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Creating Space for People to Be Awesome


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Talk I gave at Highland Fling Sessions (19 April 2014) where I was asked to talk about people management & diversity "in the trenches" -- i.e. what really matters day-to-day, in the workplace.

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Creating Space for People to Be Awesome

  1. 1. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   People,  Careers  &  Diversity  In  The   Trenches:     CREATING  SPACE  FOR     PEOPLE  TO  BE  AWESOME   Highland  Fling:  Sessions   Edinburgh,  19  April  2014  
  2. 2. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   hNp://  
  3. 3. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   WE  ALL  HATE  BAD  BOSSES     WE  DESCRIBE  THEM  AS   •  Clueless   •  Empty  suits   •  Pointless   •  Seagulls  
  4. 4. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   hNps://  
  5. 5. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   GOOD  MANAGERS  ARE  BULLSHIT   UMBRELLAS.       BUT  THEY  ARE  ALSO  A  LOT  MORE   THAN  THAT.    
  6. 6. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   TradiZonal  management  beliefs  are   a  pile  of  crap   hNp://  
  7. 7. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   WHAT  DOES  WORK?   Sooo….  
  8. 8. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Across  industries,   across  countries,  the   best  performing  teams   answer  certain   quesZons  posiZvely  
  9. 9. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Predictors  of  High  Performance   1.  Do  I  know  what  is  expected  of  me  at  work?   2.  Do  I  have  the  materials  &  equipment  I  need  to  do  my  work  right?   3.  At  work,  do  I  have  the  opportunity  to  do  what  I  do  best  every  day?   4.  In  the  last  7  days,  have  I  received  recogniZon  or  praise  for  good  work?   5.  Does  my  supervisor,  or  someone  at  work,  seem  to  care  about  me  as  a  person?   6.  Is  there  someone  at  work  who  cares  about  my  development?   7.  At  work,  do  my  opinions  seem  to  count?   8.  Does  the  mission/purpose  of  my  company  make  me  feel  like  my  work  is  important?     9.  Are  my  co-­‐workers  commiNed  to  doing  quality  work?   10.  Do  I  have  a  best  friend  at  work?   11.  In  the  last  6  months,  have  I  talked  with  someone  about  my  development?   12.  At  work,  have  I  had  opportuniZes  to  learn  and  grow?  
  10. 10. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  11. 11. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   UNDERSTAND   MOTIVATION   •  Purpose   •  Autonomy   •  Mastery  
  12. 12. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   MOTIVATION  =   +  PURPOSE          (Do  I  believe  in  WHY?)     +  AUTONOMY        (Do  I  get  a  say  in  WHAT?)     +  MASTERY        (Am  I  proud  of  HOW?)     -­‐  ANY  NEGATIVE  FACTORS  THAT  DETRACT  
  13. 13. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Predictors  of  High  Performance  (remix)   PURPOSE   •  Does  the  mission/purpose  of   my  company  make  me  feel   like  my  work  is  important?     AUTONOMY   •  Do  I  know  what  is  expected  of   me  at  work?   •  At  work,  do  my  opinions   seem  to  count?     MASTERY   •  Do  I  have  the  materials  &  equipment  I  need  to  do  my   work  right?   •  At  work,  do  I  have  the  opportunity  to  do  what  I  do   best  every  day?   •  Is  there  someone  at  work  who  cares  about  my   development?   •  Are  my  co-­‐workers  commiNed  to  doing  quality  work?   •  In  the  last  6  months,  have  I  talked  with  someone   about  my  development?   •  At  work,  have  I  had  opportuniZes  to  learn  and  grow?    
  14. 14. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   And  What  Else?   OTHER  FACTORS:   •  In  the  last  7  days,  have  I  received  recogniZon  or  praise  for  good  work?   •  Does  my  supervisor,  or  someone  at  work,  seem  to  care  about  me  as  a  person?   •  Do  I  have  a  best  friend  at  work?   ESSENTIALLY,  AM  I  RESPECTED  &  REWARDED  HERE?     CAN  I  BE  MYSELF  AND  SUCCEED  HERE?     I  CALL  THIS  INCLUSION.    
