Have you ever wondered what an executive was thinking but were too afraid to ask?
For several weeks now, our CEO David Hassell has filled out a 15Five and shared his responses with the entire team. Yeah, you heard right. My boss submitted a report to his staff, informing us of his goals, triumphs, challenges and ideas.
Why on earth would he do that?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, communication between employees and senior management, and employee relationships with immediate supervisors are two of the most important aspects of employee job satisfaction. Not to mention the mission critical transmission of information (both up and down stream) that keeps our businesses moving in the right direction.
We are comprised of a globally distributed team, so face-time usually means a video call. We also have email and hipchat, plus David regularly responds to our 15Fives. But we don’t have those ad-hoc, non-tech facilitated conversations where you really get a sense of what is going on in someone else’s world — their priorities, challenges, and the aha breakthroughs they’re having.
So, in his first report David answered these three questions:
– What are your wins big or little for this week?
– Are there any obstacles you are facing and can I help?
– What are your top 3 priorities for next week?
I received an email informing me that he had submitted a report. I anticipated being interested in his responses, but I never thought that reading them would make me a better employee.
“Grant trust & be transparent” is one of our 10 core values and in many ways it is the cornerstone of our culture. I will admit that there are times that I have made mistakes and was tempted to just sweep them under the rug. Not only does that now feel like I am betraying everyone at the company, but it robs me of the opportunity to learn and grow.
When I read about how my leaders made a decision that didn’t produce the best results, I am encouraged to be transparent with my own missed opportunities and mistakes. Then I open myself up to all sorts of assistance, support, and resources.
Hey I get it. Many people work in cultures where saying I made a mistake resulted in a tongue-lashing or worse. My own desire to keep mistakes under wraps was heavily influenced by past experiences with this type of command and control management.
Many companies who operate that way also have open-door policies. No one is going to cross that threshold and approach a desk so that they can be lied to, berated, or ignored. But when a company leader says, “this is where I screwed up”, I am invited to be candid with my own failures. This level of trust and workplace transparency allows me to receive the support I need to remedy the situation and learn a better way.
The other side of the trust coin is remaining accountable and holding ourselves and others to their word and their goals.
David rattled off a laundry list of accomplishments for the previous week and priorities for the upcoming one. He survived a crazy overscheduled week and managed to get a variety of tasks knocked out. After reading that I immediately looked at my own performance and thought, impressive, how can I do more next week?
Research conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California, “shows that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals.”
I am not a professor of psychology, but I imagine that when a company leader shares their goals and sends a weekly update, that 33% goes up significantly.
As a growing lean startup team, everyone moves quickly from one task to the next. Despite all of the other communication technology at our disposal, information sometimes slips through the cracks. 15Fives act as a great catch-all so that issues are quickly resolved and opportunities are not missed.
For example, as content manager I need to know about all of the sites and publications that feature David or our company. By seeing David’s response below, I was able to anticipate his interviews and share them with the rest of our team and our social networks.
Who doesn’t like a little appreciation from a manager? How about from the CEO, in front of the whole company?
Highlighting strengths increases employee engagement, and fuels productivity and creativity. Efforts that employees considers to be ‘just part of their job’ often have a tremendous impact on others at the company, or push forward various business goals. Acknowledging them reinforces a sense of contribution and boosts team morale.
Managers frequently grapple with how much information to share with employees. That depends on a variety of factors including workplace culture, size, and type of business. Frankly, that’s not my area of expertise.
What I do know is that employees want to relate to their leaders. They want to know that they have a mentor, someone they can look up to and trust. Leaders can keep walls up and maintain a clear separation between themselves and their talent, but honesty and authenticity is the best way to inspire productivity and accountability in employees.
David Mizne, Content Manager at 15Five interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement. 15Five is a SaaS company with a powerful and simple solution that gathers critical insights from employees in minutes each week, enabling informed management to get the visibility they need to boost engagement and drive alignment across their entire team.
How much information do you share with employees? Does it inspire or has it backfired?