🚀 Breathe.



Not everybody is going to grow or level up at the same pace that you might have, and the expectations are very different when you start working with different types of people in different types of roles and they have different motivations.

In this episode

How do you know who to promote and when to promote them?

Barbra Gago shares what inspired her to create a tool that allows managers to make career progression more transparent and intentional. She also shares how beneficial standardizing employee progression is for your company.

Barbra Gago is the founder of Pando, and has a rich history as an early-stage CMO, driving pre-Series A companies like Miro, Greenhouse, and Culture Amp to success. Recognizing the flaws in traditional performance management, Barbra is redefining the field.

In episode #169, Barbra explains how to facilitate “just-in-time” promotions, thinking about employees from an “employee lifetime value” perspective, and how to apply other strategies traditionally used for business building to strengthen your team.

Tune in to hear all about Barbra’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


You can’t treat everyone the same


Hiring people when you’re not the expert


Reinvent the way you think about employee performance


Bubbling up the corporate ladder


Career levels versus titles


Make performance evaluations more fair

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Barbra, welcome to the show.

Barbra Gago (Pando)  03:42

Thank you for having me.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  03:43

Yeah, very excited to do this. I know you’ve been a leader for a long time, you’ve worked at a number of different brand names that I think most of our audience will be familiar with, including mero greenhouse culture, and today, your founder and CEO at Pendo. And so lots of stuff we’re going to talk about what I love about your new company is it’s very much in the world of management, culture, promotions, leveling, so many things that we’re going to get to so many things that you’ve been deep diving into. But before we go there, let’s talk about the early days. Do you remember when you first started to manager lead your team? What were some of those early mistakes for you?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  04:21

Yeah, of course, I think I would say for myself, even before I had an official manager job. I’ve always been an instigator and sort of leader in challenging the status quo. My mom thought I was going to be a lawyer probably because I would just argue and reason everything, mostly to get my way. But before I became a manager, I was a marketer. And I think as a marketer, you spend a lot of time managing programs and people in your orchestrating complex campaigns and events. So you do get an opportunity in a role like that to learn how to best collaborate with people learn how to get them to help you get the outcomes that you need. And you learn. It’s kind of like a good training, I would say for people who are interested in management because you kind of get to learn how to get outcomes you need from other people. When I first initially started, leading a team, officially, like people that reported to me that I managed, I think the main thing that probably a lot of managers go through is really that transition from being great at doing the job to learning how to be successful through coaching other people to do the job, and maybe not in the exact way that you would do it. I think that that’s probably like the first sort of transition step. In terms of mistakes. I think out of necessity, sometimes you can’t really avoid it. But I remember, one of the early teams that I built, I had hired several, like I established the team almost all together at once. And so I hired multiple people, I think to and then one other not long after, and I don’t know if you’ve heard about like the forming, storming, norming performing, there was a lot of storming going on, because I had multiple people who were trying to prove themselves trying to figure out how things are going to work with their scope of responsibility was. And so I think that sometimes it’s a necessity, but also thinking through the cadence and the flow of how you’re hiring and how people get injected to the team. And the fact that there will be that forming every time you add someone new into an organization. This was one, I think that realizing as a manager, that not everybody is going to grow or level up at the same pace that you might have. And the expectations are very different when you start working with different types of people and different types of roles. And they have different motivations. And you have to understand those things. And also that everybody doesn’t want the same thing, because did they you want it as a manager. And I think that another kind of mistake I made the first time I built like a manager of managers team. So managing first and then building my first like management layer was not spending enough time digging into what are the managers skill sets? And how are you assessing for the manager skill set. So it was kind of a mistake that I made to maybe over optimize on if I was hiring for demand gen or product marketing that they have the experience as a product marketer, and the strategy and the execution but not spending enough time on? Well, how are they actually as a manager? And how will that affect the broader team and the culture of the team?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:44

Yeah, so lots of really good stuff there. I did want to double click on the first thing that you mentioned. So it sounds like you hired a bunch of people at the same time. And then these people had to figure out how to work well together. And maybe it was too much all at the same time. I mean, what have you learned from that? And how do you go about things today?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  08:06

