🚀 Breathe.



“You don't have to be the one with all the answers. You don't have to be the smartest person in the room. When you can create space where you value your team's point of view, you can co-create solutions and there's going to be more buy-in and more engagement as an outcome.”

In this episode

In episode #73, Phylicia Jones shares why it is important to have a point of view even if it disrupts someone else’s. 

Phylicia is the Senior Director of Global Talent Development at PagerDuty. She is also the creator of PagerDuty’s Learning Weeks to help internal teams learn new skills. 

In this episode, we uncover why leaders should use the acronym W.A.I.T. We also dive into data and what to do after you have received feedback so you can turn it into actionable steps. 

Let us know what you think of this episode by using the hashtag #Supermanagers on social media. 

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


Naming it


Covering and code-switching


Leaders must be present


Cues and behaviour to build a culture


Casual collisions through learning


Backed with data


Leaders focus on developing yourself



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:45

Phylicia, welcome to the show.

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  02:47

Nice to meet you, Aydin,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:48

I’m excited to do this. You’ve had a pretty extensive leadership career you’ve been at Viva Deloitte. Today you’re the Senior Director of global talent development at pager duty, actually, I am a big fan of pager duty. We use it here at fellow and surgery many people in many companies across the world. So welcome. I wanted to start off by talking about mistakes, which is one thing that we we often do here on the show, you’ve obviously lead many teams over a pretty extensive period of time. So I wanted to dial back and rewind to the beginning. And ask you when you first started out, what were some of the mistakes that you tended to make in leading teams?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  03:31

Yeah, so I think making mistakes and thinking about your learnings as a leader is so important to leadership growth. And one of the main mistakes I kept making over and over again earlier on and really kind of finding my footing in leadership was being too nice. And I know when you kind of hear that it says you know, sometimes as a manager consi trying to please people, you’re trying to tailor and maybe less than who you are to meet people who almost like too much where they are and you lose part of yourself in the process. So how that showed up for me is that I would filter down what I really meant, or I would be not okay, initiating conflict or debate because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or didn’t want to say the wrong things. But when you do that you actually don’t get to a better decision, or you don’t actually get to a better idea, because you’re not saying what needs to be said in the room. I learned early on like I would leave meetings or leave conversations not feeling like I brought my best self. Or I was almost like being too nice, where I’m like, did they understand what I was saying? And so after, you know, part of my leadership journey and getting into not just leisure development and building because of leaders, but I’ve learned this idea of covering or code switching, you’re constantly lessening who you are your behaviors, to really make other people comfortable but then you lose the ability to actually innovate or really get to the work that matters so my team knows how I’ve grown from There is this role of naming it. So naming it very clearly what is going on and like naming not only how you’re feeling your emotions, but like, if there’s an idea that’s not gonna work. Why? Right? And so it’s almost like the naming, it also prompts being curious and really kind of thing. How would you explore that? What should we consider? And one of the things people see my consistency is this idea of as a leader, having real talk, because we’re real human beings creating real solutions, that about real problems that we can solve for our teams, our customers, etc. And so when you really lean into that responsibility that you have to not aim to be nice, like, get to a better outcome, or improve an employee experience or ensure someone uncovers, what’s blocking them to improve, like coaching requires you to actually have some candor. And actually, you know, because I care deeply, as Kim Scott says, You have to sometimes say the things that are hard to say out loud, but you care about that person. And so I made that transition of not being nice, but really building lationship of human connection, so that I could actually just say, what need to be said, knowing that good place. So I, I’m obviously I’m a nice person, but when it comes to really solving some really tough and hard issues, sometimes I’m leaning all in and saying what, sometime it’s hard to say out loud, because we have to solve the hard things.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  06:29

Yeah, no, there’s, there’s so much to unpack there. So let’s start with this. Use some terms. And I want to make sure that I understood the terms correctly. So did you say covering and code-switching?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  06:41

Yes, yeah. So they’re kind of two in the same but different. So in the Inclusion, Diversity and Equity world, we have people from marginalized communities who sometimes have to lessen who they are, their behaviors identity and show up, especially if they’re the only in the room. And how that comes across is that sometimes they’re not bringing 100% ourselves, because they may be the only one, they don’t want to have repercussions against them. And that means that they’re not saying the thing is, or they’re being quiet, or they’re not speaking up. And that can actually lessen that person’s experience, and not really think about that person belonging to the situation. And we don’t want people to actually have that, you know, especially if you’re trying to build a place to belong, you want people to actually bring their best self and that sometimes that best self is 100% of who they are that whole self that’s human, both at home and work that’s now integrated. And so those are just like two different terms that we tried to remove as part of the employee experience. And leaders have a critical role to ensure that people feel like they can be themselves when they’re having a tough debate or making a hard decisions and not less than in their language to do so.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:51

