How To Find, Train and Motivate Ops Team?

Ops Stories #6

How Do You Find, Train and Motivate Operations Team?

Host: Liz Stevens, Head of Business Change at Growth Street

9th Jan, 2019

Our very first breakfast meetup that was moderated brilliantly by Liz Stevens. Here are some insights from the session. (Our pictures of the actual breakfast were really bad, so here's a picture of what the breakfast didn't look like)

How did I become a line manager?

If you want to manager someone, you have to understand and know them. You can ask them question to know what makes them tick:

  • What do you want?
  • How do you like to be communicated with?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What are you good at, and not so good at?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?

Don't be to hard on yourself either. Being a line manager doesn't happen overnight. It's a learning curve and you will make mistakes.

What would I have done differently from the outset? Gotten rid of all of my expectations of what kind of manager I wanted be.

Being a leader vs a manager

Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organisational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control. 

  • Harvard Business Review

It’s important to know the difference and think about:

  • What kind of person you naturally are
  • What you want to be: leader, manager or in-between
  • What the business needs from you.

The leadership piece doesn’t also have to rest with you - I’ve learnt that I can be a leader by knowing when to send things up, or pulling on my manager to motivate, inspire, give the hard feedback.


Who do you hire?

You might get tempted to get a version of yourself, which is probably not the best. Ask yourself these questions instead:

  • Are they going to come to work?
  • Are they going to learn?
  • Are they going to do it well?
  • If they don’t have the right skills first it’s fine, the personal side is more important.

The process

Everyone and every company will want to adapt the process to whichever works best for them. There is no, one size fits all, unfortunately. However, no matter if you're a big or a smaller company, be sure to have enough steps in the process so that you see the candidates for who they truly are. Some will be great at the first interview, but it's only when you put them through different sets of tests that you will get a better sense of their personality and capabilities.


  • Phone screening: Basic knowledge and understanding of the candidate
  • Excel test: Remotely, data analysis and presentation (or any other test that fits your team)
  • Round 1 interview: Culture fit assessment and presentation test
  • Round 2 interview: Interview with a colleague from a totally different team who doesn't have any benefit with the new person. They will be much more objective.
  • Once you've made your decision and verbally agreed the position with the new hire, do a reference check and see what their references have to say about them.

Retaining them

A great onboarding process is key. They will always remember their first impressions of your company and team.


If the candidate wants to do something, but as a company we can’t help them. Be very clear about why you can’t hire them, if their expectations are different from the company/team. It’s very valuable feedback.

"A no is a no, a maybe is a no, a yes is a maybe."

Trust your instinct

If there’s anything you’re uncomfortable about, probe it and question it. If you don’t want to ask something or if you’re unsure, ask someone else to help you with that. Especially someone that has different opinions from you.

Even if the culture fit and skillset might be right, pay attention to your gut feeling.