I think it just created a bit of unnecessary complexity and maybe stress for the team to bring everybody on at the same time and hire them all at the same time. On one hand, as a manager, I think it’s very important to always be focused on recruiting and hire as fast as you can the right people not, you need to assess them correctly and do all the legwork. But like hiring as quickly as you can is really important. But I think that having a clear kind of roadmap for what the first person is going to be doing in terms of how you’re onboarding them, how they’re going to be integrated into the team, what are their goals? What are the outcomes, making sure that it’s clear, I’ve learned a lot about designing teamwork and being deliberate about teamwork. And I think it’s a very important thing to start thinking about as soon as you start hiring your first people. So I think that really, the main thing was too much. I don’t know, like people get a little bit competitive maybe or like they want to prove themselves. And it’s, they’re already going to come in with that kind of mindsets so often, where they want to prove themselves that it’s just easier if you give people a little bit of space. So I would say I’m much more thoughtful about the timing and the cadence of different types of people bringing them into the org and maybe waiting or even if you hire someone, but then letting it be like a delayed start date or something so that each person has a little bit more time and space to get acclimated. Sometimes you don’t have time so you have to just deal with it and have lots of conversations and create clarity around goals and outcomes for individuals so that they can focus on that instead of like what what are they supposed to do

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  09:51

in would you say the some of that have something to do with for example, having too many cooks in the kitchen too many people on the same sort of functions or like for Example. Is it okay to hire a lot of people really fast if they’re going to be working on things that don’t necessarily collaborate all that much? Or does that lesson still stand?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  10:09

If they’re all in different functions or roles? Maybe that’s okay. Or if you’re forming a team for a very specific project, and they all have very clear lanes, and you have a designer or product manager and two engineers, and you’ve just built a new team for some initiative, I think that can work because it’s more clear about what the roles are. So I would say it’s, this was in a marketing context. And when the roles are a bit more ambiguous, like they tend to be in marketing, especially at a startup, I think that it’s an important thing to consider and sort of think about how you’re going to roll people in and what types of initiatives you can bring them in on. But certainly, if it’s a new initiative, new product, and everybody has a clear role, then that’s no problem. I do think it’s important to as a manager to really think about the role and the goals and the outcomes and kind of double down on on communicating that when you’re bringing people in so that that’s at least clear. And the where do I fit in is less ambiguous?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  11:13

Yeah, got it. And so one of the things that I think is very interesting about marketing is, like you said, it’s such a broad term includes so many different functions, so many different types of things. And from my experience, chatting with marketing leaders, usually, everybody has a little bit of a specialty in a particular area more than others. And one of the things that made me curious was in the beginning, you mentioned, you know, being able to, in that transitionary phase, trust the team and let them do the thing, even if they’re going to be doing things in a different way. I am curious, like for you, if you found that, does it feel different when you hire people in an area where you know, you’re not the expert? But how did you get over that in an area where say, you knew you were the expert? Or do you tend not to fill that role as early? Or how do you play that part,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  12:07

I would say, I’ve generally been pretty good at delegating. And for me, I would fill other gaps. So like, if we had a small team, I would do the things that we needed someone else to do that we didn’t have people to do. So I’ve played so many different roles, even as a CMO. I’ve gotten to like the lowest level type of job and done that work because it needed to get done. I think like with marketing, though, and this goes back to thinking about the outcomes, I was very deliberate about how I thought about the team design. And I think many marketing teams have probably structured their organ that way, but you have kind of like the funnel, and you align people to stages of the funnel. And that’s what we did in this early team that I was referring to. And that does help create a bit more clarity around the focus and the roles.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  13:04

Yeah, so I think as long as the expectations are super clear, and you know what everybody’s working on, then some of the delegation becomes a lot easier. So you also mentioned this intentionality in terms of how you design the teams. I know you’ve been recently awarded a best place to work. And one of the things that you said, and we have a quote from you, where you talk about how to intentionally design your work. And you’ve written about this, but I’m curious if you could tell us a little bit more about what it actually means to intentionally design how you work? And what are some of the learnings that you’ve had there?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  13:41

