Newsletter Issue 48

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 Edward Kim

Edward Kim is the Co-Founder and Head of Engineering at Gusto, a payroll, HR, and benefits software platform with 60,000+ business customers. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Edward at an event in San Francisco, and was struck by his acute self-awareness and humility around the things he’s learned as a leader. We get into much of it, during this podcast interview: Edward shares the power of letting go, employee perception vs. founder perception, and how to align for values in your organization. Watch or listen to the full conversation below…

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


❤️ If you’ve been enjoying The Heartbeat podcast, it’d mean the world to me if you wrote us a review on iTunes. The more reviews we have, the more we’re able to share all our lessons from leaders. Thank you! 🙏


What I’ve been writing lately

Stop trying to find a mentor
“Finding a mentor won’t save you, as a new manager. But, something else might.”

Skip level meetings: What they are, and exactly how to run them
“Bad news is diluted before it reaches your vantage point – or, it’s all together shuttled out of your sight. So, how do you get out of this cocoon? Skip level meetings are one answer.”

The 5 mistakes you’re likely making in your one-on-one meetings with direct reports
“You’re feeling good: You’ve started to hold regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports. But have you paused to ask yourself, lately, ‘Am I making the most of them?’”

A wonderful piece written by our Operations Manager: The 3 lessons on leadership I’ve learned from 1,000+ managers in the past few months
“From our 1,000+ managers all over the world in our Watercooler community, here are the 3 most helpful lessons on leadership that I’ve personally learned recently.”

What I’ve been reading lately

How Engaged Is Your Team, Really?
“Our research — in this study and others — suggests that a third of teams fall into a category we call pseudo-engaged. These teams appear engaged both in surveys and in the eyes of management: The employees are often satisfied with their jobs, committed to the company, and happy to recommend the workplace to others. But when we looked more closely, we found that they also exhibited deeper signs of disengagement, such as antipathy toward colleagues and dishonesty to managers.” Written by Amy Bradley and Sharon Olivier, Harvard Business Review

The Downstream Damage of the Leadership Skills Gap
“Gallup research has found that “most managers believe they are doing their jobs well and don’t see the need for change.” This creates further problems downstream. When managers don’t focus on gaining new skills, their reports are less likely to do so as well.” Written by Marc Zao-Sanders, MIT Sloan Review

How to think like a CEO
“Over the last decade, I’ve conducted in-depth interviews with more than 500 CEOs. I wanted to understand what makes them tick as human beings, rather as business strategists. I asked them about formative experiences and influences, and the key leadership lessons they had learned over the course of their lives.” Written by Adam Bryant, strategy+business

A handy leadership tip

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

Do you have performance improvement plans (PIP)? 
What do you do if an employee isn’t performing well? Should a formal performance improvement plan (PIP) be put in place?

Some companies don’t have any type of PIP at all. Other companies have a more formal process. Here are some tips if you do decide to have a PIP:

  • Never make the PIP a surprise – Any low performance should have been a discussion in previous one-on-one already.
  • Let the employee know a PIP is a possibility – Some people get close to a PIP, but manage to turn the ship around. Knowing that a PIP might be on the horizon is a powerful motivator.
  • Have more than just the other person present – The meeting is usually with the employee, the manager, and HR. If you do involve HR, some find it distracting, but some companies will prefer to have them present from the beginning.
  • Have an overall consistent flow for the PIP – For example:
  • Meet with the employee to discuss shortcomings
  • Develop plan during the meeting
  • Set up six weekly checkpoints
  • Discuss progress towards plan during each weekly checkpoint
  • During the week six checkpoint declare success or decide it is time to part ways
  • Draft a plan always with the employee’s input – That way it’s about how “we can improve together” and not just “I’m telling you what to change.”
  • Consider the cultural implications of a PIP – For some Watercooler members, PIPs work incredibly well for their team because their team thrives on having clear processes + structures in place. Another Watercooler shared how because 80%-90% of employees who were put on a PIP left the company during the PIP period, it culturally made the PIP “a herald of doom.”

I wrote about 7 things to consider when using a PIP.

Just for fun

Jane Goodall Keeps Going, With a Lot of Hope (and a Bit of Whiskey)
A lovely NYTimes interview of one of my heroes.

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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