With 20+ years of HR experience, Joanna Luth knows a thing or two about company culture. Joanna offers an in-depth look at the often grazed over uniquely human elements of company culture, such as vulnerability, transparency, and trust. Her combined business expertise and deep understanding of people has given her the skillset to help organizations radically transform their company culture – “People First, Employees Second.”
Chief People Officer
In her role as Chief People Officer, Joanna leads the people strategy and execution for Intradiem. Prior to joining Intradiem, she served as the Vice President of Human Resources for both eVestment Alliance, as well as Aptean, Inc. With over 15 years of human resources experience, she focuses on aligning a people strategy to support organizational goals. Areas of her expertise include: organizational design and development, leadership development, talent acquisition, employee engagement and development, benefits and compensation strategy, acquisition integration and cultural transformation. Joanna received her undergraduate degree (B.A.) from NYU and her graduate degree (M.A.T.S.) from Claremont School of Theology.
Intradiem is the market leader in contact center robotic process automation (RPA). The patented platform delivers a proven approach for automating currently manual management processes. Through automation, Intradiem enables contact centers to effectively reduce cost and increase employee engagement in industries including financial services, telecommunications, insurance, and healthcare.
The Leader in Contact Center RPA
We enable leaders to revolutionize their centers with innovation. Our customers must masterfully respond to the unpredictable nature of their environment each and every day. With real-time automation, they bring harmony to their call centers.
Servant’s Heart – We are inspired to create a better world by living a culture of service to each other, to our customers and to our community.
Craftsman’s Attitude – We are accountable for our results and our behaviours, taking pride in what we do and how we do it. We strive to be self-aware and open to learning so we can be better every day.
Revolutionary Spirit – We approach every day with thoughtful urgency, energy and passion to add value by challenging the norm and innovating new ways of doing.
From the Podcast Booth:
Series Quick Links
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals and company culture aficionados the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.
Series: Culture Experts
Josh Sweeney: Hello fellow culturists, and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. Today is part of our culture experts series. I have Joanna Luth, the chief people officer of Intradiem in today. Welcome.
Joanna Luth: Thank you.
Josh Sweeney: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
Introducing Joanna Luth with Intradiem
Joanna Luth: Sure. I’m going to start with Intradiem. The company has been around since 1995. When they were first created, it was known as Knowlagent. We had a vision to provide bite size training to call center agents. And our patented technology did that. It delivered real time training so folks wouldn’t have to be scheduled to be off the phone, call centers wouldn’t have to double schedule staff, just delivering it in real time to make that process more efficient. Over the years, both the company and the product have evolved to offer additional ways to improve employee engagement and to automate manual processes. And along the way, we’ve rebranded ourselves to Intradiem.
Joanna Luth: Today, our robotic process automation platform enables companies to increase operating efficiencies to improve agent engagement, and to have a positive impact on the customer experience. I joined Intradiem in September of 2018, so I’m still relatively new, but I’m super excited to be at this company. I was hired because we realized that great products can be copied and great service can be copied. But what can’t be copied is great people, and that’s our strategy. That’s our long game, to focus on our people, to help them be the best that they can be. I have over 20 years of HR experience, and I’m excited to be focused on building an infrastructure that can support our long-term strategy of focusing on our people.
Josh Sweeney: Awesome, so jumping into that experience.
Joanna Luth: Yeah.
Working With People
Josh Sweeney: I looked through your LinkedIn profile, lots of experience, great companies. You also, I believe, have a degree in theology.
Joanna Luth: I do.
Josh Sweeney: How does that factor into working with people?
Joanna Luth: I’m so glad you asked me that because one of my most memorable roles was working as a youth minister, which I had the luxury of doing for three and a half year. Not a lot of people in liberal arts actually get to use their degree. So in that role, I was working with all these hormonal kids. I adore teenagers. People think I’m weird for that, but it is the time in their life where they are trying to figure out who they are and just how to be because they want to be seen and heard and accepted. Right? That role was one that had some level of authority, but I wasn’t a parent, and I wasn’t a friend.
Joanna Luth: And so it was in that role that I had to learn how to communicate with honesty and transparency and kindness and grace. And when I look back at that opportunity, it was focusing on the kids and focusing on that parents, and helping them be the best they could be in relationship with each other. It really shaped who I am as a human resources professional. It was the best experience to guide me where I am today. And it’s the experience that I carry with me when I think about what culture should look like in corporate America.
