Friendly. Supportive.

These sound too obvious to be worth spending time on. No-one sets out to be the opposite, and pretty much everyone would say they’re a good idea – so much so that you might feel foolish to stand up at a meeting and emphasise their importance. But – and it’s a big but – a friendly and supportive atmosphere needs…

Seth Godin on difficult conversations

I highly recommend this week’s excellent episode of Akimbo about Difficult Conversations. Here’s my summary: There are lots of conversations that we think of as “difficult”: telling someone you manage that you’re not happy with their performance; complaining about customer service; asking a friend to change their behaviour. We often find having these conversations hard and even avoid having them…

Commitment: their actual lives

This might be your life’s work. It might be a side project. But as you work – doing something to help, perhaps hiring people to work with you, apportioning your time and attention between competing people and priorities – remember that these are people’s actual lives. And yours. Be as clear as possible about your commitment and its costs, and…

“What should I do?”

If you desperately need a job, you are just another problem for a boss; if you can solve many of the problems the boss has right now, you are hired. To be hired, think like your boss. Kevin Kelly – 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice A hierarchy of task-related competence and maturity: We have opposite intentions. I will not do…

Ben Horowitz on hiring and diversity

This long extract is from a fantastic interview with Ben Horowitz – it’s great on a load of aspects of building strong organisational culture, and especially on diversity. Highly recommend. Brian Koppelman: How do you avoid [hiring people who look like you]? How do you train it out of people? Ben Horowitz: Look, we all fall into it. Let me…

Bottleneck: little jobs and emotional friction

Thanks to JG. A particularly troublesome breed of little job are things left undone that hold up the work of other people – a decision that needs your input (or for you to decide), a design that needs your approval, feedback to your team from a key meeting, or a training you need to hold before your team starts a…

Project phase, organisation size and specialisation

A friend shared this great analogy* for how teams work at different project phases. Early phase: Golfing Buddies (2-3 players) In the early phase of a project you and a partner or two (if you have any!) do all the work. You do a lot of your work together with quite a lot of crossover, share tools, might carry each…

Friction (2): emotional friction

This is a different kind of friction: the uncertainty, delay and discomfort that comes from lack of trust or understanding. Like bureaucratic or procedural friction, emotional friction slows us down and makes things more difficult than they need to be. It takes many guises: The extra time we spend second-guessing and explaining ourselves because we’re worried someone will take what…

Starting line

Where’s the starting line for your project? How good does someone need to be to… Work for you? Work with you? For you to work for them? What type of ‘good’ are you looking for? It’s highly likely that the best contractor / employee / partner / donor / customer isn’t simply the cheapest / most available / one with…

Taking the temperature

What do you do to keep an eye on how your team is doing – as individuals and a team? A less-structured meeting (or part of a regular meeting) can really help: a chance for everyone to check in, say what’s going well and what they’re struggling with, to let off steam, to ask for and offer help, to say…