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Guest

162

A company is like a whole series of gears that work together. If your gear is stuck and you can’t execute, that’s going to cause other gears to stop too.

In this episode

How transparent is your leadership team about company information?

In an age where transparency can make or break trust, many leaders still wrestle with pulling back the curtain, especially when it comes to sharing sensitive company details such as finances. But what if withholding information is more perilous than sharing it?

Axonify’s CEO, Carol Leaman, delves into why she views the repercussions of not sharing this information as a greater threat. She offers actionable strategies to promote transparency and over-communication across all areas of a company and provides insights on how to motivate your employees.

Carol Leaman is an award-winning thought leader with an impressive track record of successfully leading tech companies. Before becoming the CEO and Co-Founder of Axonify, she served as the CEO of PostRank Inc. (acquired by Google) and held CEO positions at tech firms RSS Solutions and Fakespace Systems.

In episode #162, Carol discusses her experiences with boomerang employees, creating value for employees, motivating teams, and the decision-making process of hiring internally versus externally for roles.

Tune in to learn more about Carol’s leadership journey and the invaluable lessons she’s gathered along the way!


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


05:00

How to motivate your people

12:05

Why not share company info with employees

17:40

How to internally over-communicate

26:50

Encouraging people to come back to the office

31:40

Boomerang employees

38:50

 Hiring internally vs externally  


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Transcript

Carol, welcome to the show.

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  02:50

Thanks for having me, Aydin. I’m happy to be here.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:52

Yeah, super excited to do this, you and I have met a bunch of times in the past, you’ve spoken at a number of the conferences that I’ve been at. So very excited to have you on the Supermanagers podcast, you’ve been at a number of different companies, fake space, RSS solutions, PostRank. And today, you’re the CEO of Axonify. And so there’s a lot of topics that we want to talk about a lot of which are very topical, in this day and age. But one thing that we always like to start by talking about is mistakes. So if you were to, you know, rewind back to when you first started to manage or lead a team, do you remember some of the very early mistakes that used to make back in those days?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  03:33

Oh, my gosh, I made so many classic mistakes. And I would say you know, generally they can be distilled down into, you know, not really, truly understanding how to motivate people. And you know, what thinking about that different people need different forms of motivation in order to be successful in the job. You know, I just, I didn’t even put any thought to that. I would say I didn’t really clearly set expectations. Well, you know, I knew the job that needed done. But I didn’t really set those expectations as a manager in a way that I did later in my experience. And, you know, I would just say generally speaking, I focused more on the work that needed to be done than enabling the person overall. And so I kind of switched that equation as I continued to be a manager through my career, and just started to see the signs and signals of what were the things that would motivate somebody to excel and do a really, really great job and then how can I support that? So I changed my approach, but it took making mistakes and some trial and error and just generally learning as I worked through my career,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:52

it seems like you’ve definitely thought about this. So you definitely have a list of the different things, given all the experience that you have and things that you’ve tene So you started off by saying it was hard to motivate people? How would you go about motivating people today,

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  05:07

motivating people really comes down to understanding where they are in their careers, what their career aspirations are, what their skill set is to perform in the role, and setting the kind of Northstar that goals so that they understand how they get from where they are to meeting the expectation that you have of them, you know, really, it all comes down to a lot of communication, and understanding the individual that’s in the role, and how to get the best out of them in a way that is going to excite them. And that requires conversation, it requires a lot of deep understanding in the beginning. And once you get to know the person and where they are at in terms of their level, you can then usefully apply different tools and techniques to help them progress or their careers and be you know, a great employees. So, and all of it comes down to people are motivated by different things. But everybody is motivated by the prospect of success. And that’s personal success in their role that leads to data points, they can look at and say I helped the business be successful in this way. And so layering the path for that is what is, you know, critically important to motivation. Got it.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  06:33

And so when you start working with someone new, how do you get to the the heart of that to figure out what it is that success looks like for them?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  06:43

