How to Create a ‘Powerful’ Culture

How to Create a ‘Powerful’ Culture

Radical honesty, the importance of cultural fit—these terms are familiar to most of us. But when Patty McCord, Chief Talent Officer of Netflix, first introduced them to the tech world, they were pretty radical. Xenium’s Tyler Meuwissen joins Brandon Laws for a discussion of McCord’s new book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility. We’ll talk about McCord’s take on recruiting, compensation and culture and how these big startup ideas can be applied to small businesses with success.


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Run Time: 37:59

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Brandon Laws: Welcome back to another very exciting episode of the Human Resources for Small Business podcast. As always, I’m your host Brandon Laws. Today, I’ve got my good buddy Tyler Meuwissen with me. What does that mean, Tyler?

Tyler Meuwissen: It can be another book review.

Brandon: Another book! And I’m really excited about this one. So before we dive into the discussion and just about the book that we’re about to talk about, which is Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord, I wanted to pick a winner of our podcast survey. We really appreciate the feedback that our listeners are providing because we’re getting tons of responses and the feedback is really valuable and helps shape the content in the future.

I wanted to congratulate Laurie at the Children’s Center. You won Powerful, the book that we’re about to discuss right now. So we will make sure to mail that to you and I really appreciate you as a listener.

OK, Tyler. So this book, Powerful by Patty McCord.

Tyler: Yes.

Brandon: It’s a very brisk 140 pages.

Tyler: Quick read.

Brandon: Quick read.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: What did you like about the style in which Patty wrote?

Tyler: I mean the style that she wrote in was great. It was almost like she was – you know, she was writing a discussion with you directly.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: As an HR professional in an HR world, it is very unconventional.

Brandon: Totally.

Tyler: You’re taking basically all the things you learned in school about HR and kind of throwing it to the side a little bit because it’s reshuffling the way you view HR and HR practices. But I thought the writing and the way she laid it out was really clear and had kind of the follow-up bullet points at the end of each chapter to reinforce the key tenets of each chapter. So I liked that and enjoyed that a lot.

Brandon: I really like Patty’s style of writing and she had this kind of like no-nonsense about her. It was like she almost wrote like she talked.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: And no BS, you know. So for those that don’t really know who Patty McCord is, she was an early executive at Netflix, the Chief Talent Officer.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: And one of the early people for really defining that culture and she was a co-creator of what they called the “Netflix culture deck”. I actually found a link – there’s a slide share of the culture deck that was – it has been circulating for years, about 10 years or so. A long time.

Tyler: Yeah. I think they do annual culture decks and I think they kind of just update it and kind of refresh it periodically.

Brandon: Yes. I found this. So I will put it on the show notes – a link to it. It’s worth flipping through. It’s like 150 slides or something. So it’s pretty massive.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: But this book is really based on that and the ideas behind it. I will say this. We’re doing this as a book club for Xenium. And it’s non-traditional from the type of books that we typically do, wouldn’t you say?

Tyler: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Brandon: We tend to read a lot of communication-based things, which there’s some communication stuff in here. But the books we choose tend to be a lot of psychology-based books. This is not that. This is almost like a business owner’s guide to HR.

Tyler: Sure, yeah.

Brandon: Right? It’s for HR people who need to be business-savvy. I think that’s the theme in the book is that Patty comes with a business mind and she’s trying to integrate that into the people practices, to get people more inspired and develop a great culture.

Tyler: I agree. Yeah, I think it’s – especially with this book – it’s more about real world application, how it worked over at Netflix and how they kind of flipped HR on its end and said, “Hey, we’re going to do things a little bit differently. We’re going to do things our way.”

So it’s not a straight-up “here’s how to communicate” or “here’s how to practice mindfulness” or what not. It’s considering some principles that they have learned over time and applying it into this book.

Brandon: Yeah. Well, I think what’s fascinating about this particular book and why I think her experience is so valuable for a reader is because Netflix is a typical Silicon Valley startup, tech company. They hire a lot left brain thinkers. You know, engineer type people and then she’s trying to bring in the people aspect of it.

