six months worth of work and testing and retesting and all this sort of stuff. And I was like, that was all the technical stuff as opposed to the actual preparation of knowledge to the management descript the guidance, and so on. So in January of late that year, I was flying in to serve a client that had kept me on the hook and he said, Hey, did you get my email? Yes. Did you read the plan? No, it’s too long. It was probably my first case of TLDR. He said we’ll want to look at it. So I looked at it. I said, it’s too much. I said, I said, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re not going to go through that whole long plan. We’re going down to Best Buy this weekend, we’re going to buy a USB microphone, we’re going to plug it into the side of your laptop, and we’re going to talk into it like we would talk on the show we’re talking about doing, and we’re going to see whether or not it works and he said oh okay. And we did. And it worked. Immediately. He asked me some questions, I’ve managed to just float back and forth. Super easy. We still have that tape. And, and, and that was it. And our first podcast then launched in June of 2005. And it dropped the day before Apple announced support for podcasts. 

Aydin Mirzaee  (  05:48

Oh,you’re kidding. That’s crazy.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   05:49

We had no idea that was coming. It turns out that, you know, there are a lot of folks in Apple in the iTunes world that love our stuff. And so we got pride of place for a long time. on iTunes, you know, a big, big part of our successes. Right Place right time. Yeah,

Aydin Mirzaee  (  06:08

Yeah, that’s amazing. So how many episodes? Have you recorded for manager tools?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   06:13

I think 1500 

Aydin Mirzaee  (  06:16

Yeah, that’s insane. What a crazy high number. That’s so cool.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   06:21

And you know, it doesn’t seem like it once you get into the rhythm of doing it every week, it just doesn’t seem like that many. And I have, I have a list of podcasts, right? I have over 2500 podcasts yet to write for the show.

Aydin Mirzaee  (  06:32

Yeah, I have no idea how you come up with so much content. It’s, it’s just astonishing.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   06:38

I spent 20 years consulting, in teaching management, watching managers developing data on managers of a huge pile of data on close to a million managers all over the world. And, you know, despite the fact that people believe Millennials are different, they’re not, people who haven’t changed in 10,000 years. And management hasn’t changed that much. Yes, the tools have changed. And everybody talks about how fast the world’s getting, but the world’s been getting faster for years and years and years. It’s always gonna keep getting faster. You know, one of the questions you’re gonna ask me is, does the pandemic change anything, doesn’t change a thing, people are people and, and managing is about people, which is, which is funny, because I’m not naturally a people person. I’m an engineer, Mike’s an engineer. That’s why we have so much data. And when people say to me, Well, I’ve got this tool, and this tool, and this tool, and this tool is that you’re missing the point. It’s not about your tools. It’s about your relationship with your people. The single biggest predictor of management success is the score your direct reports give you. When you ask the directs how much do you trust your boss, if you get a high trust score, you’re going to be fine. If you get a low trust score, you’re gonna have to work really hard to even keep your head above water.

Aydin Mirzaee  (  07:48

That is really interesting. It’s not like a quick, you know, one liner answer. But what do people do to get more trust from their team?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   07:56

First of all, it’s safe to say that a good portion of managers don’t know that. Or even if they’ve heard it, they don’t believe it, because their behavior is around power for more and more people. It’s not trust, it’s about friendship. And trust is, the reason I say trust is because that’s the measure of Management Science uses. In fact, trust is a great way to measure the strength of a relationship. It’s the accepted way in the professional world. But there are other people who say, yeah, you know, you need to know your people. And so they say, Well, I’m going to be friends with them. And that’s absolutely the kiss of death. We have an entire podcast titled, Can I Be Friends with my Directs? And the first word of the podcast is no. And people argue with us about this all the time. And they have their anecdotes, and we have our pile of data. The reason why is friendship has a role in human life. And roles come with privileges. And there are certain privileges that are associated with friendship, which are reasonably normal and appropriate, that are antithetical to the responsibilities we have as managers. And so you can’t be friends. And so therefore, you have to build another way, you have to figure out another way to build trust. And the answer is really easy. I didn’t come up with it. Sociologists, and psychologists will tell you all you have to do to build trust with other people, how other people judge their relationship with you is based on two simple things, the quantity of your communication with them, and the quality of your communication with them. And people judge the quality of your communication with them by whether or not your communication with them is of interest in value to them. And the problem is some managers say, Well, I talk to my people all the time, yes, but you’re talking to your people all the time about things that are important to you, you don’t realize the extent to which you’re dominating the conversation. And so that’s why we came up with one on ones or at least our version of one on one and that’s why the direct always goes first and one on ones because if you don’t give directs a space to come and talk to you about anything, as I like to say it could be about puppies and rainbows. It never is, but it could be if you leave it unscripted. If you do that it starts to begin to feel like okay, I’m not I’m not completely beneath you, there’s a chance for us to build a mutual respect and trust and appreciation for each other. And it works.

