SpaceX launch - think scaling up

Startup scaling challenge: to turn talented workers into motivating managers

What is THE MISTAKE to avoid when scaling your startup?

The thing that’s like the toothpaste that you cannot put back in the tube, no matter what.

The threat to avoid is turning your talented workers into crappy managers.

It’s your job as CEO to get this right.

You want performance-oriented team leaders who connect with and inspire their teams.  You seek the horizontal relationships true to your culture that brought you this far.

And yet, you need the processes that will take your company further.

How are you building up the next generation of managers without losing your entrepreneurial soul?

It’s like the relay race. To scale, you run facing forward. You need your leaders to put the baton into your hand, without your having to slow down or turn back. You seek a seamless connection between your vision and your leaders’ implementation capabilities.

There is a hitch.

You hired specialists.  Top experts in their field. They are confident when it comes to writing code or building a sales funnel. But they don’t have the know-how (and often nor the confidence) to inspire and develop people.

In the Beijing Olympics, the US relay teams were the favorites. Their runners scored the best individual times. Yet they dropped the baton…and the French team won.

Don’t you want the same confidence as this CEO?

“I have the conviction that we can go far together.”
– Benoit Dupont, CEO of WeMainain
after a team training by Denise Dampierre

Get Better Results as a Team

Stay with me as I share essential challenges in bringing up to speed young managers of scaling startups.

Challenge 1: To know that “what got them here” will not “take them there”

We are talking gut-knowledge, not head-knowledge.

Your new managers previously excelled as individual contributors. Many have come through an educational and professional environment where success depended upon their own performance.

Doing more of what they were doing well propelled them to the next level. Success depends upon their personal efforts.

Oops. Success depended (past tense) on their personal efforts.

What got you here won't get you there

The playing field changes when stepping into managerial shoes.

“Your job, as a manager, is to get better results from a group of people working together.”
– Julie Zhuo, previously VP of Design at Facebook

How do we learn that past practices don’t dictate future results?  It’s through the daily challenges in motivating people, organizing workload, and assuring quality outcomes the realization hits.

How can you, as CEO, speed up the process?  Help them take a step back.  But, do you have the time and energy to do so…when you are sprinting at full speed?!

Challenge 2: To equip upcoming managers with tools

Great managers cast a compelling vision, communicate it clearly, and organize to make it happen.  They bring purpose to the job, connect as people, and set up processes to optimize workflow.

These are learned capabilities.  You may have gained them on the job.  It takes time.  As the CEO of a scaling startup, time is money.

It’s worth the investment to quickly equip your managers with skills that both assure performance and build team spirit.  Give them a head start

  • to set and communicate priorities
  • to lead 1:1 meetings that uncover obstacles and boost motivation
  • to manage their emotions and those of others
  • to redirect a team member respectfully and effectively

It gives them a confident kickoff.

Employees who feel they belong and know they are valued want to contribute more.

The last thing you want is to promote your top performers, to blunder the navigation to manager, and to have them leave for the competition!

Challenge 3: To instore new habits

Knowing what to do is a first step.  That’s not enough.

You want your managers to create new habits so that building team performance becomes as natural as driving a car.

It means

  • To learn to take a step back
  • To not take challenges personally
  • To seek solutions instead of searching for blame
  • To listen first then, if necessary, to propose solutions

What you DON’T need

The easiest of these three needs to fill is N°2 – to equip with tools.  That’s what many management training programs do.

Scaling startups don’t need another program to build the right skills.  It’s good, but not enough. 

Your upcoming managers have knowledge.  They know it is important to build trust and listen actively.

But are they convinced of the need to change? (Challenges N°1)  How to keep them going when they try new tools which don’t work as expected the first time around?  (Challenge N°3)  These implicate a paradigm shift.

What they lack is know-how. 

  • How to act when you discover a team member made a mistake…AND how to respond this time so that next time errors surface quickly to get nipped in the bud
  • How to listen…when the other person lacks confidence to speak his mind
  • How to tap into collective intelligence…so that team members own the decisions

The MOST VALUABLE solution

Researchers Robert Eichinger and Michael Lombardo present the 70:20:10 model of learning.

They estimate that 70% of learning stems from experience, 20% from mentoring and personalized feedback, and 10% from formal courses and learning.

