Culture

Dinner with Family

Dinner with Family

Dinner together as a family was a key part of how we raised our children and how we kept our family so tightly knit for years. No matter what you had to accomplish in a given day, you did your damnedest not to miss dinner. I often left the office, came home to share a meal, and headed back into the office.

There were no boundaries at the dinner table. There didn't need to be. We talked about everything.

Doers Decide

Doers Decide

A hat tip to Tyler Jennings for the title of this post. He and I were in a meeting some time ago, along with a lot of other interesting people from Groupon Engineering. We were sharing our thoughts on team leadership and the role of managers. There was talk about how decisions need to be made close to the work and how managers need to not just seek advice, but actually provide others the opportunity to make decisions.

Naming Teams

Naming Teams

I was recently contacted by a colleague looking for a bit of advice.

C: "We are thinking about merging two teams together and we're not sure how to message the change."

D: "What do you think will be your biggest challenges?"

C: "Well, for one, we're not sure how the funnel flow team will respond to being folded into the purchase page team."

Organizational Motivators: Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence.

Organizational Motivators: Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence.

I think I saw Daniel Pink's TED Talk on "The Puzzle of Motivation" for the first time in 2011. I'd been reading some about leadership, management, and organizational psychology up to that point, but Pink's talk and his distillation of these complex concepts into a simple framework (Autonomy, Connection, and Excellence) inspired me to read more on the topics. Over the course of the next couple of years, I consumed a decent amount of material. You can view my Goodreads account to see what books I was reading. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to share all of the scientific articles and other sources I also consumed.

Shaping culture through inaction

Shaping culture through inaction

It is not only the things we reward that shape culture, but the things we allow. Perhaps the easiest way to shape a culture is to do nothing at all.

When a rockstar employee yells at, denigrates, or refuses to help teammates and you let it slide because the rockstar is valuable, you are shaping a culture. When a teammate tells a racist or sexist joke and you say nothing because nobody present is a member of the target group, you are shaping a culture. When an executive abuses power, when a coworker engages in gossip, when a team cuts corners to make deadlines and you decide it isn't your problem, you are shaping a culture.

Jungle Gyms, Not Ladders

Jungle Gyms, Not Ladders

I've worked for essentially two types of companies - those that have clearly defined job ladders and those that don't.

A clearly defined job ladder provides people a clear picture of what they need to accomplish and what skills they need to display in order to move into a new role. A clearly defined job ladder provides a baseline for performance appraisals. Everyone in the organization knows what is expected of people in each role. Are you displaying these attributes with a level of proficiency requisite for the role, or are you not? Job ladders make the expectations of progress and the opportunity for advancement clear and consistent.

One on One Meetings

About 15 years ago, I started a simple practice with my fellow co-workers and employees. Every so often, we'd meet to discuss stuff and things. Nothing too formal, just a touch-point to make sure we were staying connected. I called the sessions "touch-point meetings". Over time, I made adjustments to the format of the meeting as various structures proved more or less valuable.

Collaboration Contract (was Collaboration 8)

Back in April, I wrote about a practice we were experimenting with at LeanDog. I called it Collaboration 8. The intent is to figure out who are the right people to have involved in a discussion. Rather than the boss making the decision, Collaboration 8 provides a way for the team to self-select and get clarity around levels of engagement and responsibility in the decision making process. I've found coupling Collaboration 8 with Six Thinking Hats has been a tremendous boon to the self-organizing teams to whom I've introduced the concepts.