Aydin Mirzaee (  10:07

Yeah, that’s super, super interesting. How do people figure out if they have that trust? I mean, can we just ask?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   10:13

You can actually, you’re getting a lot of metric stuff. But the simple answer is, you just wouldn’t want to walk up to your direction, sad trust. Right, we have a saying here that tell your boss the truth, and the truth will set you free. You know, a lot of young people today, it’s not their fault. It’s not because they’re Gen Zers or anything else. It’s because the internet is, you know, the greatest invention in the modern era. And unfortunately, the problem with all human inventions is, it has problems. And one of the problems for knowledge about management, or science or anything else is that the cost of entry, the barrier to entry of publishing on the web is virtually zero. Unfortunately, that means anybody can say anything they want about management. And usually, it’s really, really wrong. We just did a podcast about the internet is dumb about careers, there’s all kinds of really, really bad advice about careers. Like the advice that you’re telling me about yourself interviewing answers should be one minute long, that’s just completely utterly false. I was a recruiter, we’ve placed 1000s of people. It’s not supposed to be four or five minutes long, but it’s easier to say that it’s palatable for the audience. So what happens is, there are a lot of people out there saying various things about management. And, what they say is, you should just ask your people or another one is, is it okay for you to tell your boss when your boss, when you don’t like what your boss is doing? Well, unfortunately, that’s just not true. It is true, theoretically, it is true. If you’re my boss, I want to believe that about you eight, and that’s a good thing. But we don’t live, these are not fantasy tools. This is the real world. This is a mandated tool. And if you tell your boss what you think about him or her, and unfortunately, a lot of people only do it when things aren’t, well, you’re going to burn a lot of their respect. And unfortunately, there are a lot of them, not a big percentage, but relative to the size of humankind, there’s still millions of bosses who are corrupt, and they’ll figure out a way to fire you. But the simple answer about measuring trust is to use one of the many tools that are available now, an anonymous survey, and you must do it two or three times. So I would recommend doing it once a quarter. And you would simply ask a series of three or four questions, nothing fancy pulse surveys, generally what they’re called, I think that’s one of the providers. We don’t use them. But but but I’ve seen them used and I’ve seen their data and it’s quite usable, and easily understandable. And you ask people on a scale of one to 10, how much do you trust your boss? Give the right example, one of the first when we first started measuring trust this was in gosh, 1991. So what was that 30 years ago? We asked him on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you trust your boss. And by the way, we serve 6000 people. And if you were a boss, the manager you had director, we’re filling up your director filling it out on you, and you were also filling it out on your boss, they knew that their score was going to come from their direct, there were people who gave themselves the average among bosses was a seven, which is a really high number on a zero to 10 scale. And the average for directly scoring their bosses was 3.1. Wow. And they were flabbergasted. So then we put a bunch of those managers and a test group through 18 months worth of one on ones. We basically measured them and followed them and so on. And at the end, the average score of trust from the direct was 5.4. An average score from the managers with the managers thought their direction went from seven to 5.1. They’d become humble, they realized they didn’t really know them that well. And our data shows basically, as long as you’re about a five and your direct score is higher than your estimation of their score, you’re going to be fine. Now, if you really want the super high performing bosses, you need to be at the seven level and it’s just not hard. But it takes time there. You know, if I’m going to develop a relationship with Aydin, it takes my time. You can’t. You can’t, there’s no tool. There’s no technology, there’s no I mean, Facebook and tick tock and all this stuff. It’s wonderful. It’s genius, engineering, and it’s wonderfully addictive. But it does not touch the human heart, the human mind, the connection that people feel. And so it just takes time. Now what managers say is I don’t have time and so therefore we have a standing guarantee, which is if you do things our way we guarantee you will get more time back in your calendar if you do one on ones. So half an hour a week for each of your directs. If you’ve got 10 that’s five hours a week and managers rightly say I can’t find five hours in my schedule. We say two things. Look at your calendar five weeks from now. There’s nothing on it. I mean nothing. Everyone’s calendar is a desert unless you’re an executive at five extending the future. This week is impossible, right? We’re all busy. This week, I like to say people aren’t busy, they’re urgent, meaning their calendar fills up, you know, in five to seven days in front of them. So start five weeks from now, that’s a good general rule for any management guidance near you, any change you’re going to make with management, announce it and stay, you’re going to start putting time on the calendar for five weeks from now when you have no competition. And then the second thing is we guarantee that if you start doing one on ones, you will spend less time managing needs before and we have, I have 1000s of emails from people saying you were absolutely right. I thought I didn’t have time so I started doing one on one. And suddenly, the drama, The tension, and the conflict dropped precipitously. When I have a one on one on Thursday, the folks that used to come to me on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday stuff cannot wait until Thursday. And we discussed it in a basket. Now if it’s still urgent, they’ll come and see me. The answer to trust is communication with your directs. And I really don’t care whether you use our one on ones not , I want your directs whom you have power over to feel that they can trust you. Because if I trust the person in power, I tend to feel that they don’t have power so much as they have authority. And power is not necessarily a good thing. But authority I respect authority, right? I don’t always respect the power, particularly if it’s aligned against me, if you can turn that power into authority by spending time with people, the trust scores go up.

Aydin Mirzaee  (  16:20

That’s a very well put way to approach it and couldn’t agree more on the one on ones. [AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey,there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now don’t worry, it’s not a single spaced font, you know, lots of text. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blog to download the definitive guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS]. Mark, you started the conversation by mentioning I guess, in passing, that your best boss was in the Army. And so you know, for you to say your best boss. I’m so curious if you could tell us more about who that is and why you thought they were so great.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)  17:48