They went through so many transformations. The business went through so many changes — think about it. They have the mail-to-home DVD model only and then they went all streaming. Now they’re content creators.

So the business has gone through so many transformations and all the people practices she brings up throughout this, it always talks about the business first and what’s right for the future of the business.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: So I wanted to kind of lay the groundwork there because I think that’s really what ultimately this book is about. It’s how do you navigate all the people stuff while you’re trying to survive.

Tyler: Exactly, yeah. Exactly, especially in this case. You know, when Netflix is coming up and they’re in Silicon Valley, they’re in a highly competitive sphere. You know, where great ideas can sometimes flourish or they can just – they can go and die because they just fall out.

So especially in this regard, it’s really interesting and fascinating to see how a business leader – how you maintain that business edge and that business strategy while still incorporating the right people into your organization.

Brandon: Yeah, and I think from what it sounds like, a lot of trial and error for the most part and then – let’s dive into some of this stuff because I think there’s some really good ideas in here and I can’t wait until we talk about the compensation stuff because I know you like that.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: Yeah. So I wanted to start – I’m going to kind of go in order of the book. I can’t talk about everything in the book because it’s – there’s so much meat to it. But she talked about business debates and decision-making, and how that’s really important in order to find the right path, especially if you want to have a future in business.

So she talked about when newer employees are people who want to grow and develop, when they want to learn how to make decisions or debate. If you ask people how they want to learn things, nine times out of ten, maybe ten times out of ten, they would want the experiential. Like being thrown into real world business decision-making or debates in a conference room, or whatever, with people, versus sitting in an all-day seminar, learning about debates. Would you agree?

Tyler: Oh, I completely agree. Yeah. I think it becomes really kind of tedious just to be sitting in an audience setting and kind of learning through someone speaking on a PowerPoint about ‘here are debate technique’s or ‘here are ways to approach a scenario’ because I think the best way that we learn as individuals and as employees is to learn by ‘trial by fire.’ It’s best to learn from experience and how best to talk with someone or speak with someone or have those beneficial debates regarding topics.

So I think it’s – yeah, I completely agree with the – kind of the notion that seminars are just not the best way to learn.

Brandon: I mean I think they definitely hold their place and you’ve still got to learn maybe the theory behind it or the technical aspects of whatever it may be. So I think her point was just that experience wins over any of that.

Tyler: Yeah, it trumps it every time. Yeah.

Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. There’s another point – I think it might have been the same section. But it was talking about how much data there is out there, especially in HR nowadays, and a lot of times people could be paralyzed by how much data there is and they start to draw some conclusions.

So she brought up this example about – and I’ve actually thought about this myself – when Netflix really made the transition to start developing content, they nailed it like right off – I think House of Cards was one of their first ones.

Tyler: Yeah, Orange is the New Black.

Brandon: Yeah, Orange is the New Black. She brings up this point that a lot of people who observe that, they said, well, look – they have all the data. They’re looking at all the viewing habits of all the users and they basically created those [shows] out of that data. I thought that was true. But she said, “Look, we had the most creative mind in David Fincher creating House of Cards.”

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: We just basically leveraged his creativity and we – like we can’t say no to that.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: So they bought the rights or had it developed it or whatever. So I think it’s a good distinction. She’s basically saying don’t be paralyzed by the data. The data is valuable. But at the same time — we just hire the best talent, essentially.

Tyler: Yeah, exactly, and I think she mentions in the book too – there’s a difference between factual data and data that’s true to your organization. So I mean data is valuable, and it is essential to a business, and good data and factual data is key. But that doesn’t necessarily relate or correlate to what’s true for your business.

So they had a great opportunity to develop a series that was previously a British television series and then they had David Fincher come on and adapt that to American audiences and they say, “Hey, well, this is going to be something big in House of Cards,” and the same thing with Orange is the New Black. It’s kind of a very different setting for a show and they kind of took a chance on that.

