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Don't Govern to the Bottom Performer

Don't Govern to the Bottom Performer

August 19, 2019 | Posted by Dan Purvis

 

When it comes to day-to-day operations, we don't need a bunch of rules to police the bottom performer. The only rules we have exist to motivate and inspire the top performer. To combat “rule creep,” anytime an issue arises, and someone suggests a new rule or a change of policy to govern this specific situation, our top management pushes back.

We're not going to add lines to the company handbook. We're going to go talk to that employee instead. We'll them, "This action doesn't line up with our values. You need to change this behavior.”

If they choose not to change, then they can go work someplace where there are more rules. That will not be here. Velentium is not going to be a company that turns into a bureaucratic police state where we're watching everyone’s actions.

We had a situation where one of the managers found an engineer playing solitaire at his desk and became frustrated. It was suggested that we turn off games on company laptops, but once again, we’re not going to create rules for the sake of creating rules. I want people who decide not to play games, not the opposite. Furthermore, if that engineer needed a five-minute break, that's fine! I believe we get a lot more out of our staff because people want to be here, not because they're policed into acting busy.

Another example is we don't count staff hours. We do track billable hours because that creates revenue and profit, which generates the air that enables us to exist. As I said before, there’s an ebb and flow to work and family demands, and we understand it. Committing to our values means that staff members communicate where they are, when they’re working, what they’re working on, and when it will be ready for review with their colleagues.

The values drive who we are. If you make a mistake on a project and you immediately respond to take corrective measures (notifying a client, creating a fix, addressing the team, etc.), that becomes a mistake we celebrate. Mistakes mean you’re pushing yourself to the limit. If this were a company that punishes mistakes, then our staff would all have to dial back 20 to 30%, and we’d lose a piece of our competitive edge.

I want our staff to feel free to really stretch, knowing that their managers and senior leadership team have their back. Our Vice President of Quality, Randy Armstrong, likes to say “Fail-Find-Fix-Fast.” That's why we have a project cadence that includes frequent internal reviews – to identify those mistakes and correct them as early as possible before they create business risk.

As we continue to grow as a company, we would rather have the speed that comes from our staff stretching themselves, knowing that the company culture is on their side, so that we’re not afraid to push our limits and do great work.

Previously, I’ve touched on candor and its importance in our company culture. Honorable demands conflict at times, and humble charisma stresses that the conflict is approached with the right attitude. What we find is that when conflict is resolved in the right way, more trust is built between colleagues. If you say, "You know what, I'm going to risk this relationship. I’ll go tell them what is bothering me, but I'm going to do it with dignity and respect," that person, almost every time, appreciates the way that you came to them. When fights happen, and territories start to be built, and politics begin to grow in an organization, it's usually not because of the message; it's because of the way the message was delivered.

In the next post, we will talk about how important it is to hire the right people into your organization and how to vet them properly.

 

Topics: Culture
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