Yeah, it’s funny. I don’t say that that often. We’ve told his story. Mike and I, he was Mike and I’s boss a couple of times, but people don’t make a big deal out of it. What’s interesting about it is people assume that me and Mike both learned how to manage in the army. And we learned that the stuff that we share on the podcast in the army, not true, not zero point zero of this stuff comes from the army. West Point didn’t teach us how to manage. It did teach us how to be leaders. But leadership is kind of fuzzy and everybody wants to talk about it because he can’t define it. Management is very specific, very actionable, very measurable. But the army didn’t teach me when I was at Procter and Gamble, I didn’t get taught when I was a recruiter, I didn’t get taught. I really started learning this stuff when I started gathering data from the field. So it is funny that the best boss ever had, in fact, of all the bosses I ever had. I only had one good one, only one. And it was and now look, I was young. And maybe I didn’t know how good they were. But looking back now, no, there was only one good one. And he was so good. Mike and I both talked about the fact that we want the ability to transform people’s lives the way this guy is named Colonel Ed Texera, he’s retired. He’s a Portuguese ancestry. He lives in Hawaii, I think he is the vice chairman of the state emergency defense board or civil response board. He took over a unit that was an artillery unit in Hawaii in 1983, where the previous commander had been relieved because he had failed a major technical tactical evaluation. And the colonel came in and said, This unit is terrible. And I’m going to make you great. And over the next 18 months, I worked as hard as I’ve ever worked in my life. And we went from the best. We went from the worst unit in our division out of say, 50 units to unquestionably no one doubted we were the best unit in the division. And there was talk that we were one of the best units of our type in the army. And it was sheer hard work. I was an adjutant of a personnel officer. I sat right next to him almost all day. He drove everybody incredibly hard. But he was also incredibly honest, he was incredibly clear about what he’s going to do. There were no tricks, he didn’t keep people guessing he wasn’t like this super genius who couldn’t communicate with a regular guy. And he told us what he wanted us to do. And then he asked us to do it and do it again and do it again and do it again. And in the first month or two, it was chaos. And then Mike and I started talking about it, how much better we felt about, about achieving our mission. And we had a real army mission. I mean, we were deployable. And Mike and I had nuclear codes. And you know, I mean, it was not, this wasn’t childsplay. It wasn’t, it was the peacetime army. But we were still serious about things, the feeling I had, from the beginning to the end, working for him. It was transcendent for me, and I’ll tell you, he got married when we were while he was the commander, and it was a military wedding. And me as a person, I was responsible for everything. And he said, I need to get married, arrange it. So I arranged it. And one of the greatest moments of my life was he asked us to create in the military. There’s this tradition of the bride and groom walking out under cross sabers, I had to go find sabers, which were in very short supply. But luckily, I found some. And then as he came through the arch I was standing last. And on the correct side, he asked me to be there. And the tradition in the army is when you marry your bride, and she has not been in the army before, it’s independent. Otherwise, when the swords get as you walk through the swords come down, and I got to, if you’ll pardon my expression, flap around the button, say, welcome to the army, Sammy, both of them came up to me afterwards, hugged me and said, I’d done a great job. And that’s just a personal thing. But I would, I would take a bullet for him in two seconds, he is one of the finest people I’ve ever known. And he taught me what leadership and management were. And he said, don’t let anything, don’t assume anything, don’t, don’t let any detail go. You don’t have to be. You have to be detail conscious. But you don’t have to be crazy about it. You just need to keep track of things. And you know, when people say they’re going to do things, they need to check on things. And then he says, tell the truth, and work harder than your men. And he was right. And the unit feeling in that unit after 18 months, Aiden, you know, we could conquer the world. And if we did that to ourselves, because of how he led us.

Aydin Mirzaee (  22:22

That’s awesome. I mean, that one sentence where you said I’d take a bullet from any day. I mean, it says it all. I don’t know that most of you would say that about their managers. 

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   22:31

Exactly. God, I didn’t have anybody, not even close. You know, not even in the realm of, you know, there was nobody even above zero. And he was at 1000. So yeah, it was pretty great.

Aydin Mirzaee (  22:41

I love that. Mark, do I have it correct that you taught Presidents in the White House how to have one on ones?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   22:49

I did. President Bush and President Clinton. That’s amazing. Yeah. Two very different presidents I was doing. I had done some work in Washington, my work came to the attention of some people in the White House. And when I was raised, my folks said, if you’re living in a small town, if the mayor or the sheriff asked you to do some you do it. And for a long time, I lived in a small town in Texas. So I followed that. But I figured, you know if the white house calls you go, and they The first thing they asked me to do was help them fire someone. And I said, Well, you just can’t mean you can fire him if you want. But there’s going to be a political, you know, what storm? And I said, so you need to take some steps. And so I said, I’ll tell you exactly what to do. I’ll tell you when to do it. And you do it, and it’ll be fine. And so they follow the steps. They fired this guy, he deserved to be fired. And it’s always sad when that happens. But the only thing worse than firing somebody is keeping somebody who hasn’t earned the right to keep their job. And so they did it. And they were amazed that it was just a series of very straightforward steps, no histrionics, no disrespect, no anger. No. The goal is to have the person feel that you treated them fairly and gave them a fair chance to keep their job. Because if you’re not doing that, then you’re just a tyrant. And somebody said, you know, somebody senior wants to thank you. And I said, Okay, great. And, it was President Clinton’s Chief of Staff Mack McLarty. And he said, You know, you’re pretty good at stuff. I said, thanks, sir. It’s my job. You know, I get what they asked me to do was fairly straightforward, but to them in the political world in Washington, then and now, there’s not an appreciation for management, even though the congressional Institute has been a client of ours for a number of years and more and more congressional house offices are becoming more professionally managed. And it’s not again, it’s not hard to learn management. It really isn’t. Anybody can do it. And he says, Hey, can you do more stuff like that? And I said, Yeah, again, sir. It’s my job. And he says, Well, I need this system. ” I did a few other things. And then he said to me one day, I really need you to help the president. I said, Sir, I’d be honored who you need me.” He says, you know, he needs to communicate more in a more structured way with some of the staff. And so, as it happened, I spent a little time with President Clinton, who is maybe the most magnetic, charismatic person I’ve ever met in my life. No, it’s not. Maybe it is. He’s the most interpersonally gifted human on the planet, in my opinion. The problem is, he’s not a structured guy. He’s a very creative guy. And he didn’t like one on ones. And so for a little while, I was going back and forth checking on them. I was living in Texas. But he did them for a number of years. And then President Bush, I had met President Bush previously, when he was governor of texas did the same thing. And he did them quite faithfully. During his time as President, when managers said to me, I don’t have time I said, You know, I taught a couple of Preisdents how to do one-on-ones and they asked him if the president is busy or not. 

