Given two choices by her family – medicine or international affairs – Larissa Haynes took a different path and majored in religion. Finance jobs were plentiful when she graduated, and with a great knack for numbers, she was promoted through finance very quickly. At the ten-year mark, Larissa had enough, and family circumstances led her to run her own consulting business. Joining Paul Higgins on the show today, she explains how she now helps teams become high performing. Stay tuned to discover why harmony is not good for a team and how to use assessment tools to your advantage.
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Building High-Performing Teams With Larissa Haynes
Our guest is someone who was given two choices by her family: medicine or international affairs, but she took a different path majoring in Religion. Finance jobs were plentiful when she graduated. With a great knack for numbers, she was promoted through finance very quickly. At the ten-year mark, she had enough and family circumstances led her to run her own consulting business. She now helps teams to become high performing. Why read? One is why harmony is not good for a team. She’s got some excellent views on that. How do you use assessment tools to your advantage? She uses me as the case study and why you should do more to build a team transitioning from in-office to work from home. They’ve kindly given some eBooks at the end of the interview. Please stay to the end for that. Now, to Larissa Haynes from Quivet Consulting.
Welcome, Larissa Haynes from Quivet Consulting, to the show. It’s great to have you on, Larissa.
Paul, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
We’ve had some great conversations. I’m looking forward to digging into teams and leadership with you. Why don’t we start with something that your family or friends would know about you that we might not?
One thing they know intimately about me is that I’m an extrovert, outgoing and I love people, but I highly value my alone time. When I’ve been out in the world and I come home, we call it de-peopling. They’re very kind to me about those boundaries.
I believe you live in a beautiful part of America.
I live in Cape Cod in a small town called Brewster. Honestly, it’s heaven. I walk to the bike trail and pond. I can walk down to the beach. All year round, I think it’s heaven.
I’m very much similar to love energy extrovert but I do like my alone time. My alone time is normally on my bike. That’s my solace. I’d love to get on my bike, ride softly, so I can hear the traffic but I do listen to a lot of podcasts. Other times, I’m completely in the mode. At the moment, the benefit of COVID is there’s hardly any traffic on the road. I am enjoying riding my bike in COVID times. Unfortunately in Australia, we can only do it for an hour a day because we’ve got a curfew here in Melbourne, Australia. For you, how is COVID in Cape Cod? Is it top of mind or not?When people understand who they are, they can then begin to understand how they impact others. Click To Tweet
I wouldn’t say it’s business as usual here because there are a lot of precautions that we take care of here but there are a lot of visitors. It is still very lively. It’s nice that it still feels like summer here. Everyone is honoring the fact that there’s something going on, so we wear masks and distancing and all of that. There are lots of outdoor concerts, restaurants, people on the beaches and people on the bike paths. It hasn’t seemed to slow things down much here.
In Spain, Germany, everyone’s post-summer holiday break unfortunately started a bit of a second wave. We’ve talked enough about COVID. Everyone’s got their own way of handling it at the moment. I’d love to hear a little bit more about your journey. You had an esteemed career in finance, went into consulting and now you’re running your own show. Give us a quick snapshot of why the move from finance into consulting and then why the pivot to your own business.
As a young adult, I was given two options by my family. I could go into medicine or international business, and that was it. I ended up in college becoming a Religion major. It’s breaking the mold and not going in either direction. I graduated college in the late ‘90s, in ’99. They were handing out finance jobs in Boston like candy then, and I needed a job. I worked for Investors Bank & Trust, which is absorbed by State Street. I have a head for numbers and I was pretty good at it. I moved up quickly and I moved to another company, and then I moved to another company. All of a sudden, here you are in this career that I didn’t choose even though I was quite good at it. I moved up at Citibank and then ended up working for a hedge fund admin.
