Having served in the military, Dave Davies understands that there’s no limit to what a team can achieve with a positive attitude. As the chief operations officer at Force Management, he prioritized the character of potential team members over their experience when hiring for sustainable growth.
[1:27] Chad Franzen introduces the guest, Dave Davies.
[1:55] Dave gives an overview of what Force Management does.
[12:01] Dan talks about managing people through the change management process.
[20:19] Dave gives insights into the hiring process at the organization.
[28:43] Dave explains how he came up with the hiring model.
A retired army officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, Dave has held top leadership positions in various organizations, including COO at Sales Performance International (SPI), vice president of finance and risk management systems at Duke Energy, and senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers (now IBM Global Services).
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Chad Franzen: Chad Franzen here, co-host of the Process Breakdown podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of The E Myth and many more.
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Chad Franzen: During his professional career Dave Davies has been an army officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, senior manager with Price Waterhouse’s Management Consulting Group and IT executive. The COO with Sales Performance International and is currently chief operations officer at Force Management. Dave, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?
Dave Davies: Thanks Chad. Thanks for having me.
Chad Franzen: You are the COO with Force Management. Can you tell me a little bit more about what Force Management does?
Dave Davies: Force Management is a sales consulting and training firm and we address large enterprises, our target audience, our sales teams span all industries. We have a concentration in high tech that is across multiple industries, typically enterprise type companies. What we do is we work with the heads of sales and CEOs to up the game on their sales teams. Typically, we define ourself by the problems we solve. If I’m a COO of a large enterprise global sales team, the problems that I encounter are predictable and they tend to fall into two major buckets. The way I either engage with my customers or my own internal management operating rhythm. The offerings that we have are meant to up the game. The ultimate measure is productivity and that could be measured in different ways like ARR or revenue growth.
Dave Davies: The offerings are geared towards either the message, what do I say? How do I articulate my value and differentiation in a way that’s going to resonate? What do I do? How do I qualify deals? Things like that. That’s the engagement side, customer facing outside in. On the inside out the management operating rhythm is my planning function. That cascading series of planning functions, territory, account opportunity, pipeline building, forecasting from a planning, what’s my plan to hit the plan? What about the talent aspect of it? How do I attract and retain folks who are going to do well in this system of accountability that’s part of my go to market.
Dave Davies: That’s what we do. It’s customized. We have offerings that are standardized, but they’re tailored because they have to be. There’s a consulting aspect of it that makes it relevant on the front end and makes it stick on the back end. Those are the book ends of the methodology then right in the middle is the actual training. This is a busy season for us because a lot of the high tech companies are having their SKUs. We feature prominently in that space as well. It’s in a nutshell what we do Chad.
Chad Franzen: Sounds good. Why would a typical client come to you guys? What’s situation would they be in?
Dave Davies: A lot of times what we find is… I’ll just take the high tech space. A lot of these cool high tech companies started out with an algorithm. A couple brilliant folks came out of MIT or they came out of Stanford and they came up with an algorithm because there was a problem in the market that wasn’t being addressed. A lot of our clients are cyber oriented. Their initial target buying audience is the engineers. Maybe a cyber engineer or developer, somebody like that. But what happens is over time, their solution set grew in terms of the scope of the problem that they can solve. The competition cut up because it was such a successful thing and so they started out perhaps in a product led growth mode.
Dave Davies: If I can just get this stuff out there, the developer community will talk about it, they’ll buy more seats. But as I’m going to go to the enterprise, because my product-led bottoms-up strategy wasn’t getting me where I needed to get to. The signature levels rose. Now I’m in a C-suite. I’m not at the manager director level. I’m not at the individual contributor. I’m at the C-suite. When I was talking to engineers, I could run the demo. They’re going to love it. They’re going to buy it. They’re going to tell their friends. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way at the C-suite. They want to know what their business outcome is going to be. What are what we call a positive business outcomes that are going to result from me buying this software?
