Risk & Business Magazine Hardenbergh Magazine Fall 2019 - Page 11

PERFORMANCE REVIEWS W hen it comes to scaling a business, I believe that the most difficult part to scale is your people. You’re faced with two problems, bringing in more people that complement and enhance the team as well as maintaining a team culture that doesn’t break down when you hit critical mass. We’ve been really fortunate at Leverage. We started in August of 2015 with two people in New York and now we are a force to be reckoned with, with over 100 people in 16 time-zones. We always have an eye on team culture — I wrote a WHOLE article on some of our hacks for that — and on our ability to give constructive feedback that effects change. There are dozens of startups now that offer products and services to facilitate performance reviews, 360 reviews, peer to peer reviews, OKR meetings, etc… but in a world where organizations are getting flatter and continuing to grow (no one in our company has a title) it becomes more and more difficult to identify and recognize a job well done or provide guidance. I want to share our three-pronged approach to nurturing the members of our team through constant feedback. 1) PERFORMANCE REVIEWS About nine months into the operations of the company we decided we should create some formal process for reviewing performance over the quarter and set goals for the next one. We came up with some questions and had each team member book a 10-minute video call with me, one on one. I would ask them about their goals for the quarter and things they could improve on, I’d take notes in Evernote, and then I would decide whether or not that person should get a a raise and/or level up to the next rank. It was time intensive, overly subjective, unscalable, and completely incongruent with how we do everything else. So we changed it to a version that, from the outside seems less personal, but has our DNA written all over it. Every quarter we have an automation through Zapier which posts messages to our team Slack channel asking them to fill out a Wufoo form for their quarterly review. Seems impersonal right? Autonomy is one of our core values and scalability is part of everything we do. Filling out the form is at Ari Meisel is a best-selling author, productivity expert, CEO, real estate developer, green building consultant, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business. His proprietary process, the Less Doing System, is the foundation of his company Less Doing which offers individuals and enterprises road-tested methods to optimize, automate, and outsource everything. The goal is to learn how to work smarter, instead of harder. LESSDOING.COM the option of the teammate, if they don’t fill it out then they can’t get a raise or be promoted. When they do fill it out, they answer a specific set of questions, including their goal for how many hours they want to do over the next quarter. All of these entries go into a Trello board, in a list for the current quarter. Then at the end of the month, the managers can review all of the submissions, discuss for a few minutes, and make a decision. We then share that with each person individually and on if they want to, do we schedule a one on one video call. Last quarter three people requested a follow up conversation. 2) TASK REVIEWS This started out as a way for me to quality control on tasks. We asked that once every two weeks each team member book a call with me to go over their current tasks, identify any issues, and answer questions. In order to keep this scalable we used Calendly to book the calls and they have a really cool option which is a Group Meeting. You can allow as many people as you want to book a single time slot. It will continue to show that slot as available until you hit the limit that you set. Sometimes the call would be with five people, but more often it was three or less. Recently these evolved from talking about tasks to a simple opportunity to connect on a nearly one on one basis with members of the team in a mini-mastermind. They could give feedback and get feedback and guidance. 3) BONUS PROCESS From a behavioral economics view, this was one of our most interesting innovations. One of our key performance metrics as a team is the number of hours we do in a given week and it’s on the order of hundreds of hours. For every hundred hours we do as a team, a bonus is issued to a VA. So if we do 800 hours one week, eight VAs will get a bonus. That bonus, is 40 percent of whatever you made that week. This incentivizes more hours as well as overall improvement to earn a higher hourly rate. It’s worked extremely well for us but recently we upped the game. The new bonus structure is still based on the number of hours we do each week but now there’s a twist. Now each week the VAs who feel they’ve earned a bonus have to fill out a Wufoo form, checking off the boxes of the core values they feel they exemplified and then explain why. This pushes them to bring their achievements to my attention, I can give specific praise and in the case they don’t get the bonus, feedback. Now in order to prevent them from submitting a request every week, we scale their bonus based on how often they apply and actually get it. So now the top-level bonus will be a full match, 100 percent whatever they made that week but if they submit for the bonus four times and only get it twice, then they will get 50 percent of the bonus. + THESE THREE METHODS MAKE OUR ABILITY TO SHINE A LIGHT ON OUR TEAMMATES, PROVIDE FEEDBACK, GUIDANCE, AND OF COURSE PRAISE, COMPLETELY SCALABLE AND QUANTIFIABLE. 11