Theology And Youth Ministry
Josh Sweeney: When you started working with the youth at that point, was this while you were getting your degree? Was it after? At what point in your life was this?
Joanna Luth: It was after. I got my degree, I was 22 or 23, and went into youth ministry when I was 28.
Josh Sweeney: Okay. And tell us a little bit about, just as background, what all is involved in a theology degree.
Joanna Luth: Oh, goodness.
Josh Sweeney: Give us the broad strokes of a theology degree.
Joanna Luth: Yeah. I’ll tell you briefly. I went in to actually become an ordained minister. That is a certain program. It’s called an M-Div. You go through two to three years of comprehensive scriptural study. I had specific denomination focus as well to learn about how my denomination operated and governed and all those sorts of things. I had every intention of becoming an ordained minister.
Degree In Theology
Josh Sweeney: Interesting.
Joanna Luth: At the time, I was also going through my feminist crisis, which for me … And I say feminist crisis, I’m a feminist 100%. But at the time, I was really struggling with patriarchy and power and oppression and things that I don’t believe are a part of faith. And so I switched degrees to what’s called the master of arts and theological studies. I loved that because I could still study scripture, which I love that from an intellectual perspective. And I studied history and I looked at how religion shaped politics in society over the years. And so it was two years of really awesome research back in the day when they still had microfiche. People don’t know what that is today.
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Joanna Luth: And I wrote a thesis and went through qualifying to get my degree.
Josh Sweeney: Awesome.
Joanna Luth: Yeah.
The People Skillset
Josh Sweeney: Moving forward, how do you think that factored into … How do you think that factored into … I mean, obviously you love dealing with people at the core. You’ve always done it. Religion, theology, all of that, there’s a lot of aspects of bringing people together and working with them across the board. How’d you make the leap into people, HR?
Joanna Luth: Actually, I started in HR before becoming a youth minister. And it was like any job finding opportunity. It’s all about timing and a little bit of luck. I started working in law firms back in the late ’90s. And I was hired as an administrative assistant. Now I responded to an ad in the AJC. We don’t do print ads for jobs anymore either. And I started out supporting the executive director of the firm. And again, over time she just said, “Hey. You’re doing great at doing X, Y, and Z. What do you think about taking on temporary staffing and recruiting and hiring and how we do our workforce shifting?” So it just grew, and over time, over 20 years you find the right opportunities where people are willing to say, “Hey. You’re really bright. Let me show you what we need to think about and how we think about our people.” The technical skillset for me was trained on the job. The people skillset, I think is something that I’ve always been passionate about.
Person First, Employee Second
Joanna Luth: When I think about culture at Intradiem, I have a personal mantra. It’s my personal brand. It’s person first, employee second. For a long time, earlier in my career, I thought, “I’ve got to check my life at the door because they pay me to be here. And I need to focus. And this is what it’s about.” And it worked a little bit. But ultimately, we bring our whole selves to work every day. And I will tell you, I don’t bring my best self every day. Sometimes I’ve had insomnia the night before. Sometimes I’ve got something going on with one of my kids. Sometimes I’m under stress because of the work that’s going on. And what I encourage our managers to do and our leaders to do is think about person first, employee second.
The Power In Naming Things
Joanna Luth: I have the good fortune of working with folks where I can say, “Hey. I’m under stress today.” Or, “I didn’t sleep well last night, so my brain isn’t as great as it could be.” And by naming that, it requires me to be vulnerable. But I’m in an environment where I trust that I can be vulnerable. And once it’s named, that person I’m working with understands my frame. And I can either then set it aside, because often there’s power in naming things, and then you can let it go. Or if I can’t set it aside, at least they know where I am, and they work with me with a different approach that day, that moment, that project.
Joanna Luth: People know when they walk into my office. They can tell if I’m under stress. And they react differently to me because when I’m under stress, I’m not the greatest at modifying my behavior and being open and being flexible. When I’m not under stress, I can do that. I can afford that gift to other people. How do you greet the person where they are? Accept that wholeness and work through it and with it instead of demanding perfection every day. That’s not reality.