Dave Davies: What’s the ROI? At that level, they’re thinking in terms of either up my revenue, reduce my cost or mitigate the risk of a bad thing happening. I had this sales team that was geared towards talking about the eloquence of the features and the functions and that really resonated with a certain level of buying audience. But that same message needs to be tailored and morphed up the chain of command to resonate with the C-suite. But that’s not how I train my folks. I gave them product training. One of our typical use cases is, we’re moving from selling on product features and functions to selling on business value. So help us retool our sales team in mass to be able to deliver that higher message. We have a methodology where we work through it. We have sales, marketing, product, product marketing, senior execs and we get them all aligned around what this new message is going to be.
Dave Davies: What’s going to resonate based upon what has worked and not worked in the past and that’s the customization part of it. Then we take the organization through a transformation where, okay, don’t forget how to teach, talk to this audience, but now we’re going to build upon that so that I can connect the dots across the different people involved in the buying process. Then that’s the training aspect of it. Then we have a series of things from a sustained perspective to make sure that they get their ROI realization. It’s adopted in the short-term and sustained in the long-term. These are change management endeavors. One of the things I learned when I was in systems, Chad, I started out naively. I started out as a coder in life.
Dave Davies: And as I’m running projects, I’m thinking, okay, this is a technology implementation. We’re slamming in this ERP or we’re building this custom app. It’s a technology thing. I wised up pretty quickly and then I’m like, well, no, technology’s part of it, but it’s also a process. It’s a process that is enabled by the technology. Then I wised up a little bit more and I figured out this is a change management endeavor. We are changing the way that people do things. If you look at it as a change management project and you understand how people react to change, it’s almost like the grieving process. They’re in denial and anger and bargaining and eventually mental acceptance. If you look at a systems project like that, you’re going to have an easier go of it because you look at the human element of it, then you figure out the process element of it.
Dave Davies: Then the technology is almost the detail. Technology projects are really about the technology. They’re about the change of behavior. It’s the same way over on this side of the fence. In a lot of the practices that I drew upon in the very beginning, is we were building this thing up from scratch. I drew upon the systems development experience and just applied it in the direction of sales enablement consulting. Because it’s the same concept. It’s all project based. It involves the change of behavior. That’s what you have to understand. What are the ramifications of taking somebody who’s been quite successful selling one way product features and functions. I set a new expectation. It’s a little bit scary because now I have to go a few wrongs up and I’m looking eye to eye with the C-suite, there’s a change management element involved with that.
Dave Davies: You look at it from that perspective, then the training methodology becomes the detail. We look at it as there’s mindset, process tools and content. It’s a multifront war to try to pick up an organization from one state and move it to another with as many people as possible. It’s a normal distribution. There’s some people on the front end of the curve, the leading end of the curve who are just kind of doing it naturally. This makes them consciously competent. It puts the vocabulary to what they do naturally. You have the tail end, that’s really never going to get there. Then you got to figure out what to do with them.
Dave Davies: But I have these 60% center of mass that if you can just get their heads wrapped around this, give them some examples and let them ease into it. You can really move the center of mass up to what your superstars are doing. That makes a big impact on the sales productivity. That’s what the methodology does. It gets alignment around things, the message, the process, the plan, the people. Then it makes it approachable to the masses. We slow down the behaviors of the greats in a way that people who are still learning and developing can emulate. That’s really the power of it, but it’s straight up change management stuff, Chad.
Chad Franzen: When you’re a coder, if you know the code, you just write a new code, but people can be difficult to code. How do you approach that change or convince them that we need a new behavior here?
Dave Davies: We use our messaging offering. We have a messaging offering of, how do I convey value and differentiation in my products in a way that is going to resonate with what you care about? You can use that internally too. You can face it towards a customer, but you can also face it towards somebody who’s undergoing change. What you try to do is you try to attach what you’re doing to something that they care about. You got to do the old fashion. Start with the why. Let’s get rallied around why we’re doing this. What’s the purpose for what we’re doing this? What does the change look like? Then how are we actually going to do it? If you go right to the how, but they don’t understand the why, then it’s hard for them to rally around it.
