Right now many businesses are freezing headcount and many have had to reduce their headcount by a significant amount.
Here are ten important lessons to help your business progress while it might feel like you cannot do anything proactive within your business, from interview training, to introducing proven frameworks and improving company culture.
Interview Training – improve the department’s ability to interview and encourage the team to interview each other. This will improve skills and enable colleagues to get to know each other
Introduce Management Pods – Improve management teams by introducing rotating management pods, connect small groups of managers and department leads to problem solve and tackle challenges together
Create Two Up Two Across Matrix – Most managers and companies struggle to map out their team members’ career paths, creating the next two steps up or their side steps (helping members know they could become a Product Manager from Marketing or making the move from an expert to the management track is imperative)
Improve Culture With Agreed Department Principles – many departments do not clearly define their sub-culture and do not clearly call out the right behaviours to be rewarded and the bad behaviours that won’t be tolerated
Learn Good Management Traits – Following on from good management traits, learn what traits you and the team like from the department lead and what bad traits you have to remove
Improve Pros and Cons with The Risk Vs Benefits Framework – Pros and cons is often considered the best way of breaking down issues or opportunities, optimise this with the Risk vs benefits, explaining why and think more deeply on nuanced matters
Improve Internal Communications – the core lesson: Short powerful messages + repetition + simple analogies (+ repetition) = internal communication wins (Never ever over communicate!)
Have More Coaches & Mentors – Remove the stigma around mentors and coaches and look to develop your colleagues with mentorship and repurpose bad L&D practices like going to bad conferences to hiring more coaches.
Review Your Managers Reviews – Quarterly performance reviews from staff members to their managers often stops at their manager reviewing it and often not progressing the advice. One way to remove this bad practice is to ensure the department leads and leader of the business reviews the peer-to-peer and managers’ reviews
Obvious But Always Overlooked Lessons: The most obvious many do not teach is budget management and how to put business cases together to succeed within your business.
Good luck and take this opportunity to grow your people and your business.
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The brilliant Anxious Achiever podcast host Morra Aarons-Mele (an introvert herself) provides a number of invaluable recommendations on managing and empowering introverts on your team:
From The FT Working It Podcast
Tips Provided By Morra & FT’s Kesewa Hennessy:
Remove Meeting Stacking: Remove the demand to do meetings back to back, remove the demand for being on camera (aka reducing mirror anxiety ) and reduce the demand to perform on camera
Stop Shaming Quiet Team Members: Stop naming and shaming introverted members who rarely speak in meetings
Run Better Meetings: Structure your meetings, have an agenda and reduce the demand for loud voices in real-time meetings
Enable Early Opinions: Encourage and embrace introverts (and ambiverts) early in the meetings and encourage more discussion in writing and asynchronously
Recovery Time: Enable introverts to recover their energy while working from home
Encourage Colleagues: to uncover the qualities of introverts (and ambiverts) within your team and encourage these colleagues to be involved in other ways than just speaking within a meeting
Embrace Culture: Each workplace culture is different but that’s what makes your company unique and offers a chance to embrace different colleagues with different personality types. Embrace this and lead by example with this in mind.
Important Resources To Help Improve Management
The FT working it podcast is available on all of the podcast players and full listings of their pod can be found here
Company culture is something so many companies are attempting to reprioritise in today’s micro and macroeconomic climate.
While many companies are struggling with balancing the company’s needs, the stagnation of performance and ensuring their people are not burning out while a large demand on their performance, it is essential you are planning for the future and improving company culture.
Here is the definitive list of the eight best books I have read and implemented for developing company culture, with why you should read the book and provide you with a supporting video link to help you get a feel for the book in under an hour for the book.
Hard Things About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
Type Of Culture Promoted: Bureaucratic
Why Read? Venture Captial leader Ben Horowitz book is a deepdive into making hard decisions as a leader and highlights how as a leader communication is paramount and your role as a leader is making the hard decisions and being real with your company as a leader and this fosters the best culture possible.