Yeah, I mean, I think the example I just gave about the funnel and thinking about the marketing team, in terms of stages of the funnel, and then aligning folks around that is one example of kind of having an intention for how different individuals or teams will work together when things get passed off, etc. I think when I was at Miro in the early days, a lot of the company was co located outside of the US. And we started to hire I was kind of the first executive brought on in San Francisco. And then we started to hire people in the Bay Area and other places in the US. And one of the things that I immediately advocated for and started working towards with the CEO and I did do a lot of the internal communication at the company as well, was the concept of like, defaulting to a remote approach, even though at that time 90% of the company was co located, we still had to take an approach of defaulting to a remote experience for how we worked, how we collaborated, which looks like for example, if you’re in a meeting, and five people are in the conference room, but one person’s remote then everybody logs on to their computer and meets through their computer. and not the one screen on the wall, looking at everybody. So thinking about things like that, I think communication is really important and what the cadences around communication are defining and having clarity and intention around why you would use email over slack. What the all hands meetings are like, how those are run, how things are documented. Git Lab is a great example, at least from a remote perspective of having like everything very well documented and having a lot of intention around processes and communication and structure. So I think, with panco, because we do competency based performance, even integrating in values or the way you work into, for example, feedback and performance discussions is another way to not just have intention around it, but hold people accountable for the behaviors that you’re looking for.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:57

Yeah, got it. And so actually, that’s a perfect segue. Let’s talk about pandas. So you’ve worked at all these different companies. And why did you start Pendo?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  16:07

Well, honestly, I think Merrill was probably the inspiration for it. But it had been something that was brewing over the years, I worked at the intersection of people tech, and then more future of work. And I think that coming from a sales and marketing background, I’ve had a lot of experience and exposure to tools, sales and marketing kind of lead with budgets and money to spend on technology and innovation, because it’s like, we got to get revenue. So however we’re doing that, let’s do it. And there’s a science and an art kind of combined and how we approach that, I think very systematically and also like a funnel, with a lot of things. And when I was at Greenhouse, we talked a lot of we use things, we incorporated the concept of employee lifetime value from customer lifetime value, for example. So thinking in those ways, I just recognize that there was a big gap in how we’re thinking about employee performance. And it’s kind of an old paradigm of Performance Management being like a top down thing. And I think that there’s a huge opportunity to reinvent the way we think about employee performance. And we’re kind of advocating for and introducing a methodology that you can use hando for you can use the methodology without Panda, but basically introducing a methodology to get to a point where you have what I call just in time progression, which is sort of like just in time delivery from a product perspective, where the right person at the right time is getting promoted. And we can be a lot more strategic about how we’re thinking about our people and how they’re being developed. And there’s just been a big gap. Like as a leader, as a manager, I had no tools from the traditional sense in the typical products you see around this stuff to actually clearly and transparently communicate with employees and team members, what’s expected of them, what do they need to do to get to the next level? What are the opportunities? What are the behaviors, and yeah, panto really came as a solution to demystifying how you actually can perform and get promoted at the company, make it more transparent, make it more fair, and I struggled with this everywhere, I think greenhouse we probably did the best at having clarity and alignment between managers and employees around what the expectations were. And that came through initially through levels and career frameworks, which I did for my team that kind of other teams started doing. And then we sort of standardized it. And then having like, regular cadences around your one on ones, and also quarterly, looking back at what you did the last quarter, checking in on goals, checking in on development areas, and having that be so regular that the employee and the manager were always on the same page about where they were at. And the promotions really did come bottoms up. And so panda is really designed to solve for a lot of those things and create that sort of bottoms up approach where alignment and clarity is sort of central and people are leveled up when they’re ready to be leveled up and not arbitrarily sort of held back because of a performance review cycle.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:38