 10-20-70 model Learning development

The best manager-training program to help you scale up will include

  • a major focus (70%) on finding solutions to current and actual challenges
  • a personalized training plan (20%) to set growth goals and track progress
  • an easily accessible ressource for building new skills (10%)

That’s why I launched Boost Team Trust – Devenir le manager que vous avez rêvé d’avoir
(Yes, the program is in French.  I am American-born and a long-time Parisian.  Scaling startup clients from my in-person training encouraged me to launch out with an online solution.)

Through a 6-month online training and growth-sprint program, participants learn, Practice, and GROW as leaders.

Make a personalized Growth Plan

We begin with a 1:1 coaching session to set personal and team growth goals for the next three months.  We revise these in another 1:1 discussion the middle of the program, and reconvene at the close of six months to acknowledge progress.   These goals are personalized and can include

  • To set group guidelines together
  • To hold meaningful and regularly 1:1 meetings.  Meaningful means _____ (measurable)
  • To develop my internal network by ______ (action plan)

Learn tools when you want and when you need them

Participants have 24/7 access to training videos on managerial skills centered around tools

  • To build the growth mindset
  • To strengthen purpose
  • To connect with people
  • To create efficient processes

Solve Real Problems Together

Every two weeks we tap into collective intelligence to resolve a member’s sticky situation:  a team member is not satisfied, again – Teams that are supposed to collaborate still do not see eye to eye.This is one of the most appreciated moments of the program.

  • Young managers realize others share their challenges
  • They discover they can find solutions to other people’s problems…and learn to transpose those same ideas to their situation
  • They come to realize some of their own behaviors which might be contributing to the complication

Stay accountable and be encouraged to Keep Growing 

Every week, we connect on the community to set and review the week’s top three action steps to keep advancing towards long term goals while also managing the day to day.

Get YOUR team ready to scale

Are you aiming to take your company to the next level?  Do you want to make sure you team does not drop the baton?

I help talented, ambitious contributors become the managers they dream of having.

Run your relay with confidence.

Let’s talk.  Send me an email to set up a call.

US men’s relay team at Beijing. It takes more than individual champions to build a winning team.


What makes a great 1 on 1 meeting?

How do you feel after a 1 on 1 meeting with either your boss or your team member?

  • Relieved:  the 1 on 1 meeting can now be checked off the list…and you survived
  • Frustrated:  you want to develop professionally yet you still do not know how
  • Enthused:  you were listened to, you learned about your performance, and you know next steps

One-on-one meetings have the potential of being a vital motivator for both the manager and the team member.  How are they working for you?

Ineffective one on one meeting
What have you learned from this 1 on 1 meeting?! How motivated are you?

Purpose of a 1 on 1 Meeting

Let’s get back to the role of a great manager.

“Your job as a manager is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.”

– Julie Zhuo, previously VP of Design at Facebook

In this context, a great 1:1 meeting would address these issues

  • What is a “better outcome”?
  • How are you feeling part of the group?
  • How efficient and effective is our teamwork?

In this post, I’ll focus on the better outcomes.  In a next article I’ll address creating a group and then follow up with effective teamwork.

Improve Outcome through 1 on 1 Meetings

It’s your job to care about the team’s output and on the quality of the work accomplished. Hopefully, your team member also have an opinion about their performanc and that of the team.  Your team memberwill grow as a professional and as a person as she increasingly masters the skill of self-assessment.


Instead of sharing your view on her performance, invite her to express her own evaluation.

  • “What did you do well?”
  • “What made that possible?”
  • “How does it feel?”

A one-on-one meeting is an invitation for change.  One step in growth.

Change is not comfortable and occurs under two circumstances: either it is imposed from an outside source or the stimulus to change comes from within.  The former requires constant pressure.  When the boss is not looking, actions revert to “the way it was before.”   Lasting growth occurs when a person realizes, in the mind and in the gut, the need to act differently to secure desired results.

Self-evaluation sparks the realization that change is necessary.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Albert Einstein

Tap into emotions

Among the self-evaluation questions, I listed, “How do you feel?” This taps into emotions.

A collegue practically bounces out of her chair when answering, “How do you feel about closeing the deal?” 

She avoids your gaze when you ask, “How do you feel when we meet again and we are still facing the same issues?”

She is stewing with resentment over the public critique during her presentation and wants an opportunity to express her viewpoint.  “How do you feel after that meeting?”

Emotions generate the action power of a decision. 

Do you prioritize tasks you don’t care about?  They tend to stay on the list from week to week.  In contrast, work that is motivating and purpose-filled gets accomplished without reminders.