No Rules Rules – Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings
Type Of Culture Promoted: Bureaucratic
Why Read? Netflix culture deck was the document many companies copied to create their own culture. All of Reed’s lessons, the hard decisions and the ruthless mission for brilliance and candour are told in easy-to-consume stories. It’s not a book on how to build, it’s how to think different and provides insights into the flexible frameworks and decisions made by Netflix execs to foster the culture they demanded.
Why Read? Priya Parker offers great insights into why intentional meetings in all forms of life are essential and why without strict guidance humans are not engineered to dislike unguided meetings/gatherings. Personally, I recommend this book for anyone who leads people and is operationally weak or naive and fails their team by allowing no or weak agendas.
The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team – Patrick Lencioni
Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture
Why Read? Patrick Lencioni and the Table Group are known for their forward-thinking and easy-to-consume leadership style and people-first performance approach to company development. The five dysfunctions go through The Table Group’s ideology around leaders’ lead, knowing that conflict can be healthy if the muscle memory is built and maintained as a healthy occurrence and everyone is brought into their role with commitment and ownership of outcomes.
“Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability” – Patrick Lencioni.
Turn The Ship Around – L. David Marquet
Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture
Why Read? This is a brilliant book telling you how David Marquet turned around the worst performing boat into the best performing boat by changing how the boat communicated, flipped only the leader shouting orders to trust being shared throughout the boat by flipping language (“I intend to” x is a great reminder how language can be so powerful when making important decisions). A must-read for any senior leader.
“Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” – Patty McCord
Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture
Why Read? Patty was an early HR lead at Netlfix and despite leaving earlier in the journey Patty shares why radical honesty is so important within high-performing teams and why freedom and responsibility work so well when everyone knows their role and the expected outputs. This book will help you to reshape your business if you can build resilience within the business and can trust the middle management to buy into and promote honesty and allow freedom across their teams.
Decide and Conquer – David Siegel
Type Of Culture Promoted:Commitment Culture
Why Read? David Siegel is the CEO of meetup.com and is a leader who helped to turn around meetup in the middle of covid and pivot their business in what would have killed many other similar business. David takes you through 44 decisions that will Make or Break All Leaders but have to teach your teams and then adopting within your business with deliberate steps forward. David doesn’t hold back and is frank throughout the book about how difficult it can be to be a leader and make positive change. David promotes open communication, disagreements and tension will help to improve your business, why transparency across the business is key but will be challenging and why kindness (not niceness) will prevail if you build up better and intentional focus.
Rebel Ideas – Matthew Syed
Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture
Why Read? Matthew Syed writing is always thought-provoking and something that leaders will need to dedicate time to read, note and consume. Rebel Ideas is full of deliberate questions and examples of different approaches and driving you to encourage collaboration and embrace diverse thinking. Syed highlights a huge number of known issues many leadership teams do not address, important 3 areas to ponder now (1) Dominance dynamic – the flow of information and lack of flow (2) the ignorance towards status games and hierarchy and (3) the wisdom of the crowd but why businesses are often set up for us vs them rather than embracing coaction. This is the book I gift leaders the most and highly recommend you form a book club around your business leadership team.
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Dear leaders, the title of this week’s newsletter is simple.
How do we work together to be successful?
It is something that is rarely discussed and I believe is often the one missing part of conversations between colleagues and mostly between managers and their direct reports.
In almost every working relationship I have had, there are a few questions I ask that enable you to build trust and understand each other quickly.
Three of my favourite questions I ask are:
How do you like to communicate?
What’s the best way for you to receive updates and how often?
Are you about the macro or the micro?
These three questions will open up their working styles and help you to understand how you should communicate with them.
Don’t be surprised if some people like the ‘micro’ and micromanagement, it is the one area we all think we hate, however, many know this is how they are going to be successful in their job.