Dave Davies: There’s typically a why for the greater good. Then there’s the why for the individual person. Somebody back in my systems day, gave me this little reminder that I always have rattling through my head, is that if you want people to change and you want to have that be as smooth as possible, you have to make sure that they’re informed of what the change is in the first place. They are included in the architecture of what that change is going to be. Then they’re in control of the pace with which it occurs. It’s the three eyes. What I find is if I go too quickly to what we’re actually doing without setting the context and hearing people’s concerns, if I get too many steps ahead, I’m going to have to backtrack anyway.
Dave Davies: I might as well take the time to set the context. You’ve heard the expression in business, follow the money. In this context, the way I look at it is follow the fear. What I try to do is, whenever you’re taking a group through an exercise and you get all the who move my cheese going on, I like to look at on a person by person basis. What are they afraid of? Whenever they hear this thing, there’s always the good things that are going to happen. But as humans, we’re fear driven. What is this person afraid of? Are they afraid they’re not going to be able to hang in the new world?
Dave Davies: Are they afraid they’re going to fail? Are they afraid that they’re going to be exposed? Are they afraid that they’re going to make a buffoon to themself when they talk to the C-suite? What is it? What’s driving it? Because once I understand their fear at the molecular level, then I can calm that fear down. A lot of times they don’t just say it. People don’t say, I’m afraid of this. It comes out sideways as something else like an anger or resistance, but underneath each one of those tends to be some insecurity, a fear. If I can figure out what that is, then I’m talking human to human instead of ego to ego. Then you can find common ground. Let’s find common ground around the why. Distill that down to the what.
Dave Davies: Then people were a little bit less attached to the how, if they’re on board with the why and the what. I don’t know if you ever read this book. It’s a really amazing book by Colin Powell called My American Journey. I think he’s an amazing guy. He’s one of my heroes. I got a bunch of heroes, but he’s one of them. He has amazing stories, just his life. What he made of himself with where he started. And he has these 13 principles in the back of his book that he writes and one of them, I think it’s number three is, never let your ego get so tied to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it. When you look at that, within the context of a change management sales transformation or whatever, what you find is people will stake out a position on something.
Dave Davies: They so attach their ego to that, that they may even realize in the conversation that they’re wrong, their position is not wrong, or is wrong. But their ego is so tied to it, that they hold onto it. There’s what people say, it’s their position, but then it’s what is their true interest? And that interest could either be in a gain or a lot of times it’s in a fear. But if I understand that, then we can talk person to person instead of ego to ego. Because whenever you’re talking ego to ego, that’s whenever these ridiculous flare ups tend to occur. There’s a lot of psychology in it and I’m not a psychologist, but I’m kind of a psychologist through the school of hard knocks. Made a lot of mistakes.
Chad Franzen: So let’s talk about your role as a COO. How many people are part of your team?
Dave Davies: I’ve got about 50 right now. What COO means at Force Management is really watching over the way that we implement these projects. We have a repeatable process for the way that we implement these projects. They’re typically two or three months tip to stern. We have a series of workshops to make it relevant. We have the actual training events to set the expectation. Then you have a series of sustained activities that make it adopted in the short-term and sustained in the long-term. If you look at what’s required in order to do that, it’s pretty much of a classic consulting methodology in the way that the team is structured. You have a few folks that are more senior in their career, and they look and talk like me.
Dave Davies: We’re the ones that facilitate the workshops and the different training events. Then you have folks that are the consultants and they do a bunch of things. They do project management, they do the curriculum development and during the workshops, they’re breakout coaches. You have this chain of command, a classic consulting pyramid structure. What I tend to watch over is the delivery of those services. Both from the initial role, the training, the sustain. We have a lot of feeds obviously into product development, because as you’re taking your basic service offerings to market, you’re doing a lot on the fly product development in the field. Paid product development and that creates a feedback loop to the gold standard curriculum over time.