What attitude do you prefer in your team member?

  • “YES! I will commit.”
  • “That sounds like the right thing to do.”


I love savoring success and even engage multiple senses in the process.  Can you discuss the excellent analysis over delicious coffee?  That’s connecting with sight (seeing the other person), sound (listening to each other), taste and smell (the mocha)!

With remote work we might not be able to shake hands (sense of touch).  Could you each give yourself a high five to simulate one “en vrai” (in real life)?

Consider affirming her with words that point out HER effort and actions:

“YOU must be proud of YOURself.”

“YOU put in a lot of effort on that project.”

It’s a slight twist of the more common “I am proud of you,” which sounds nice…and yet is about you, the boss, and not about the person who rolled up her sleeves and sweat it out.


What if your team member cannot express how she succeeded?  Many of us come from an education system where we focus on mistakes. She can list ten faults, but her mind goes blank when searching for strengths.

It might feel like boasting when we identify our own strengths. It feels like teamwork when we notice the contributions of others.

What did the team do well? How did another team member contribute positively?

“You have many great qualities. You will really be successful when you realize that other people have great qualities too.”

– A wise and seasoned turnaround manager to his self-concerned grandson (my son!)


What if your team member asserts, “Everything is fine!” while you harbor the burden of telling her that performance is below par.

“Yikes!” you wonder…

Take heart. This is good news.  This discrepancy presents you with the invitation to explore.

  • Hum. That is not exactly how I perceive the situation. What exactly is going fine? Give me an example. Let us keep doing what we do well.”
  • L.I.S.T.E.N.
  • “At the same time, it is RARE that 100% of work is going 100% on track.”
  • Pause.  L.I.S.T.E.N.

The two of you advance in mutual trust if the team member can express challenges. If she declines to do so, then pick up the baton and run with it.  “Are you ready to hear my perspective now?”


Yes, do consider giving a choice…and a choice where you can accept either answer.

If she is not ready to listen now, then when? In 30 minutes or tomorrow morning?

Offering a limited choice allows the other person an element of control in an uncomfortable situation.

Police officers were able to make arrests less violent when they asked:  “Would you like your handcuffs in front or in back? Do you want your mug shot taken from the left or the right?”

The fact of asking the questions changed the attitudes of BOTH the officers and the arrested folk. Everyone gained a degree of humanity while still using handcuffs and getting mug shots.

If your 1:1 meeting agenda includes exploring performance gaps, it is worth preparing some limited choice questions BEFOREHAND.

What is non-negotiable? The need to create an action plan to address unsatisfactory results.  Where are you flexible?

  • The location of the discussion
    “Shall we go out for coffee or meet in my office?”
  • The time of the discussion
    “Let us reserve 30 minutes. When can you make it either today or tomorrow?”
  • The person who launches the discussion
    “Would you like to start? What is happening? I would like to hear your perspective.”

Become the manager you want to have

Would you like to implement these strategies in your 1 on 1 meetings and become the manager you would like to have?

That is what we are doing in Boost Team Trust. It is a 6-month online training and growth sprint program to equip managers to

  • cast a clear and inviting vision
  • communicate it effectively
  • organize to make it happen

Contact me to find out more and to see if this program is the one for you to gain in capabilities, courage, and confidence as a manager.

Denise Dampierre in workshop

What Motivates More: Encouragement or Complements?

Today, on the Day of Compliments, we may hear a few more, “Great Job!”

It’s like candy to the soul.

Question: Should we be feeding compliments and candy to our employees?! 

Answer: YES and NO!!

Yes, Encourage Team Members!

People succeed better when they feel better.

This principle motivates many corporate happiness initiatives.  Research asserts that a positive mindset

  • increases creativity (easier to find solutions to challenges),
  • communication (better listening), and
  • productivity (more energy).

Employees, like every human being, thrive when their needs for belonging and contribution to a meaningful purpose are met.

Research demonstrates that there is a positive and a destructive way of encouraging people.

Encourage by Noticing Progress

The research of Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School indicates that progress ranks among the highest motivating factors for employees, whether it be advancement on small tasks or passing thresholds on major projects.

It’s easy to mark the moment when we sign on a new client.  What kept the team motivated throughout the months preceding the closing of the deal?  Noticing progress throughout the modest stages of the sales cycle feeds motivation too.

The “small” progress steps often go unnoticed.  There is work ahead!  Baby steps can seem insignificant.

