Excellent post on creating great company values (versus lame ones) & challenges behind “living them” by the Twilio CEO. Encourage you to check out the article below.
“CULTURE is a word that Silicon Valley and startups everywhere toss around all the time,” says Lawson. “What does it really mean and how does it relate to VALUES? What I landed on is that culture is living your values.
Values are written words, and your culture is how you actually live those written words.”
“Our values are in motion, specifically through a three-stage lifecycle that gets us to the next stage of growth. First, we articulate our values, then live them and finally, test them.”
Love these two values the most (see the picture below):
1) “Empower Others: Make Heroes. Unleash the greatness of others inside and outside the company.”
2) “No Shenanigans: Be thoughtful. Always deal in an honest, direct, and transparent way.”
Values are for guiding behaviors and helping people make decisions that everyone will support and feel proud about.
Values are really really hard to get right and usually take iteration. But it’s worth investing in because the positive/negative consequences are massive.
Anthony & I get into a “meaty” conversation on his fantastic human resources podcast (E1B2 Podcast -Employee 1st Business 2nd) on the challenges w/ employee engagement, employee experience, culture building, teamwork, new employee onboarding, & other HR areas.
“In today’s episode, we cover the following topics ( Why teamwork is the most important company asset and least understood. We also discuss why and the cost/impact strategies and tools to build it. We also conduct a deep dive into Why 99% of onboarding is broken and what to do about it; what matters the most as it pertains to onboarding new employees? Finally what brands need to care about the most from a psychological perspective during the onboarding process!)”
An underperforming employee can drag the entire team down and create unnecessary drama and tension. It could be things such as missing deadlines, not thinking strategically, poor communication, missing goals, or many other things. The “knee jerk” reaction for many managers, after most likely several intense conversations and a lot of frustration, is training or termination.
That might still be the end result, but there is a better three-step process to go through that I outline below.
Here’s an important data point to keep in mind when you are thinking about this:A manager’s ability to accurately and quickly diagnose their employees’ performance challenges and then provide the right prescriptive solutions is critical to building high-performing teams and companies.
If a manager can’t, it not only causes frustration between the manager and employee, it cascades through the entire team and other teams they interact with.
Managers often struggle to understand the root causes when employees struggle. How? They often assume that the “surface level” issue is the problem when it actually runs much deeper. Often times there is/are issue(s) beyond knowledge, skill, and competency that play a primary or secondary role.
If you don’t address the entirety of the challenge, it often comes back again in a different scenario. That’s both costly and huge time waste.
The first place to start is root cause analysis (i.e. getting to the “roots” of what’s causing the issue and why they can’t move past it). These are self-reflective questions the manager can run through, then discuss with the employee and finally implement.
Before you go through root cause analysis it’s worthwhile to run through a quick exercise: There are three key questions that help determine if someone can change, overcome an obstacle/difficulty and learnskills/knowledge to get to the next level in their career.
Are they willing? (You can’t do much with someone who isn’t.)
Are they motivated and do they care? (If they are disconnected, and disengaged, it’s really, really hard to help someone).
Are they coachable? (Change requires new behaviors, thinking, and actions. If they aren’t open to new ideas and taking new “leaps of faith” to trying new things, you can’t move them forward).
Unless you are very certain the answer is “no” for all three, keep reading. There is hope and a possibility for improvement. And remember, every great employee at one point in their career will get really stuck.
Here’s the three-step employee performance root cause analysis process
Step 1: Diagnose the Problem
Answer the following questions…
What are they required to do?
Who do they have to work with?
When and where do their underperformance issues appear?
What’s the impact of the underperformance?
What does great, average and poor performance look like? (and do they know what it looks like?)
What has been done in the past to address it?
Step 2: Do Root Cause Analysis (see the template/tool kit below)
There is a useful performance issue diagnostic tool that can help a manager get at the potential root causes for the employee’s underperformance. Check it out. It goes through a template and check-list on their motivation, knowledge, skill, and environment.
Here is part of it so you can see it before you download it (sorry for the small size):
There are a few key questions that I would add to the above list:
Do they understand how they will be evaluated?
How are they being measured? Tasks, activities and/or results?
Are they regularly informed about the feedback? Is it soon and often enough? Is it specific and accurate? Is it understandable and clear to them? Is it tied to things under their control?
Are there incentives for them do well? Do they know what they are? Are they motivating for them?
Step 3: Prescribe the Right Solution
Sometimes it’s not just the employee that needs help, it’s the manager too.
If it’s knowledge/skills – provide education, training, and coaching
If it’s standards/measures – realign expectations and provide “crystal clarity” on measurements
If it’s lack of feedback – the manager needs to get leadership and management coaching
If it’s environmental – provide the additional resources, tools, assistance and anything else they need.