It really does start in the interview phase, to be honest with you, and that is getting into, you know, where do you think you’ve been successful? What motivates you just asking that very direct question? And what would allow you to be successful in this new role. So it starts right at the very, very beginning. And then it takes some level of vigilance as the person starts to execute in their role to watch and learn how they’re executing in the role, and course correct as quickly as possible versus a lot. You know, we’re all humans. And when there’s feedback to give to somebody, it’s difficult sometimes to be honest. But the sooner you do it, the sooner you kind of redirect, the faster everything gets back on track. And so it is understanding at the outset, asking direct questions, watching and learning very early on. And then that kind of lays the foundation for success later on.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:47

Yeah, it’s super interesting that you actually start the process from the interview stage and even ask them during the interview stage. What are things that motivate them? And yeah, it just plays very nicely with the idea of getting to know people and motivating them the way that they want to be motivated. And your Another thing that’s important to you is just building trust. And so you have a very specific way that you think about the way that say CEOs or leaders of organizations should go about building trust, and how would you put that together? Like, what are the things that you’ve done at Axonify, and things that you recommend others do in order to build trust with their teams in their organizations? To really two

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  08:27

things are the most important things if you ask me a few are, but the first one is transparency. And that word is used overused, actually a lot. And I would say I have spent my career taking it almost to an extreme where everybody at Axonify and in my previous businesses should know at all times, things like how we’re doing as a business financially. What are the key things that we need to do to be successful, where we’re not being successful? And how we are remediating whatever that is. So being completely open and honest with the financial and health of the business is one of those things, a lot of CEOs and managers of people shy away from, they’re kind of afraid to let people in the know. And they worry about information leaking, or what I’ve learned is if people are truly invested emotionally, intellectually, they put their career in your hands. They want the business to be successful too. And so being open and honest with them about the state of the business is the way to get them to buy in and actually help make it successful. In the absence of that information. People just make stuff up all day long, and nobody ever makes anything good up. They always make bad things up. So telling them the truth, and being open and honest with them, creates an environment that keeps all of that mystery and those rumors and all the bad stuff from cropping up. The second thing is, I make a point of telling everybody, you know, while I have the CEO title, I know far less about most domains within the business than the leaders of those domains. I am not a marketer, I’m not a software developer. I’m not an HR specialist. I’m not, I’m actually a finance person by background. And I do know that domain, but I can’t even claim that today. Many decades later, when I’ve had super competent CFOs in those roles, and humanizing yourself as a leader to the people that you lead and letting them know you don’t have all the answers, you’re doing the best job that you can do with the information given. And it’s okay to not know, I don’t know so much. And I need other people to inform me and tell me and give me their best input and advice as the domain experts so that I can kind of sit and make a decision that I think is in the best interest of the whole. So me humanizing myself by not pretending to be the knower of all. And also being super transparent with everybody about how the business is doing. Those are two key things that will build trust with the people that you lead. And they have worked like a charm for me over multiple companies.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  11:36

Yeah. So it’s very interesting, if we were to dive into, especially on the transparency of information, I mean, I think you said it very well, which is people will tend to be afraid of their team knowing about say bad news. Right? And so maybe let’s start there. What do you think it is? What is scary about having that information? communicated with everybody?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  11:58

That’s a excellent question. And I think in some people’s minds is different things. There are some CEOs, and I’ve known, you know, some of these who think that if the employees know, for example, what your top line revenue is, that they’re going to talk about it outside the business, somehow, it’s going to lead to the competition. And somehow, that’s going to lead to a disadvantage that you have as a business out there in market, in my experience, that even with employees who leave the business voluntarily and might join a competitor or adjacent company, who cares, like so the practical reality is, is that information getting out really, and truly going to, you know, hurt the business, when what is more hurtful is if you have somebody who, for example, is a product developer or product manager, them leaving the business, and they have all this domain knowledge about your product and the ins and outs of your product. They take that with them. So, you know, the financial part of the business and the health of the business is, to me almost less important, from the point of view of getting disclosed, but people fear other people finding out, maybe you’re not as big as people think you are, maybe, you know, if they find out, we’re a $3 million business or $5 million business, somehow they’re gonna think we’re not successful people build up stories in their minds. And really, and truly, who cares out there in the great wide world? Actually, not that many people care. But it is very important to your employees to understand the progression of the business, and also how they contributed to it.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  13:41

