Newsletter Issue 35

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

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The Heartbeat Podcast: A chat with Mollie West Duffy

Mollie West Duffy, is the co-author of No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work and the Senior Organizational Designer at IDEO. From her immense research on the space, we chat about over and under emoters, vulnerability as a leader, and how exactly to talk about your feelings at work. Watch or listen to our conversation below.


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


What I’ve been writing lately

Do I truly want to become a manager?
“Management is not some sacred club reserved for the hallowed few. Rather, deciding to become a manager should be viewed as one might decide to become a garbage disposal collector or a parking meter attendant: If you’re doing it, you’re doing it for a reason. It’s not for everyone.”

I’m writing a Guide on Managing Remote Teams – and I’d love your input
What are your biggest challenges or questions around managing remote teams? What topics would you like the guide to cover? You can take the survey here – and for the first 1,000 people who fill out survey, I’ll send you a free copy of the guide once it’s done!

What I’ve been reading lately

The Most Common Type of Incompetent Leader
“Absentee leadership rarely comes up in today’s leadership or business literature, but research shows that it is the most common form of incompetent leadership. Absentee leaders are people in leadership roles who are psychologically absent from them. They were promoted into management, and enjoy the privileges and rewards of a leadership role, but avoid meaningful involvement with their teams.” Written by Scott Gregory, Harvard Business Review

How long should a long-term strategy be?
“I find that giving strategy an a priori time frame is the wrong way around. Instead, the time frame should depend on the strategy. To be clear, ‘What time frame should we have for our strategy?’ is the wrong question. The better question is, ‘What changes does our strategy need, and how much time do we need to implement them?’” Written by Ken Favaro, strategy + business

Straight talk about employee evaluation and performance management
“Our research shows that a vast majority of CEOs actually don’t find the performance-management process all that helpful in identifying who the best performers are. Over half of the individuals surveyed think that their managers didn’t get the performance review right.” Podcast + Transcript with McKinsey partners Bryan Hancock and Bill Schaninger, McKinsey Quarterly

Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology: The Collected Works of ‎Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Bear with me – this is an extremely long volume of positive psychologist ‎Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on flow. However, it’s also fascinating, as a result. If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of his research behind flow, intrinsic motivation, and team dynamics, I highly recommend giving it a look. Written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

A handy leadership tip

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

What’s the best way to let someone go?

  • Opening sentence should be delivered in 5 seconds or less.
  • Second sentence should articulate terms (severance, impact to equity, etc)
  • Final sentence should indicate this is non-negotiable
  • Once the decision’s been made, let them go as fast as humanly possible.
  • Ultimately, there’s no such thing as an “optimal” time to fire someone. Time of day or day of week shouldn’t become an excuse for delaying.
  • Cut to the chase right away. Literally nothing you can say will soften the blow and nobody will appreciate your platitudes right now.
  • Listen to their reaction. Not because you’re giving them an opportunity to argue their way back into their job, but so you can better adjust your message if needed.
  • Remember this sucks, but it’s WAY suckier for them. So, don’t make it about you or talk about how hard this is for you.
  • Be a good human. Respect the terminated employee’s privacy, even if it was completely their fault they were fired. Your other employees will care and notice how you’re treating their former coworker.

Just for fun

Mak and bium: imperfection and emptiness in Korean aesthetics
Published in The Architectural Review. Lovely piece that shares what’s at the heart of understanding Korean food, art, and culture.

Written by Claire Lew

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

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