I was there as a startup. The startup aspect was fun. After about four years, it had grown to a decent size of a couple of hundred people and I felt empty. This is after ten years in finance and I was alone in a cube matching numbers. Enough conversations with me. You know that’s not my best place. I would make up projects and I would try to train the company on information security. Anytime I could get in front of people, I begged to go on sales meetings and all of these things. Finally one day, it hit me that this doesn’t work for me and there’s something else that I could do. I had gone through a coaching program and decided to leave my very cushy view of the water, go out and help solopreneurs, coach them and consult with them on their businesses. It’s a big leap then.
Was it easier or harder than you expected?
It’s so much harder. I can’t even explain it. We affectionately call it the lesson years. It was about four solid years of lessons.
What were some of the biggest lessons?
What I apply to my business now is that there is a time for taking that leap and taking a risk, but I was such a grandiose risk-taker and that I did not put any systems in place before I left. I was trying to fly the plane as I went. Having risk tolerance is great, in retrospect, I would’ve put a whole lot more structure to what I was doing, some more consistency, do a bit more research, set some things up before I left quickly.
I had a similar experience. I knew I needed a coach and a mentor to help me nearly defrag from being too corporate, even though Coca-Cola was a brilliant company and it was great because we serve many small to large companies. I was on advisory boards but it’s nothing running your own company. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong person for me in developing those systems. It’s critical. COVID, at the moment, there are a lot of people that are looking at changing careers by choice, not by choice, but I do recommend that you find someone that has already cut their teeth. They’ve got all the systems in place and you can put those in place yourself. I couldn’t agree more. You’re in the consulting role. In 2012, things changed for you.
2012 was when I went out on my own that first time. Then about four years later, my mom started showing signs of some illness. She ultimately had a stroke. Luckily, I had moved home to help her a little bit about a month before, and she owned a series of companies. I moved from Maine to Cape Cod at that point to help maintain her businesses and continue running those while she was recovering, while helping take care of her and trying to manage all of my own clients. That year was a lot.
My mom was unwell for many years. It’s still the greatest gift you can give. To me, my proudest moment that I don’t tell anyone but being able to be there to support your parents when they need you is brilliant. I reflect back if I had been in corporate still, that would have been very difficult to do. Well done for doing that. Have you got siblings?
I do. I have a brother. He lives out in Minnesota with his wife and their kids. I’m the only child locally to her.
I won’t go into the depths of every family. There are normally some givers and takers. In my family, I was the giver. If we fast forward to now, this is the build section. When someone says, “Larissa, what do you do?” how do you best answer that?
I feel like most people especially who are consultants, that’s such a broad category. My cheeky answer for a humor cocktail party is I help people understand who they are, why they annoy people and then help them annoy people a little bit less the next day. The more depth answer is, I work with organizations to help them understand who their people are and help their people understand who they are through self-awareness and the idea of self-discovery at an organizational level. When people understand who they are, they can then begin to understand how they impact others. That’s going to change the trajectory of how a company works. Things get more efficient. I love business and I love watching businesses shift, change, thrive and transform. The method for me to get there is within through their people. To do that, it’s a deep understanding of who they are, how do they work, what motivates them, what drives them, what needs do they have and then teaching them a common language to be able to start asking that of and with each other.
What do you know about high-performing teams to be true that a lot of people miss?
One of the biggest things that I’m focused on right now is we’ve shifted into this idea where artificial harmony is somehow a better thing. Being collaborative is obviously important, but consensus isn’t exactly great when you’re trying to make decisions and you’re trying to innovate. You want everyone on board but you don’t necessarily want people saying yes, walking out of the room and doing whatever they want. That’s where we get political and we get all sorts of other things. From a team perspective, learning how to fight, it’s like a great relationship. When a team knows how to get in and make it not personal but about the issues and nothing is left on the table, everything is out on the table, those are honestly the best teams.Consensus isn't exactly great when you're trying to make decisions and trying to innovate. Click To Tweet
Do you find that’s different? America is made up of lots of states. Everyone always says America or Germany itself is so different. In Australia, we’ve got seven states and there are definitely nuances. Do you find that in some parts of America, it’s more artificial harmony than others?