That’s very interesting. I was not familiar with those terms. And so but but do they essentially mean the same thing? Or are they slightly different?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  07:58

It depends, code-switchingindirectly is usually coined for those who deny people color. Because in tech, we’re trying to increase representation. So we tend to see close machine be more aligned to black and brown talent. Because sometimes they’re the only ones in the room, recovery can show up across multiple identities across LGBTQ plus community, Black and Brown community, it really depends. Because the environmental culture, if the identities are not well represented, they won’t bring that part of themselves to work, whether it’s like someone will less than their joy of possibly a game or have a habit or hobby, because maybe they think it’s not something that’s Welcome to talk about at work, you know, or sometimes because it’s like close mental health awareness. During this time, beginning of October, sometimes people will not talk about the fact that they go to therapy, and they kind of cover that part of why they may or may need time off. So I think as we create more diverse and inclusive teams, these things are now becoming part of the conversation that we can no longer cover in the workplace.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  09:08

Yeah, no, thank you for educating me on these words. It’s important, like you said, to be able to name it, there’s something magical that happens when you name something because all of a sudden you can talk about it. You know, one of the I know training is is you know, you live in the world of training. But one of the things that was really interesting for me, there was once upon a time, one of my last companies, we we hired sales trainers, and they came in and obviously there was the usefulness of training your sales team. But it was it also got us all to speak the same language and we could refer to things and how to address things in a certain way. And I personally thought that the the common language was the most useful part of that entire sales, training, being able to name these different things that happen in the workplace is super valuable. So I have to ask you, so you found out that I mean, you probably knew that you’re you’re a nice person. But how did you figure out that this was a mistake? If you will? Like did? Did someone tell you in a performance review? Felicia, you’re way too nice? Or how did that come about?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  10:09

Um, so one of my favorite managers, who is the reason why I lead the way I do today. Her name is Chris Westfall, she, there was a meeting I was having with her. And she was asking for, like my point of view. And I knew my point of view would probably disrupt her point of view, or the CEOs point of view, because I just disagreed. But I didn’t want to say it out loud. Because I knew that possibly, she may not like it, or the CEO wouldn’t like it. So I just kept it to myself. And one time in that meeting, she was like, How come you don’t have a point of view, and I was like, I don’t think it matters. Because I just think we’re going to do whatever you and the CEOs think we should do, she was like, you always need to have a point of view, whether it is something is going to disrupt an idea or forget about thinking already, before something even happens, like you’re the person in charge that needs to actually bring that point of view to the to the table and stop worrying about what people are thinking you have to own up to your point of view, she’s like, always have a point of view. And you know, she didn’t physically give me that advice on being nice. It was just holding back maybe something that could have disrupted a conversation. And I just didn’t want to, I want to keep the peace, I didn’t want to. But once she, when she like really planted that seed, I had to then lean in to figure out like, what kind of voice that I want to have in the room when people wave on my authority. We’re in the room. And she reminds me that like you’re the only one in this role, who’s passionate about this work. And so if you don’t have a point of view, then like your passion is not going to be seen through with other people. And so once I got comfortable with my voice, whether it was like me making people uncomfortable, of like, when I’m kind of going off track or a new idea that maybe we haven’t considered, the more that I was able to explore the possibility of getting to a better outcome with brainstorming or collaborating on an idea. And I just recently read about this book called The CEO next door. And one of the things that advice is there that CEOs should need to be nice, because they sometimes will blur their vision or that will blur the opportunity to actually really get your team and company focus on the work that matters. So you have to think about like what’s necessary for your product or your customer. And the element. And like when I heard that was like, that’s what I was doing early on in my career. It was I was trying to constantly, you know, make sure I was being nice and keep the peace. But sometimes you got to be disruptive to innovate. And so that moment always sticks out to me is that I share that with my team is that always think and remember, I’m going to ask you for your point of view. Because when you share that we put our two point of views together, we get to a better idea of outcome. And I think that’s just like, key sticking point, when I think about my growth is being part of my voice and being a vault was disruptive.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  13:02