Following these questions, it is important to say how you like to work and how you will or should provide updates.
Common ground is essential, especially the more senior you become and work seems more politically charged.
Hybrid Complexities: In a hybrid work world, we are going to see face-to-face become a real challenge unless you have set days, however, it is important that face-to-face can be replaced with video or audio calls (and likely should be if calendar conflicts). Slack or teams channels are noise that should be cut down and you leverage decision documents and more asynchronous work styles.
Scale? An important note, communication styles and updates don’t scale very well if you have a direct reporting line of over 20 as it becomes a juggle versus being effective and making sure the comms lands as best as possible.
Here is how Shopify are making deliberate steps in improving team work and collaboration in their remote first working environment.
What Are Shopify Bursts?
A fresh way to look at getting the remote teams together and focus on deep immersive teamwork.
What Features Does It Have?
An internal web and internal app that books flights, Hotels, Food and even Experiences
It has an automated check-in process and enables easy collaboration that works for the team or department looking to get in real life and connect or collaborate.
Choose what type of thing. Pure work and social activity.
It is important to note this was all in-house built and really connects to the deliberate ways Shopify like to work.
What About The Offices?
The offices were turned into “ports”, where group work and collective problem solving and connections are being made.
Access to old offices. Retrofitted community spaces for teams and departments to come together.
The offices become locations and have a booking system – encouraging smart work and times for teams to come together or parts of the teams to come in and work on problem-solving
The data from bursts become available to the leads and prompts a burst over a set period of time and encourages connection and in-person collaboration.
The whole process has a rating system to keep score and ensures it connects to Shopify’s data-driven decision-making.
I personally can see why companies like Shopify have thought through the first to third-order effects of bursts and in-person collaboration. It takes on what the likes of Automattic have been praised for, for years and brings teams together when busyness gets in the way of thoughtful leadership.
The question to ask yourself moving forward: Could you adopt this approach? Or are there elements you could develop out to improve hybrid work and reduce the cognitive load on managers – I would hope so.
Want to know more, listen to:
Listen to Brandon Chu the VP of Product at Shopify explaining his take on product and how bursts work best:
& Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein’s discusses the new set-up and how Shopify & Amazon can play in the same space
Dear Leaders, something I am passionate about is making the most out of time and energy around ideas generated individually or as a team.
Zooming out: The computer, the laptop, iPhone and the AirPods wouldn’t have been created and revisited if the ideas were not captured, considered and then strategically picked up and prioritised to come to market.
Let’s be honest, most ideas end up in the recycling, onto someone’s camera roll or more recently on a Google Sheet or worse still… a Miro board you’ll never revisit or review.
Sharing Is Caring: As previously discussed, the best companies in the world share their knowledge, they encourage discussion and keeping ideas alive by having references to them and keep a searchable history of campaign success, a live updated section for ongoing projects and roadmaps and product launches centralised in the knowledge centre.
Despite what you have been conditioned to lately, asynchronous worked tremendously well and encouraged deliberate discussion versus forcing “real-time meetings”.
There is a process I often recommend to clients, especially cross-functional teams
Here is my framework I recommend:
(Review &) Promote
A great idea that needs to be rolled out
Likely needs a tweak and prioritisation to promote this idea
Needs full distribution plan (internal and external)
(Review &) Optimise
Good idea that lands well but needs some time to be optimised and made more relevant
The idea will need work to optimise and then planning to release
(Review &) Revisit
Good idea that is not a right now idea.
An idea that requires work and a time to revisit.
Likely an idea that is more seasonal or would land better at a different time of year
Without giving away all of my secret sauce, here are a few factors to apply to (Review &) Promote, (Review &) Optimise, (Review &) Revisit.