I don’t. I find it in industries and I find that it shows up differently in different parts of the US. What it looks in New Jersey is going to be very different than what it looks with one of my clients in Tennessee. How they do it is different but not that they do it.
I’ve been out of corporate now for years. I worked for the Coke company and we’d have a lot of Americans come. Australians aren’t good at artificial harmony. We normally call a spade a spade and say what it is, and that used to shock a lot of Americans. They’re like, “You’re meant to have that conversation out of the room, not in the room.” You mean to say, “That’s great. Everything’s awesome.” You walk out of the room and then you talk about it. Australians are great at everything but being candid is definitely in our DNA, sometimes not to our betterment. Your ideal clients, who do you love to work with?
The common denominator is they’re in some transitional space. It usually falls into three buckets. One is startups. In that 3rd year or 5th year if they’re a little slower, but they’ve got into a place where they’re good at what they set out to do and they built enough. Let’s say they have 40 people now and they’re looking to grow and scale. The behaviors, the people and everything that took them to get there don’t apply anymore. For me, it’s founders and they’re like, “I figured out how to do this, but I don’t know how to do the people side of things. Can you help me?” That’s one. The second is businesses that have been around a long time that are modernizing or shifting somehow. The third is when there’s a new leadership team. Working with people with the same president for years and years, and a new president has come in and he is completely different. It has completely shifted the executive team and the structure of that. I’m coming in to help that team become effective and cohesive.
When you come in that’s often technically brilliant as you said, or product-focused and now they’ve got to run the team, do you help them or do you bring in a CEO or a right-hand person to run the team? In your experience, what works best in those scenarios?
That’s a tricky question because sometimes, we get to the point where we’re recognizing that someone else will be better to take over the operational side of things, the running of things. The founder can still be the creative force behind it. I work with that person one-on-one to understand what’s best for their business. I do some coaching with them to say and discover what are their gifts, talents and strengths. It’s not everything despite what some people think. To hone in, are those the things that are aligned to get your business where you want it to go? If they are, great. Let’s build around that. If they aren’t, let’s find someone who has them and put them in the position to do it. It’s about working with that person first to help them see if who they are is right for the job.
Neil Patel who runs the Marketing School Podcast, which I often listen to on my bike, he clearly says he’s not an operations guy. He’s not that type of leader. Having that self-awareness is hard and bringing someone in like you is important. I know that on your LinkedIn profile, you use DiSC and The Five Behaviors. Explain what they are and explain how you may use them.
I am a self-proclaimed assessment junkie. I love assessments that deal with human behavior. DiSC is a very simple and user-friendly but robust output on what are some natural drives that people will have in the workplace. It looks at the speed at which you go and lots of different factors. I can nerd out on that. That gets into who a person is. Building on that, there are assessments that would go with emotional intelligence, leadership, management style, a 360, a sales persona. Who are you as a salesperson and how is that going to work with four different buyer personas? It’s a great tool that gives depth of insight into self-discovery and then layering tools to then take action on them. Assessment that maps, same onto that DiSC assessment, but it’s for teams and it’s based on Pat Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. There’s some training that goes with it where we walk through the five layers of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. Looking at each individual, what they bring to the team and then how do we make it cohesive that way?
If you’re up for it, I’d love to reveal my DiSC profile and talk through if I’m a leader, how might that impact the way that I lead people? My D is 75, my I is 90, and my S and C is 39. The adaptive, the I goes down a little. The natural is the 75, 90 and then two 39s. Not everybody has got an exact prescript that you’re this person if you’re this profile. It’s not that nuanced. Give me a little bit on how you would deal with me if you were coaching me as a leader.