I mean no matter what the data told them about that, that’s a chance they took.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: So I think, yeah, it’s kind of separating what’s factual and then what’s true for your organization as well.

Brandon: Yeah. Well, they’re talking about when they decided to split the – and this was years ago – but when they decided to split the DVD mailing service and the streaming into two different companies.

Tyler: Qwickster.

Brandon: Qwickster, yeah. So they quickly unwound that a month or two later because they were realizing that people were pissed off about it, and it just wasn’t the right decision. So she talks about the decision-making. People were really adamant when they debated this business decision. People were really adamant about it and so they went with it and then this is what a good leadership team does — they own it and then they do what’s right for the business. Instead of – you know, they swallowed their pride, in other words. They could have easily said, “No, we’re going to just keep going.”

Tyler: Yeah, a la Blockbuster. I mean look what happened to them. So I mean – I think definitely a company needs to be limber and move about and fluctuate with what they’re seeing. And that’s a good instance of when they used data to their benefit. What’s true for the organization is that this is not working. So we need to pull back right away, which they did, to their credit. So they pulled back and said, “Hey, this is not a model that we want to follow through with because our audience is not enjoying this. We need to go to what we’re confident in doing, which is streaming services.”

Brandon: I love the Blockbuster thing that you brought up because I think Netflix is doing something different. She brings it up in the book – it’s called “radical honesty”.

Tyler: Yes.

Brandon: And I have a feeling Blockbuster wasn’t doing that because they probably got in a room, all their execs, and they’re like, “We’re a powerhouse. Nobody is going to take us down,” and then they just have the group think mentality versus over on Netflix, they’re having these debates and they’re open and honest and transparent with each other.

So even if they’re hurting each other’s feelings by saying, “I don’t like your idea. We should do this,” they’re still putting it all out there. Versus on the other side of it, people who maybe have an idea and they’re going to slam that idea home and won’t hear anything else. That’s not a great culture.

Tyler: Exactly. I’m curious about your thoughts about the radical honesty portion because I know especially in the tech sphere, you know, where a lot of things can change on a dime and you’re always constantly evolving and constantly changing. Radical honesty is definitely beneficial for people to get into a room and just be open with each other and everybody has a voice, everybody has an opinion, and they want you to freely share those opinions.

Now how that translates to other industries, I’m not sure. Because you get to build that kind of openness and rapport with your employees to make sure that they have the idea in their heads that they can speak up. They’re not going to be held – nothing can be held against them because this is a culture of just being open and honest. So I’m curious about your thoughts and what you think about going from a tech or is it applicable to more of a – you know, other industries, business services, healthcare, anything like that.

Brandon: It’s applicable to everything. I mean her point, that it reduces the tension between teammates. You reduce backstabbing.

Tyler: Yes, that’s a good point too.

Brandon: You build trust and respect. I always go back to this one example. I remember talking about it recently with somebody. But The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, there was a story in there and I think it was maybe Stephen Covey that was in the example where he was at a college. He was at a university and he was talking with the president about somebody on the staff and just ripping them apart.

The president was like, “Let’s just bring him in.” He’s having this side conversation about somebody, talking about somebody. So let’s just bring him in and let’s just talk about this. So then they brought him in and they had a direct conversation. It was open and honest and it’s like wow! How powerful is that to just have a direct conversation with somebody?

Tyler: I agree and I think when you let something like that fester and you have the backstabbing. You talk behind people’s backs. You’re not being open with them and you let that fester. I think that just creates a more hostile work environment. It just creates a lot more uneasiness in the office. I mean especially when you’re talking with people and it’s just not authentic. You want to make sure you’re building a culture that surrounds that. Hey, we’re authentic. We’re honest with each other.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: Because that’s why our business is going to be better is if we’re all honest with each other.

Brandon: She brings up the fact that people can handle the truth and they really want it. They want the transparency. Maybe it doesn’t feel good. Maybe hard feedback about your performance doesn’t feel good in the moment. But wouldn’t you rather know about it versus not? Or somebody talking about you? Or getting it in an annual review once a year or something?