What about this situation where I think the, you know, people might say, you know, if you’re a leader of our organization, and things are not going well. And so part of it is, well, if everybody finds out, maybe, maybe they’ll lose faith in the company and what we’re doing and maybe if everybody knows, and everybody will just leave all at the same time. What about that situation? What do you say to those sorts of people?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  14:07

You know, what we’ve all been there, I would say that we have all been there. And this really comes down to people who are what I would call good, thoughtful leaders and those that are not. And thoughtful leaders can disclose that information, with a plan of action to say this is how we’re dealing with it, which again, instills trust and confidence in you as a leader or leadership team, that while things don’t always go well, there is a plan. And, you know, the plan involves XYZ, all of us pulling together on the rope in the same direction. You know, us needing to book these two deals that are in the pipeline for the quarter. We’ve got to get these done whatever the actions are. The trick is not inside. Fear through disclosure of negative information and positioning it in a way that conveys to your people, there is a plan. And it is entirely normal, that all businesses, especially those that are scaling, go through, every single person goes through it, and every single company goes through it, and those that have that kind of steady approach to disclosure. And then here’s how we’re dealing with the answer the action, that’s what people want, they just want to know what is going on and how we’re going to deal with it and how they can contribute to dealing with it. If you have that, it tends to go well, it’s when you don’t have an answer. And you don’t have a plan that can spiral.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:51

Yeah, and so I think it makes sense, the I mean, the way that you put it, which is you don’t want to incite fear, but you always want to have a plan. And I mean, that is kind of the job of leader, so you should have a plan. And so if for no other reason than to be able to communicate it, then that’s a good place to start. But I also liked what you said earlier, which was, in the absence of information, people will construct their own information. And sometimes that will be wrong, or it will be way worse than it truly is. And so why not take control of the narrative, it’s always better if you have control over the narrative versus random narratives all across the company that you have no control over?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  16:27

Exactly, you know, you’re causing me to remember during COVID. And again, because we’re not in the office, and we weren’t seeing each other frequently, I heard a rumor through somebody that was about how exotic fi was going to deal with some COVID related issue. And quite honestly, it was so ridiculous. And so off the radar, I can’t even remember what it was. And so anyway, it was it was that was a specific example for me of how in the, with all kinds of stuff flying around. And COVID was largely out of everybody’s control. And we were communicating as much as possible. Random things can pop into people’s heads that are so far afield from reality, but they take on a life of their own if they’re not quickly nipped in the bud. And, you know, fortunately, I can say for us, because we are almost over communicative. That tends not to happen, but it certainly didn’t happen in COVID. And it can happen in noncovered times for sure. So that’s

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  17:28

really interesting. So you use the word we’re over communicative. So how does that work? Like? What are the series of things that you do if other people also wanted to over communicate the way that you do? What things would they have to do?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  17:40

You know, and this goes back to pre COVID days, and it was weekly, during COVID. But we’ve always held from the beginning of the business when we had, you know, a handful of people to today where we have about 300, bi weekly, full on town halls with, you know, sections related to things like ask me anything. So you know, anonymous AMA’s, where anybody can ask anything. And then there are lots of other vehicles for communication through slack through, you know, email through a variety of channels. when anything happens with the business, we kind of have a multitude of touch points, with everybody in the company to relay information as quickly as possible. And, you know, when we have board meetings, I will recap the board meeting for the team at the next bi weekly town hall. So during COVID, we were doing that on a weekly basis. And if anything special happen more frequently. And you know, we do you know, annual company sorts of things for half a day, we do quarterly big meetings with the business. Again, all employees involved. There lots of kind of scheduled events, I would say that are vehicles for communication, that have set agendas, and then a portion of open conversation that encourages anybody in the business to ask those questions, get answers. And now given the size that we are sometimes people don’t want to be identified necessarily. So they’re anonymous. Sometimes there’s tough questions, and but, you know, we roll with it. And, and we have channels where we do publish financial information to the business, you know, so we try to get it out there and as many ways as possible to make it accessible in the way that people pay attention, you know, what’s suitable for them.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:42

