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The Know Your Team Blog

Thoughts on how to become a better leader, and avoid being a bad boss.

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The 8 best questions to ask during a one-on-one meeting

What should you put on your next one-on-one meeting agenda? These one-on-one meeting questions should be a part of every manager’s toolkit. That one-on-one meeting is scheduled on your calendar this week. So, what should you talk about? As a manager, executive, or business owner, this is one of the most recurring and perplexing situations… Read the full article ...

The 25 best icebreaker questions for team-building at work

Our most popular get-to-know-you questions for work, based on four years of data. If you winced at the word, “icebreaker,” I don’t blame you. Get-to-know-you questions and games tend to feel cheesy. We’ve all been victim to a terribly trite icebreaker with coworkers that made us roll our eyes. I know I have. However reluctantly, you… Read the full article ...

How cereal improves employee engagement

As unlikely as it sounds, breakfast cereal can be the ultimate team-builder and way to boost your team’s morale. The executive director of a prominent nonprofit called iMentor Chicago reached out to me the other week. Her name is Halleemah Nash. “A question I asked my team a few months ago really caught me off guard,”… Read the full article ...

Top 19 Leadership Lessons from AMA with David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), CTO of Basecamp

How do you structure your day as a leader? Favorite leadership books? CTO of Basecamp and Creator of Ruby on Rails, David, shares his answer to these questions and more. What kind of leader is David Heinemeier Hansson? We were lucky enough to find out his management style, leadership lessons learned, and more during our most… Read the full article ...

7 ways to prepare for an effective one-on-one meeting with your manager

Got an upcoming one-on-one meeting with your manager? Consider a few of these tips in preparation for it. Many managers say flat-out that their biggest frustration is when employees are not prepared for a one-on-one meeting. Yikes, really? Over the past four years, I’ve heard countless managers, CEOs, and business owners say a version of this… Read the full article ...

Want to improve your management style? Screw the Golden Rule

Here’s why “Treat others the way you want to be treated” doesn’t work as an effective leadership strategy. “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.” This is The Golden Rule we all learned growing up. As a manager or CEO in a company, you’d think it would make sense to follow it too.… Read the full article ...

Top 13 Leadership Lessons from AMA with Amir Salihefendic, CEO of Doist

As the CEO and founder of a bootstrapped, remote company with over 13 million customers, Amir shared his leadership lessons learned with our online community, The Watercooler. Every few weeks, we invite one of our 1,000+ Watercooler members from all over the world in Know Your Team to participate in an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session.… Read the full article ...

Watch: Stop Feeding Shit Sandwiches — the worst method of giving feedback

In this 5 minute lightning talk given at Disrupt HR, I share the worst way to deliver feedback – and what we should do instead. Ever catch yourself feeding a shit sandwich? You know, when you layer your feedback good-back-good. I happen to think this technique is the absolute worst method to give feedback in the… Read the full article ...

Top 5 Leadership Lessons from AMA with Valentina Thörner, of Automattic

In our leadership community in Know Your Team, The Watercooler, Val shared her expertise leading a world-class, remote support team in our first ever AMA. Here are the top 5 leadership lessons learned from it. In our leadership community, The Watercooler, we recently kicked off a series of “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions, featuring Watercooler members… Read the full article ...

On Yonder Podcast 🎙: Best Practices for Leading Remote Teams

From communication to delegation to meetings, I speak on what we’ve observed to be the most important things for remote leaders to keep in mind. Recently, I was interviewed by the incredible Jeff Robbins on the Yonder Podcast about best practices in managing remote teams. I had a blast. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jeff… Read the full article ...

Does The Watercooler help leaders grow?

We recently launched an online leadership community, The Watercooler. One member, Oana Filip of Pixelgrade, shares her experience as a part of it. “Leadership, as any other management concepts, can be tricky to understand and internalize.” Oana Filip, a digital strategist at Pixelgrade, wrote this recently. And I couldn’t agree more. Learning how to grow as… Read the full article ...

How to fire someone with grace, dignity, and respect

The “right way” to fire an employee doesn’t exist — but we can all get closer to it by keeping these 6 things in mind. A few months ago, I fired someone. Ugh. It was gut-wrenching. I’ve fired people before – but it doesn’t matter how many times you do it, it always feels downright terrible. This moment… Read the full article ...

Company culture: a lesson from albizia trees — what happens when growth is “tall and fast”…

Nature can teach us a lesson about company culture A fallen albizia tree, photo courtesy Sen. Russell Ruderman. “Did you hear that noise?” I was in Hawaii last week walking along the Manoa Falls Trail, when our guide who was taking us through stopped us. We all shook our heads, “no.” “Okay, well that’s good,” he… Read the full article ...

Why we dismiss negative employee feedback

Three fallacies that get in the way of taking constructive feedback. Here’s how by recognizing them, we can overcome them. My stomach dropped. My face flushed. I thought to myself: “No way that’s true!” and “No way that’s me” Those were my physical and mental reactions when an acquaintance gave me some feedback a few years ago. (She… Read the full article ...