If it’s ability – rehire if the skills, knowledge, and experience gap is too big.
Root cause analysis is very helpful when looking at employee performance challenges. It also can be very useful for high-performing employees to get them even more engaged and motivated.
Elon Musk sent out an internal email to Tesla employees on what great communication looks like and the chain of communication. I find this a fascinating read and worth discussing. It’s definitely controversial and can be challenging to pull off. Here is his email:
“There are two schools of thought about how information should flow. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it enhances the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.
Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept talks to a person in another dept and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.
Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well.”
What’s the main takeaway for me: Managers shouldn’t be bottlenecks, silos and/or “information-stoppers.” Anyone should feel safe, able and comfortable reaching out to anyone else company-wide. It’s completely inefficient to always have to run something through a chain of command instead of problem-solving it yourself.
That being said…
Know your company culture (and values) and what’s acceptable (and what’s not)
Weigh the consequences of going around people
Managers can be very helpful by being a sounding board, “war-gaming” a strategy/plan, being your advocate and much more
Individuals should also go back and loop-in people because excluding them entirely causes its own set of issues
An individual’s skill level on emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, empathy, feedback and more will go a VERY long way to help navigate what Elon Musk mentions
I came across a dozen or so exceptional managers that used different versions of “user manuals” or “how-to-work-with-me-manuals.” They told me they were game-changers for productivity, performance, communication, and teamwork. They minimized and eliminated misunderstandings, biases and much more. What are they? Read on and learn!
“Learning how best to work with others is a huge challenge that often derails and stalls organizations. Over many years I’ve seen tremendously talented and productive teams struggle because of subtle misunderstandings, miscommunications and unspoken conflicts. Most business failures stem from these issues.
Leaders often talk about the importance of teamwork, but they rarely say exactly how to do it.
Here’s one game-changing step your organization and/or team can take: implementing a “How to Work With Me” manual and process. It’s a detailed instruction road map on individual preferences for areas such as communication, trust and pet peeves. It sets clear expectations on how to interact without trying to guess or infer what the other person means. It allows people to be authentic without being misunderstood.
It also instantly increases trust and team chemistry. You’ll see direct bottom-line benefits such as increased performance and fewer conflicts and miscommunications.
No matter how well we think we read people, everyone could use some help. None of us are perfect at it. But we can be much, much better.
We all have different personalities, communication styles, expectations and needs. We’ve been shaped by different experiences and histories. That creates challenging dynamics when you bring together leaders, managers and employees and expect them to accomplish difficult goals.
Organizations throw people together in teams and expect them to “magically” figure out each other’s personalities, preferences and hot buttons through guesswork, mind reading and trial-and-error. It would be similar to having to assemble IKEA’s most complicated piece of furniture without the instructions.
People often end up trying to analyze and predict what others like, hate, need and want, instead of asking them directly. This results in a rollercoaster ride of confusion, miscommunication, misunderstandings, unmet expectations, anxiety, fear and disappointment.
Despite all our best intentions, this process and environment is primed for broken trust, poor relationships and underperforming teams.
“This book is one of the best-kept secrets I’ve come across in a REALLY long time! There is are so many tips for conversations and networking skills in today’s society. If you can master what Jason talks about in this book, you’ll definitely build long-term wealth! Many other reviewers have compared this to “How to Win Friends & Influence People” and I cannot agree more. Buy two copies and give one to someone in your network.”
It’s always great to read a review from someone you don’t know about the positive impact Social Wealth had on them. I’ve been fortunate to have more than 125+ five-star reviews on the book. If you are looking to build deeper, more meaningful business relationships (either in your company or through business networking), you may want to consider checking it out. It works for introverts and shy people just as well as extroverts.
Creating a strategy of self-improving teams is a major strategic advantage for any organization. Team provides feedback that improves individual performance and effectiveness without complete reliance on the manager and/or performance review process.
It also is proven to increase successes and improve learning from setbacks.
In HBR’s May issue, it goes into deep research on why teams and teamwork should be the focal point for success.
In Vienna, Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world record holder, on Saturday shattered a record that had been untouchable. As a runner, this was something special for me.
I’ve run three marathons (Chicago 2018, Philadelphia 2018 and Phoenix 2019). It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and one of the most rewarding. I haven’t accomplished my goal of qualifying for Boston, though I got close in February (3:20:13, and needed 3:19:10 to qualify and run the Boston Marathon).
His feat was running a marathon (26.2 miles) under two hours.
There is A LOT of application for all us in our professional career and business, starting with his quote:
“Anything is possible.” – Eluid Kipochoge, 10/12/2019
Breaking this record was insane. Some people call him the Roger Federer or Michael Jordan of running. No one has done this on any marathon course. None of the analytic gurus or race experts thought it could be done until much later.
