What to Look for in a Manager

August 28, 2023

Great cultures ,Hacks ,Hiring

In a recent WSJ profile of the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi was asked what he looks for when hiring a new team member. Here is his answer:

What I look for above all else is followership. I want to know who they’ve hired, who they’ve developed, because ultimately, you get exponential benefit, not just based on the individual, but everyone they’ve hired and developed.

This an amazing insight, because it goes beyond asking if they have management experience, and makes them tell stories about specific people.  In other words, it’s hard to fudge it.

File this one under “Interview Hacks.”

Hybrid work: When should you go to the office?

August 14, 2023

Culture of Chaos ,Great cultures ,Productivity

Hybrid work is all the buzz right now.

The question in hybrid work is when should we bring people to the office instead of letting people stay at home?

The brilliant people at NOBL figured out a great model, based on what type of work actually needs to be accomplished (which is so refreshing compared to dialogue about how many days).

Hybrid work - Do it when it's a new task, it's very experiential, or you need a lot of people working together.

The task or challenge is new; there may not be an established process.  When it’s new, there can be a lot of fear and anxiety and it’s easiest to relieve emotional discordance in person. It’s also very hard to read tone over the text of email or Slack. This is where hybrid work switches to in person.

An immersive experience can possibly be more effective. This is especially helpful if you do anything tactile.

When tasks require sustained synchronous participation among a group. So obvious and yet with hybrid work, everyone is still obsessed with staying at home.  It’s truly hilarious that Zoom is having trouble getting people to come into the office.  The problem is they haven’t created a great collaborative culture such that people actually want to come to the office.  (There’s a lot of room for creativity here).

The office is great for trainings including:

Hybrid work culture can include: team building, annual strategy meetings, and change initiatives.  And remember, if it’s important, put it on the calendar!

Going into the office is supposed to be a great experience!  Where are you falling short?

I’ll tell you one way is to upgrade the coffee.  I need to do an article on this because the CEO of United Airlines recently said that what motivated him to start making serious changes was hearing the airplane stewards say they were tired of apologizing for the bad coffee.

As always, remember that culture is co-created. So don’t think you have to figure this out all on your own. You can crowdsource the ideas and then experiment.

Everyone gets vacation policy wrong.

July 25, 2023

Great cultures ,Hacks

It’s very in fashion these days to have “unlimited vacation” at high performance companies – and yet it doesn’t matter because those people rarely take vacations.  In mediocre companies, employees will play games with their vacation days and even get compensated for the days they don’t take.

The problem is that everyone sees vacations as a luxury, as opposed to a productivity hack that helps the company.

Think about it this way – Do you usually get more or less done right before a vacation?  A lot, right?

Try this out:

Pull each person aside and say, “I’d like you to plan your vacation that you’ll take 3 months from now.”  It will probably make them nervous, but explain to them that:

a) This will make them more productive so they will get things done before the vacation starts and

b) It helps the team because if anyone is so crucial they can’t even miss a week, then the team is not resilient. This forces the team to be resilient by making sure the operations are covered.

So go ahead, while it’s on your mind. Set up those meetings to ask people to proactively schedule their vacations.

The Opt-in Framework (How buy-in really works)

April 28, 2023

Great cultures ,Hacks ,Tools

Everyone says, “How do you get buy-in?” But that’s the soft equivalent of manipulation when we try to “get” people to do anything. What’s more powerful, respectful and lasting is invitations. And there’s a certain way to do them…

Employee Engagement is Easier Than You Think

February 2, 2023

Culture of Chaos ,Great cultures ,Vision

Open Space Employee Engagement

Employee Engagement has always been the talk in HR and culture circles. And I’m glad that’s the word rather than “happiness.” I think we’re all responsible for our own happiness. But leaders can create a very engaging work environment. In some of the strongest work cultures, people aren’t always having fun, but they always care. They’re dedicated, and they’re focused. They act like they’re owners of the business.

Employee Engagement is not surveys (that usually just stay in Google Docs).
It’s not get-to-know-you games.
It’s not gifts and recognition.

It’s simply real and honest conversation.

That said, it needs a structure to create safety for the truth to emerge. The best way I know is an open source format that anyone can use. It’s called Open Space. Check it out…

www.OpenSpace.events You can follow the manuals there, or I’m happy to run an Open Space (and train you to do it without me). It can even be done virtually.

Should we bring our whole selves to work?

October 7, 2022

Great cultures ,Hacks

whole self

Pamela Paul certainly doesn’t think so.  This is a hilarious article on why it’s best if we just bring our work selves to work…

Do not “bring your whole self” to work.

That’s right! Defy the latest catchphrase of human resources and leave a good portion of you back home. Maybe it’s the part of you that’s grown overly attached to athleisure. The side that needs to talk about candy (guilty). It could be the getting-married part of you still agonizing over whether a destination wedding is morally defensible in These Times.

Leave those things behind and I promise: No one in your workplace will miss them. And remember, it works both ways. Anyone worth sharing a flex desk with is not someone you want to see every last ounce of either. They, too, can reserve their aches, grievances, flimsy excuses and noisy opinions for the roommate, the pandemic puppy and the houseplants.

As a culture speaker you might think I’d disagree. But I don’t. She makes a great argument for it.

And… there’s a missed opportunity.

Rather than bring your whole self, bring your future self.

Your future self is the person you want to become. And (most likely), your colleagues want to help you get there. That’s why we had an entire goals department at Zappos.

It’s a similar psychology to why NPS (Net Promoter Score) is better than CSAT (Customer Satisfaction).  CSAT surveys focus on all the grievances of the past – Meaning it’s a complaint-fest.  But NPS asks the consumer – How can this be better?  It engages our imaginations.

When I lead my team at Zappos, we had a “dream wall” with images of everything each person wanted to experience or accomplish.  And we would bring them up in our one-on-one meetings.

If we bring our future selves to work, we bond over what we actually want, rather than grievances and gossip.