And if someone asks a super tough question, and you have to answer that on the fly, I mean, do you always answer everything on the fly? Or do you sometimes say, I don’t know. We have to think about that.

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  19:53

Yeah, most definitely. They’re really good thoughtful questions sometimes where you know you do go It gives you a pause and you think, okay, you know what, let me come back to you on that. And then I’ll get with the HR team or you know, whoever. And then you know, circle back in, either through slack with our all company slack messaging, or through the next, you know, all company meeting all hands meeting.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  20:23

Hey, before we move on to the rest of the episode, if you’re an engineering leader, whether manager, director, or VP, all engineering leaders know that one on one meetings are a powerful tool for team engagement and productivity. However, not all leaders know how to run these meetings effectively. That’s why the Fellow team just released a comprehensive guide on the art of the one on one meeting. For engineers. It has over 60 pages of advice from engineering leaders at organizations like Apple, MailChimp, Stripe, GitHub, Intel, and more. We’ve also included expert approved templates for you to apply immediately to make your one on one meetings that much more effective. So head on over to Fellow.app/Resources to access the guide and the exclusive templates right now. We’ll also link it in the show notes for you to check out there. But you can go on over to Fellow.app slash resources to get the guide and the templates today. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. So a super tactical question for you. So when you think about scheduling these town halls, how much do you think to devote to questions and how much to actual content presentations talks.

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  21:40

So the regular schedule is typically about 40 minutes of presentation. And that involves things like celebrating people with major anniversaries with the business to thanking people. So we do a section that is people living our values. And anybody in the company can just in the moment volunteer another employee to be recognized for exhibiting a value, and then give a specific example of that. So there are things like that there’s often a presentation related to an area of business. So we might, for example, have this is a true example. We just booked the largest deal in our history. Congratulations. Yeah, we were excited. And it was a hard fought deal. And we had the sales team that was responsible for that, talk about the deal, and the evolution of that deal. And then you know, the meaning to Axonify. So that was the scheduled presentation. But then there’s usually about 20 minutes at the end. So it’s a full hour, and about 20 minutes at the end for specific questions. And those come in, in the previous, you know, 48 hours through slido.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:50

Cool. Yeah, that’s awesome. So speaking of meetings, this has been a topic in the news. And you and I were chatting about this right before we hit record. There’s all sorts of information out there right now, you know, people are calling, you know, their employees back to the office. You know, some companies are deleting meetings, some are taking very seriously, there’s a lot of change. And it’s kind of hard to figure out what is to blame. And so I just wanted to get your opinions on all the news around productivity and efficiency out there. And, you know, a, what are your thoughts? And what are you all doing that Axonify?

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  23:29

Well, so my thinking is, you know, we have been now socialized and trained over the last three years to just schedule ourselves into oblivion. And, you know, meeting after meeting after meeting and it becomes increasingly difficult, it has become increasingly difficult to carve out space and time, just for sheer thinking, strategic thinking, actually working on work product and getting stuff done and being productive. And so everything became the next meeting. Now, with more companies coming back to the office, I think everybody, all of us are seeing the difference in productivity, where you have that space, and you’re not scheduled back to back to back to back necessarily all day sitting in your house. And so this is an active conversation going on at Axonify. Right now, we have done things like Wednesday afternoons, we’re not allowed to have meetings, internal meetings. So you know, it’s productivity time for everybody. And of course, things creep in, they tend to when you can’t find time on people’s calendars, but it is an active conversation that we’re having to try to get more people to return to the office and have random conversations instead of scheduled conversations. And to also keep those blocks of time free from meetings and make your meetings. Make sure there’s an agenda like do do the basic things, the right people are in the meeting, don’t have the meeting three different times with three different groups of people really look at how you can make your meeting time as effective as possible. So we are, as I said, talking internally about things we can do to evolve that conversation. And frankly, part of it is getting more people to return to the office as possible, which will negate the need people just book a 30 minute meeting, even though it might be a five minute conversation, and then you end up chewing up 30 minutes talking to somebody online. And you know, it’s not necessary. So just making the meetings far more impactful, focused, productive, to give you space for other things.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  25:47