Number one with you, it’s all about human connection. In working with you, I’m highlighting that you likely are already thinking about your people, what’s best for your people, and there’s a natural empathy that comes with you. With that, you also are comfortable taking charge of things, asserting yourself and saying what you need to say. While you’re connected and persuasive, you’re also can run things without needing help. With that though, you’re moving quickly. You like to go fast and you like to go with people. What sometimes you are missing is that structure and stability. If there are people on your staff who need more detail, structure and ramp time to adjust to change, that they might not be getting from you if you were relying on your natural ways. In that coaching, understanding that one of your biggest assets is that your people love you and feel that you have their back, but there may be some gaps on things that they need.
That’s the summary of every 360 I’ve ever had. That’s exactly what I got. What we should do first is describe what each of them means. What does D mean in a quick summary?
The D is your directness, your ability to take charge of things, your authority, and that’s also a bit of the quick-moving pace. The I is all about the people. That’s the people connection and that’s your highest. Because it’s your highest and especially so high, you are almost singularly focused on what you do within through people. The world occurs to you through people. That’s you’re enthusiastic and empathetic. The S is about steadiness and about being even, composure, going slowly, thinking before you act. That’s where there’s a lower amount there. The C is our accuracy bucket, I would say. Being a subject matter expert, drilling down into things, black-white, right-wrong, yes-no area structure.
You know how often I say that opposites attract but I work very well with Linda, my wife, because she’s high S and C, so she’s into details. She’ll dot the I. If anything comes to finance, I’m like, “It’s all over to you.” I’ll have the great idea of, “Let’s go and do this and let’s get this person involved to do it. I need you to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.” Often, I will go to the solution before and I’ll bypass the facts completely. That’s a great summary. We’ll talk a little bit more about the five behaviors but what about in recruitment, is DiSC a good tool to use for trying to understand people when they come into a team or you’re bringing someone into your team?
Yes and no. Used properly, it can give you insight into what team to put them on and how to onboard them. There are other tools out there that are specifically used for hiring because they can map to job needs. I would never advocate for using a tool like these as a knockout to say, “It’s got to be like this to hire somebody.” Where the benefit comes in is saying, “We need someone in this role who is highly enthusiastic, full of ideas, energetic,” this can give you insight into that or when you’ve hired the person say, “Where are we going to put this person? How are we going to onboard them?” Someone who’s built like that, if we sit them in a corner with a manual and tell them to teach themselves, it’s not going to go well.
For me, I’m DiSC certified. I’m also HBDI and a couple of other assessment tools because the Coke company love the assessment tools. It’s always the richness of the conversation and not labeling someone, “You’re a high I. You’re a high D,” because my I and D can be different to yours. Certainly, with Herrmann Brain, the left-right brain, upper-lower, it can be different. I’m quite unusual and very much into people but I’m hugely planned and organized. That’s not often seen as the trait of someone with high I’s. Those nuances are important. You said recruitment. What are some great assessment tools you recommend for recruitment?
I used to work with the Predictive Index. I am a big fan of PI and the work that they do. I respect them a lot. That’s a great tool. Caliper is another one. I think it’s great. PXT which is a Wiley tool, which is another set of tools available to me, which is great. I also think with behavior for recruitment is understanding the cognitive as well. Not how smart someone is, not about IQ, not any of that but about how quickly someone absorbs new and complex information. It can be important for certain jobs. Getting the whole picture, the head, the heart, the briefcase. The briefcase, we’ve got all of our education and our past experience. The heart is our values. Both of those are going to change over time. The head part, the core behaviors and how we process information. While we can adjust and we can learn new things, the base of it tends to stay the same over the course of our careers.How quickly someone absorbs new and complex information can be important for certain jobs. Click To Tweet
One that I used to use, which I don’t know if you’ve heard of Saville Wave. When I left corporate, I filled it out and it was obvious that you were in the wrong culture fit. The culture here is not the one you should be in. It’s important, not just for someone that’s hiring but it’s to assess the culture of the business or the team that you’re moving into as well because the dynamic is important. On the five behaviors, you talked about a team environment. Run through what a session like that would look like.