Aydin Mirzaee  (  25:52

Yeah, I love that. Yeah, I think like if anyone ever had an excuse that excuses now, after hearing that,

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   25:59

Most people’s understanding of time is so, so wrong. They feel a sense of urgency, I’ll give you a classic example, email. Email is a scourge. It’s a wonderful tool, and it’s a scourge on management. And the reason it’s a scourge is not because of the tool. It’s because of how poorly managers interact. , I don’t care if you’re outgoing, you’re reserved, you’re technical, you’re not technical, none of those things show any correlation to high management performance. What correlates to high management performance? Is behavior  – what you do. So the question about email is not how much you get, how much you get is irrelevant. People in Intel, we used to do a lot of work at Intel, get 600 emails a day, most managers can’t even comprehend that many emails, the answer is how do you behave? How do you interact with your email. So I get a couple of 100-200 300 emails a day, and I do all my email in 90 minutes a day, if you don’t know how, and we have podcasts for that. And I encourage your listeners to go find them on our website. They’re all free email dropped into the corporate world, when professionals already had calendars and schedules and so on. And email was this thing that just, it was like pouring. It was like having a room for furniture, and then pouring 500 gallons of water onto the floor in a watertight room, all of a sudden, the entire fluid, the email, emails, the water, it just you’re walking through the water all the time, there’s nothing you can do about it. And it’s completely wasteful. What you do is you schedule three times a day, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes it’s less, and you do it sometime early in the morning, not first thing sometime middle of the day, and sometimes end of the day, but not last. And you process emails during that time, and you don’t do anything else. And you leave email alone all the other times. And you’ll discover after about a week or two that first of all, you can get to Inbox Zero fairly easily, you have to be aggressive in the beginning, when somebody says I need a PowerPoint deck from you or an Excel spreadsheet, you don’t do that during the time you write yourself a task. I’ve got to do that later in the day. But you process all your email, the vast majority of email doesn’t create all kinds of deliverables for you that you have to do right then email is one of those things that makes managers think they don’t have a lot of time. I often tell people, look, I believe you have a lot of time, let’s work on email, let’s get email under control. And then you tell me how much time you’re willing to give to improving yourself as manager and then after like three weeks or like, it’s amazing. It’s actually not amazing. They’re all the people who do this again. Okay, welcome to the club. And I want them to feel that way. Because the more time you have to work … how often do we feel like we’re not working on our primary thing, right? So there are some things we have to do that are housekeeping that are necessary, and you should minimize the time you spend on that. So that you can maximize your time on the two or three or four things. They’re gonna make the most difference as a manager

Aydin Mirzaee (  28:46

I for one, am going to check out that episode. So Mark, you’ve also spent time as a recruiter, as you mentioned, and you’ve been teaching men and managers about hiring too. There’s just one quote that you know, we have from you, which is that the jobs that you’re trying to hire for should actually be hard to fill. And I thought that was a very interesting quote, I’d love for you to elaborate on that. Does that apply to every job? or do some jobs qualify?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   29:17