The book you referenced was the CEO next door. Yes. Is there a I mean, this is a very interesting point. I think like over the many generations, we humans have learned that it’s important to be liked. Because you know, back in the day, if there’s this, you know, tribe and you weren’t liked, and you were you’re basically not taken care of, then the Tigers might eat you. And that’s probably not a good thing. So it’s been built into us to to want people to like us. And so we we tend to not to want to disrupt things. My question is, is there a time? Where like, when you know, to hold back? Or should you just have an opinion on everything? And disrupt like, how do you know when it’s worth it? And when it’s not like when do you disagree and commit? And when do you not?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  13:47

You know, one of the things I think of elite of a leader, it’s like the greatest gift, but it’s also the hardest challenge sometimes. And one of the things that I’ve been learning about reading about in teach about is the idea that leaders must be present in the spaces that they are in the space that they hold space to create. Because without that you miss as one of us I heard it’s like you missed the elephants and the small ants that are rolling, rolling, but at the same time, I think you have to read the room. And when you’re president you can observe like who’s not talking and who is talking. You can call people in and call people out you can create space, make space. And I think that present is really important because I always think about this acronym that I always teach is like wait, W A it. Why am I talking? Because if the leader is going to include their team on ideas, ideation, you have to think about how am I calling them in I sometimes start a lot of conversations with setting contexts, but also asking questions, and I allow everyone a chance to answer that question. I never really tried to come up with all the answers. because that can also kind of disrupt the collaborative process. So I think it’s one of things where you have to just build a habit to pause, wait and use questions. So then you don’t find yourself as leader filling up all the airtime and trying to think you have all the ideas. And the reason why I say that is because after my consulting career, I went in directly into tech. And some of the first amount of feedback I received was, PJ, you’re very intense. And I was like, how, wow, how am I intense,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  15:34

that’s the opposite of nice.

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  15:37

Exactly how you know, and it was like, you have, you always come to meeting with like, fully baked agenda, as you always have these already formatted finalized slides. We never know if you want our opinion, if we can actually agenda. We don’t know what you want from us, but we want to collaborate with you. But it sounds like you already have all your ideas and like, oh, so being intense, is also true with like being overly structured in like, almost not creating space for people to actually share their ideas. And as a consultant, you have to come in with all that structure. Sometimes when you think about, that’s what you’re getting paid for by the hour. And I had to kind of switch my mindset around. Tech is a collaborative environment. And sometimes you even if you think you have all the answers, you still want to create a space where people can have a say, or you can hear their voice. And you can help that inform a decision that maybe you’re the owner of but you can still get their voice before you make that decision to move forward. So I think I switched my mindset. And all you should do this is that you don’t have to be the one with all the answers. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, when you can create space where you value your team’s point of view, you can co create solutions, like there’s gonna be more buy-in more engagement as an outcome, and I’ve been installations where the leader had wanted to have all the answers. And he just sat there quietly in this looked and stared and like, I guess we’re getting lectured to write. And so I know the feeling of what it feels like not to have a voice. And also the feeling of when I’ve allowed my team to have a voice. And there’s just like more engagement. So I think, the more I love to talk, and so the more that I just wait and call people in and say that agreement that I’m going to ask your point of view, I’m going to ask for your ideas, I’m going to ask you to actually disagree with me. And like when you give them that permission, I do think that signals to you as their team and you that oh, yeah, I agree that I’m going to ask them for their opinion. And so let me just stop talking. Right. So I think that’s how I would say is like you when you know to lean in. And when you don’t and I think you have to be super present to know when do either those things. You know,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  17:53

The way that you describe the when you say, I certainly know that I’ve I’ve been I’ve been across the table where I felt like I’ve been lectured to just that way of phrasing it made me realize how many times I’ve made this mistake myself. So like thank you for highlighting it in those words specifically for that resonated with me more in a way more than any other way that I’ve heard the, you know, listen, person speak, last type advice. But that is that is incredibly valuable. [AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now don’t worry, it’s not single spaced font, you know, lots of tax. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information. We spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blog to download the Definitive Guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview.[ AD BREAK ENDS] It’s so interesting that you know some things that some people might consider an advantage and it is an advantage being structured and being ready and prepared can actually have downsides. What a crazy concept. But also it’s so interesting. I remember we had this another guest on this show. And she was saying that she wants got feedback that she walked really fast in between meeting rooms from meeting room to meeting room, and she always seemed so rushed to go from one to the other that people wouldn’t would be afraid to go up to her because she was too Busy. It’s like a different version of, you know, the same sort of thing that you’re talking about if you have an agenda prepared and but creating space. No, that’s, that’s incredible advice.

