Encourage Bad-News Sharing to Foster Open Dialogue

Sharing bad news—top-down, bottom-up, and across the organization—has a number of salutary effects beyond the obvious benefits of transparency. It can elicit empathy and support, break down barriers, and expand the pool of contributors to problem solving. Energy otherwise spent saving face can be channeled into more constructive use. The net result is not just top-down, bottom-up alignment, but stronger horizontal alignment. As with the … [ Read more ]

Nail Executive Transitions to Avoid “Hero to Xero”

Whether they’re stepping into an existing pair of shoes or carving out a brand-new role, new leaders often face a dose of skepticism from the org. “Whether we intend it or not, a lot of people have a wait-and-see approach. We’re excited about them, but is this going to work out? Versus having a vested interest in helping make that person successful,” says Anne Raimondi, … [ Read more ]

Manager Effectiveness Index (MEI)

Performance reviews tend to be more heavily weighted to focus downward. (“I’m your manager, and here is what I think of your performance.”) There may be some mechanism for subordinates to provide feedback upward, but it often doesn’t carry the same importance. And that’s how bad bosses often stay in their roles.

One example of an effective model comes from Aron Ain, the CEO of Ultimate … [ Read more ]

The Overlooked Stay Conversation

There’s some debate over the best way to do exit interviews and how valuable they are. But there’s one kind of interview that most organizations fail to do — stay conversations. The concept is simple: Identify your top performers who you hope will stay with you the longest, and ask them why they stay. They may say things like:

  • “I have the best manager I’ve ever

[ Read more ]

Create Tokens that Align with Your Values

Jean-Denis Grezè has seen time and time again that small gestures can have an outsized impact. “I’m a big believer in incentives that align with the culture and values. A funny one that people don’t realize can be super helpful is creating tokens — objects that you reward for a specific behavior,” he says. “You can create a subculture around a new value. Humans … [ Read more ]

Celebrate Mistakes

“We celebrated mistakes at a management gathering with 1,000 people in the room. A manager would get up and say why the environmentally sensitive light bulb or whatever it was…had failed…Then we’d give them $1,000 or a TV or something, depending on the scale of the thing. The point was to share the learning and get smarter as an organization.” — Jack Welch

Look Back, Look Forward

Molly Graham does a look back, look forward every month or two, or at the end of a project — whatever milestone that makes the most sense for an employee’s role. She asks them to look back on a project that they just finished and run through these questions:

Look back:

  • What did you like about that? What felt good?
  • What did you hate about it?

[ Read more ]

How to Talk about Employee Departures

But people still leave. Some want to try other things at other companies, or the fit isn’t right, so we have to let them go. It’s the natural cycle of business.

What’s never been natural at companies, though, is how these departures are handled. So at Basecamp we’ve created a ritual for when someone leaves: We tell everyone in the company why. Not just that person’s team, … [ Read more ]

Publicly Display Progress to Build Organization Spirit

Keep highly visible scoreboards, big thermometers (as in a fund-raising campaign), bulletin boards, Intranet sites, voice mail messages and newsletters to update everyone on progress toward key goals or change and improvement targets. Make goals/targets and progress as visible as possible.

Team Building Through Volunteerism

Studies show that encouraging and supporting staff to get involved in the community is a great way to motivate employees and increase team spirit. But instead of sending folks out on their own to volunteer, take your team out for a day to support a local group. This builds collaboration and a sense of respect and accomplishment.

Consciously Enforce Cooperative Social Norms

Larry Prusak, a former IBM executive who is now scholar in residence at Babson College, notes that some firms are consciously enforcing cooperative social norms. “Firms that encouraged opportunistic behavior and that thought performative ties were just ‘soft stuff’ have not done well,” he says, adding that companies can encourage cooperative behavior in two ways. “First, signals and symbols are important. If a firm promotes … [ Read more ]

Create a “How to Use Me” Guide

Jay Desai has FOMU. As a first-time founder and CEO of health technology startup PatientPing, he’s got a healthy fear of messing up. This anxiety especially bubbles to the surface when it has to do with his team — now over 100 employees — and particularly the seven who report directly to him. He’s seen too many immensely talented and productive teams stall because of … [ Read more ]

Gamification of the Enterprise

In the summer of 2011, Facebook announced it would use the social performance platform Rypple (now part of Salesforce.com) for internal reviews and communications.  Rypple allows employees to create and compete in challenges, receive recognition from colleagues, see what others are working on, and find where needed skills may exist within an organization. But Rypple is not a game. It doesn’t even look like a … [ Read more ]

Intermittent Reinforcement is More Effective

Intermittent “extras” are more powerful than constant bonuses that are predictable. Say that a manager wants to reward employees. A good way to do it is with a lottery system. You could set it up so one would have to maintain some level of performance to be eligible for the lottery. The hope of entering the lottery will keep workers going at a higher level … [ Read more ]

Give Your Employees Meaning to Improve Turnover

At Zumasys, in addition to the typical corporate benefits, every employee gets three to four weeks of vacation, complementary access to the company’s two-bedroom Vegas loft, and the opportunity to qualify for a tenure-based international travel program that, each year, gives four to six employees a week off with pay and a $4,000 stipend to travel to the destination of their choice. The open-book financials … [ Read more ]

Institutionalize an “Astonishment Report”

At the end of their induction period (generally three months), new hires are required to write (and discuss with their boss) a short report documenting anything and everything that they have found interesting or surprising since joining the company.

A Better Employee Suggestions System

AT&T has built a digital infrastructure enabling all employee suggestions to be logged online. A small, dedicated team regularly reads and triages the suggestions, sending each promising one to a designated leader or expert who is obligated to consider it and respond. Employees can see the progress of each suggestion and log comments. Other companies have developed systems that enable employees to “vote up” or … [ Read more ]

Provide Regular Guidance for Managers

We’ve rolled out a weekly(ish) email for leaders at Eventbrite that summarizes all the things they need to be thinking about in terms of managing and messaging to their team. We break it down into a few sections: things to know, things to do, things to share. It sounds simple, but let’s be real, leaders are an important and expensive investment, so you want to … [ Read more ]

Make Your Remote Team Members First-Class Citizens

If a benefit, perk or experience is created for your in-office team members, find a way to create parity for those who aren’t in person. That means mailing items given to your in-office team to remote workers — or if you cover lunch for your in-office team, send your remote team a gift card or stipend for food delivery. […] If your leadership team has … [ Read more ]

A Living Archive of “Introduce Yourself” Emails

As outlined in the [company’s] Day One Document, a hire sends an “Introduce Yourself” email at the end of the first day. It’s a scripted greeting to the company from the new hire sharing a bit of background and trivia. “Everyone who starts with the company sends one out. It also includes a photo and a link to three questions on Barista, Percolate’s internal Q&A … [ Read more ]