I am convinced that the company with its strengths, but also dysfunctions, can be a reflection of the owner’s personality. If the CEO doesn’t take criticism about himself well, he usually won’t take it well in the context of his own company either, unless he can easily blame a third party. In my opinion, this is due to the fact that many bosses build their sense of value on the shoulders of the companies or departments they manage, and as a result, they take any feedback to the organization personally. We can see this mechanism, for example, in the emotional and sometimes even aggressive responses of service business owners to a comment from a disgruntled customer on social media.
It’s not easy for me either. At Team Up, an important part of the feedback culture is quarterly, anonymous surveys in which employees rate our organization. We give them the opportunity to assign scores on various aspects, give “plus delta” feedback (what’s working well and areas for improvement), complete a Net Promoter Score (NPS), and put themselves in the shoes of a business owner by describing their first decisions they would make if they were in that position today. I like to think of myself that even though I put a hundred percent of my heart into our company, as an experienced manager I can “step out of the frame of the picture” and evaluate it objectively from the side. This is sadly not true, as the swarm of “butterflies in my stomach” proves to me every time I read the results of these surveys. The emotional connection is very apparent and the desire to engage in discussion or discredit criticism seems to be a human reflex. The measure of a manager’s maturity, however, is whether he or she can overcome this reaction and redirect energy from defending his or her own ego to initiating change for development. Of course, you don’t have to agree with every opinion, but striving for unanimity in a team on every topic is a huge waste of energy and can destroy such a valuable diversity of perspectives.
What helps me in this process is to remember my “Why?” (as defined by Simon Sinek), both in the context of co-creating Team Up, and in the context of implementing 360 feedback itself. This process was created in our company to show what we do well, but above all, it is meant to stimulate continuous development as individuals and as a group of people under one green banner. There are no sacred cows.
Nor are there dogmas about our company.
These were already important foundations of the company’s culture at the design stage. The survey itself is a good way not to lose the distance without which we are unable to make strategic decisions effectively. How else will we know that what we have implemented is what we envisioned when creating the company or its processes? According to the idea of agile management, we try to measure the effectiveness of our actions, but how do we quantify values?
It is also important to give ourselves permission to make mistakes – we are only human, we will make mistakes and stumble regardless of our position in the hierarchy. I like to convince others to my point of view, but I feel the real satisfaction when it is someone from the team who convinces me to their position – then I am proud of the fact that I have such smart and engaged people around me, but also a little bit proud of myself that despite continuous improvement of my skills I have not become one of those people who know everything best (although sometimes I certainly can be like that ;).
I am impressed by bosses who can stand up at a company meeting and say “I was wrong, what I came up with doesn’t work, please help me find a more effective solution”.
When I first tried this, I felt the enormous burden of constantly projecting myself as an “infallible manager” fall off my shoulders. Paradoxically, I also felt that the team’s confidence in me even increased.
In our Q12020 employee experience survey, two areas received maximum marks from all respondents:
“I feel Team Up is a good place to learn new skills and develop existing ones.”
“I know where the company is going, what goals it has and how I can help achieve them”
These results give me immense satisfaction because Sebastian (co-founder of Team Up) and I have spent a lot of time and energy to create systems that translate vision into strategy, strategy into goals, and goals into areas for growth for the entire team. I firmly believe that a clear and readable vision, a focus on skill and process improvement, and shared values are the keys to building engagement in an organization. Are the other survey results equally ideal? Of course not! There are good areas but there are also areas for improvement and by knowing this we can get better and better!