Most jobs. The vast majority do but there are, look, we like to say about our guidance that it applies to 90% of the managers in the world 90% of the time, the idea that you can come up with a theory of everything, you know, and put it out in podcasts is probably a little a little bit arrogant. We don’t think that so now there are certainly some, you know, let’s consider seasonal jobs or temporary jobs or three hours a week doing this or that, probably, that you don’t need to make it hard. But the problem is, it is several fold in the case of hiring. The first thing is the primary motivation for hiring is the pain of the manager. If there’s too much work, right? And so what we want is that pain to go away. But that’s not what we should be hiring for. We should be hiring to make our team better. Because what you’re paid for as a manager is reduced results and to retain your people. And that’s, by the way, I didn’t invent that, that standard math and science one on one, get your job done and keep your people do you. You can’t burn them out. I don’t think most people know this. But people wonder, when did union start? Why do we have unions? Why did they start? Well, they started exactly six months after management was invented. I’m not kidding. It was invented in textile mills in Scotland and England in northern England a couple 100 years ago. And the owners, the white, wealthy male owners, said I don’t want to work in this textile mill anymore, it smells, it’s dirty, it’s wet, and so on. So I’m gonna hire an overseer. And they hired overseers and overseers were tyrants, because they were told, just make me money, right? I don’t want to deal with this, I want to stay clean and nice and be a gentlemanly Lord in the English countryside. And so they focused on one thing results? Well, if you only focus on results, you become a tyrant. It’s true, we did. We’ve even tested it. And in the modern world, and it wasn’t, wasn’t pretty, we had to stop doing the exercise. And the result of that is that unions formed, because, you know, you’ve got to be humanistic. And to some degree, you have to be respectful of other human beings. I think that’s kind of an entry card to humans to be a human at all. You don’t get to, well, I have power. So I don’t have to be respectful to other humans is kind of ludicrous. So now, because of that managers are responsible nowadays for both results and retention. Well, what happens is, managers have a body of work that has to get done. And when they have pain, because the work is not getting done, they think how can I solve it and they think I’ll bring a new person in. The problem is the standard they set is so low that that person lowers the average productivity of everybody. And that person, unfortunately, some of the data we have shows that it’s rare, it does happen. But it’s rare that everyone else then will raise their productivity and make up for that person you brought in. And what’s more, if you hire me a, but your colleagues are the people who are going to be my peers, if you’re going to be my boss, if they thought it was easy for me to get hired, they’re going to withhold their trust of me until I learn it from them individually. Right? They don’t know me, what if I’m bored of you on our butts? And you were gonna hire this guy, he’s great. Well, they don’t know me. And you just give me Kings x. Horseman’s in. I make what they make now. And they had to earn it, let’s say, and, and they had to go through interviews, and I didn’t. And the end result is, it takes me longer to get up to speed and I complain to you the whole time, because they’re not being friendly. And now you start giving them the business because you know, they’re not, they’re not welcoming the new guy, when in fact, it was all you that was the problem I should have done. Um, did this backwards. I apologize. I should have been the bad guy. But an ideal. So look, the first thing is set the bar high. No, actually, the first thing is, whenever you think you need to hire. The answer is no. We don’t need to hire. What you need to do when there’s more work than there are people and let’s go back even another step. There are two states of being when it comes to workload and people. Either you have too much work for the people, or you have too many people for the work. It would be great if we could find that perfect match. Right? 

Aydin Mirzaee  (  33:39

But it never happens.

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   33:40

Yeah, right. Yeah. So then the question becomes, Okay, which one should we choose? It’s been dried, overwhelmingly, it’s not even close. I still have the white papers in my, in my filing cabinet somewhere, that if you take work away, so that, you know, there’s less work people get up to shenanigans that they’re not, I mean, they engage in behaviors that are selfish, and not in favor of the organization goals, missions, and you get worse problems and more problems. If you have too little work, too much work. We had too much work yesterday, we lost somebody. And now we definitely have too much work. The first thing a manager is supposed to do is look at the work. Because there’s all kinds of work that tends to creep into everyone’s lives that is not productive. That’s not useful relative to our primary goals, objectives. So if I’m working for you, you have to say, Mark, let’s sit down, let’s look at what you’re doing. And maybe there’s some things that we’re not going to do now. When I say that to people, Aiden, they’re like, Oh, no, no, I have to do everything. I said, Okay. I get that. And I actually liked that you say that that’s a good, professional way to approach your workplace. Good. But so you’re telling me you get your work done every night when you go home? All the work is done. Now, what’s not done? Well, there’s a lot of stuff about that. Oh, okay. So then at some point during the year, is it all done? No. You believe in this theory that you don’t prove every day. And so we ought to accept that day to day life is a theory of proof of it. Different theory. And the theory is there’s more work to be done than there are people. So then the question becomes, it’s not about the workload, it’s about the prioritization of the workload. What’s most important, if you’re my boss, and I’m new, you owe me saying, hey, look, you’re going to be asked to do a bunch of stuff, here are the three things you can’t miss on these other seven, you can make a mistake, it can happen. If you do that, it makes it much easier for me to schedule my time, a lot of managers are left with really vague guidance from the director or from their VP. And what happens is the manager believes therefore not knowing that she could actually prioritize on our own, although, you know, with the oversight of her boss, she would end up saying, I’ll do all 16 of these things. And she ends up being one of those performers who spin plates on, on sticks on the stage, she’s running around all the time, keeping all the plates spinning. What she doesn’t know is there, three of those plates at the boss are considered gold, but she’s making all of them equally dangerous in danger of falling to the ground. And if you drop one of the gold plates, you’re in trouble. And you’re in trouble for a long time. So the first thing you should do when there’s an opening is say, do we need to hire? And the answer should be no. Can we solve this problem without hiring? Because hiring is expensive. Not only is it expensive, and time and effort in the process, it’s also expensive, because we’re going to hire somebody else. Now. There will be people who will say no, no, no, we had a before we have to keep eight afterwards, believe me, I promise you talk to any CEO, the first thing he or she will say, if you ask them, what’s your view are more, I don’t know, maybe not higher, and let’s see what we can do. And maybe there’s some stuff we can kill that you’re working on. That doesn’t matter in the big picture or won’t matter in a year or two. And you know, you’ll be in trouble. But it’ll go away that those are the decisions managed to make. The second thing you make is okay, you’ve done all the balancing you possibly can to help your people get through the workload nightmare, right? We have a podcast about that, too, about how a massive workload increases how to deal with it. The next thing you do is you set the bar high. And the way you set the bar is when you start interviewing for your present, the reason to interview somebody is to find a reason to say no. And here’s why we want to build a high wall around our team, our existing team, whether it’s one person or 20 people, it doesn’t matter. We want the wall to be high to keep out posers.. We don’t want people who can slip through, who can fool us, who can tell a good story. We want to grill them. And I mean grill. Look, you can be a tough interviewer, ask tough questions and be kind and polite and respectful. It’s not hard. I’m not asking you to be a prison guard. I’m asking you to be a polite professional, and develop top questions, and probe and probe and probe and probe and look for things that you consider to be problematic, whether it’s whether you’re really looking for somebody who’s a team player, or you’re looking for somebody who’s a creative person, or whether you’re looking for somebody who’s an engineer who can keep their head down and and turn out a lot of code, whatever it is you’re looking for, you should you should ask questions about that. And we have a tool called the integration tool. It’s available to our licensees, where you answer a question about the job and it gives you a series of behavioral interview questions. Which would you build this high wall? First thing to keep some people out is it’s hard to get hired by them. Everyone knows it’s hard to get hired manager tools. We just hired a new presenter, we’re going to hire another one. Because we’re growing. And I interviewed the presenter for 52 hours,

