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Managing by Fear

Managing by Fear
I think one of the most important things I can do as a leader of a company like Menlo is to pump fear out of the room. Fear is the grand demotivator. If I’m operating completely from one end of the day to the other, one end of the week to the other in fear, it doesn’t matter how much other motivation there can be, my mind is elsewhere. My mind is in a different place. So by systematically pumping fear out of the room as a leader, I can keep people in that creative spot. Where they’re actually enjoying teamwork and trust and collaboration. And getting to inventiveness and invention and imagination. So, how do we do that at Menlo?
How do we get that fear out of the room? Well, one thing we do is make everything obvious. We transparently put the work plans up on the wall. And we day by day measure the progress with these little colorful sticky dots on all the cards. So, everybody knows at any given moment, are we ahead or are we behind? A lot of times the demotivation factor is when you wake up one day, months into a project and you realize, I’m two months behind and now I can’t catch up.
But at Menlo you’re finding out, sometimes hour by hour, how am I doing, and the neat thing about our system is, if you and I are working together and we get behind, there might be another team sitting right next to us that’s getting ahead and their motivation is to reach over to us and say, can we help? Can we take one of the pieces off of your task list this week and move it into our lane because we can see you’re struggling.
So I think one of the ways we stay motivated even when we’re falling behind is to realize we’re surrounded by a team of people whose job it is to take the overarching goal for the entire team this week and say it’s our job together to get this thing over the finish line. And sometimes the whole team misses. But when a whole team misses together, they feel the pain. I mean, there’s a moment where everybody feels disappointed in themselves but when it’s a group disappointment, rather then oh we found the guy. The one person who’s behind. Right, the typical Monday morning status meeting where we say, oh thank goodness, you know.
Joe’s behind and I’m not as far behind as Joe is. We’re not singling out individuals when we’re getting behind. It’s a sense the team says where we own the work together.
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