Dave Davies: Then the team also works hand in hand with the sales organization as pre-sales engineers, sales architects, which makes it really cool because the size of our company, we have the luxury that the delivery team, the one who’s actually implementing the services or also the architects during the sales cycle. You never architect something that you can’t deliver. It’s like packing your own parachute. You pack a parachute differently if you know that the one who’s going to have to jump it. Then you have that close loop feedback to product. We have these consultants who are the center of the universe. They are architects, they are delivery folks. They’re part of the volunteer fire department that helps the product development.
Dave Davies: So you have that virtuous triangle between the way I sell it, the way I deliver it and then the evolution of the core curriculum. It’s a really cool model that works. Like I said, it’s a luxury because of our size. As you get a lot bigger, those things tend to delineate out and all of a sudden you give birth to a silo and you have to figure out how to do it. But right now, those things work together in tandem.
Chad Franzen: What do you look for when you’re trying to fill a consultant role?
Dave Davies: If I think about the facilitators, people like me, you’re looking for some foundational attributes and you’re also looking for an experience. Did I actually do something like this before? When we’re looking for the consultants who are a little bit more junior in their career… When we first started up and we were starting to ramp up the company about 15 years ago, we made a bad mistake of trying to hire people that had done certain things.
Dave Davies: They’d done instructional design, they’d done career development or whatever. We were messing up and we didn’t know why. But then we got it right a few times and we’re like, what’s the difference? I was on a flight back from San Francisco one time and I’m like, we got to crack this code. So I’m going to take six hours to put down what the bright spots are. If we look at the bright spots of the people who survived versus those who didn’t, what did they have in common? We came up with this profile, this yardstick, and what we found was it wasn’t so much what you did, it’s who you are. We came up with this yardstick and it had different attributes to it. Smart, abundance mindset, grit, technologically savvy, intellectually curious.
Dave Davies: It was these attributes, which were more who you are rather than what you’ve done. We printed these out in the beginning and we literally handed them to our friends and family network. And we said, do you know someone who’s like this, not somebody who did this, somebody who’s like this. Then all of a sudden they’d be, oh yeah, my niece, my nephew, my brother, my next door neighbor. Because if we can get somebody that has those attributes to them, they’re smart, they have grit, they have an abundance mindset, high EQ. We can teach them how to do the trade, but we can’t put in what God left out. If it’s not there, we can’t put those foundational attributes in. We can build the skills, we can build the knowledge, but we can’t change how you grew up.
Dave Davies: I like to look for people who persevered through some adversity in their life. They had to work for something and it wasn’t just given to them. That’s the grid aspect of it. You have to think on your feet a lot. Call a lot of audibles. So reasoning skills are very important, smart is good. What I find is organizations are at their best when we’re in a state of empathy and I am empathizing with what you’re going through and you are empathizing with what I’m going through. I can think about somebody other than myself. There’s some purpose that’s bigger than myself. Therefore high EQ and somebody that has an abundance versus a scarcity mindset, that’s always a good thing. In our company, DE&I community service is one of the pillars that we live by, there’s really three pillars that the company was founded on.
Dave Davies: It’s servant based leadership is really the core and that manifests itself in three directions. It’s service to customers, service to employees and service to the community. I like to see people who resonate with that servant leadership mindset. When I’m interviewing somebody and they say, hey, I read on your website all this community service work you do this pro bono work and that really resonated with me. That’s a good thing for me, you want to hear something like that. Like I said, that’s what we look for. For each one of the roles, whether a consultant, a facilitator, we have a success profile for what that looks like. What are the people who really do this well? What are they doing?