Aydin Mirzaee  (  38:23

What! 52 hours?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   38:25

Yeah, because there’s only 10 people in this company. He’s 10% of the company, he’s going to work with me for the rest of my professional life. I’m not tolerating a mistake, and I’m slow to make these decisions. And anyone who thinks they’re good at making snap decisions about people is an idiot. You’re not, it takes time. And if you make it easy to get hired, people think that what’s the old saying that which we achieve too easily, we esteem too lightly or too cheaply. You know, Heaven knows how to put a price on, it’s good. Everybody wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die. So you build a high wall and it says some people don’t apply. Because you’re not you’re not willing to go through this process. And if you’re not willing to go through a 10, or a 15 hour interview process, a bunch of single interviews, no panel interviews, by the way, with a bunch of people, then you’re not our cup of tea, because we that the people who are here, they’re special. They’re special, because they’re here. And my job is to make sure that anybody we hire is as good or better than them, and that we will connect with them. And we will click with them and they’ll be respectful and kind. We don’t hire any high producing arrogant jerks. This happens all the time. Well, he produces a lot, I don’t care. He’s a jerk firing there to reason to fire somebody, they don’t do their job. And that ultimately reflects back on the manager or because they tear down the team because they’re poison because they spread rumors because they’re difficult to be around. You’re rid of that person to everyone else’s performance race. So you make it hard. I don’t mean rude or disrespectful, and you can be totally clear about it. If you might book the effective hiring manager and effective hiring manager conference. We walked through all the steps you do, but you build a high wall so that anyone who gets over it, anyone who gets an offer, everyone on your team and probably even word of that, wow, she got through the entire process. Impressive. She must be good. So the day she starts, she’s already earned trust from all of the people who report to you. And you because you’ve spent hours and hours and hours with her. And look, if somebody says, Yeah, I’m That one’s been that I’d rather get hired by somebody who’s easier to get hired by. Okay, good luck, I wish you well, you’re not you’re not our type, do I recommend that everybody spend 50 hours interviewing? No. But I’ll give you a good example, HR in many places will say you need to have a, you need to have a panel interview. It’s the stupidest thing in the world. That’s, I say that a lot about a lot of things. But we have data about panel interviews, they’re horrible. I mean, they’d make bad, bad, bad decisions. And it’s all for the convenience should accompany you, you shouldn’t be thinking about convenience, when you’re adding humans to your team, this person is going to be cheek by jowl with you for years, you have to be mean, you have to be respectful of everybody else and have the mission and the principles of the organization. So yeah, you should make the job hard to get hired for it’s better to have an opening and deal with that pain than to fill that opening with the wrong person.

Aydin Mirzaee (  41:18

So much wisdom packed in there, there is one thing that I was hoping to drill down on and this is this concept of setting the bar high because I feel like it’s also related to the trust issue too, right? Because like, if you hire someone that is not as good as you, then clearly you’re gonna you know, double check their work, you know, you’re just gonna like it’s not a good start. So how do you end up hiring people who are better than you? And how can you train yourself to have a high bar?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   41:51