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  20:13

When you think about building culture, if they talk about cues and behaviors, you know, this idea of like your words and action must be really consistent. And otherwise, and you’ll, you’ll like, name those out loud, then the stories that your team builds about you like the ladder of perception is that they’ll see one event and they’ll talk to me conclusion. So start to make actions, those are the value statements just based on you doing something that you didn’t think people were looking at you. So not only do I tell our leaders, my coach them is that you have to be super present in those conversations. But also I tell them, like your team is evaluating you every minute, every second, they’re looking at what you do what you say. And even in in between you’re not doing and saying anything. And that sends a signal of how the standard of the team or what the team talks about what the team does. And so I’m constantly aware that everything I do is a cue, I always tell people, the talent development person never gets a day off. Right? Like we’re have to be the leader who sang the example for all leaders in the organization.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  21:18

Yeah, this is I mean, this is why this stuff is very hard. There’s no defined playbook. I did want to talk about talent development, and also learning. So you’ve described your position at pager duty to is basically to rethink invest and develop systems, people and processes help employee employees experience career making moments, what does that mean, like a career making moment?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  21:42

Yeah, you know, I think when I think about leadership, leader learning and development or talent development, they’re all go hand in hand, there’s this, there’s this concept of employee experience, right? And people are having a journey across these different what I had to call like, milestones, but also how they show up is like these moments and moves, right. And these are either transitions or transformations at once having either when they’re a new hire, building their career, are also trying to think about like, where do I go next within the organization? Well, my team focuses on is those moments and moves is making sure that we may not be in that one on one with their manager, but is there some training and coaching or prompting that manager to bring into those one on ones to have a really great conversation? They come to our manager fundamental training to actually learn how to create that safe space to have really meaningful conversations. Or it’s like, where do I focus in my first day one week one or day 30, when I’m onboarding, and my team helps to prioritize all the noise that you get in your first day, week one, as we deliver the Tony experience, and the Tony experience actually walks through, it connects that new hire to people, our company, our customers and our products, very streamlining, like what they need to focus on as they learn how to navigate PGD. And then I think about another process and system is the infamous performance reviews, right. And that really is like the sums up the entire year, we have to think about really meaningful goals setting really targeted, you know, career conversations, and really making sure that all can be summarized throughout the year through quarterly check ins and in the year in conversation, and a lot of times we’re providing those tools and prompters to do that. So, you know, those are just some examples where we look at the across the employee experience. And we know the questions that are going through the managers brain, what’s going through the employee brain throughout that employee experience, it’s like how do we start to make those moments easy? How do we make them more meaningful? How do we ensure that someone’s moving through those transition points without it being super complicated, right, because when those things happen, like I don’t believe like learning and learning agility and critical mass should be hard. But when it’s the system’s all over the place, so there’s no clear system or the systems that equitable or inclusive, then we have to look at that to make sure anyone who’s trying to have a career can do here at pager duty, otherwise, the great resignation, they can go somewhere else to do, right. And we know that our key investments in diversity, equity and inclusion, we know that belonging all of our systems have to be equitable, right? So it’s a constant. It’s a lot of hard work and talent development to ensure that our systems and our programs are constantly having that reached accessibility across the employee experience. And so we measure it very closely to make sure we’re prompting those behaviors or getting those outcomes. If not, we’re changing it up. And so we may iterate every year, every six months based on the participation rate, the engagement, the Net Promoter Score, simply to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of our employees.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  24:49

Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. So it’s, but it’s very interesting the way you put it, which is ultimately it’s about the the systems and also making sure that you don’t leave it up to chance Like there is a defined set of systems, procedures, prompts and even, even iteration is baked into the way that you do things. So let’s talk about something which is the which I found very interesting, which is something that you created called a learning week. What is that? 