Dave Davies: Then if we slow down their behaviors, how can we replicate that with other folks? So you come up with this gold standard of a success profile. And then if you think about the talent management life cycle that surrounds it there’s the intake, the sourcing and the recruiting. But it’s not just in general, it’s against that success profile. We have a general rule of thumb that we use. It’s the 30, 30, 30, 10 rule. If I’m conducting an interview, and if I look at the anatomy of my decision, 30% of the anatomy in my decision should be this person’s background, who are they? What have they done? What’s on the resume? 30% is what happened during the screening process in the interview. We asked some questions, we got some answers. They asked some questions, we gave them some answers. What did that interaction feel like?
Dave Davies: The third 30% is we have an online assessment we do that tests the things like reasoning ability, independence, different attributes. That’s the data-driven aspect of it and then 10% is gut feel. A lot of times, what can happen is that gets reversed. I’m making a hiring decision based upon 90% gut feel because I like the person or they’re like me and I may not need someone who’s like me. I may need someone who’s the opposite of me to balance me out and then 10% objectivity and that gets you in trouble. A lot of misfires. We try to make it a little bit more data-driven.
Dave Davies: That’s the recruiting aspect of it against that success profile. Then there is the onboarding, how do we get time to productivity as short as possible? What experiences can we put people through? What are the knowledge, skills, and experiences they need to go through to get proficient and that’s against the success profile. Then I do a performance assessment, which… We do career development, more so than performance assessment, it’s career development. That’s against that success profile and then coaching and developing that’s against the success profile. Then the succession planning, which is the last stage of the life cycle. It requires getting a common definition of success, then everything in that talent management life cycle, the recruiting, the onboarding, everything has to be against that objective standard. That’s how you get some process consistency in how you’re developing people.
Dave Davies: In my role, Chad, I do things. I run workshops, I do COO things, but my number one priority has to be on the career development of folks. That’s my number one priority. As a result of what we do, we are a factory of career development and leadership development. Because if you get that right, then we will run good projects. If we run good projects, we will get good customer results, they will be happy. They will buy more, they will refer us and they’ll be good case studies. I think you have to work it forward from the employee development rather than backwards from the revenue generation side, because it’s a people business. How else would you do it?
Chad Franzen: That sounds like a fantastic system. I have one more question for you, but first how, how can people find out more about force management?
Dave Davies: Www.forcemanagement.com
Chad Franzen: That is a very detailed and a fantastic system. How did you come up with that model?
Dave Davies: It’s straight up military. The only thing I’m doing now is a civilian context for everything I learned in the military. The development, always building leaders, as soon as you learn something, you pass it on. It’s just military that’s where I got it. But it’s a civilian context. We don’t run around in uniforms saluting each other or anything, but it’s a lot of the concepts are just bringing forward from the military, which has thousands of years of people management experience to it.
Chad Franzen: That leads me to one more question. You mentioned Colin Powell being one of your heroes. You said you had some other heroes. Can you give me an example of one or two others and maybe what you incorporate from them that you might have learned?
Dave Davies: Yeah. I like Daniel Pink. When I think about Daniel Pink, I don’t know if you read the book Drive by Daniel pink, he has this motto that he says what motivates people, especially who are in a knowledge worker mode. He has this acronym of PAM which is Purpose Upon Me in mastery. If I want to motivate somebody who is in one of these knowledge worker type jobs, the first thing I need to do is, there needs to be a purpose that people can rally around besides just revenue generation or maximizing shareholder value, who can get emotionally attached to that except the board. But there has to be some higher level of purpose especially with a lot of our workforce are younger folks.
Dave Davies: We have a lot of millennials, Gen Zs and things. What really motivates them, you have to have the hygiene factors, money, benefits, things like that, but it’s feeling connected to a higher level purpose, a social cause, DE&I or whatever that cause may be, community service things. That’s a big thing. That’s what gets me the emotional boost. It’s the thing that on a Monday morning where I got to get up at five in the morning and go get on a plane, it’s that purpose that makes me feel good about that. Because I know regenerating this revenue, which goes into our community service bucket, we’re going to feed some people, we’re going to educate some people, we’re just going to lift some people up.
