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15Five's High-Growth CEO Handbook Part 2

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Learn the fundamentals of steady and sustainable growth – everything from maximizing meetings, using data, scaling culture and coaching employees.

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15Five's High-Growth CEO Handbook Part 2

  1. 1. 15Five’s HIGH-GROWTH CEO Handbook
  2. 2. 11 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM CHAPTER 4. MAXIMIZE YOUR MEETING ROI Are you holding a weekly growth meeting with your executive team or directors? What’s your process around that? Judging by average salaries of director level and above, your growth meeting is the most expensive hour of the workweek. You could be spending $50k or more on growth meetings each year, so you need a plan. Brian Balfour is former VP of Growth at Hubspot, and the founder and CEO of Reforge. So he knows a thing or two about growth meetings. In this essay, Brian discusses several valuable strategies for powerful leadership sessions. Brian advises getting the team attached to initiatives that will have the most impact. High impact initiatives come from continually learning about your product, channels, and customers and testing ideas against those learnings. The challenge is that most learnings end up living in silos among individuals or teams. If they live in silos, others can’t apply those learnings to their work. If they aren’t applying learnings to their work, they aren’t going to work on the most impactful items. The meeting’s focus is on extracting, discussing, and applying the learnings across the team. Of course that strategy won’t work unless you have tactics to help facilitate productive meetings. Our friend and advisor Dave Kashen, CEO of WorkLife (Now Cisco Spark) shares this advice to make meetings more productive and engaging: What decisions do we need to make, and how will we make them? In most meetings, people talk in circles because it’s not clear what decisions they are actually trying to make. Even when it is clear what decision you’re making, it’s often not clear how it will be made. Are you going to just discuss the topic for 20 minutes and then sense where the group is heading? Majority vote? Leader decides? For each topic, spend a few minutes up front determining the decision you need to make and the rules you’ll use to make it. Then spend a few minutes at the end making sure you a have clear agreement about whether a consensus was reached or not. Who will do what and by when? How many times have you walked out of a meeting with a bunch of ideas and potential next steps whirling around your head, but without real clarity about what you’re supposed to do and when? For each project or topic, make sure you have the conversation to determine exactly who is going to perform which specific action items, and when those action items are expected to be completed. This one conversation can make the difference between an entirely useless meeting, and concrete changes like increased revenue, product improvements, or increased levels of customer satisfaction.
  3. 3. 12 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM CHAPTER 5. USE DATA TO GUIDE DECISIONS We live in a magical time, when technology can give us insights into just about every aspect of a business. We can make educated data-driven decisions instead of playing guessing games with our businesses. The downside is that we can become addicted to data and over-reliant upon it. We get caught up in dashboards, numbers, and charts — trends that go up and down. These numbers are created by the activities of front-line employees. The managers who evaluate those numbers are often 4 or 5 degrees removed from the people who actually influence those metrics. We look at a dip or rise in revenue and make assumptions and conclusions. We might applaud a boost in revenue without realizing that it was a short-term fluke, the result of cutting off a product that could have resulted in 5x growth six months from now. One practice that has helped SIlicon Valley giants like Google and Salesforce grow tremendously, as well as other Fortune 500 companies, is OKRs or Objectives and Key Results. This practice allows you to metricize employee performance. At the end of every quarter, managers from top to bottom have performance data on the highest priority tasks for the entire organization. Here’s how the system works: 1) The company sets 3-5 objectives for the year and for each quarter. 2) Each team sets 3-5 objectives that are aligned with the ones leadership sets for the company. 3) Employees set their own personal objectives and key results that align with the team and company objectives. 4) Employees and managers gain mutual agreement on set OKRs as either stretch goals that are not easily achievable and are not tied to yearly performance evaluations, or as goals that are intended to be finished. 5) Make OKRs transparent throughout the company so that everyone sees the bigger picture and can hold each other accountable. 6) Employees evaluate their key results by scoring the percentage of completion throughout each quarter. Pro Tip Key results must be measurable. For example, 5 new blog posts published by the end of the month, or a 20% month-over-month lift in trials by end of Q2. The 15Five system (simply called Objectives), allows employees to track the progress of key results each week. The percentage completion of each objective under which those key results are nested, will then update automatically. See the screen-capture below for an example:
  4. 4. 13 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM These numbers can influence any or all of the following: • Annual review conversations • Compensation evaluations • Assessments of whether to hire support • Objectives for the coming quarter • Employee coaching • Learnings for other teams The other half of analyzing metrics involves listening to employees to hear a story more subtle and complex than the numbers alone can convey. For example, a company can look at a 50% completion of an employee objective to increase sales by $50,000 in Q1. Take a step back to look at the quality of demos that were done or the number of customer phone calls. Was productivity low? Take another step back and find out why.