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  25:18

Yeah so, you know, usually talent and all the functions are start small, one person. And so I used to do learning duty, which was me roaming around different offices and delivering training and whatnot, that’s not scalable. And so we then had to look at like, well, what are those critical skills and behaviors that are important for our skill are important part of our employee experience. And so we’ve been designated a targeted week in the quarter where learners, Dutonian leaders could rely on getting their learning, because we got feedback from employees like I don’t even know when training is being available, right, like I find out last minute. So we usually communicate our learning weeks, every year in advance, they know when they’re happening each quarter. And we focus on like delivering two sets of series as part of that. So we have a first series that’s focused on moments that matter. So going back to my moments theme, and in that key moments are we have a course on clear ownership, we have another course on communicating in a team setting, and for collaboration. And the third course, as part of that series is focused on feedback, which we know is so critical, I think about teams performing well is having a really good flow of feedback for accountability. And then our second series is focused on what I call, like no limits is really thinking about innovation. So as part of that, there’s four different courses that are linked to like creative leadership, design, thinking, positive risk taking, and then how to influence others around your idea. So those are just core topics that we deliver, actually learning week is next week that we’re delivering. So people can look forward to taking all in the entire series or just take have options to take one or two of the courses that are pertinent to what we’re trying to focus on for that quarter. So that’s kind of learning weekend is more just focused and giving the learner a chance to spend two hours a week or take all the sessions to learn with their peers and create those connection points. Because I think learning is now a great opportunity to create casual collisions and our breakouts of practice sessions that come with those different learning experiences

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:30

These are all courses that you’ve developed internally, or do you also work with external parties for this?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  27:35

So these are courses, you know, I love building content. I love reading. So a lot of my inspiration comes from my own experiences. I’m actually part of Deloitte is where I developed my love for training development. So I’m in charge of designer as well. So I built all these courses myself. And so yeah, I tell people, if there’s any topic, I could probably build content around it. But we have evolved this. So we do offer pre and post reinforcements. And I have worked with a vendor called curious lion who helps build some pre-session videos and posts and videos to support the bookings of the experience. So they just really take my content and sum it up in a video. That’s no longer than five minutes. But yeah, I mean, during March of last year, I was building content for Manager Fundamentals training. And I built all five modules, which I can’t believe it now thinking about it, but that did happen. And it’s just some deep thinking time to innovate in the learning space.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:32

That’s amazing. So you have this content and  is the idea of learning week, it sounds like it’s, it’s a thing that happens once a quarter. So that is the time so that it’s interesting. So the problem that you were trying to solve was nobody told me about the training. And like, when do I take it? Give people they allow people to anticipate when it’s coming so they can plan around it. It all happens during a time. And it’s like a sprint because you do it. And then I guess like you have time to get feedback, make it better prepare for the next one. It that’s a really good cadence, and I can see why you would structure it that way. It’s one of those things that sounds good, but it’s not obvious. But now that you’ve mentioned it, that makes a lot of sense to me. So that’s awesome. So what about like, asynchronous in general? I’m curious, like how some of these have evolved? Because again, I assume you have employees all over the world different time zones.

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  29:30

Yeah. So you’re absolutely right. So think about like one you talked about, like, oh, you can constantly iterate. Yes. So I mentioned you know, me developing content for our Manager Fundamentals. And we really, we call it GreenShield. Our first level of learning for managers and I developed it for a virtual live session so that a chance to actually bring people together. It’s a series it’s five modules two hours each. We have since iterated that so now it’s actually one hour per module. 30 minutes of it is e-switching directly onboarding and learning asynch. We are using the framework Seattle Action Planning Guide is all through our LMS. And there’s some videos and interactive, you know, knowledge checks in there. And then to still drive the peer to peer connection and practice, we do have facilitators, which is our HR business partners who hold practice session. So one of our topics is Team enablement. And they do some new practice of what’s a horrible onboarding experience, how do you make it better, or how to practice some of those initial one on one conversations you would have with your new hire, that you’re just on board as a manager, so they have a chance to practice those conversations and think through innovative onboarding improvements they would make by onboarding someone remotely. So they have a chance to practice that in our setting with their fellow peers who have also just completed the online version of it. So we have tried to really make that accessible not only in the US time zone, the candidate time zone. But now with the asynchronous view, we can make sure anyone promoted or hired as a manager in EMEA, or in our Australia, Sydney office, that they can also take that training within their first three days as a manager. So we’re probably going to eventually make it completely all e-learning and focus our efforts for the live sessions that we do that really need that high impact in person, not in person, I say virtual connection with a type of culture myself that are some key skilling behaviors, but we have actually moved to a sink for not only our GreenShield, but also some of our moments that matter series. 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  31:43