That’s a really, really insightful question. Probably, you’re the first person to ask that question in probably 10 years or so. So well done. So here’s the issue. I’ll start with this. There’s a general rule. We have a lot of general rules here. Because you can’t apply every rule specifically to every situation. But my general rule about learning is, the moment you learn something, you forget you forget you ever didn’t know it. So for instance, you’ve heard the stories about millennials and Gen Z’s, and you know, all their different and so on, it’s all fake, it’s all wrong. They’re no different. There’s no evidence humankind has changed in the last 10,000 years. Talk to any sociologists, and psychologists, any socio biologists all take no human guys as the same. They’re all the same. There’s just an industry out there now to tell us that young people are different when they’re not, because they can make money telling us they’re different. The key thing to remember is, you have to not compare them to you today, when you’re a manager, you have to compare them to you, when you were in that role. Assuming you were in that role. That’s the challenge. Because when I say to people, you have to hire people better than you. They said, well, that’s not good. If they’re better than me, they should take my boss’s job, right? And so there was so much more money, they won’t take this job, you’re missing the point, the issue is, they’re better than you when you were them. And so you’re going to ask them a series of questions about behaviors about how they, what, what they’ve done before. And you’re going to compare their experience in previous situations, situations where they struggle where they failed, where they set a high, high goal and achieve it where they had to collaborate with the team, where they had to deal with some difficult data, where they had to communicate something that was complicated, whatever behaviors that are necessary for your job. And you have to evaluate them against yourself, when you were in that role to see whether or not they’re at your level, or are they close to being at your people’s level? And with learning they could get to your people’s level or above? Yeah, people make that mistake all the time. Oh, I you know, I can’t hire people better than me. Yeah, you can. They’re just younger than you. And so you’re comparing yourself to comparing them to your old view. If you ask me how to do that, what’s the single best way to do that? The answer is no, the job you’re hiring for? Whatever the job is, know it, well know it in detail. And then develop a series of questions that ask the candidate and these are all behavioral interviewing questions, which is the standard in most companies today, if you’re not doing behavioral interviewing, you’re crazy. Ask a series of behavioral interview questions of the candidate. And you see whether or not they’re using the kinds of behaviors that you used or even better babers than you use when they were at when you were at that stage of your career. That’s the standard. I’ve been saying that for years. And it’s another one of those, it’s one of those step functions that happens people are like, man, I don’t know if I want to do it. There are a couple people that aren’t that good. Okay, I’m going to try what Horstman says, we’re going to try the manager tools way. And then we get this email. It’s so funny. I get these emails all the time, and it says, they say, Mark, you’re not gonna believe it. I tried your stuff. And it worked. Right? Am I right back? Why would I not believe it? I mean, by the way, I didn’t just make this up. I mean, we have data on 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of people being interviewed. So we know a little bit about interviewing, and we gave it to you for free. But I’m glad to hear that you’re, you’re doing well. And once you do it that way, you will not go back. It is. In fact, I know a couple of people in the last couple of years who have been told, hey, listen, you’re so good at hiring, we want you to step up this new division, we used to hire 500 people in a week. And they say, Now, I’m not going to do that, because there’s no way I can apply. I mean, I can simplify things a great deal. But I’m not I’m not gonna do that. Because my failure rate will drastically increase for these temporary workers. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to do it. Let HR do that. Because they’ll do it just fine.

Aydin Mirzaee (  45:50

So, just given all the data that you’ve had, what do you think is a hit rate that you can aspire to have? Like, you know, because I think like, even the best managers might not, you know, get every hire, right. But how good can you aspire to to get to 100%?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   46:12

Yeah, you can. No, look, I’m 60. Okay, I wasn’t 100% when I was 40. But there was a period of 18 years where nobody quit. Nobody left. I hired people. And they stayed. Nobody resigned to go somewhere else. 18 years, like 100 people in that period, I was present. It was my company. I owned it totally. And, you know, I made errors since then. A couple. But, you know, you make a good point eight, and you should aspire to 100%. Now, I’m not suggesting Do you be inflexible? There are hires that you make with an awareness of a person’s limitations, we’re not hiring. The second coming, right? We don’t, we don’t need what we need, we need a high standard above the job that we want them to be. And because look, if you’re believing in a growth oriented organization, the job is going to change in the next couple years. All jobs are constantly growing and expanding. It’s the nature of the human workplace. But yeah, I think you can aspire to 100%. And I think you ought to keep track. Right? How many people voted how they turned out? Look, we often tell people, managers get evaluated on whether or not the people they hire, not the people on their team, because you might have some people on your team that you didn’t hire is whether or not the people they get hired get promoted. That’s a double whammy. In other words, I hire you, you work for me. So I not only was the one that brought you into the organization, which by the way, managers hiring people is the single most important strategic task that a manager is given. Because you get to decide who works here, which is a huge thing in the culture. So you hire them. And the second thing is you develop them enough that the organization believes they can go on to the next level. Okay. So that’s the, that’s one of the quiet standards that exists when senior executives are reviewing manager candidates, whom did she hire, that she got promoted? And people always say to me, at this point, well, not everybody wants to be promoted, I said, I know, I get that. And that’s fine. It’s good. It’s fine. But for the people who do want to get promoted, just because they want to get promoted doesn’t mean they get promoted. There’s a different standard, right? And some people want to get promoted, and never do. Here’s the difference: managers get evaluated on whether or not they can get their people promoted, executives get evaluated on whether or not when their people get promoted, they do well in the next job. And, you know, people often joke that Oh, the hardest promotion in the world to get is going from appearing to your friends, to suddenly become their manager. That’s not true. It’s not even close. It’s not even in the realm of possibility being true. We have data on that as well. This hardest promotion in the world is going from being an individual contributor to a manager. There is a small exception, but the database we have is so small, I can’t be certain about this. And the hardest promotion of the world is going from any job to CEO. I’m talking when I say CEO, I mean billion dollar company or bigger. If you’re a CEO of a five person firm, you shouldn’t be calling yourself CEO. That’s a silly, silly title. And, and the reason why is because the difference between individual contributor and manager is such an enormous one. If I go from being manager, like, like, you’re my VP, so you manage me. And then I manage individuals, right? I’m an AI managing different contributors. That’s generally what’s called a manager. A director is somebody who manages other managers. Once I’m a manager for the rest of my career, I’ll be a manager only once I make the transition from being an invalid contributor to be a manager and that’s when I get that first promotion. Essentially, what happens is managers try to get their people promoted, but sometimes they don’t do a good enough job. They haven’t delegated enough to them for instance, and so that person fails when they get to be a manager. They were the best performers among all the people that were working for that manager. But unfortunately, the manager didn’t prepare them for the next job. And so they fail or they are poor. They do well enough to keep the job but they’re miserable. And it takes and it’s, it’s a hurtful thing for the organization for a couple of years. Because you don’t want managers to not be effective. That’s really good as bad on that manager and on everybody that works for her or him. So what we say about executives is, you know, executives are the ones whose managers when they get going, they promote people, those people do well in the next job, because when you get above the director, it’s all about people. It’s all about people. And yes, there are decisions to be made. Yes, yes, yes. But, if you don’t have a good handle on people, you’re doomed. And unfortunately, one of the problems in Silicon Valley is there are too many individual contributors who want to be managers to have a career, but they don’t want to spend time on people. And no offense Silicon Valley, I’ve spent years there. I started working for Apple in 1996, I think, and they’ve been a client ever since. So I love what technology has done for us and Facebook and Google and Intel and apple and Applied Materials and Silicon Graphics and named them I’ve been there. And unfortunately, the engineers in the world like Mike and I don’t always make the transition to realize that their job is really about people.