It’s a highly prescriptive session. The team will take an assessment and they self-assess. They go through, “How would I rate us on our trust level? How would I rate us on our ability to fight our conflict?” When those results come back, it’s getting in together. Sometimes that information can be uncomfortable to talk about. When we’ve got teams that aren’t functioning as well as they should, if there’s a troublemaker, some conflict or chafe on the team, there are ways to set it up and have conversations. Essentially, the purpose for it is clarity, transparency, making sure that everyone understands who they are and what’s expected of them, “What are we talking about and how do we get to the same place?”
The biggest issues we bump into doing work with teams, especially executive teams, is siloing. If you’re only looking out for your department, your team, your piece of the pie, it’s not contributing to the results of the whole. Unfortunately, a lot of people are compensated that way. We may even look into how are people evaluated? How are they compensated? How does that work? It’s highly prescriptive to what’s going on with the team and within the organization, but the framework is through that idea of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. It’s simple but not usually very easy.
In these times, a lot moved to Zoom virtual. Have you run any sessions? What’s been the impact of live versus something that’s run virtually?
I’ve been doing virtual sessions for many years. Some work well virtually, the setup and the conversation. What’s nice about virtual is that you get to chunk it out. It’s not that you’re sitting in a room together for two full days, which also has its benefits sometimes. What I find with virtual training is that people get to take a little bit. We do about 2.5-hour sessions and then come back a week or two weeks later. They get to put into practice what they’re learning in the sessions and have the real conversations live. They both have their merits. If you’re looking to get in, dig in and get dirty, that’s where in-person, unfortunately, does have an advantage. That slow, steady and the ability to work the process real-time works well with virtual.
I’m assuming also a lot of teams that were together now are running virtual. Is it a good time to also assess how that collaboration is happening now that people aren’t face-to-face?
It’s the most important thing in the world. I talk about this far too much. Transitioning people from in-person to home from a human behavior perspective has a significant impact on how everything gets done. We don’t naturally know how to do it. It can be awkward or things are missing and there are gaps. Learning who people are and what they need can bring great efficiencies into the virtual space because you don’t get all of that body language. You don’t get all of that impromptu quick talks. It can’t happen over a Slack conversation. It can’t even happen on a quick Zoom. You’ve got to be a whole lot more deliberate in how you’re helping your people understand themselves and how they relate to their teams and co-workers.
It has been, as you said, a high I and D. I would quickly go there. It’s easy. I can do it. Everyone else can do it, but get some help with this because there are a lot of hidden things to working from home if people haven’t done it before. I’ve been doing it for many years. It’s second nature for me, but for a lot of people, it’s not that easy. You can find out more in QuivetConsulting.com. Before we go into the Live Section, I’d like to talk about how you can get 3 to 5 new clients a month on LinkedIn by spending 30 minutes a day even if you don’t know where to start and have limited marketing funds. Go to BLGClick.com and watch a pre-recorded free masterclass for the sales machine. You’ll learn three key things. The Secret to 10x Your Views, The 7 Killer Elements to Get Likes and Comments to Your Posts because no one likes crickets to their posts. The third thing is The Scripts to Get 80% Response Rates to Your LinkedIn Messages, all turning into those 3 to 5 new clients a month. Many of the activities mentioned can be implemented by virtual assistants. I highly recommend if you don’t have a virtual assistant, please get one. If you’d like some help, go to BuildLiveGive.com/VA. The next section is the Live Section, Larissa. What daily habits help you be successful?
I’m all about ritual, especially in the morning. When I wake up, it may not be robust, but I do a little meditation, some purposeful breathing, looking out the window, soaking in some gratitude, and then I read. The first thing I like to take in in the morning is non-fiction to set my brain in the right space for the day. I take my dog for a walk out in nature. It’s a little bit of the meditative and spiritual, a little bit of learning and then a little bit of movement. That sets the day off right.
We’ve talked about your love of walking and getting out in the fresh air, but what else do you love to do when you’re not working?