  15. 15. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   CREATE  SPACE  FOR  YOUR  PEOPLE   TO  BE  THE  BEST  THEY  CAN  BE   Your  job  as  a  manager…    
  16. 16. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   FIND  &  SHAPE  SPACE  WHERE  YOU   CAN  BE  THE  BEST  YOU  CAN  BE   Maybe  you’re  not  a  manager.  As  an  individual,  you   need  to…  
  17. 17. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   As  An  Individual,  Ask  Yourself   •  Do  I  believe  in  WHY  we  are  doing  this   work?     •  How  can  I  shape  WHAT  we/I  do  here?     •  How  am  I  genng  beNer  at  HOW  I  do   things?     •  Do  I  BELONG  HERE?     (PURPOSE)     (AUTONOMY)   (MASTERY)     (INCLUSION)      
  18. 18. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   As  A  Manager,  Ask  Yourself   •  Do  my  people  know  WHY  we  are  doing   this?       •  Do  my  people  get  a  say  in  the  WHAT?  In   doing  the  right  thing?   •  Do  my  people  get  opportuniZes  to  do  the   thing  right?  And  to  get  beNer  at  the  HOW?   •  Do  we  do  a  good  job  of  making  all  our   different  people  feel  included  &  like  they   BELONG  HERE?     (PURPOSE)     (AUTONOMY)     (MASTERY)     (INCLUSION)        
  19. 19. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   SO  WHAT’S  NEEDED?  
  20. 20. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  21. 21. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   PROTECT  PURPOSE     BE  A  TRANSLATOR  –  MAKE  PURPOSE,   STRATEGY  &  DIRECTION  MAKE  SENSE     CONNECT  WHAT  PEOPLE  ARE  DOING  (AND   CAN  DO!)  TO  OVERALL  IMPORTANT   PURPOSE  
  22. 22. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   ENABLE  AUTONOMY  &  MASTERY   Skills/Knowledge Direction
  23. 23. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Skills/Knowledge Direction Know what to do, don’t have all the skills to do it Know what to do and equipped to do it Got skills, need direction Huh? Where are we? What are we doing? CLUE  /  SKILLS  MATRIX  
  24. 24. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  25. 25. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   hNp://  
  26. 26. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  27. 27. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   hNp://  
  28. 28. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   SKILL  DEVELOPMENT     Unconscious Incompetent Conscious Incompetent Conscious Competent Unconscious Competent
  29. 29. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  30. 30. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   DELIBERATE  PRACTICE   •  You  must  be  moKvated  to  aNend  to  the  task  and  exert  effort  to  improve   your  performance.     •  The  design  of  the  task  should  take  into  account  your  pre-­‐exisKng   knowledge  so  that  the  task  can  be  correctly  understood  aper  a  brief   period  of  instrucZon.     •  You  should  receive  immediate  informaKve  feedback  and  knowledge  of   results  of  your  performance.     •  You  should  repeatedly  perform  the  same  or  similar  tasks.  
  31. 31. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   IS  YOUR  WORK  DESIGNED  IN  A  WAY   THAT  MAKES  IT  EFFECTIVE  DELIBERATE   PRACTICE?   Ask  yourself…  
  32. 32. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   SWEAT  THE  “SMALL”  STUFF   Autonomy,  mastery  &  purpose  can’t  overrule  or   compensate  for  poor  tools  /  environment  /  lack  of   inclusion  /  lack  of  caring  forever  
  33. 33. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   CULTIVATING  INCLUSION   •  If  you’ve  got  Purpose,  Autonomy  &  Mastery,   then  what  else  maNers?   •  Making  sure  that  all  different  kinds  of  people   are  able  to  succeed  as  themselves,   authenZcally,  is  what  culZvaZng  inclusion  is   about.    