Yeah. So I think what happened is, and once COVID happened, everything had to be a lot more intentional. And like you said, what could have been hallway conversation now is a scheduled time block. And the problem with scheduled time blocks is that they can be through all parts of the day, right? It could be, and it’s usually not, you know, a time that you determine it, just a magical invite appears on your calendar. And lo and behold, there is no agenda, either. And so it’s a 30 minute time block. And you’re right, it becomes this, like your day is broken up, it’s hard to actually focus on getting real work done. And it’s just this, we haven’t gotten used to, because we spent so many decades doing in-office work and understood how that worked. And now that there is this new way of working hybrid remote, whatever you want to call it, it just requires, we just have to learn how to work efficiently in this environment. And it just requires relearning, because we all have these old habits. And and now we just have to readjust them in terms of getting people back to the office, how are you positioning it to everybody,

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  26:53

we are encouraging it, it’s not required. So we are, you know, a hybrid work environment. We do do Tasty Tuesdays where we have lunch in the office for everybody. And we actually get quite a few people in the office on Tuesdays. That often bleeds into Wednesday. So Wednesday’s also tends to be a heavier day. And I am encouraged that once people are in the office and having those casual conversations, whether it’s about work, or whether it’s about just the random personal thing, they’re seeing the delight that happens with those in person interactions, and it encourages them to come back again. So we’re kind of, we’re on a journey. And as with many companies, during COVID, we hired from afar, we didn’t focus our efforts just locally. So we do have now quite a few employees that are unable to come to an office regularly. And so we’re just thinking about how that evolves with time as well. And I mean, there’s a lot in the news now about companies that are giving people timelines, for example, if you don’t move close to an office, you know, within the next 18 months, you’re going to be out of work. You know, if you live remote, you need to fly to the home office on your own dime, once a month, we’re seeing a lot of those sorts of things happen now. So we’re watching and waiting to see how the whole thing evolves. But I do believe there is more productivity in the office. I think that that is where we are today. And but forcing people to come back, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do either, necessarily. So we’re playing it by ear a little bit.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:39

Yeah, it’s definitely evolving. Again, these are norms we established over many, many decades. And now we change them all of a sudden in two years. And so, yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how a lot of this evolves. So one thing that is true, though, at the end, I mean, you know, we started talking about motivation. And so one of the things that I know you also care about is making work meaningful, right? This is what we started talking about understanding what motivates people. And one of the things that I’m curious about is, what are other things that you can do for people in your team or in your company to make that work, you know, much more meaningful for them so that it can be a core part of, you know, what makes them happier, it gives their lives meaning.