Aydin Mirzaee (  51:13

Yeah, no, that that’s super interesting. You know, we are coming up on time. And there’s so many great things. Obviously, everybody should check out manager tools, and you have a few more podcasts and resources to write. Did you mind just listing those out so people get the broad spectrum?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   51:29

Yeah. So there are two free podcasts, Manager Tools every week, and will continue indefinitely, until I write all three tasks with a cast that are remaining. And then Career Tools. Manager Tools are for managing people, Career Tools are for your career. And both individual contributors and managers even can listen to career tools. Because there’s a lot of bad advice on the web. And people go to the web and get in trouble. When they follow stupid YouTube guidance about things like how to answer Tell me about yourself, which is hilarious and sad to write because you think well, this person looks like they’re knowledgeable and they’ve never been recruited before their life manager, those girls we’re about to launch a third podcast executive tools. Now the only way you can get executive tools to be a licensee. One of the things that makes us different is before we do a show. Before Mike and I record a half an hour show, I spend three to four hours writing show notes. Now what most shows do when they provide shownotes is they basically go over and say hey, at this point, this happened. And at this point, this happened to inscribe it. Yeah, exactly. We don’t do that. Because if you really read a transcription, it’s, it’s not pretty. So I like to show a white paper as if I was writing a chapter of a book, which is one of the reasons why we will have more books coming out because we already have the content already written, we have to put it together. And so the show notes are there, they’re usually 5,6,7,8,9 pages of here’s our guidance on this topic. And there’s an outline. And then Mike and I use the show notes as a guide. But we don’t read the show notes, because we’ve been read to before and we don’t like it if you become a licensee that has access to all the show notes. And the beauty of that is you don’t have to listen to me talk for 45 minutes, you can read the show notes in 10 minutes for all of our casts. And I think we have close to 2000 journalists now. They’re immediately available to you the moment you become a licensee. So executive tools which will be obviously for executives or aspiring managers, aspiring executives, people who want to be executive that will be a bi weekly show manager tools and career tools are weekly. We have public conferences around the world. Obviously last year, we didn’t had many but we had virtual conferences. You can come to our website manager dash tools dot com and we have virtual effective manager, virtual effective communicator, virtual effective hiring manager we talked about that one earlier today. We also have the virtual effective remote manager training, how to manage people remotely over zoom or whatever thing you use, then we also have a client business. What happens if somebody starts listening to career tools and then starts listening to managers they get promoted to be a manager, they get promoted again, they get promoted again. And then they hire us to come in and train all their managers. It’s not a strategy we planned. It just turned out that way. And so client corporations and you name it fortune 500 basically emails us and says, Hey, I’m a big fan. I’ve been listening for years. I’m a director, I’m a VP now will you please come in and train 30 or 50. The one we’re most recently famous for was we trained all 900 managers at SpaceX about five years ago, because they’re a fabulous organization, but they weren’t. They didn’t believe in management. So we put in place some basic stuff. And it’s great to see how they’ve been in the news lately. So you can hire us as a corporate trainer, you can, you can come to an individual conference in person. You can also do it virtually as well. Although we’re starting to get more and more in person events. In about three weeks, I go to Minneapolis and Portland where we’re hosting public conferences that are filling up rapidly.

Aydin Mirzaee  ( 51:41

That’s amazing. Thank you for all of what you’ve done and you know, over the last two decades putting out the resources, correcting the myths and, and using data to do it all. It’s been a great pleasure. And the final question that we leave all of our, you know, guests with, and I know we just talked about a lot of these things. But if you were to just leave the audience with just a sentence or two words of wisdom. What would you tell them to do?

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)   55:23

Well, first of all, it’s all about people. That’s Horseman’s first law. And second, my second law is that more communication is better. And I will also tell you this, we teach tools, one on one’s, feedback, coaching and delegation. But the path to be a great manager is not about the tools, if you want to be a great manager. It’s about love. And this is not popular to say, but this is the distillation of my last 40 years of my professional life. If you want to be a great manager, you need to be willing to love the work you do and love the mission of your organization. And you have to love your people to and by love I mean, professional love, adopt a which is the willingness to risk yourself for the benefit of another. When you lead a team of people, it’s not about you. It’s about the team. If you can make each of them 5% more productive, as opposed to making you 5% more productive, that’s more valuable for the organization, not enough managers understand that. You’ve got to be willing to risk yourself for the benefit of your team and spend time with your team and help them if you do so, right. First of all, rising tide lifts all boats, you’ll benefit and when your people start getting promoted, you will always be the one that got them promoted. It’s all about people, more communication is better. And the answer is love.

Aydin Mirzaee (  56:36

That’s amazing. And a great place to end it. Mark. Thanks so much for doing this

Mark Horstman (Manager Tools)  56:39

It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

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