Follow On Factors:
Right now idea vs not right now idea
Time Sensitivity – Date Sensitivity
Quality of idea
The Reward Vs The Effort
Cost (A) “Personal Project” vs “Another Professional Project” Cost (B) Internal Project Cost (C) External Project Cost
There are many methods we waste time, we squander resources and delevel the collaborative work (the impact of reducing collaboration is a serial culture killer), don’t allow short term thinking or first-order thinking negatively impact your department or your businesses ways of working.
This week improve your work and working environment by making the most out of ideas and the times you co-create and problem solve.
Over the last two weeks, Coinbase has been on a mission to address the well-publicised Coinbase cultural issues.
Most recently Coinbase CEO and founder Brian Armstrong’s appeared on the Good Time Show (with backers a16z appearing), where he attempted to address the coinbase culture, suggesting they were focusing on a work-driven mission.
Top Down Culture In Action Or Challenge Culture? ⚠️
Over the past week, (June 10th) Brian attempted to address a long thread on YCombinator News (aka Hacker News) with his thoughts on why Operation Revive COIN is a dumb idea.
Operation Revive COIN is a vote of no confidence in the COO Emilie Choi, Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee, and Chief People Officer LJ Brock by the Coinbase teams.
The Complaint Filed
Petition to Remove COO Emilie Choi, Chief Product Officer Surojit Chatterjee, and Chief People Officer LJ Brock in a Vote of No Confidence
Summary: We the employees at Coinbase believe that the executive team has recently been making decisions that are not in the best interests of the Company, its employees, and its shareholders. COO Emilie Choi, CPO Surojit Chatterjee, and Chief People Officer LJ Brock have been the most prominent executives who have been executing plans and ideas that have led to questionable results and negative value. Some of these include the following:
The failure of the Coinbase NFT platform
The over-prioritization of certain products, which has led to a lack of focus on other important issues like infrastructure
Initiatives like the Dot Collector and the Performance review system that has led to a toxic workplace culture
Aggressively hiring for thousands of roles, despite the fact that it is an unsustainable plan and is contrary to the wisdom of the crypto industry
Not being able to output any higher or better quality products and services despite aggressively hiring more employees
Rescinding offers to new employees despite promising them that their offers would not be rescinded two weeks earlier, leading to a massive negative reception from the public and the industry at-large
The failure to communicate important ideas and plans to the rest of the company, such as the possibility of lay-offs and the plan to fix many technical debts
A generally apathetic and sometimes condescending attitude from the CPO, COO, and Chief People Officer
Their actions have hurt multiple parties:
The employees, who have to deal with the unrealistic demands from said executives and the damage they have caused on a day-to-day basis
The shareholders, who have seen their stock price continually fall, especially from the high of $420 at the beginning of the IPO and the middle range of $250 throughout the summer of 2021
The company itself, whose plummeting stock value and bad workplace management led to low morale and the threats of losing top talent
The company’s reputation to the public, where people are less likely to view Coinbase as a trustworthy and reliable crypto exchange to do business with
Because of these factors, we believe that Coinbase should immediately find replacements for LJ Brock, Surojit Chatterjee, and Emilie Choi. We hope to find people who have had experience in the crypto space and can run such a company more responsibly.
Aired In Public, Addressed On Twitter
Brian rightly points out it is on him as the CEO and many other valid points on his twitter thread.
Leaders Lead is always what you are trained but is this time for the management team to own collectively? Yes!
The biggest issue here: the three of the most powerful and influential leaders to ask to be removed publically identifies a huge distrust problem.
The issue here is his leadership is obviously creating fractions for his management team and then disconnecting with the middle managers and causing issues that are not being reported back in management meetings.
These issues are highlighting a real disconnect between the managers and the “leaders” within Coinbase.
In addition, the agreement of mission-focused work and delivering on cultural promises is obviously not being translated well from the c-suite to VP to team level.
Question To Ask Externally
This does raise the question when you and many others believe in the promoted performance-based culture and work-focused culture, where do you go to voice these concerns especially when you have likely raised these internally and have been dismissed.
