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Newsletter Issue 39

Every few weeks, I ask one question to a founder, CEO, manager, or business owner I respect…

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The Heartbeat Podcast: A chat with Katica Roy

Katica Roy is the CEO and Founder of Pipeline, a software company that helps companies increase their financial performance by closing the gender pay gap. Prior to founding Pipeline, Katica was the Global VP and Head of Learning for SAP. In our conversation, she shared the importance of knowing your own value, being highly aware of the “ripple effect” you have as a leader, and how she delivers tough feedback to her team. Watch or listen to our conversation below.

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript of the interview here.

What I’ve been writing lately

The 32 best employee engagement questions with the highest response rates
“Have you met the last person we hired? How many miles do you travel to/from work each day, and how long does it take?”

What great managers do: Prune
“Pruning [is] done periodically, only when the season is fitting. If you prune all the time and you can accidentally over prune a plant and deprive it of nutrients. Leadership is similar.”

What I’ve been reading lately

4 Reasons Good Employees Lose Their Motivation
“These reasons fall into four categories — a quartet we call the motivation traps. Namely, they are 1) values mismatch, 2) lack of self-efficacy, 3) disruptive emotions, and 4) attribution errors.” Written by Richard E. Clark and Bror Saxberg, Harvard Business Review

Want a better decision? Plan a better meeting

“In a recent McKinsey survey, 61 percent of executives said that at least half the time they spent making decisions, much of it surely spent in meetings, was ineffective. And just 37 percent of respondents said their organizations’ decisions were both high-quality and timely.” Written by Aaron De Smet, Gregor Jost, and Leigh Weiss, McKinsey Quarterly

Succeeding the long-serving legend in the corner office
“Moving too quickly can be as problematic as moving too slowly. Setting the right pace requires resisting arbitrary pressure for you to chalk up fast wins, while moving rapidly enough on the company’s critical priorities to keep things moving forward. Many experienced leaders look back on their years as CEO and feel that they moved too slowly on their company’s critical priorities.” Written by Per-Ola Karlsson, Martha Turner, and Peter Gassmann, strategy + business

The Peter Principle Tested
“‘Our research suggests that companies are largely aware of the Peter Principle. Because workers value promotion above and beyond a simple increase in salary, firms may not want to rid themselves entirely of promotion-based incentives. However, strategies that decouple a worker’s current job performance from his or her future career potential can minimise the costs of the Peter Principle.’” Written by Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

My Billion Dollar Mistake
“I was setting a bad example but expecting stellar results from my team. I wanted them to be doing customer research, digging into our data and using all that information to build the features that actually mattered. Instead I was making the situation worse, not better.” Written by Hiten Shah (I also interviewed Hiten on The Heartbeat podcast last year here)

A handy leadership tip

From our online leadership community of 1,000+ managers in The Watercooler in Know Your Team

Separating job roles from compensation

How do you avoid attrition of talented employees by not having enough management roles? Yet, at the same time, how to do you avoid the Peter Principle?

  • Review what “success” is for each employee. The key is to make sure people’s individual ideas of success is aligned with the organization’s idea of success.
  • Develop multiple career paths for individual contributors, beyond management. Have it be just as easy and just as rewarding to move up levels within an individual contributor track as it is to move into management and move up the management track. For example, you can have people progressing into engineering managers (which has multiple levels), or progress as an individual engineer (which also has multiple levels). Andy Grove in High Output Management calls these individual contributors who advance “know-how managers.”
  • Provide “mentorship” roles instead of pure management roles. Some people function better as technical mentors and leaders rather than as people managers.
  • Have your lead roles be rotating roles with an additional bonus. For example, people elect their leads, and that person stays and leads as long they see fit, but function more like the representative of the group rather than a “boss.” Compensation is not exactly separate because you get a bonus, but you’re not changing the role, so it’s not a direct step-up. It’s a strategy that Semco used – you can check the Pyramid and Circles item of this post from 1989 on it.
  • Know that people will leave – and support them when they do. Attrition can be a natural and healthy part of a growing team.
  • Encourage folks to be honest when they feel they want to leave, and support them when they do. One Watercooler member has a Slack channel dedicated to #alumni as a way to stay connected to folks, and show the company’s desire to support them even after they’ve left.

Just for fun

Impossible Foods’ rising empire of almost-meat
Absolutely fascinating piece (especially, as I eat vegan most of the time! 😝)

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.