One thing about COVID, I’m in my house a lot so I’ve rediscovered my love of watercolor painting, knitting and gardening. It sounds like a 90-year-old woman but honestly, I love it. I am a big dance party person, so crank the music and dance it out. Without that, I love biking. I bike over to a little pond and swim laps across to the point. I run slowly but joyfully.
The next section is the Give Section. What charity or community are you passionate about and why?
It’s a local organization on Cape Cod called Cape Abilities. They’ve been around for many years. They help adults with disabilities, both physical and developmental, live these amazing lives. They help them with job coaching. They have group housing. They have a few businesses that they run. There’s a farm, a thrift shop, a few other things in our area. Their people work and run in the stores. It’s such an uplifting place to be. I volunteer at the farm and it honestly fills my cup that you can’t be anything but full of joy when you’re on that farm. A lot of the services for developmental disability stops when people turn eighteen. There’s all this support through childhood and then all of a sudden, they become an adult and there’s nothing there. They’re creating a whole new network, support system and job training for people who need it. It’s a great program.
A charity that I support where I give my book proceeds, a portion of my revenue to is the Purple House. You can find out more about the Purple House at PurpleHouse.org.au. The last section is the rapid-fire section. I’ll give you some questions and you give me some rapid-fire responses. The first one is, what are your top three personal effectiveness tips?
Schedule the things that I hate to do, find an accountability partner that will hold me to account to do them and consistency. Even if I don’t want to do it, inspiration doesn’t come on its own. It comes from showing up every day.
What’s a piece of technology that is central to running your business?The path to radical self-acceptance is through self-discovery. Click To Tweet
Zoom, for sure.
What is your best source of new ideas?
Reading in the morning. My brain is fresh and it’s ready to go. It’s at the right place to consume.
The last question is the big question. I always leave it to the end for that reason. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
I want people to understand that there is nothing about them that needs fixing. They are glorious exactly for who and what they are. The path to that radical self-acceptance is through self-discovery. We may learn, grow and expand, but we’re never looking to fix because there’s nothing to fix.
I believe you’ve got a new podcast. Tell us a little bit about the podcast.
I talk about an exercise and massive imperfect action. My business buddy and friend, we’re co-hosting a podcast called Make Work Human. It’s all about what I said on understanding who we are and allowing more of our humanity to shine through in the work that we do. It’s going to be a lot of fun conversations. The first six episodes series is all about vulnerability, professional vulnerability and what that actually means, how to show up in an authentic way but not just vomiting yourself off in front of everybody. It’s not good either. Why it’s important and how that’s impacting with teams, organizations and revenues and all that. We link that humanity to business. It’s going to be fun. I’m excited.
There are a few different books on there all about why Agile EQ or emotional intelligence is important, and a couple of other good nuggets in there about how to bring the idea of personal development, self-development into your work and the real impact to that.
It’s been an absolute joy having you. I have enjoyed our conversations previously, sharing the knowledge. I do think that this artificial harmony is something that needs work, I also think that this working from home as well. If you’re struggling with both of those and you would like help from Larissa, please get in contact with her. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. Have a fantastic day.
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I’ve enjoyed Larissa diving into my DiSC profile. I’d love to know what your biggest takeaway from Larissa is. Please share on your socials, mentioning it and her name. If you believe someone you know would benefit from this show, please share it with them. You can learn the three steps to find and convert your ideal clients on LinkedIn in a free on-demand masterclass, go to BLGClick.com. Please take action to build your profit, to fund your lifestyle and most importantly stay well.
- Quivet Consultin
- Marketing School Podcast
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- Predictive Index
- Saville Wave
- Cape Abilities
- Make Work Human
About Larissa Haynes
Larissa Haynes is the founder and principal consultant of Quivet Consulting.
As an executive coach and strategic consultant, she helps businesses determine how their leadership, teams, and culture are suited and aligned to their business strategy.
She then supports organizations to leverage their internal tools to help these organizations hire the right people, manage and inspire them to achieve maximum business results as fast as possible.
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