Can ‘challenge culture‘ work in an environment like this?
When issues go unaddressed it creates internal and departmental conflicts and creates combative them vs us environments.
Many company cultures and subcultures are overly reliant on the business leader to acknowledge, discuss internally and then share their approach externally as a listed company.
Pattern sends alarm bells and signals there is potentially a leadership issue. When having to address in public and address open internal issues.
Will The Headcount Reduction Going To Highlight The Biggest Issue?
(1) Economic conditions are changing rapidly (2) Managing our costs is critical in down markets (3) We grew too quickly (suggestions of over 5000 employees).
It is unclear which exact areas of coinbase were impacted, it is likely the COO, CPO and Chief People Officer were not included despite the ongoing issues.
Will this headcount reduction reduce fractions or highlight the issues more clearly? Most likely highlighting the ongoing issues and potentially increasing the bad company culture bubbling up to the top of the external news cycle.
Any PR Is Not Good PR
In the previous podcast discussions and addressing external factors coming into the workplace, Brian mentioned how well that it played out after a month or so with top-quality talent wanting to join.
Right now this is coming back to bite Brian and his business performance. Externally pointing fingers by teams rarely works, however, this really does demonstrate a need for critical discussions.
With company culture being recognised as an essential factor of successful businesses, will this count against Coinbase leadership? The quick answer for sure, especially with crypto’s recent performance, the volatility within the web3 space.
This fight in public opens Coinbase and the business up to showing the bigger and ongoing issues internally, namely the trust of the leadership team and those who have joined and delivered weaker products leading to poor performance.
The CEO in any business has to live and die by the sword especially ones with continued rumblings and continued people-related issues.
In the coming weeks, we will likely hear less about the internal issues with Coinbase, listed companies often have a way to reduce the external reporting, however, with so many stories and known issues this is unlikely to go away and it could be another story where business “leaders” on the c-suite exit the business to plaster over these issues.
Social media will be a hard place for the Coinbase leadership team as many will air their truths, especially after the large headcount reduction.
Is this unique in the business world in 2022? – no, however, this is a theme Coinbase is setting for others – yes. It is going to be a case study in years to come on how to or how not to handle internal issues when you are lorded as a leading light by some powerful figures and identified for what leadership is not anymore.
If you want to understand the coinbase founders’ beliefs on culture and woke culture this is an interesting interview with Lex Fridman.
Dear leaders, I want to be clear in my message this week, language and words matter more now than ever before. We are going to dive into Opinions Vs Feedback.
Hybrid Challenges: In the hybrid work world we are mostly operating in, landing that message, providing feedback and offering insights have to be clearer and more deliberate than ever. Many are missing the mark with hybrid communications.
It’s time to review small tweaks to have bigger impacts.
Sad Over Mad?
In Product teams, you often have retros, it is “a safe place” to review the last sprint. Often the safe place or space (in hybrid working) can be hostile.
Many frame it with Mad (things that made you mad), glad (things you are glad about and for), and sad (things that make you sad about the release/product).
In almost all retros like this, mad and sad overtakes glad and kills the celebrations, kills micro-moments, and concentrate on what could have been.
When I temporarily took over a Product team a few years ago, I instantly removed mad, it was simply sad and glad, you would start with glad (always start with a positive) and end quick fire with sad.
Removing ‘mad’, removed venting and negative opinions helped bring the teams closer and celebrate each other’s victories for longer and celebrate cross-functionally.
Just by removing one element – you can have better framing and better conversations. In some good news, some teams are now reframing this into (a) what worked, (b) what could have been better.
Why words and framing matters
I am a believer that opinions really cut up organisations, feedback helps to reshape products, people and progress.
You should not look to remove opinions, after all, we all have them, however, opinions are often just what you think or how you might be biased for or against something. Opinions rarely help guide you forward and can be your opinion versus someone else’s.
Feedback is action-orientated, it is built to add value not take value. Feedback should be constructive and a spin on improvement(s).