  34. 34. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   LET’S  QUICKLY   DIGRESS   BEFORE  WE   CONTINUE  
  35. 35. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   I’m  A  Bit  of  a  Diversity  StaZsZc   q  Woman…   q  Gay…   q  Foreign…   q  Employed  (this  is  a  bad  thing  if  you’re  foreign…)   q  MulZ-­‐lingual   q  Disabled…   q  Atheist…     q  BUT  grew  up  hugely  aware  of  (unasked  &  undeserved)  privilege  I  had   growing  up  white  in  Apartheid  South  Africa.  
  36. 36. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   My  childhood     was  FULL  of     signs  like  these   Horrible  &  horrific   but  impossible   to  escape  
  37. 37. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   I  CANNOT  DENY  THAT  PRIVILEGE   In  fact,  the  most  useful  thing  I  can  do  is  assess,   understand  &  acknowledge  that  privilege  
  38. 38. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager       Check  out  the  original  arZcle  from  Peggy  McIntosh:   hNp://     In  Apartheid  South  Africa,   ALL  systems  were  set  up  to   acZvely  &  blatantly  give   advantage  to  white  folks  and   disadvantage  non-­‐whites.     We  are  less  good  at  sponng   this  when  it  isn’t  so  blatant.      
  39. 39. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager  
  40. 40. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   “We  have  to  aggressively,  and   uncompromisingly,  aNack  the  pernicious  lie  that   the  technology  industry  is  a  meritocracy.   PerpetuaZng  this  myth  only  serves  to  bolster  the   egos  of  those  who  have  succeeded  already,  at   the  expense  of  saying  that  people  who  are   underrepresented  in  tech  today  aren’t  present   because  they  aren’t  good”    –  Anil  Dash  
  41. 41. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   NOT  DISCRIMINATING  IS   IMPORTANT   Legally,  if  nothing  else  
  42. 42. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   BUT  TOLERANCE  IS  A   TERRIBLE  WORD   Would  YOU  want  to  be  tolerated?  
  43. 43. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   WOULDN’T  A  FULLY   INCLUSIVE  ENVIRONMENT   BE  BETTER?   PROTIP:  Helps  Everyone!  
  44. 44. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Diversity  is  a  Spectrum   AcZve  hatred  &     discriminaZon  (*isms)   Micro     aggressions   Indifference   AcZve  inclusion   Tolerance  
  45. 45. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   “A  micro-­‐aggression  is   telling  young  boys  that   they  are  very  smart,  and   telling  young  girls  that   they  are  very  pre(y.  ”     -­‐  Faruk  Ates  @kurafire  
  46. 46. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   So  How  Do  We  Move  Right  Way?   1.  STOP  allowing  underprivileged  groups  to  be  pushed   away       (ac,vely/deliberately  OR  passively/uninten,onally)   2.  START  building  acZvely  inclusive  environments  
  47. 47. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Some  Things  That  Work…   (some  of  these  surprised  me)  
  48. 48. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Reduce  Fear   Increasing  opportuniZes  is  worthy  &  important.       But  reducing  fear  is  equally  so.       (Zps:  reduce  impact  of  failure,  risk  of  humiliaZon,   acknowledge  risk  IS  DIFFERENT  for  those  in   underprivileged  groups)  
  49. 49. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   hNp://  
  50. 50. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   EDUCATE  YOURSELF  &  OTHERS   ABOUT  PRIVILEGE  &  IMPLICIT  BIAS   If  you  keep  doing  what  you  always  did,  you’ll  keep   genng  what  you  always  got  
  51. 51. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Privilege  101   The  number  one  thing  that  privilege  gives  you  is   a  belief  that  you  CAN.     (…  go  to  university  …  work  in  the  industry  you   want  …  marry  who  you  want  to  …  get  out  of  bed   each  morning…)     BELIEF  YOU  CAN  IS  A  PART  OF  PRIVILEGE.      
  52. 52. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Privilege  101   The  other  thing  that  privilege  convinces  you  of  is   that  you  are  there  because  of  your  skills  &   abiliZes.       BELIEF  YOUR  INNATE  SKILLS  GET  YOU  WHERE   YOU  ARE  IS  A  PART  OF  PRIVILEGE  TOO.      