  5. 5. 14 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM Quantitative analysis is beneficial because data can clue managers to potential problems. If production is down or customer complaints are on the rise, that is your cue to find out more. But you get blindsided when you don’t know the whole story and quantitative data can’t always get you to the bottom of an issue. What you do with the weekly updates on performance data matters most. OKRs provide an at-a- glance pulse check for managers, a cue to ask some qualitative questions to see what is occurring in an employee’s professional or personal experience. Once that information is surfaced, managers can offer support or coaching. Time and again, companies that hold transparency high as a value have proven in many situations to avoid costly and dangerous disasters. It is far better to see problems coming than to scramble to deal with the fallout after the fact, through extra pain, extra work, retrenching or even losing the business. To paraphrase the Scottish poet Andrew Lang, don’t use data as a drunken man uses a lamp post – for support rather than illumination. Without supplementing the numbers with context, you are just guessing about the future of your company. Start asking questions now or give up the opportunity to create a company of thriving individuals and financial success that endures for years.
  6. 6. 15 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM CHAPTER 6. SCALING CULTURE As your business matures and your revenue streams become healthier, your team will inevitably grow. This can be an exciting time in your business. However, there are growth pains and a deteriorating culture can be one of the most dangerous. From communication between office sites, or helping a dozen new hires mesh with your team, growth can have an impact on culture. As your small business or startup scales, your culture needs to scale, too. Create Your Why To figure out your overarching company culture, you first have to define the Why behind the company. We’ve worked hard to figure out our Why: To create the space for people to become their greatest selves. We develop our product, work with our customers, and design our business processes with that goal in mind. Live & Breathe Your Values Once you have a clear mission in mind it’s time to create your list of core values. Some of 15Five’s values like “cultivate health and vitality” or “always be learning and growing” will likely never be forgotten by the team. Employees embody them by freely sharing articles and books on a variety of business topics or personal growth. There are a couple of other values, however, whose essence may not be so top-of-mind every day. They warrant more conversation and discussion on a semi-regular basis. We make it a point to remind ourselves and thus continuously discoverwherewemightbemisalignedorwhere we’re truly excelling collectively. You can’t force someone to adopt your company’s culture, but you can lead by example and openly discuss core values at every opportunity. Regularly ask your entire team, “What’s a way you’ve lived one of our core values this week?” And by sharing your own answer, you can demonstrate that they are relevant for everyone. Some people may cheat and visit the values page on our website, but I am okay with that. My main concern is not for employees to memorize the values. I want each employee to see how self-directed activities fit into the cultural statements of the company. Did an engineer “maximize his zone of genius” by learning and implementing a new coding strategy? Did our customer success manager “dare to dream” by reaching out to the biggest potential customer to date? Questions implicitly ask employees to think about the lifeblood of your culture and the road you’re taking in striving toward your purpose. The continued conversation brings the values to life, establishing powerful drivers for the way that you show up individually and as a company.
  7. 7. 16 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM CHAPTER 7. COACHING & MENTORSHIP The most successful company leaders are growth oriented people who know how to listen. In Q4 of 2015, Alex Turnbull, CEO of the fast paced startup Groove began working with a growth coach, along with the other 3 members of his leadership team. The team answered lengthy questionnaires and shared Groove’s strengths, weaknesses, strategies and vision. Here are some of the benefits they gained: • Accountability to someone outside the organization • Focus on the deeper meaning, the Why behind the company • Clarity on goals for the upcoming quarter • Team strengthening (this is particularly necessary for remote teams) • Setting company priorities with the following details: • Well-defined and measurable goals • Establishing ownership • What are the specific steps to achieve the goal? • Potential obstacles and how to overcome them Alex shared this nugget with us: As a CEO, if you don’t make time to learn and grow, you’re robbing yourself and your business. There isn’t a business problem that you’re dealing with that nobody has ever solved before. Before you try and brute force your way through every challenge, get help. Read. Talk to people more experienced than you are. Take on advisors and mentors. Spend time on growing yourself, and you’ll be surprised at how much more effectively you can grow your business. Of course, some managers don’t know where to begin when it comes to coaching and mentorship. A surefire way to save time and develop trust is to ask questions on a regular basis: Are there any obstacles you are facing and can I help? Looking back on the week, is there anything that could have gone better? What’s an action you can take next week to improve your overall performance? What would you like to learn that could help you in your role?