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  29:23

You know, I can give you a live example from today. I was thinking, what if our marketing folks today, we are holding our customer conference, we do an annual customer conference? It’s in October, and we’re this week filming a series of videos, that there’s usually a theme associated with each year. So a few years ago as an example, we did carpool karaoke, and I was driving a big SUV and I was picking people up along the road that were employees and we were all singing about various parts of the business and products stuff and two well known tunes. Well, this year, there is another musical theme. And for the last couple of hours in the kitchen or kitchen area, our film crew has been filming different employees. And one of them right now is George Michael, dressed up like George Michael, during his really heyday phase singing one of George Michael’s songs with new words. And this morning, there were two other employees doing it and I sent in the marketing gal. It is so awesome to have all these different people from different parts of the business involved in these super fun activities, where they can shine in a way that goes completely outside of their daily work. And so the George Michael guy is one of our senior product managers. And when he was finished, he was just so chuffed to be asked to participate in this way. And we do a lot of that type of thing where we get people involved in things that go outside of their roles. And it gives them another connection point and another purpose and another feeling of I’m contributing in a way that goes beyond me just being a product leader, or me just being a marketer. And it’s all of those interconnected things, in addition to you know, having them understand their role and the importance of their role in the business. I’ve said many times to people, a company is like a whole series of gears that work together. And if one gear gets stuck, if your gear is stuck, and you can’t execute against your role and feel good about it and excited about it, that’s going to cause other gears to stop too. And so I’m constantly asking it, what can we do to keep your gear moving? What can we do to make this entire thing a well oiled machine. And again, asking people for their input, giving them clear direction, having them understand what you’re trying to accomplish as a business, telling them how you’re progressing, getting them involved in non directly related things, all of those things work together to keep people motivated and excited and wanting to be in a place. And you know, one thing I will say is we just had what we call a boomerang employee, we have had over a decade, so many employees leave because the more pay or they think the grass is greener, and literally within six months ask for their job spot, like more than I could possibly count at this point. And it is that realization that, you know, sometimes money isn’t everything is how you feel at work. And that motivation feeling that is sometimes worth far more than $1.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:13

Yes, so that’s a super interesting one. And I guess it’s also a good segue to talk about exactly that. So wanting to also talk a little bit about team dynamics, but also what happens when someone does come to you. So now that you’ve seen it, you’ve had all these boomerang employees, if someone comes to you today, and you know, talk to you about another position and potentially wanting to accept it, or having accepted it, you know, how do you react these days,

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  33:40

you know, at the end of the day, I am one to say less than everybody has personal goals, everybody’s got things, some personally motivate them. And I’m all about, if that is what is going to make you feel better, and progress in your career faster, or accomplish whatever it is that you know, you see that accomplishing for you. Nobody’s gonna stand in your way. And I want everybody to leave Axonify feeling like at the end of their careers, this was the best place they ever worked. And so if it’s a top drawer employee, you know, an A plus person, we will depending on, you know, the role and the individual trying to encourage them to stay if we don’t want to lose them. But what I know through history is if somebody’s taking the steps to look for another job, or they’ve had outreach and whatever has been described to them as intriguing. Usually, it’s hard to keep them and keep them excited about staying. They’re always worried about should they have made the other decision. And so, you know, I’m happy for people, if they’re doing what makes them happy. And then I always know they’re gonna go somewhere else, and not all but many of them are going to wish they’d never left And that’s okay, too. And, you know, it’s a learning experience for everybody. And, hey, it’s all good. From my perspective.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  35:08

Yeah, I mean, I like it, the way that you put it, which is, you know, from your perspective, all you’re trying to do is make Axonify the best place that they’ve ever worked. And you’ll let the rest take care of itself. And so that’s all you can do. Right, you can just make it a great place to

35:22

work. Exactly. That is exactly right. So I also had

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  35:26

a note, just to quickly talk about team dynamics a little bit. So there are a lot of situations in work where it may cause, you know, sometimes unhealthy competition to fester. And so you can think about situations where someone’s gonna get a promotion, someone’s gonna lead a team, or, you know, someone’s gonna get the responsibility to take on a new group or a project, like there are a lot of situations where like internal competition can be created. And you’ve seen a lot of growth that Axonify. And so you’ve run into many of these sorts of situations. And there’s probably good ways to handle them and bad ways. And I wanted to see what your thoughts are, you know, things that you’ve learned in terms of you no more gracefully handling situations like this. So we