By being deliberate and adding a focus on feedback over an opinion you are setting the framing in a better light and encouraging improvement.
Pluses Focused Feedback? Pixar have ‘pluses’ in their review process of movies, all the company attends and can add a plus which adds value, the famous example (from Dan Coyle’s book the culture code the company culture playbook) is in Up and someone from outside the creation studio suggested a tweak (a joke) and it landed so well this plus was added into the movie.
Could you reframe feedback sessions to be pluses focused and frame feedback as a plus each time?
In the coming weeks when H2/2H is firmly in sight and essential you review how the previous six months have gone and how you need to reshape or optimise Q3 and Q4 can you remove opinions and add feedback and could these be framed as pluses not just as “plain feedback?”.
In recent months, we have seen an increase in hiring mistakes.
Rushing to hire, rushing to counter offer and in many cases hiring the wrong candidate because there is no clear understanding of what you want, what you need and why you are hiring this role for long term success.
Truth is, very few people are good at hiring for the long term success of their department.
Hiring has been a challenge for many, however, the question should be asked:
Are you setting yourself and your company up to fail with bad processes and bad practices?
Here are 11 common but unspoken hiring mistakes many are making and it is setting you and your company up to fail.
Being led by recruiters, not by hiring managers – are you allowing recruiters to filter CV’s and profiles based solely on one conversation with the hiring manager? It’s important to build that trust and relationship between hiring managers and recruiters before allowing this process to happen.
Asking bad questions leads to bad answers – are you and your teams asking bad questions that only promote and accept bad answers? Have you reviewed your interview questions recently and given interview training?
Hiring those that interview the best vs hiring those who will do the best job – this has been happening for years, however, it has not been addressed and this is down to lack of time, lack of training and lack of awareness of how people interview vs how people work. Create more working environments vs more interview questions.
Not having a clear understanding of what you need from the role not from the candidate – I recently asked ten hiring managers what they are hiring for and their process and 8 of the 10 suggested they just copied and pasted another company’s job description and did not materially change for their workplace, they didn’t have time to consider the goals to make this role successful. The role and the job spec sets you up to succeed or fail. Consider what you need from the role not specifically from that idealistic candidate you have in your mind, consider the goals and the 12-month plan ahead, not just the job spec highlighting what you might want.
Hiring managers coming in too late in the process – many hiring processes remove the hiring manager from CV/resume reviews and LinkedIn profile reviews and then miss one to two rounds of interviews before interviewing the candidate directly, this means many hours of wastage and interviewing badly fitted candidates
Too many colleagues in the hiring process – hiring is an art form, hiring processes vary greatly, and many now opt to bring in colleagues and teams into rounds of interviews, very often there are too many colleagues involved in the hiring process and is extending the time scales. This is the hardest element to get right, however, ensuring the right colleagues are part of the process and provide good feedback is an essential balance.
Too many interview rounds, especially hybrid recruitment. – are you hosting too many rounds of interviews? Can you hire in three rounds, not six or seven which is now a common number of rounds of interviews. Have you learnt how to interview virtually effectively?
Being too narrow on what a successful candidate looks like and in turn what will make them successful – unlike many businesses leads and department heads I believe being ultra-narrow and overly specific in what a successful candidate will look like actually hinders your hiring process and will impact your existing team and bias your hiring. Having an idea of what a successful candidate will look like is great however often when you interview someone and they lead the charge, you can feel empowered to change your view of what a successful candidate is.
Hiring for a team skill gap not for solving the existing and upcoming customer problems – there are many reasons why you are hiring; backfill, hiring to demand, hiring to grow your team or reshaping your department. What this is often missing is hiring for the future and most hiring is focused around the current skill gap in the team rather than the customer problems and helping to hire to fix these not just hiring for a digital specialist in your Marketing team as you don’t have an expert. Where some will have to and want headcount here is where freelancers, coaches and agencies can add a lot of value and you can then evolve your department based on customer problems for now and the future.