“Just how likely was this? When researchers from Australia crunched data from marathon world records over the past 60 years, they concluded that there was a 10 percent likelihood that the two-hour mark would be fall in May of 2032, and just a 5 percent chance it would happen by 2024.”
There are some who are criticizing this as a “fake run.” To be fair, this wasn’t a sanctioned marathon. It was a course that was flat (but not downhill) and manufactured.
But for anyone that’s run a marathon and knows what it takes to complete one, this is anything, but fake.
“In actual races, Kipchoge continued to be unmatched. He now holds the official world record for the fastest marathon with his performance at the 2018 Berlin race, when his 2:01:39 finish shaved 78 seconds off the previous mark. He followed that up by winning his fourth London Marathon in April of 2019. That put his marathon win streak at 10 straight, including an Olympic gold in 2016.”
“I wanted to run under two hours and show human beings can do a good job and lead a good life. It shows the positivity of sport,” Kipchoge said. “I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all the human beings can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.”
Three main lessons I want to focus on:
First, like everything in life, there will always be critics. People will point to anything negative they can or “manufacture” their version of the truth.
Instead of replying back, Kipchoge is staying positive and focusing on how this can help others (and other runners). That’s how you can control the conversation. Otherwise, you play into your critics and get into a comparison discussion.
The key is to “swim in your lane.”
In this case, it’s comparing himself to other runners, race conditions, etc.
Second, it highlights how much WORK it takes to accomplish great feats. It took the greatest runner of all-time his entire life to be able to do this. Great feats take a long time. Professional success isn’t instant like an “ESPN highlight reel” and “social media” news feeds.
Think about the successes you are most proud of. They probably took years to accomplish when you look at your first-step and last-step.
Third, Kipchoge first attempt at sub-two hours failed. Nike made a documentary on it in 2017. It took him two-plus years to try again and be successful.
Rarely do we get this right on the first attempt. That goes for extraordinary athletes too. Failure and success are married. They are flip sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other.
In interviewing more than 1,000+ successful entrepreneurs, leaders and managers for my book, Social Wealth, I asked them a question. “How many things do you get right on the first attempt?” The average response was three. That means 70% of the things very successful business people do they fail at the first time. They also said he often took them multiple failures to find the right answers.
They had to learn to pivot, learn their lessons, implement them, and then succeed.
The most forward-thinking companies understand how to leverage failure. You can read up on what Google X does to incentivize individuals and teams to failure.
Harvard has shown through research that the most successful teams report more failures than other teams. That’s one of their “secret sauces.” By communicating failure, you actually progress much, much faster. Plus, you create psychological safety in the process, which creates the optimal environment for high performance.
“Best Things in Life Are Free.” That’s the classic song in MadMen when Burt Cooper dies. It’s signifies the #1 asset and “secret sauce” that leaders typically overlook.
People value and are starving for true connection, complete trust, & teamwork with people who deeply care.
It’s that emotional bond that enables us to accomplish and create the seemingly impossible.
It’s also what brings the very best out of us individually and collectively.
People after the fact point to success as the stock price, profit, sales, etc. But that completely misses the mark. That’s the effect, not the cause.
The gold is in first creating the unbreakable foundation for “the together team.” It’s not to get distracted by process, strategy, etc. Because then leaders make lack of time excuses why they built the foundation on sand. We know what happens over time when they do (and the huge financial cost and emotional turmoil for poor teamwork).
Coco Chanel said, “The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.”
When leaders and managers behaviors and actions prioritize the business over the team, it requires them to pay a very expensive price.
Here’s the video from MadMen that’s worth a watch: https://lnkd.in/e8gD2HF
One of the most difficult decisions leaders and managers have to make is choosing principles (and values) over profits.
It’s rarely an easy choice nor is it black/white.
Lately, I’ve encountered several client situations where this choice had to be made over the past two weeks
1) The top salesperson didn’t feel like they had to follow the same rules as others. They were putting the company at risk with their actions. The challenge was the individual was bringing in a significant amount of revenue and had excellent relationships with clients. It came down to the company making a decision on money versus behavior.
2) Leader in the company treated a large team pretty poorly. But they were getting excellent KPIs and results. The leader didn’t want to change so the company was at a crossroads on what to do.
It may seem clear cut on what to do, but consider this. First, companies have duties to pay employees (who have families), serve their customers and other obligations. Second, principles are not always valued/shared unanimously. The definitions, understandings, and lines aren’t always clear.
But prioritizing profits can lead a company, executives, and managers to forget, push aside or change their principles. Those choices lead to negative and very expensive consequences.