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  36:15

have a policy or a process where if there is a promotion, a team leader, role of some kind becomes available, we always post internally first for a week, and then we post externally. And that naturally creates, in most cases, multiple potential candidates for the role. We have a bias if there is an internal candidate to provide that promotion. But you know, something that I’ve learned the hard way, what you don’t do is go and tap people on the shoulders and go, you know, I really think you’d be great for this role you should apply for it, there creates an immediate sense in that person of, they’re the shoo in for the role. You want them to take that role, you’re tapping them on the shoulder because you think they’re the best fit. And then if they don’t actually get the role, for whatever reason, you immediately have a very unhappy employee. And so you know, it’s one of those situations where, in that competitive environment, if multiple employees apply, if multiple external people are involved, you just need to follow a process that is defensible, that is agnostic, and choose the best candidate internally or externally. And have it be a very transparent process. And people will always understand if you if you make the right choice in the leader, pretty much everybody will go Yeah, that was the right choice. If you use that very kind of agnostic criteria. It’s where you promote people based on tenure with the business based on somebody liking somebody, those sorts of things. That’s where you get into trouble.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  38:12

And this is really interesting, right? I don’t know that organizations do things like this, but just the concept of saying for every role, whenever there’s promotion available, we will post it both internally and externally. And that’s just the process. And we’re going to recommend that you know, people internally apply, and then we’re going to choose the best candidate, everybody knows, it’s when, like you said, the expectations are not set. And just on that hiring friend, since we are talking about it. Are there ways that you make sure that the things like someone likes someone or someone’s been at the business for longer? Are there things that you do to make sure that those sorts of things don’t get in the way, I would say

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  38:52

we have a an excellent chief people officer who keeps everybody on the straight and narrow with respect to that. And these situations occur frequently, actually, more frequently than people might expect. And I would even tell you that earlier today, I had a conversation around this very topic. There is an individual in the business, somebody wants moved somewhere else. And it’s not obvious to other people that that person should have that role. And so our people leader is the person who holds everybody accountable to here’s the criteria. So she’s developed criteria for what a manager level means. What demonstrated competencies do you need to have? So it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for 10 years, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been here for five years. And you’re the most senior person on the team you have to have demonstrated certain leadership competencies. For example, you have to demonstrate really great communication skills in some cases. And so it is having the criteria against which people can be evaluated that helps to mitigate personal feelings about somebody. And we’ve had quite a few cases over the years of people either, you know, wanting to be promoted, because they feel like they put in enough time. And they’re just not suitable leadership candidates, they’re just not, and they never will be. They just don’t have the personality for it. And those are tough conversations to have. Or you have somebody who’s, you know, a vice president, leading a team of people who want somebody promoted to a manager, because they really get along well with that individual. And so having the criteria to say, yes, but really helps to guide the conversation.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  40:45

Also, tying back to the beginning of our conversation, which is just, you know, setting expectations, when you set expectations, things tend to go well, in the absence of expectations, other things will happen, and you will have control over that. So I think, yeah, everything’s tying together nicely. So Carol, this has been a super insightful conversation. So glad that we had the opportunity to do this. We’ve talked about how to motivate people setting expectations, we talked about the transition back to Office, how to think about your meeting culture, how to promote internally, so many different topics. And the question we always like to end on is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips, tricks or words of wisdom that you would leave them with,

Carol Leaman (Axonify)  41:32

I would encourage everybody to get a book called multipliers by a woman named Liz Wiseman. And of all the management books I’ve ever read, that one was the most impactful to me. And it is story based on people who were leaders, and which direction leadership can take you. And you either become what’s called a multiplier in her world or a diminisher. And it’s people can self identify when they read the characteristics of those leaders, those types of leaders. It’s just a really, really easy, good, very deep read. It’s excellent.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  42:18

Yeah, that’s, that’s good advice. Actually. We’ve had Liz on the show. And she’s such a great storyteller. And so yeah, I love the line from she said, Don’t be the genius be the genius maker that’s at the top of the intellectual hierarchy. And so definitely agree. Everybody should both listen to that episode, too. And get the book.

42:38

Yeah, I just love it. So Carol, thanks so much for doing this. I

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  42:43

really appreciate it.

42:44

Thank you, Aydin.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  42:47

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 liked 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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