CV/resume hires, hiring based on brands people worked at. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple etc – the repeated mistake many make is hiring from some of the largest companies in the world. Typically, some in the hope of hiring up (“hiring higher calibre”), some to bring the experience, others in hoping these hires can bring the perceived successful operational frameworks with them or in hope to bring the same level of performance to their own business. The truth is these companies operate in magnitudes of £$/x’s and 0’s bigger than you and often have numerous others who perform the same role, so in your org, you will have one senior-level Ops lead, in Google they will have a series of Ops leads. These hires rarely scale well and expect large teams and hiring is rarely an issue in larger businesses, in smaller businesses and startups this just isn’t an option. Operationally too, larger companies have much more status-driven games and long hierarchical battles, these politics will also come into your business and will impact the culture and subculture of your business.
Hiring for cultural fit when you are unaware of what cultural fit is at your company – the unspoken hiring mistake is suggesting you are hiring for cultural fit when you do not have a culture defined or understand what culture is within your business. Cultural fit is often referred to by mistake as skills or “observed” ability. These misunderstandings will cause numerous headaches when looking for the right fit or explaining what cultural fit is within your department (subculture) and cultural fit within the business. If a candidate asks what cultural fit you are looking for and you cannot answer it in one to two sentences, you likely do not have your culture defined or cultural fit written down, agreed upon and shared throughout your business.
Not having a clear view (roadmap) and a potential 3-year plan for the role – the topic I speak on most with hiring when asked to support hiring mid to senior-level roles. Thinking through and supplying a career roadmap for this role is essential for all roles, particularly those looking to join you and who need to map out their career. Most outstanding mid to exec level candidates have a plan and a long term roadmap they are building on top of.
Very often long term success of the role is considered at numbers levels and then potentially job titles are considered, however, what the next two to three steps are and what the two up two across matrix is for this specific person. Yes, often this has to be considered when probation is based and you have an understanding of their performance, however, to give you a competitive advantage when you interview you should be interviewing for the next three steps for this role and within the business and evolving with each catch-up and 1:2:1.
Over the past six months, there seems to be a great increase in the quality of podcasts where founders and co-founders speak openly and honestly about their experiences and the reasons why there is a trend for many business leads to suggest they are not great managers and shouldn’t be a people manager.
We are taught from early on in our careers we should become managers and this is the path to promotion and the natural evolution of your career.
Throughout my career, I have seen founders and c-suite execs who are terrible people managers and actively shouldn’t have any of their business reporting into them.
The impact this has the company culture and success of the business is hugely negative and leaves many with a bad taste in their mouth and many bad glassdoor reviews.
There are so many startups that rely on founders and cofounders to take themselves out of people management for the sake of their business growth, unfortunately, due to the conditioning and ego, this rarely happens.
Dharmesh Shah commented on the MLM podcast (which is part of Hubspot via an acquisition) that he is not a good people manager and has no direct reports.
This is uncommon, not just to admit this but also to not actually have a big line of direct reports.
Many more should speak out on this. Especially those who know it is their weakness.
Play To Your Strenghts Or Speciality?
If your strengths are Product and Product development like many founders, then why would you not double down on this? If you are a specialist and do not have the time or energy to invest in becoming a good people leader, why wouldn’t you bring in someone with better people skills and more time and skills for this?
This should be a question many people ask themselves now, and each quarter, should I be a people manager and if not, how do I go about organisation design to replace myself and bring in the right manager for this department or bring in a specialist manager.
Watch the 2-minute video (below) perfectly explaining why senior execs do not need to be people managers and why they shouldn’t be.
One note to take onboard: Bad managers who think they are good managers rarely will remove themselves, look to review your teams feedback and ask for peer feedback on your management skills.
So ask yourself: Am I a good people manager and should I look to remove myself and work to my specialities.