External Talent Needs Management, Too

The corporate use of external talent across sectors and geographies is more common than ever. Talent can provide companies with access to new capabilities and technologies; it can enable faster and more agile response to markets; it can be used to test new opportunities before making major investments; it can be used to respond to demand peaks and to attain scale quickly; and, perhaps most … [ Read more ]

Have Senior Management Work in Customer Service at Least One Day a Year

Kaizen and the whole process of continuous improvement was, and continues to be, a powerful tool at Amazon. That’s partly because for a long time Jeff Bezos has had all of senior management work in customer service at least one day a year. This allowed executives to see events on the front line, to understand the problems that came up, and to help find solutions. … [ Read more ]

Ban Email

The pursuit of full transparency is behind one of GitLab’s most countercultural rules: a total ban on internal emails. For example, employees seeking information or help are required to request it through the appropriate Slack channel, which may eventually trigger changes to the employee handbook or another key document. The intent is to crystallize and capture the pooled expertise of the collective, rather than letting … [ Read more ]

The Energy Audit

Behavior changes, even those that represent clear benefits for employees, require active reinforcement — including accountability mechanisms and human champions. A management consulting team leader, worried about exhaustion on her teams, began encouraging more rest. But when the sincere urging hardly affected the entrenched behavior, she established “the energy audit.” Every workday she asked members of her team to email or text one item they were … [ Read more ]

How Effective Is Your Current Message?

Product-market fit is all about finding a product that solves a problem and a message that resonates with your target customers. Evaluate internally and externally whether your current message is consistent and effective.

Internal Evaluation: How consistent is your sales team in communicating product value?

The following exercise is a great way to get a quick understanding where your sales team stands. Send each of your sales … [ Read more ]

Assign New Employees an Early Win

Consider giving new recruits a small project they can accomplish during their first month on the job. Have them all spend five minutes presenting whatever it is they did at the next All Hands following their first day. It’s an opportunity to make immediate impact and introduce themselves to everyone in a positive light. It’ll also build camaraderie between folks who started within the same … [ Read more ]

Develop a Feedback River and System of Record

One of the first things I always do when joining a product team is to setup a feedback river — an open channel for anyone who is interested to get direct access to primary feedback on the product from across various channels. This has typically taken the form of an internal company mailing list in Gmail or Outlook, but I’ve also seen it as a feedback channel … [ Read more ]

Build an “Event Loop”

An event loop is a management checklist to run through periodically — every day, week and month. “The objective is to ensure you’re making time for the important activities that can get lost in the noise. The weekly and monthly ones are particularly tough because you cycle through less frequently, but they’re as important to make a habit.” Here’s an example of an event loop … [ Read more ]

Find — and Slash — Your Failure Rates

A failure rate is the number of times your company is unable to deliver on its promise. A failure rate is a shared operational metric for all businesses — not just security. “To get the failure rates for your company, find them in each department first. Every function will have a different failure rate to assess their work. For customer experience it’s how many times … [ Read more ]

Build Greater Agility Into Your Investment System

One multinational company built greater agility into its incentive system by keeping some investment funds in reserve until the middle of the year, then releasing them for successful initiatives requiring more resources in order to grow. In return for the funding, initiative leaders had to agree to raise their performance targets.

Increase Motivation and Productivity by Showing Your Employees the Positive Difference Their Work Makes

When clients, customers and other end users express feedback and appreciation, employees develop stronger beliefs in the impact and value of their work. Interaction also increases empathy for customers, even when the interaction is virtual.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify groups of people who benefit from your team’s work but have never shared their feedback, such as clients, customers, suppliers, or coworkers and managers from different divisions and departments.
  2. Arrange

[ Read more ]

Expressing Gratitude

When you say thank you, you increase your own happiness. I know of one executive who puts 10 pennies in his left pocket every morning. Every time he thanks someone or expresses gratitude, he moves a penny to his right pocket. He won’t go home until his left pocket is empty. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself to say positive things at work, … [ Read more ]

Getting Delegation Right

To get delegation right, begin by scheduling one-on-one conversations with each of your direct reports. Ask each direct report to list his or her key areas of responsibility. Then ask them, “Within this area of responsibility…

  • Are there areas where I need to ‘let go’ or delegate more to you?
  • Are there areas where I need to get more involved or provide more help to you?”

If you … [ Read more ]

Listen to the New Hire’s “Outsider” Ideas

One important milestone during the first six months is to get your new hire’s perspective on your operation. It seems like an obvious thing to do, but getting information from someone less experienced can be annoying. They have all these ideas and they question everything: why you do what you do and why you do it the way you do it. So we fight it … [ Read more ]

Great Innovators Do Not Permit the Present to Crowd Out the Future

IBM dedicates three teams to drive the company’s innovation agenda by focusing separately on innovation strategy, technology trends, and innovation operations. To ensure an emphasis on both current and future priorities, IBM organizes business opportunities across three different time frames: short-term core business opportunities, medium-term growth opportunities, and long-term emerging opportunities. IBM made a conscious decision to maintain a set portion of funding (about 10 … [ Read more ]

The Power of Random Coffees

One of the biggest challenges in fast-growing companies is silos. Imaginary walls spring up between departments. Before you know it, the sales team and the engineering team, for instance, feel like two totally different companies. They’re not meshing socially and — just as worrying — they’re not collaborating or exchanging information on projects. This lack of coordination inevitably hurts the final product and the customer’s experience.

This is a huge … [ Read more ]

GOTE Framework for Maximize Meetings

Companies train people in their computer systems, HR policies, and more. They devote energy to optimizing production lines and supply chains. They invest in innovation workshops. Yet they seem to assume that the ability to effectively lead and participate in meetings is somehow embedded in the human genetic code. Perhaps it seems too basic a skill. However, if any organization adds up the amount of … [ Read more ]

Whisper Courses

This reminds me of something our leadership-development team launched last year with behavioral nudging. We created what we call “whisper courses,” which were based on the premise that, as leaders, we have the best intentions yet get so busy and forget to do the many little things that matter so much. I recall us talking about how nice it would be to have this invisible … [ Read more ]

OKR: An Agile Goal-setting Process

High-performing managers create simple goals, make sure they are clear and transparent, and revisit them regularly. Google, for example, uses an agile goal-setting process called OKR (objectives and key results), which was originally developed at Intel. The process is simple and effective: Each individual (from CEO down) sets ambitious and measurable objectives (like “launch Gmail version X by year end”) and are asked to define … [ Read more ]

Surveying Your Employees about Your Strategy

Involve a larger part of the organization in a discussion on how the company is doing on strategy and execution. Like the annual employee survey, organizations should take the pulse around the most important strategic topics. Such a survey provides powerful insights about how well your employees — the people who know the company best — think it is positioned for success, how well they … [ Read more ]