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: And that’s another thing she brings up is the annual performance review, people are poking holes in the annual review process. Because why should we wait until the end of the year, once a year, to dump all the feedback on somebody, and anonymous feedback at that?

Tyler: Yes, yes.

Brandon: You know, like versus if I have five people I work with on a regular basis and each one of them had to put their name on it. You know, direct feedback, I would appreciate that. Maybe it would be hard to swallow, but ultimately it’s going to make me better.

Tyler: Yeah. She mentions early on in the book – you know, treat everyone like adults. I mean we’re in the business industry. We’re in companies, organizations. We’re all adults.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: We should be treated like adults and not having these side/back conversations about people. We should be upfront with people because that’s how we learn and that’s how it’s better to communicate any type of issues you may have.

Brandon: Yeah. She brings up the fact that when you’re hiring talent and you’re building the culture that you want, you don’t build it for the company you have now. I think that’s a trap a lot of companies probably fall into is they look at the landscape of where they’re at in the moment and then they try to put all these little puzzle pieces together and fit them with the current state.

She argues that you should be building for the future. So she brings up the example of – I think it was early on in the chapter about building the team that you want. She talks about the military. You go to war, you go to battle with the team that you have.

But in business, because it’s highly competitive and it’s changing so often, you have to hire and look for talent in a way that’s going to get you further ahead in the future.

Tyler: Right, yeah. And I think a lot of organizations – I mean it’s true for many. It’s always like a reactionary process. Well, we lost someone or someone left and we need to replace that individual.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: So –

Brandon: Fill a hole in the boat.

Tyler: Fill a hole, fill a hole. There’s not a lot of proactive recruiting, which I think is – which to Patty McCord’s point is – you know, you’re building something for the future. You want to make sure that you kind of have that kind of locked in – you know, that line of sight towards a goal down the line.

So yeah, I mean I completely agree with a more proactive stance in your recruiting and just hiring people that – there may not be a role for them right now. But in the future, that will present itself.

Brandon: Switching gears a little bit going to compensation, perks and benefits. I love this section. I was writing so many notes about this and I encourage people to read it – go buy this book. You’re going to be happy you did. But this section is so meaty. I want to talk about perks real quick. So there’s one story she brings up. She’s in a staff meeting or they had asked her to come, just give a talk, and somebody raises their hand and says, “What do you think about departmental kegerators versus a company kegerator?” as if that – like that was an issue that has been debated.

Tyler: Yes.

Brandon: And she’s like, “Is that a real question?”

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: “Is that a real question? You know how business works, don’t you?” And I think her point is valid in that businesses or companies, organizations, they don’t exist to create happy employees through perks and benefits and things like that. You are in business to serve your customer base.

Tyler: Correct.

Brandon: And so I think her point is a valid one in that I get the perks and comp and all that stuff. But more importantly, you should be talking about the future and the vision of the company and getting people aligned with that because then these trivial little perks will not even come up. It won’t even be a factor in whether or not somebody is happy at work.

Tyler: Yeah, it brings up the question. So with that individual questioning kegerators, it’s like why are you spending so much time thinking about having fun in an office setting when really you should be focusing on how to improve – you know, wherever his expertise is or how to improve the business from within.

It’s always nice to have perks and to have that enjoyment where you can seek some offsite rapport with your colleagues or what not. But it’s business first. That’s always kind of the mentality. It’s always business first. You got to be thinking about what can I do that can enhance our company’s experience to their customers?

Brandon: Yeah. I think that’s where HR people could really play a huge role and especially if they want to see the executive table. How do you mold your people practices to make sure you’re flourishing as a business? And not necessarily just to create a happy culture where people are getting those perks, but to really serve your clients.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: To really do good work and to get everybody aligned with that, because I think that’s so much better than those little perks – I mean, hey, the perks are cool, right? But that’s not going to be lasting happiness.