Close the loop: The critical principle of good leadership

You can’t just make the call if you want to be a good leader — you’ve got to explain it. Leadership is about making the call. Or, at least that’s what we seem to think. We seem to think leadership is about making the complex decision. As captain of the ship, you survey the seas — what your board is… Read the full article ...

How to repair the trust of your team as a leader

One in three employees don’t trust their employer. As a manager, here’s what you can do about this significant leadership weakness I recently came across a 2016 study conducted by Edelman where they’d surveyed 33,000 people in 28 countries. From it, they discovered: One in three people don’t trust their employer. One in three people… Read the full article ...

The power of assuming positive intent

My greatest leadership weakness, and how I’m learning to overcome it My parents were in town last week. During one conversation we had, my mom shared an opinion that I strongly disagreed with. And as I responded to her, she said this to me: “You’re getting defensive.” Throughout my life, I’ve heard this quite often. Getting… Read the full article ...

Anonymous employee feedback breeds a culture of distrust

The pitfalls of anonymous employee feedback aren’t often talked about. Here’s how it can backfire. As the CEO of Know Your Team, I often get asked about my opinion on asking employees for anonymous feedback. Is it a useful approach? Would I recommend it? My answer is the same each time: I hate anonymous feedback.… Read the full article ...

The Bad Boss vs The Good Boss

How to avoid becoming a bad boss — “The Boss You Don’t Want to Be.” “People leave bosses, not companies.” We’ve all heard this truism in corporate leadership discussions. But how many of us have lived that statement? How many of us have left a bad boss? How many of us know what it’s like to work for… Read the full article ...

8 things leaders of remote companies do differently

If you’re thinking of going remote, here’s what successful leaders of remote companies do Earlier this month, I spoke with a CEO who’s looking to transition her company to become remote in the upcoming year. I could tell she was hesitant — perhaps even nervous about it. She’d never run a remote company before. She asked me:… Read the full article ...

The 10 qualities of a good leader

What I’ve observed from effective leaders and tried to keep in mind as a CEO these past few years “This is somewhat terrifying.” I remember thinking this when I became the CEO of Know Your Team back in January 2014. Sure, I’d started two companies beforehand — but one was with close friends, and the other was by… Read the full article ...

Don’t let worry become a leadership weakness

Worry is a natural byproduct and characteristic of a leader. Here are five ways to cope with worrying as a leader. The other week, I interviewed Jason Fried, CEO and co-founder of Basecamp. I asked him what he wish he would’ve learned earlier as a leader. His response? Worry less. I smiled when he said this.… Read the full article ...

Don’t want to be a bad manager? Stop feeding Shit Sandwiches

One of the most popular methods of delivering difficult employee feedback is, well, shit. Here’s why and what you should do instead I recently ran into a friend who mentioned how she uses the Shit Sandwich to deliver feedback. If you’re not familiar with it, the Shit Sandwich is a technique for delivering feedback popularized by… Read the full article ...

Our 3 biggest blindspots and leadership weaknesses

Our research on the most common blindspots and signs of employee disengagement. “What’s the hardest part about being a leader?” A few years ago, the Washington Post interviewed Peter Thiel, cofounder and former CEO of PayPal, and asked him this question to distill his greatest leadership weakness. This was his response: “As CEO, you’re somehow… Read the full article ...

Do not ask this question if you want high employee morale

Trust me, it surprised me too. But this is not one of the questions to ask employees about morale. “How can I help you?” You’d think this would be a great question to ask your employees. Surely, I’ve asked this question, as a CEO myself, to my own team countless of times. Turns out, I’m wrong. The… Read the full article ...

How to have an honest one-on-one meeting with an employee

Here are six ways to get employees talking about what they really feel (and not what they think you want to hear) “I can handle the truth. I’m pretty tough, Claire.” My CEO at the time told me this during our one-on-one about five or so years ago. The year was ending, and he wanted to know what the… Read the full article ...

Unlock honest feedback from your employees with this one word

Consider using this one word in your next one-on-one meeting A few years ago, a CEO told me how she was struggling to get honest feedback from her board. No one seemed willing to be critical or give her pointers on things she could improve. After every board meeting, she would turn to them and… Read the full article ...

An attempt at authentic leadership: Why I illustrate all our blog posts, as a CEO

One small way we try to show we care as a company and value genuine leadership. Lately, I’ve been getting asked more frequently: “Claire, do you illustrate your own blog posts?” The answer is, “Yes.” To date, I’ve written hundreds pieces on our blog. With the exception of a few (where I’ve used a photograph… Read the full article ...

5 questions that reveal if a company has a healthy workplace culture

Everyone says, “It’s great working here.” But is it really? Here are the questions to ask to assess if a company has a positive work culture. “How do you know if a company’s culture is good?” Last week, a friend who’s looking for a new job asked me this. She’d been doing a few interviews, and… Read the full article ...

Go first: The first step of getting feedback at work starts with you

You can’t expect people to give you honest feedback if you’re not open with them first. You’re at a swimming pool. The water looks nice. It’s not quite a warm enough day But it’s almost summer so why not jump in? You want others to join you in the pool. (It’s more fun that way!)… Read the full article ...