  8. 8. 17 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM When you respond with feedback that helps employees grow, you encourage greater openness and transparency. You can see where their challenges lie and help them help themselves to succeed. With barely enough time to get your own tasks completed, you may be tempted to just let challenged employees figure things out for themselves. But employees whither in overly stressful and unsupportive environments. Their performance will suffer or they will seek employment elsewhere. Balance the space you give them with letting them know that you are available when they get stuck. Find a way to mentor employees yourself, or leverage others at the company who have knowledge to impart. Pretty soon you will have a staff that is equipped to handle new tasks and responsibilities with confidence. They can train others as they step into more advanced roles and help up-level your entire organization.
  9. 9. 18 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM CONCLUSION I’ve interviewed over thirty executives and founders, who all have similar stumbling blocks on the path to sustainable growth. Hopefully I have addressed most of those pain points in this handbook. Itallbeginswithhiringright,notjustforcompetencybutalsoforculture-fit.Next,youmustbeintentional about the company culture that you create. Cultureis going to happen either way, so lead by example. The company’s purpose (or Why) and core values are the bedrock of the culture, but it’s much deeper than simply what you post up on your company’s wall or website. The true culture is an expression of what is actually valued, regardless of what’s written down. One way to assess the strength and alignment of a culture is to measure the difference between the stated values and the actual lived values. A good culture exists when the two are aligned, and it takes continuous steering to make sure the actual culture doesn’t drift away from the stated ideal. The next step is establishing open channels of communication. This is accomplished via technology so that the right information is passing seamlessly between the right people. But even the most sophisticated technology can’t substitute the values that company leaders establish and live. To encourage trust and transparency, you must be willing to share vulnerably with your team. Be grateful and responsive to feedback, even if it’s negative. Along the way, be driven by data but remember to check-in with your employees regularly to contextualize the numbers. Orient yourself towards personal and professional growth. Take time away from the desk to learn and grow, and encourage your team to do so as well. The world is evolving rapidly and new technologies or events can render your offering obsolete. By keeping ahead of changes and trends, you can innovate in ways that keep you ahead of your competition. ABOUT 15FIVE 15Five is a fundamentally new way for businesses to maximize their talent by creating a culture of feedback. Through a lightweight weekly check-in, 15Five delivers a full suite of integrated tools - including continuous employee feedback, objective tracking (OKRs), pulse surveys, and peer recognition. Over 1,100 companies worldwide use the platform to allow employees to self-reflect on successes and challenges, stay focused on key objectives, and get regular feedback from managers who support them in reaching their potential.
  10. 10. 19 • 15Five’s High-Growth CEO Handbook 15FIVE.COM SOURCES Web: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-number-of-unicorn-startups-worth-over-1-billion-explosive- growth-since-2009-2015-9 http://fortune.com/2016/03/07/fast-growth-companies-fail/ https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/31/tech-valuations-in-2016-the-end-of-the-line-for-sloppy-growth/ http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail aspx?sd=12/13/2012&id=pr730&ed=12/31/2012 http://socialmedia.typepad.com/blog/2008/04/keynote-david-s.html https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2014/09/workplace-competitions-for-collaboration-gp.html https://www.15five.com/blog/productive-meetings/ http://www.coelevate.com/essays/learning-and-impact-over-ideas-and-activity http://www.coelevate.com/essays/growth-meeting https://www.groovehq.com/blog/hiring-a-business-coach Books: The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Steven M.R. Covey Image Credits: Olivier Carré-Delisle, https://www.flickr.com/photos/84593672@N05/10141810486/

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