Hey, everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about something that we’ve been working on that we’re super excited about. It’s no secret that, you know, meetings have been on the rise since the pandemic. There are studies that showed that in some organizations, people are spending as much as 250% more time in meetings, and there hasn’t been A solution out there to really tackle this problem. At its heart, some companies are doing interesting things. Shopify, for example, is now incorporating a meeting cost calculator into all of the meetings that are booked. And so whenever someone’s trying to book a meeting, they get to see the cost of that meeting. And what we’ve decided to do at Fellow is take this idea of a meeting cost calculator, and make it available for everyone for free. And we’re calling it our meeting cost calculator, it integrates with your Google Calendar. So if you’re on a Google Calendar, what you can do is go to Fellow.app/calculator. And what it’s going to do is, it’s this extension, you install it super easy. And when you do, you’ll be able to see the cost of every meeting that you’re attending. And so what this does at an organizational level, and it’s very easy to install organization wide, your IT administrator can very easily do this. And when you do this, every person in your company, when they’re about to book a meeting, they’ll be able to see the cost of that particular meeting. And really, the intention here is to make it easy for people to really think carefully about the people that the invite to the meeting how large the meeting is going to be. And really the purpose and make sure that time that is organized through this meeting is actually going to be time well spent. And so we’re very excited to announce this, it’s easy to get, you can go to Fellow.app/calculator, get the extension and get it for your team, it’s free to use. And if you like what you see there, we have a series of other things that we built along these lines with that extension. We’re calling the meeting guidelines. And it’s a series of other things that help change organizational behavior around meetings in your company. But start with a calculator. It’s really cool. And when you try it, let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the episode. Yeah, I mean, this is very interesting. So you mentioned top down versus bottoms are also language that relates the product and product and maybe business world. So can you explain what a top down performance review looks like? And what a bottoms up one looks like, just to be abundantly clear what the differences are?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  22:22

Yes, so I would say there’s also a distinction between, I’m talking about progression versus performance management. It’s a paradigm I’m trying to shift and a mindset, I’m trying to change in how we think about our talent. So top down is what everyone typically experiences, which is, once a year, maybe twice a year, employees are asked to evaluate themselves from the top, either their manager or the leadership, oftentimes, an employee does a self evaluation, and the manager will request or the employee requests peers to evaluate them, the manager takes all of that feedback takes the employee self evaluation, rights and evaluation, and then says, Here you go. This is how you’ve been evaluated. This is what we think, the manager and all of the anonymous feedback that you don’t even get to see usually, that’s then presented to you. So this is the top down, here you go. This is what we think you’re being performance managed. Bottoms up is a, I think more strategic and innovative way of thinking about it. Because it’s more, it can create a context for companies where it’s like a pay as you go, or that performance almost where with the right structure, it definitely requires more things and different things than a traditional performance review, you need to have clarity around leveling around competencies, what the expectations are for everybody, by level and in their skills and competency based performance evaluations and feedback in this context really creates fairness and structure that then is more trusted. So there’s like less bias built into the process because the manager is now evaluating employees based on specific skills at their level. And then the other employee who might be at a different level is evaluated based on different expectations. But then the employee and the manager are aligned. And they can have feedback conversations, performance conversations as they go. And when the employee meets all of the expectations, which usually means that they’re already performing at the next level, then they would bubble up. And this would be a bottoms up, manager and employee are like, we’re ready, this person’s ready. And then they get leveled up. It’s a continuous process that isn’t necessarily tied to a cycle. And this is what we did actually agree nows. People would just bubble up. They would just bubble up and then there At the next level, so we didn’t do a top down, everybody now do a performance review. And so many companies are moving. Well, the companies that we’re working with at least are moving towards this direction.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  25:10

Yeah, so that makes sense. So traditionally, you do this once a year. That’s the time when, in theory, promotions can happen. And everybody’s kind of evaluated. Some places do things like stack ranking they meet. And then they argue about whether a director in marketing is the same as a director in engineering, and there’s all these sorts of things. But what you’re arguing about is like, let’s set that stuff up in the beginning, know exactly what the requirements are. And whenever someone meets those things, then they can go to the next level, it’s not time dependent, maybe you’re really good at progressing very fast. And you can do do that a lot earlier. So I guess one question that I have here is that I mean, this sounds very, very structured. How big should your company be before you start implementing this type of a framework? Well,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  25:59