And yet, Amabile asserts the positive impact on motivation that comes from recognizing progress.

Why not redefine complex projects into a series of quick wins?

Don’t Compliment.  Use Encouragement.

Encourage by Focusing on Growth

Carol Dweck of Stanford University unearthed the notions of fixed and growth mindset.  The way we interact with our team members can orient them towards the fixed or the growth mindset.

What are these mindsets?

Tall fixed mindset
Strong growth mindset
  1. The fixed mindset asserts that people have innate capabilities. Either you are good in math or you are not.  Either you are creative or too bad.
    Liken it to growing to a certain height.  Once we have reached our adult height, we don’t get taller.
  2. The growth mindset asserts that people can learn. All the time. No matter how much we already know.
    Think of building muscle.  We can always get stronger.  Strength builds through regular exercise of multiple muscles in various ways.

What’s your mindset?

Try this quiz.  For the six statements below, what mindset do they encourage?  (Scroll to the end for results)

  • I’m so proud of you!
  • You really put a lot of effort into that!
  • I trust your judgement.
  • You did it the right way!
  • You are so talented!
  • You must be proud of yourself!

All of the above may sound positive.  What’s the difference?

The fixed mindset comments provide extrinsic motivation (dependence upon an outside push).

On the other hand, the growth mindset ones generate intrinsic motivation (self-impulse).

Compliments vs. Encouragement

Jane Nelsen, doctor in education and founder of Positive Discipline, differentiates these as compliments (extrinsic motivation) vs. encouragement (intrinsic motivation). Nelsen likens compliments to candy.

  • Delightful as a treat. Unhealthy as a meal.
  • Addictive like sugar. Gives a quick rush…followed by need for more.

These semantics resonate with me in that compliments are given to people for having reached a result.  Encouragement applies for people in work-in-progress…folk like ME!!!!

Our choice of words matters.  Carol Dweck shares tips to encourage (vs. compliment) students.  They apply to learners of all ages throughout life.  Enjoy 😊

Encouragement that Works

One of my most memorable encouraging situations was during a training for ex-prisoners to gain emotional intelligent skills to take responsibility for their life.

At the close of our seven-week training (we met weekly for ½ day), my colleague and I wrote encouragement notes to each of the participants.

We carved out time to generate progress-centered, growth-focused encouragements.  What does one say to someone who sits through each session with arms folded and barely speaks?  How to respond to someone who repeats, “Everything is fine.  Nothing to change.” when he is wearing an electronic bracelet and involved in a recovery program?

To be honest, the easiest response is critique: “Get real.” “Do something.”

These men (and you and I to a lesser extent) have been judged all their lives.  Further criticism merely reinforces the status quo.  We wanted to help them take one (or more) step forward.

Below are some of the encouragements we gave them.  These life-roughened men were so to touched; they insisted on reading them all out loud.  One man responded for the entire group, ”No one has ever spoken to us in this way!”

We noticed your ambition to start your own business and we encourage you in that goal. You can choose what kind of boss to be … and if you want it, you have the capabilities to be both firm and humane simultaneously.

We noticed your courage and your desire to change your life and we encourage you to take a first step towards professional training in preparation for your return to your family.

We noticed and appreciated your growing contribution to the group and hope you become aware of what you bring to others through your personality and ideas.

We appreciate your sense of responsibility that you demonstrated through your attentiveness to our groups’ comfort, your regular attendance, and the job you held in prison. We are confident you can put this skill to use as you embark on your job search.

We noticed your ability to assimilate the concepts and tools of Positive Discipline and constructive communication. We have every confidence that you will be able to implement them and be a good example for the people around you.

You have demonstrated a strong sense of belonging through your family life, your trade and your company. This gives us great confidence in you since a sense of belonging is a fundamental sign of a healthy life.

How do you speak to your employees?  Especially those whose motivation you want to boost.

Click here to discover workshops to communicate constructively in your team.

Experts’ Research on Encouragement

Quiz Results


Extrinsic motivation that points towards fixed mindset

  • I’m so proud of you! (Have to please the other person)
  • You did it the right way! (Only one correct way.  Where is room for experimentation?)
  • You are so talented! (An inate quality)


Intrinsic motivaton that stimulates the growth mindset

  • You really put a lot of effort into that! (Focus on effort)
  • I trust your judgement. (Allows room for error and exploration)
  • You must be proud of yourself! (Focus on self-motivation)