Dave Davies: That’s what gets you going. So purpose is the first part of it. The second thing the A in PAM is autonomy. I have some control over the way in which things happen. I’m not being micromanaged. I am giving a lot of authority at an early age. In order to do that, you have to watch your risk threshold. You can’t have autonomy if you don’t have risk. Because if people are going to develop, they have to make mistakes. I’ve had career development sessions where I’ve had to tell people who have a fear of failure, you’re not making enough mistakes. You’re playing it too safe and we never learn from our successes. We only learn from the things that we hose up. I’ve had to give people advice, I need you to screw some things up because if you’re not screwing things up, you’re not learning. You can’t keep screwing them up.
Dave Davies: Our business isn’t life or death. We don’t have bullets flying at us. We can always fix things and that’s what the leaders do provide a safety net so that some screws it up, you can recover and the customer isn’t impacted. But I need you to screw some things up so you can learn from it. That contributes to autonomy because otherwise then you have the zero defect mindset and people aren’t learning and they’re afraid to make a mistake. All the decisions are top down rather than decentralized the place where they belong. So autonomy is the second factor and then the M is mastery, I want achieve mastery in something that is important to me. That’s also very important to younger generations. I want to develop my skills and on day one be the CEO. These things are very important. So that’s really my navigation and I think Daniel Pink did a good job in Drive, putting that out, purpose, autonomy and mastery.
Chad Franzen: Okay.
Dave Davies: I spend a lot of time reading and working with different things that are out there. I like Leaders Eat Last. I think that’s a good book, a good case study for newly minted leaders. I think it was in that book, sometimes I get these things confused or it was a Colin’s book, but they asked the Common Dawn of the Marine Corps, how do you build Marines? How do you guys do that? Because you crank them out and once a Marine always a Marine and his response was wonderful. He said, "We don’t make Marines. They’re already Marines." They were Marines from birth. We just bring that out of them and we tell them it’s okay to be that way. I think that’s the way it is. Career development is that way as well, it’s in there, it just may not be fully developed. Our job as leaders is to bring that out and to foster an environment where that can thrive. But PAM, that’s a good acronym, purpose, autonomy, mastery. That keeps me honest. It provides a priority on my day.
Dave Davies: Is everybody getting that? Because when they get that, then you beat the odds on attrition, whenever you care about people. From my perspective, if someone asked me this the other day, we were in a leadership forum inside the company and I was asking them. I always like to ask newly minted leaders, what kind of leader do you want to be? If you were to articulate what kind of a leader you are as a statement of purpose, what would that be? And there’s no right answer. It’s just, what is it for you? Because it’s different for others? So someone asked me the same thing. I said, for me, leadership, I’ve evolved it over the years, but what it is now, it’s, it’s fairly simple and it’s two factors.
Dave Davies: The first factor is that I want to slow down my behaviors in a way that I can teach to other people who want to learn it so I can shorten their learning curve to a fraction of what it took me. That’s my value prop to them. I’m going to try to get you to where you want to get to in a way that’s faster than you could perhaps do on your own and in order to do that, I can’t just say, hey, look at me and do what I do. That’s not helpful. I have to be able break it down so that people can emulate it.
Dave Davies: That’s my first job. As a leader, is to slow down my behaviors and teach things to others so that they can grow. Then the other factor for me is to care about them significantly more than I care about myself. Every day I wake up and I think, are they okay? We have 50 souls that are entrusted to us in this department. Are they okay? Are they getting what they need? From a purpose, autonomy and mastery perspective. I think if you do that for me anyway, I found that if I do those two things, everything else is a detail.
Chad Franzen: Those are some great insights. Great thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing all of those with us. I really appreciate your time today, Dave. Thank you very much.
Dave Davies: Thank you, Chad. I appreciate it.
Chad Franzen: Have a good day. So long everybody.
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