Like many founders, when I started my first business, I was new to managing people. I loved getting stuff done and getting my hands dirty, so the idea of delegating work to others was unnatural. I’d always rather do it myself.
When I did have to delegate, it often left me feeling frustrated. I’d find out later that the work hadn’t turned out as I’d expected, or it wasn’t even close to completion. I took it personally, and it weighed on my mind. I felt that if I wanted something done right, I had to do it myself. …
Do you know the most effective way to present your business idea? I’m not talking about what to include in a pitch. I’m talking about how to deliver it. Presenting to an investor (or a group of investors) is a different kettle of fish to writing the deck and it comes with its own set of challenges.
If you’d been in one of my earliest pitches, you’d have seen me talking through each slide, simply paraphrasing the information on the screen — a bit like a newscaster reading a teleprompter. And something wasn’t clicking. You know that feeling you get…
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) were designed in the context of scaling companies, such as Intel and Google. They’ve become the undisputed best practice of managing teams in almost all settings. But they can be challenging to implement, especially if a company hasn’t reached product-market fit.
Leadership teams can often end up with a large number of metrics that dilute focus. Objectives are routinely confused with tasks and initiatives, which fail to clarify what’s important. And long planning cycles make them hard to adapt to fast-changing assumptions.
Should startups just abandon OKRs and stick to regular sprint planning?
How effective are your one-on-ones?
Most managers will say theirs are great. However, one study has shown that employees often leave one-on-ones less motivated than their managers. That concerns me.
Typical one-on-ones are 30 to 60-minute meetings between teammates and their managers to help the teammate achieve their goals. By this definition, short status updates don’t qualify as one-on-ones. But conversations about well-being do, so they’re certainly worth including in any effective one-on-one.
Even though one-on-ones focus on the teammate’s success, both parties benefit from the meeting. …
“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.”―Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication
As a founder, my biggest regrets revolve around not having difficult conversations sooner. I could have helped team members improve faster, fired people with the wrong fit earlier, had so many more productive meetings. I could have created a more open company culture.
I was guilty of making excuses: It will sort itself out; they’ll eventually stop doing it; there are more important things to focus on. Of course, delaying these conversations always made things worse. …
Lockdown has taught me many things, but there’s one lesson that can’t be overstated. Don’t give nuanced feedback via Slack. Or via SMS. Or WhatsApp.
Messaging is awesome for lots of things, but nuanced feedback isn’t one of them. The problem is you have absolutely no idea what’s happening on the other end of the chat — and the recipient’s emotional state has a huge impact on how they interpret the message.
For example, if they are already stressed, angry, anxious, or irritated — say, by the crying baby in the next room or because they missed breakfast — they…
OKRs (objectives and key results) have become so popular that they’re quickly becoming interchangeable with their sister acronym, KPIs (key performance indicators).
I know you aren’t confusing these terms, but just in case you have a colleague who is, here’s a useful distinction.
When you’re building something new, you want an inspiring and ambitious objective along with a clear measurement of success. When it comes to objectives and key results, aim for as small a set as possible to increase focus. …
What if I told you that just putting a word on how you’re feeling can help you feel better? Well, that’s what this piece of neuroscience tells us.
Researchers put volunteers into an fMRI scanner and showed them various images that evoked either positive or negative emotions. The volunteers were then asked to put a label on what they were feeling, for example, ‘I feel angry’ or, ‘I feel joy.’
What happened next was interesting — putting the negative emotion into words reduced its impact:
The most common reason for product teams underperforming is because they haven’t implemented Agile properly.
Either the product leader hasn’t been trained in Scrum, or they’ve stripped back the Scrum framework to a point where it’s no longer agile. In other words, they are working in the old ‘waterfall’ way, with internal updates every two weeks and a daily standup.
However, the second most common reason for failing product teams is that they don’t work on important features.
Often, these teams use Scrum, but they fail to deliver meaningful improvements that customers care about. …
They’re exhausted. They haven’t taken a vacation day in almost a year. And while they put on a brave face, everyone can see they’re struggling. Burnout — a state of emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by stress — can happen suddenly, so what should you do if you notice the signs in someone?
Leaders often jump to policy, asking questions like, ‘What can we do to stop burnout in our employees?’ However, if the problem is starting to appear, you may need to intervene. Here’s how you might do it:
1. Take the individual aside and tell them what…