Tyler: Yeah, I don’t think that there’s a notion that they’re mutually exclusive. I think that they can exist in the same space. If you’re working to benefit your clients and enhance the business experience of your organization, I think that in turn creates value intrinsically and happiness at work. So I think you’re doing a good job. You get a fulfillment, which can create more opportunities for perks or what not.

Brandon: I wanted to bring up something to you because I want to hear your opinion on this. So she brought up the fact that they don’t bring up compensation until they know that somebody is about to accept an offer, meaning – I think what she means by that is – that it’s such a good fit. It’s such in alignment of what they need and maybe culture fit, that they would likely accept an offer if the money was right. So they don’t bring up compensation until that moment.

I’ve heard some stories of people in my personal life who have been kind of burned by that where they were interviewing for a job. Great fit, like perfect alignment. But then when it came time to talk about compensation, maybe three interviews down the road, they were like $40,000, $50,000 off in terms of what this person wanted versus what the companies want to pay for their position. So is it a waste of people’s time? What do you think about that?

Tyler: As a job seeker, it could be frustrating to know that you go through all these interview processes and then down the line, you find out there’s a huge disparity between what you want and what they’re offering you. You know, at the same side though, you know, the organization is trying to enhance their culture. They’re trying to recruit the right people. If you’re interviewing for their company, it’s their value that they’re trying to bring in, they’re trying to enhance.

So I think as job seekers, we understand that. This is not like a personal shot. This is for – this is trying to work with a company and they’re trying to seek someone that’s valuable for them at the same time.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: So I mean I’m all for removing that factor of compensation from the immediate interview process because I think once you get that outside – out of – throw that away, you can focus in on the more valuable things. Like, how are you going to bring value to my organization? What are your skill sets? What are you going to bring here? So I think when you can focus on that and not focus on the – well, you know, kind of the elephant in the room which is, “What am I going to get paid?” Then you can kind of have a real discussion about the value you bring.

Brandon: You’re not giving advice on this one necessarily. But I want to get your opinion on this. So she talks on page 112 of the book about how market demand isn’t an adequate guide for compensation because it’s today. It’s a snapshot for today versus – we were talking about the future of business and where you want to go.

So if you’re hiring in the right talent and you’re paying exactly what your competitors are making or whatever market data says is the compensation for that position, that industry today, is that a good way to go about compensation?

Tyler: I think we’ve always – on the compensation side, we’ve always stressed that market data is valuable. But it should be used as a foundational tool for any type of hiring or recruiting practice you have. It is a snapshot of what the market was paying for that particular position. But it doesn’t stress the value that that role may bring to your organization.

Now she brings in the tech sector. There’s a lot of software developers, a lot of programmers. So they would pay $40,000, $50,000 above what market was saying because that person is valuable and they need them or someone else is going to take them.

I think that’s true in any regard, in any industry you have. If there’s an individual out there meeting with – you know, in interviews and going through the interview process with them and you can see the value that they would bring the organization. You can use that market data as a foundation tool. But you may want to enhance it just to say this person is a better fit for us. We want to take him off that market and bring him into our culture.

So I think as we’ve always stressed is that market data is good. We encourage you to get those snapshots, to get that valuable data, those factual data points that Patty McCord brings up previously in the book. But then use that – is that true for your organization? So use that as a foundation and then move forward with that.

Brandon: I can’t remember what exactly she said about – you can develop like a philosophy around compensation. We definitely encourage that, right? But what if you had like one or two positions or a department within an organization that literally drove your business? Like OK, let’s use a tech example because that’s what we’re talking about. What if there was one or two software developer positions that could change your business?

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: And then the rest were like customer service or administrative or whatever. So do you pay those positions astronomically because they’re going to drive your business or does it all work within the framework of what everybody else in the organization makes?

Tyler: Well, see, I think that if you can – you know, especially in engineering companies and companies that have those highly sought-after, highly competitive fields like engineering, software development. You can have separate comp –

Brandon: Structures or pay grades.

Tyler: You can have separate pay grades for them and have different philosophies, different strategies that pertain to each one. So it’s not about focusing all your comp onto one single structure. You can have multiple structures.

Brandon: Within the same organization.