  53. 53. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Implicit  Bias   Very  interesZng  Harvard  research  into  implicit   bias  –  we  don’t  realise  it,  are  not  ACTIVELY  but   rather  PASSIVELY  discriminaZng     There  is  a  site  with  tests  you  can  do  that  reveal   your  bias:  hNps://      
  54. 54. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Check  If  Systems  are  Loaded   Companies  that  assess  effecZveness  /  performance  and  then  AUTOMATE  pay   rises  based  on  this  tend  to  reduce  the  gender  pay  gap.       One  interpretaZon:   “Pitching  for  a  pay  rise”  inherently  favours  men,  who  tend  to  be  more   confident  in  their  abiliZes  and  more  comfortable  talking  up  their  results.     Shy/humble  guys  suffer  too.    
  55. 55. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Johnny  Clegg   They  taught  us  to  forget  our  past   And  live  the  future  in  their  image     …   They  said     “Learn  to  speak  a  li(le  bit  of  English,   Don’t  be  scared  of  a  suit  and  ,e.”   Learn  to  walk  in  the  dreams  of  the  foreigner.     I  am  a  third  world  child.  
  56. 56. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   MOST  ADVICE  READS  AS     “BE  MORE  LIKE  A  LOUD   STRAIGHT  CIS  AMERICAN  WHITE   GUY”   Finding  a  way  to  be  successful  and  sKll  be  yourself   is  important  
  57. 57. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Frame  Guidance  AltruisZcally   •  Advice  which  focuses  on  how  to  “do  beNer  for   yourself”  has  a  very  limited  appeal.    (a  la  “steal  more   pie”)     •  AltruisZc  advice  (a  la  “bake  more  pie”)  appeals  to  a   much  broader  audience  (including  non-­‐individualisZc   cultures…)  
  58. 58. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   When  We  Reframed  Networking…  
  59. 59. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   The  Most  Important  QuesZon   Best  predictor  of  recruitment  AND  retenZon?     Someone’s  ability  to  agree  with:     “Someone  like  me  can  be     successful  here”  
  60. 60. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   Role  Modeling  MaNers   •  When  a  woman  presents/represents  at   recruitment  events,  more  women  apply   •  When  you  present  a  monoculture,  people   make  assumpZons  you  won’t  like  
  61. 61. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   “Did  You  Always  Know  You  Wanted   to  Be  So  Senior?”     Men  leaders  tend  to  say:   “Yes,  I  always  knew  I  could  do  more.”   Women  leaders  tend  to  say:   “No,  but  my  mentors  believed  in  me,  and  I  trusted  they  were   right.”  
  62. 62. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   TELL  THE  PEOPLE  YOU  BELIEVE  IN  THAT   YOU  BELIEVE  IN  THEM  –  THAT  THEIR   SKILLS  &  THEIR  CONTRIBUTIONS  ARE   VALUABLE   If  You  Only  Do  ONE  Thing  Differently  
  63. 63. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   As  much  as  40%  becer     Much  energy  is  spent   if  you  have  to  hide   your  private  life,  or   pretend  to  be   something  you’re  not  
  64. 64. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   PAY  ATTENTION  TO  ENERGY   Positive High Low Negative SHINEWHINE toast coast
  65. 65. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   CARE    ABOUT     PEOPLE   And  the  Most  Important  Thing…  
  66. 66. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   SPACE  TO  BE  AWESOME  =     +  PURPOSE          (Do  I  believe  in  WHY?)     +  AUTONOMY        (Do  I  get  a  say  in  WHAT?)     +  MASTERY        (Am  I  proud  of  HOW?)   +  INCLUSION        (Do  I  BELONG  HERE?)     -­‐  ANY  NEGATIVE  FACTORS  THAT  DETRACT    
  67. 67. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager   GO!     FIND/SHAPE/MAKE  SPACE     BE  AWESOME   BE  INCLUSIVE     And  thank  you  for  listening  J  Any  quesZons?  
  68. 68. Meri  Williams,  ChromeRose                            @Geek_Manager