I think it depends more on the stage of the company rather than the size, because if you’re early stage and you’re scaling, then it might be too much structure. But by the time you get to 50, or 100 employees, it’s very, very needed. Because by then you’ve, you’ve already hired people above their level below their level inflated titles, or under given titles. I mean, without that structure from the beginning, you kind of do it organically. And everybody has a different perspective of what things mean, like what you said about the directors. So I would definitely advocate for at least having levels and some of the competencies from the beginning, even if it’s not formally used as performance, but at least for hiring just to keep you out of trouble, you could be a smaller company that just isn’t going to grow in size, you can be an agency, you can be a consultancy, and people are going to stick around for a while. And that human capital is very important and valuable, too. And they should grow and have progression. So you could be 20 people. And this could be important. But I think that 100, like between 50 and 100, it’s already needed. I think with pay transparency, and some of the other things around that. It’s also just going to become table stakes, in the sense to have that transparency, there really shouldn’t be an argument over whether a director and then in marketing and engineering are the same or not. The level expectation should be the same. What they do and how they’re paid could be different that’s dictated by the market. But the expectation of that level nine person or that level seven person, regardless of what team they’re in should be the same.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:49

And so you’ve worked with a lot of companies and have been digging pretty deep in this area. Are there commonalities? I feel like I’ve seen some open source leveling frameworks. I’ve seen them mostly in the context of engineering, you find that people are using some of the same ones, or everybody’s different, are there now open source ones, where everybody could just like download a spreadsheet and say, These are the level things that we’re going to use? Or what is the state of leveling?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  28:15

So yes, and so yes, there are standard kind of leveling frameworks that are often actually pulled from compensation, benchmarking tools, things like pave and other tools like that, where they just kind of go off of what’s been done, which means maybe there are six levels, for example, I think that when the pandemic happened, and this whole talent situation became really complicated, and people were leaving their jobs, and it is still a big challenge, like McKinsey did a bunch of research. And one of the main suggestions that they had for creating more career development, which drives engagement, and also retention is to increase the number of levels that you have in your organization, because that’s then directly creating steps that people can take. So I think that while there are standard leveling structures out there, we definitely advocate for adding more levels. And we’ve kind of built we’re actually going to be launching a tool soon, that has various leveling frameworks based on your company size and your growth rate. So you want to be able to have a leveling framework that works well now that you can kind of grow into, but also one that’s relevant to your size. So I think yes, and there’s still more happening around it in terms of standardization. What I would say on the competency side, though, is it’s very common that like an engineer at one tech company and an engineer and another tech company are going to share obviously similar qualities. There will be nuances within an organization Around how they work or what they value, and those things could be integrated into these frameworks. But ultimately, there is a lot of commonality and trends in terms of the types of skills or the types of structure that people put into these rubrics.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  30:16

Yeah, you know, this is very interesting. For anyone who skis out there, I think one of the things I learned was when you go to a different mountain, like a black diamond, and one mountain is not necessarily this might be the equivalent of a blue square and another mountain. And so what I found really interesting was you said that, you know, the leveling can vary based on company size, and like how mature you are, and you know, how much people change roles. And, and you’re right, maybe like five levels is plenty for, you know, 100 person company, but at 10,000. I mean, five is probably quite too few. What if you see into, you know, for a, say, like a 500 person company, how many levels might there be? Or what would you recommend,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  30:56

I would say, probably around 15, including executive levels, when we’re talking about levels, there’s a difference between level and title. So a lot of people will default to one level one title. So when I’m talking about levels, I’m not talking about titles, there are titles that will map to those levels, but I’m just talking about actual steps that you can take, which means that at that 15 level framework versus maybe a nine level, which would mean perhaps seven IC levels on one and maybe 10 On the other, or whatever it is, it means that you might have two levels for one title, or maybe three levels for one title. And those gradients can represent compensation steps and stretches in certain areas. So it’s a way to also make compensation steps smaller. And I think, in my opinion, more equitable because as you mentioned, 100,000 person company, or even 5000 person company with only five levels, or six levels, can become inequitable pretty quickly, at least perceptually. I know that some big Silicon Valley company only had six engineering levels until recently, which means that most people just kind of park it in level four, or maybe level five for 5678 years, however long their tenure is. And I can guarantee you that every time a level three levels up until up before all those level fours are like, ah, that person is not as senior as me, why are we all the same level. So it’s really something that I think is changing for the better, because I think it also helps us move to a little bit more transactional approach to how we pay people at levels instead of negotiating and divvying up your budget that you’re given, you can make it a little bit more clear, like it’s a small step, a smaller increase, but there’s also no negotiating or not giving someone something because you have to give this person a raise or whatever.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:05