Yeah, that is super interesting. Just so that I have it correctly, the practice, where you practice onboarding, someone, that part is not asynchronous, correct?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  31:55

Right. So, one of the concepts I like to like, bring into the learning space and just kind of I think about learning as an experience, right. And there are just some topics that just not great delivered asynchronously, right? I think everything from a behavior skill must be practice, make it sticky tea, know how to save environments, you know, how to actually apply it when you back on the job. And so what we have done is more of a blended approach. And so you know, if I think about manager enablement, a lot of that is like tough, you know, just in time high stakes decisions you have to make as a leader, and you’re not getting that interaction that response, that reinforcement sometimes and in an eLearning course, and so we bring in the pair practice because it just helps reinforce also, you can share lessons learned with your peer managers who are indifferent function who may be operating this way. So you actually get multiple perspectives at the same time, by bringing other managers together who are also new to the organization. And yeah, the HR business partner to provide additional, you know, context for some of those situations that happened within the department or function.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:02

Yeah, that that makes sense. Like the the blended approach makes a lot of sense. And so while asynchronous does solve a lot of things, it is not the end all be all solution for everything. One of the things that I wanted to chat with you about is data. So you work in a pretty large organization. And we talked about iterating, on some of the training development modules and things that you’ve created, but how else do you use data for measuring how things are going? Yeah,

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  33:34

you know, PagerDuty, we actually love data, our platform is backed with data. So we can actually understand how our customers are thinking about a real-time response for their solutions. And so it’s naturally that we measure every moment, and that matters within the organization. So we do an engagement survey, we do wellness surveys, we also do an inclusion survey. So we’ve thought about maybe survey fatigue a little bit. But it’s important for us to have a pulse on how our folks are feeling, especially when the office is not a place where we can kind of do that check-responses and see what’s happening around us. And so in general, when it comes to data in we do a lot of intervention and action planning, postal surveys going out. And you know, going back to the leader in that element is you’re getting this data, and we really teach managers to own that. So one, we, when we do surveys, it prompts it seems a cue to the population that like we want to understand how you feel. And the worst thing we can do is not respond, not recognize, not say thank you for participating. We’re now going to take your feedback and take some action on it. And so each leader does get a pool from their results when the department those who have big enough teams, and they have that data. Now, data to me is one It’s like a It’s a point in time and it’s tells one story. And I think was what those great leaders are doing is they’re getting the insights by taking their top three, bottom three to their team and having a conversation. And so I think holistically how to think about data is like, yes, need to collect data, not only to measure programs, but to measure engagement. And where do you focus your attention as leader, because you could be doing really some really great things, right. But there’s blind spots that happen. And you want to understand the cover your blind spots. And so I always say, like, know, your bottom three, and get context, right, get more context by having a conversation of like, hey, team, why May we have scored low on this? Like, can you give me some ideas, how we improve this? How can we make a team agreement? How can we make a rule of engagement for how we move past this, and sometimes, those are the conversations or the insights that actually provide additional narrative or additional storytelling to the data that’s sitting out there, and those inclusion surveys or engagement surveys, so I think about data, you can’t take it too, personally. But you are asking your team to complete surveys. And it’s important that we recognize that people are taking time, and we hear and we see them. But I think when you can have a conversation with your team to go along to that data that you’re seeing, I think you’re you’re driving more engagement. So like, for example, my team is pretty small, we’re very lean, mighty, Tableau, my team and I don’t typically get results just to my team, I get a roll-up. And so one of my roles that I tell my team is, if you’re waiting for the engagement survey, or inclusion survey, to tell me how something can be improved. Like ask yourself while you’re waiting for that survey to come out, instead, find the courage to tell me now one on one, what I can do today to help improve your employee experience. Like don’t have any weight. And I actually one of my roles is all I have all the rules like yes, it is no surprises, right. And so that’s one of our team agreements. So leads that curious, tell me because I don’t want to find out on a on the inclusion survey or the engagement survey, I want to address it right now, if we can sell it right now. So a lot of times I try to get that insight by gathering data every week for my team, you know, whether it be in our team meetings, or in one on ones to know how I’m doing as a leader to stay engaged, to make sure I’m keeping things relevant, exciting, and aligning work to their passion so that I’m not waiting for the results from engagement survey

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:30

That makes a lot of sense. I like the term no surprises. That is the I would agree like if you’re doing a really good job as a leader, then there should be no surprises. Of course, there will never be no surprises. But we can definitely it’s it can be something that we we aim for, I guess a question I haven’t maybe this is a tactical one. With the number of surveys that you’re running, yes, survey fatigue, I used to work at Survey Monkey at some point, and so lived in the survey world for quite a while. My question is, what is your expectation around? How many people within the company fill out a survey? Ideally, it’s 100%. Most of the time these things don’t get everybody to fill them out? What would you consider success? 