Tyler: Within the same organization.

Brandon: Yeah, that makes sense.

Tyler: Because obviously you want to – in an engineering company, your engineers are your bread and butter. I mean they’re the ones that are making the product. They’re the ones that are kind of driving your business. You want to make sure that they are being paid competitively. So I mean that’s perfectly fine to have multiple compensation structures. I wouldn’t get too crazy and have like more than three. But yeah, it’s definitely advantageous to do that.

Brandon: I want to talk about a point that she brought up that I was like, “Oh, yes. I totally agree,” just from a marketing standpoint. That’s where I’m coming from on this. But she talks about the experience that candidates in particular have where you may have a bunch of people coming in to interview for a position. But her point was the goal is them making every single person who came into the interview, to walk away wanting the job because they want them to think “wow, this is an incredible experience. This is a great culture. I want this job, even if it’s like not a perfect alignment.”

But they – even if Netflix, let’s say, didn’t think they were a good fit. They still want that person to leave thinking, “I want this job so bad.”

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: Because they’re going to go talk and –

Tyler: Yeah, especially where they’re located. I mean they probably have multiple interviews that are going through. It’s interesting because you want to create a culture maybe not with a lot of enhancements or perks that she kind of talks badly about. But you want to make sure that the value that the company brings to the market is kind of represented in the interview, so they can come onboard with that.

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: And I think Netflix had – you know, had a great kind of a value-add to the industry at that time. You know, their streaming services. They want people to come on to that culture and say, “Hey, we’re all about radical honesty. We’re all about being upfront with each other. We’re all about communicating and leading in a realm where it’s not really developed yet.” So I think it’s definitely good to bring someone on that can have that value set. So presenting that in interviews is key, to have that experience where they say, “Hey, I’m onboard with what they do as a company,” not necessarily the pay and the perks, but what they do as their mission – you know, mission and values.

Brandon: Yeah. So like even if they walked away, they would be like, “I’m going to fully support this company because I see the world the way that they do and it was a good experience and they’re a good brand. They’re good people.”

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: There’s just so much good storytelling in this book. I think that’s why I liked it. For every concept that she has, she has got some sort of story and it’s like – again, it’s just sort of out there and I appreciated the open honesty about it.

Saying good-bye is the last chapter before the conclusion and this one was a tough read just because it’s like she talks about how some people are super talented, great workers. But they don’t fit within the vision of the future.

She even talks about herself at some point. She looked at Reed Hastings, who’s the CEO of Netflix – I don’t know if he’s the founder necessarily, but he came in as the CEO – and they just knew it was time for her to go.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: I don’t know how you analyze that. Maybe it’s workforce planning or something, but determining whether your skills and your talents are going to be a good match for the future. I think that’s her point. You should look at that and probably talk about it with your team. What do you think about that whole thing?

Tyler: Yeah. I mean with them – going back to the radical honesty, they kind of ingrained that into their culture. So for them, it was probably – it’s never easy to say, “Hey, I think I’m kind of not fit for this position anymore,” or, “I think my value has gone down – maybe a service that I was working on has kind of withdrawn.” But I think when they have that radical honesty in place, it’s a little bit easier for them to kind of communicate with management or with people that maybe even I need to move on. It might be time for me to move on and kind of try something new.

I think she also brings up in the book too about how all employees should be constantly learning and developing their skills and kind of growing as a businessperson. Because you may not be with a job for 15, 20 years. You may move around. But that’s OK because you’re still – you’re putting your value into different organizations. So I think saying good-bye is never easy.

Brandon: No.

Tyler: But it says something as a business professional when you’re going to be that upfront and say, “Hey, we need to have a discussion here. I feel like my place right now is I’m better off moving on and kind of starting something new.”

Brandon: I think it goes both ways too. I think that’s the point. Through the radical honesty, if you’re talking about that, like hey Tyler, your skills, they’re great. But the business, the way it’s going, you’re not even going to be utilized. So you’re miserable. The company can’t move forward and I’m just using you as an example because you’re staring at me.