Yeah, so some maybe some tactical beginner questions here. So say your company has all these levels. And I’m just going back to the example of someone got promoted to level four from level three. And but it takes eight years to be at a level before before you can go to the next level. Where do people see these levels? Like how do you know, you know, what person is at what level? Is that something that’s also transparent or not really,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  33:32

it’s becoming transparent. So levels are completely transparent. My company, I’ve made them transparent at previous companies, but mostly on my own as a manager, because it didn’t exist like Miro, I built them. And then I ended up building them for everybody. And it was like the whole process for the company, but it’s usually tied to compensation bands. So now with comp transparency laws, like people will be able to ask, what is my comp? And what’s the comp plan above me? And legally, you’re sort of obliged to tell people that so it’s becoming more and more transparent. I mentioned GitLab. Earlier, they’ve made theirs publicly available Dropbox, but there’s plenty of companies that have made them publicly available. If your organization hasn’t made them transparent, it’s probably because they don’t have them. And what they do have maybe is just compensation bands, to levels. But likely, what I’ve seen most common is that they just haven’t gotten to the point of like, okay, well, what does this level actually mean? So that they can communicate it to all the managers, but this is becoming it’s one of the top things that a lot of people leaders and HR folks are working on and making transparent a lot because of the transparency stuff.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  34:57

Yeah, one of the questions I have is just you know, you can get into the details of some of this level stuff. I think, again, the performance world and you know, the way that we operate companies changes from time to time. And one of the things that became popular for quite a while, I think, for example, at Facebook, at Shopify, a few companies, they started really emphasizing impact as a core component of you know, how to basically evaluate, you know, people’s levels. And I’m wondering, how does impact fit in? Because I can see from a levels perspective, it’s, you know, someone who demonstrates this, or can do these sorts of things and is influential in this way, or has these particular skills but then there’s also the impact question, and I’m wondering, does that factor in or if it does, how does it factor in?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  35:44

So I think that it’s it does factor in and it’s sort of the intersection, I would say, of the levels are the criteria that make it consistent for everybody at the same company in the same level to basically essentially be have the same scope or impact expectation? That’s like, how do you calibrate where someone is when you hire someone, instead of like, oh, I need a senior manager, it’s like, okay, well, this is what a senior manager is, are you sure that’s what you need, or maybe it’s a level six instead of a level seven, or whatever. So it can be really helpful, really, initially, just to have that kind of core structure. And then when it comes to performance, I think the level expectation is one thing, the competencies of the role, which, if they’re performing in those competencies, they should be having the impact that they need to have is then demonstrated. But ultimately, you’re you are looking for the impact, the competencies, and the level descriptions of those competencies should just be a means to an end in terms of getting me to creating the impact that I need to have. And so what that looks like for a lot of our customers, and also what we do at Pendo, internally is that employees in their level, have their competencies that they need to be developing. And they also have goals. So it’s kind of like the intersection of what your impact to the company was, and how it was demonstrated through these core behaviors and things that you’ve been working on from a competency perspective.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:22

Got it. And so I would imagine for employees like this is a real hit in the sense that they know what to expect. They know how they can grow. And like you said, everybody has different goals and different circumstances. And so, you know, maybe someone really loves leveling up and someone levels up in a different pace, like you mentioned. So I don’t know if you have a story, or an example of someone who really took a super transparent framework like this, and just leveled up super quickly, and maybe how it would have enabled them to do that. So yeah, I’m just curious, like, if there’s any interesting story like that, where someone took advantage and leveled up super fast across the board,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  38:04