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  38:19

For that number of surveys, we always try to make sure we improve the probationary each time we do it. So usually, for an engagement and inclusion survey, we’re trying to get above 90%. That’s pretty high, right? Because all if you think like 10% are probably new to the company, so may not have the full-on experience actually give really good kind of a score to a certain factor or rating area. So we try to always aim for that, you know, since I’ve been here, we’ve actually gotten between 80 and 90%. But we know if a low participative survey, like we kind of have to think about what’s the what’s the value? What’s the kind of what are we getting on that survey when only half the company completed it right? We’re almost excluding some perspectives, right? And so with our huge push on inclusion, and also making sure we’re coming up with, you know, equitable solutions, we have to drive for that above 90% completion rate.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:14

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And so I think, you know, we’ve covered a lot of topics today, we’ve started with, you know, talking about how you were a nice person, but you’re also very structured, we talked about creating space and feedback, learning data, all across the board, so many insights, one of the questions that we like to leave all of our guests with is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. What tips tricks or maybe parting words of wisdom, would you leave them with?

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  39:48

Yeah, you know, okay, as a couple of things I could kind of think about that would you know, tell a manager out there is trying to always improve is, one is like, focus on developing yourself is I think the role changing every day. And that means like who we bring into organizations into our teams, they’re also going through the changes as well. And so how we thought we had to lead 20 years ago, 30 years ago is changed that even in the last two years, and so I always think about, you have to build a learning approach for yourself, how you’re going to stay attune to just not only the industry you’re in but like how you want to lead because you need followers to be a leader, right? If people have to lead the follow you, especially when there’s challenges, and a lot of time that becomes is like, how are you going to be vulnerableasyncare you going to share what you’re working on? How are you going to create space for other people to want to actually jump in the boat with you around a challenge. And so a lot of times, it’s like if you can actually always focus on how you’re growing as leader. And one of the things I do is try to read all the books, I read a lot of books to help will also inform my perspective on when I coach and when I teach, but also share those learnings and teaching with my team in that gives them acute that you also can learn and develop as well. So I just really encourage people to build constantly learn new things as a leader, because we have to be adaptable as we move through this world. Second thing, I think with the growth of just moving organizations to be more a sense of belonging, I think being culturally competent, and having inclusive leadership language and behaviors is so key. If you want to have representation of diverse team beam to attract diverse talent, you have to be seen as an active ally at the top. And so if you’re not on your inclusion, diversity or equity journey, as a leader, start up, start getting on it now. One book I recommend leaders read it’s kind of start their journey and get some perspective is this a book called The Wake up that was just released last week by Michelle Mijung Kim, and you know, she is, you know, sharing her perspective on, you know, teaching leaders how to be inclusive, and really good examples that she calls that in that book. Lastly, I would say is, you know, there’s there’s that saying, of put your, you know, like oxygen mask on first, before you put your, you know, masking your child on the airplane, I think it is hard to be a leader. And so if leaders have not built a habit, on how to think about their own self care how to kind of like take care of themselves, and then come back better. You have to build that routine into your work into your schedule into maybe putting deep thinking time in your calendar, let your team see that. Take PTO and don’t work on your PTO, because that actually creates really good, just norms and boundaries as a leader. And it gives a signal that people don’t dread being a leader, they say like, oh, I actually had a manager who learned how to create space for themselves. And they were always present during the team to execute themselves. And I think if we don’t really appreciate the crying that comes with leadership, it will grind you down. And I really think leaders have to find a way to take care of themselves. Otherwise, it’s going to have a reflection on your team’s going to show up in your team energy and your team environment. So take care of yourself as leaders.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  43:21

That’s great advice and great place to end it. Phylicia, thank you so much for doing this. 

Phylicia Jones (PagerDuty)  43:25

You’re welcome, thank you.

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