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: But I think that’s the point — you hold both parties back. The employee doesn’t grow and their future is limited. And then the organization can’t grow because they’re holding this position that doesn’t really fit within the landscape of the future.

Tyler: It’s obsolete, yeah, yeah.

Brandon: It’s so interesting to me and I think that’s why, probably annually or semi-annually, you probably have to, as an executive leadership team or whatever, you really have to look at the talent in the organization and look at the business goals to say, “Is this a match?”

Tyler: Yeah, exactly. Well, I think you can also tie that back to what you mentioned about having frequent and recurring management meetings to kind of address things. She brings up the hockey example about how he would talk with his players about the last 10 games what went –

Brandon: Oh, I love that! I love that.

Tyler: It was Scotty Bowman. So I’m a big Red Wings fan, so that was kind of a fascinating read.

Brandon: That was a great segment and – do you want to expand on that real quick? Because I think that was a good example.

Tyler: So part of the book where she talks about annual performance reviews. She doesn’t like doing that. She doesn’t like having to wait a certain segment – you know, a long period of time to review the progress of the individual. So she was speaking at – I can’t remember what arena it was, it was in Montreal I think – and Scotty Bowman was the head coach for several hockey teams, the Canadiens, the Red Wings.

He mentions that his strategy is to look at 10 games at a time and say what went well, what didn’t go well and what can we learn from that. She kind of wants to adapt that strategy. She said that’s a great way to do things. You know, look at short periods of time. What went well? What didn’t go well? What can we improve upon? I think that’s kind of like that almost agile, Scrum type of mentality – you learn from the processes on an ongoing basis and not just on an annual basis.

Brandon: Yeah, I think that’s how like you could utilize one-on-ones. So for those that have direct reports and are doing one-on-ones, that’s probably a good – like if you’re doing a monthly, that’s probably a good timeframe to like, “Hey, let’s look at what’s happened in the last month.”

Tyler: Yeah.

Brandon: And then you can look forward too. Utilize that time in a good way.

Tyler: I think the key too is to focus on the previous weeks. If you’re looking at the month end, to really focus in on the last month and kind of say, “OK. This last month, what were the high points? What do we need to work on and where do we go from here?” and then kind of – then in the next month, did we accomplish our goals that we set?

Brandon: Yeah.

Tyler: So I think that’s kind of that constant and agile feedback structure. It’s really key.

Brandon: OK. So as we wrap up, I always like to get your star rating on this.

Tyler: Star rating, yeah.

Brandon: What would you do at five stars?

Tyler: Yeah. Well, I very rarely give business books five stars. It’s kind of like a prestigious thing for me. This is a five-star book.

Brandon: This is a five-star. I agree.

Tyler: I really enjoyed it. It’s a really great read. It is unconventional and in terms of an HR setting –

Brandon: Is this going to piss people off?

Tyler: I think you might get some disagreements.

Brandon: Yeah, yeah.

Tyler: Like those hardcore HR mindsets. Like, no, this is not going to work. This is not going to work.

Brandon: There was a couple of times where I was like, “Ah, I don’t know if I agree.” I mean it’s interesting. But I wasn’t so adamant that – you’re wrong!

Tyler: Yeah, yeah. I just think it’s a really refreshing way to look at HR in general. I think that is good for HR professionals because it just gives you a different taste of something that could be beneficial, could not. But until you implement it or you try it out, you may never know. But I think it’s a really refreshing read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Brandon: Tyler, thanks for coming on the podcast. You’re on LinkedIn, Twitter.

Tyler: Yes.

Brandon: OK. So people can connect with you there. We will put links to your profiles in the show notes. People can connect with you. Let us know how you like this podcast. Give us a review on iTunes. We have a survey in the show notes and on the Xenium blog. Your feedback is so important to us. So feel free to reach out to me anytime. Send me the survey, do an iTunes review, Stitcher, whatever it is. Feedback is good for us.

I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, all those places. So feel free to connect with me there and thanks for tuning in for this week’s episode.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

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