I think that people who are going to level up quickly, those very ambitious kind of proactive bias towards action, people are going to do it. Either way. I think that the rubric creates transparency that makes performance evaluations more fair and contextual. So I don’t think that it’s not that easy to take advantage of it, I guess, is my point. It’s like, it’s more about having clarity around why you’re evaluated a certain way. So instead of just your annual, you’re at a three, which is great, you’re on track, or maybe you’re at a four, it’s like, here’s all the dimensions that we’re evaluating you on, and some of those, your five, which means you’re already performing at the next level, and some of those you’re on track. And some of those you need to improve. And let’s focus on those areas, and everybody is going to look a little different. I think that if you have someone who is having a significant impact and continues to have a significant impact, you should get out of their way and let them progress and level up. And I’ve seen many, many times and many frustrations for managers who aren’t able to level up people who then are at risk of looting. And in the current market, the pendulum has kind of swung back to companies for a temporary period. I think where people are, you know, there’s been a lot of layoffs and people are more in a fear state and employees have less power, but it will go back to that. And if you’re clear that people are having an impact, you need to let them keep having the impact. This is how you optimize performance and impact on the company. Right? It’s like those people should continue to progress For us, and we advocate for more level so that those can be iterative steps. And not necessarily like your budget doesn’t necessarily change, it just means that they could have more frequent, less big up levels.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  40:13

Yeah, I think that makes sense. So it’s not necessarily, here’s a checklist of all the things that you have to do, and you just kind of follow them. And then you get promoted, it’s more like when you’re acting at that level, these are some of the criteria that would signify that, that you’re already there. So,

Barbra Gago (Pando)  40:30

and also consistently, it really helps you as a manager to manage the expectation of employees that want to level up because everybody’s eager to level up. As soon as you roll out competencies and levels. They’re like, Oh, okay, there’s criteria here, there’s expectations. It’s nuanced. It’s not just like, Oh, I’m doing great, or I’m doing poorly. So it can be a really good tool for managers as well to check the expectations of employees and how quickly they’ll grow. Because they also have to have a sustained performance in order to level up.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  41:07

Yeah. So you know, Barbra, this has been an awesome conversation. We’ve talked about so many different things. But you’re right, it sounds like you’ve taken all the different concepts that exists and the way that we, we think about acquiring customers lifetime value, concepts, like just in time promotion, like all of these things we’re used to, in building companies, but now applying it just to the talent, which obviously the most important part of any company. And so yeah, it’s very refreshing to hear this type of take and, and I feel like we all got a master class in leveling and career progression. And what kind of the future of work and company building looks like? So the final question we like to ask all the guests on the show is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better? Are there any final tips, tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Barbra Gago (Pando)  41:58

Yes, I think most importantly, I would say set rituals for yourself, especially around feedback and coaching. I think managers sometimes find it really hard to give critical feedback, I think using competencies is a great way to soften that because it’s like, you’re doing great here, here. And here. Here’s where you can improve. And it’s very clear, at the end of each week, for example, thinking about something that you could do better and what you’ve done great and ask for feedback from your team. And then also think about what they’ve done well, and what they can improve like a simple could be start, stop, continue. It could be like, Good, great, fix whatever, have some regular cadence where you are giving a little bit of feedback, because then the likelihood that you need to have those really hard conversations will go down your if you’re having these little iterative moments of feedback, it’s going to improve things. Don’t let things fester. Of course, I think if something’s bothering you, it’s better to address it and have a conversation with distributed work, a lot of things can get lost in translation. So really, kind of think about it on a weekly basis. I think one other good thing that I do with my team, when there’s a big customer presentation, or a sales call or something, I go into it, thinking, Okay, I’m gonna give feedback. And then I have the mindset of getting feedback. And then I’m taking notes, and I’m being able to really listen to and come up with things that the person can improve.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:34

Yeah, that’s great advice, and a great place ended. Barbra, thanks so much for doing this.

Barbra Gago (Pando)  43:39

Of course, thanks so much for having me.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:42

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at WWW.Fellow.app/Supermanagers. If you like the content, be sure to rate review and subscribe so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and Fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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