Imagine you’re CEO of a small company. Your sales director has a variable bonus linked to new sales. During the year, the business strategy changes to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The sales director will now have to refocus on retaining existing customers, rather than acquiring new ones.
At year end, it’s time for their annual review. Under the original agreement, their bonus should be zero. You want to keep them motivated, but you also need to look after your business. It’s your call — so what should you do?
You might take inspiration from Bruce Dunlevie, GP of Benchmark Capital…
The 360-degree feedback process can help employees and managers get a better sense of how they are perceived by others across their organisation. However, putting it into practice is time-consuming and mentally exhausting. Typically, it’s scheduled every 6–12 months — or avoided by startups completely.
The main issue isn’t with organising the process. It’s in the effort needed to write down nuanced feedback. Choosing the right words, and finding the appropriate tone is anxiety-inducing. In an ideal world, the conversations happen first and the written memo happens later.
And that’s why I love ‘speedback’ meetings (‘speed’ + ‘feedback’). They take…
We all have narcissistic tendencies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some narcissistic traits — such as having a clear vision or the ability to attract others — may make you a better leader. But there are plenty of similar characteristics that can make you unbearable.
Founders — and many of their investors — are likely to place highly on the narcissist spectrum, along with many of our great leaders, like Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, and even Gandhi.
In his documentary, DICKS: Do you need to be one to be a successful leader?, …
Have you ever heard a frustrated leader talking about their team? You’ll often hear things like:
You might be facing these issues at your company. However, before you blame your team, there’s a chance you might be responsible, without even realising it.
It’s easy to be aware of other people’s behaviours, but it’s far more difficult to have that same level of awareness about our own behaviours…
Ten years ago, I learnt a critical lesson about recruiting while I was sitting on a bus.
I noticed the guy next to me was reading a popular book about startups, so we started talking. It turned out he was the marketing manager of a high-profile company and we had a lot in common. When I mentioned that my business was scaling quickly, he took a genuine interest and made some insightful points about our marketing strategy.
We needed a marketing manager and something about this guy gave me a great feeling. I offered him a job on the spot.
Workshops may seem like something only a professional trainer needs to worry about. However, the ability to run an effective workshop is a major asset to senior leaders.
There are many reasons to give a long presentation. Perhaps you’re unveiling a new strategy, onboarding a new recruit, or leading a discussion about culture with your leadership team. The problem is that long presentations tend to suck the oxygen out of a room.
On the other hand, a good workshop can leave people energised and excited, offering them an opportunity to participate, as well as receiving information.
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. …
Whatever your field, one skill is more valuable more than any other: listening.
Want to improve your product? Learn to listen. Want to get better at marketing or sales? Learn to listen. Relationships, people management, fundraising — learn to listen and you’ll improve at them all.
And yet, real listening is rare.
Like meditation, listening sounds easy but staying focused on another person’s thoughts is often as tricky as trying to sit quietly, focused on your breathing. Your own thoughts keep bubbling up, and soon, you’re thinking about something completely different.
If you search for ‘listening skills’ on Google, you’ll…
There’s a lot of PR attached to $100M+ acquisitions, which makes them seem more common than they actually are. In reality, only a small fraction of companies ever get acquired, and of those, very few are valued in hundreds of millions of dollars.
For those of you building companies — or working at a company that may one day be sold — here’s a run-through of the six levels that motivate acquirers to buy companies, and the methods they use to value them.
Even if your product hasn’t hit the market yet, your company may have some value. Companies that…
They say you find the best recruits, service providers, and investors by asking for recommendations. So I decided to test the theory.
I listed all my service providers and partners over the last three years, along with how I found them. Surprisingly, third-parties that came via a recommendation were less likely to succeed than those that came from other sources.
In fact, some of the worst people I’ve worked with came via my network.
What’s going on here?
Why do some recommendations work out, while others fail? …
The Founder Coach, 3X VC-backed founder, talk with me on Clubhouse (@foundercoach)