Skillset In Prioritising Others
Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. It definitely strikes home because we do a lot of behavior assessments, personality assessments, and things like that. One of the questions we always get is, well, not only how accurate it is. But what if I’m feeling different and take it tomorrow? It’s like, well, these have been studied for decades. They don’t adapt based on your feeling each day. But a lot of them have scores of your natural behavior, where you go when you’re stressed, how you naturally react, versus that learned behavior. Like you said, if I’m feeling a lot better that day, my learned behavior comes up a little more. Maybe I’m a little more open. I’m a little more empathetic, whatever it might be. Whereas when we’re stressed, we go into that other space, and that’s where that conflict starts to happen.
Joanna Luth: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: Because people don’t know maybe the real us in some cases.
Joanna Luth: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: If you haven’t been stressed around them enough and things like that.
Joanna Luth: And it’s important too to have the skillset to think about others. Oftentimes at work we’re like, “Oh, this project has to get done. Here’s this timeline. Here’s this deliverable.” And yes, all of that is good work that must be done. But if I come in, and I’m just trying to drill on you for something we need to do, and you’re under stress, then shame on me. I need to be able to say, “Oh, Josh, you seem like you’re under stress today. What’s going on? Is there any flexibility? How do we work together? How do we get through this?” Or is it a situation, if your dad is sick? Your dad is way more important than whatever deadline I have.
Be A Better Leader
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Joanna Luth: Right. You need to go be with him. It requires, as managers and leaders, that we are better managers and leaders, that we build into our project plans and our deadlines, I call them timeframes for failure. And failure’s a strong word, but I want to talk about that a little bit. That we work into, if you have a personal situation, we aren’t heart surgeons. No one’s going to die if you take the afternoon off. How do I plan in that, that might happen? How do I plan for those contingencies? Now, if we have no contingencies during a project, fantastic. We over deliver because we come in ahead of schedule. Right? But we’re dealing with people. We’re going to have things come up. And we need to be able to think more broadly about how to accommodate that as opposed to drive towards a deadline, period. Right? Can I bring up failure?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Yeah.
Joanna Luth: I love failure. Corporate America, in my experience, does not love failure.
Josh Sweeney: But they do it a lot.
Joanna Luth: Yeah. And how they react to it is-
The Explicit Word
Joanna Luth: Is the determining factor. Right? When I think about when I work with my managers and my leaders, the explicit word that I don’t allow is should. My employee should’ve known that. They should’ve done it differently. They should have been better. Should how? Did you do step by step training? If you did, if you have good documented processes because all of us do all of the time, and you can show me where you walked them through one through 10, and he still isn’t, and he’s not learned, okay, then maybe he should have. But I think about when I learned to ride a bike. I was not perfect. I fell off. I skinned my knees. I got my shoelaces caught in the chain.
Josh Sweeney: Only once or twice.
Joanna Luth: Only once or twice.
Learning From Failure
Josh Sweeney: And then you learned.
Joanna Luth: But each time you learn something, you’ve failed. And you learn something. You don’t say, “Wow. That’s terrible. I’m throwing the bike away and never riding it again.” It’s, well, let me recenter my balance. Let me shift my weight and try something a little different. Or let me wear long pants next time, so that when I fall, I’m not going to scrape my knees up. Or let me double tie my shoelaces, so they don’t get caught in the chain. How we learn from our failure is the key to success. And so what we’re working on at Intradiem is building in space to have it be accountable, not as a sword, not as, you failed, you’re out. But as, hey, you tried this. It didn’t work. What are we going to learn from that to do differently next time? Or what did we do so well that we want to replicate that and make that a scalable, repeatable process? That’s accountability, being responsible for the choices we made and either course correcting, or repeating, not a guillotine that says, “Oh, you tried something new. It failed, you’re out.”
Josh Sweeney: Because you crush innovation, nobody’s going to try anything new. There’s all kinds of adverse side effects to shutting that down.
Joanna Luth: Not even innovation, innovation is a component of one of our core values. But I think even more basically, like engagement in the workplace. I mentioned that I can state where I am when I’m not at my best because I trust my coworkers. I feel safe being vulnerable with them. Right now I’m totally hooked on this idea of psychological safety. If we don’t feel safe, we aren’t going to be honest. We’re going to be scared. If we don’t feel safe, we’re going to come in and do a job, as opposed to be our best selves and provide our best thought, and make ourselves the most productive. If we don’t feel safe, we don’t have the confidence to be the people we need to be, so I’m huge on creating safety for our people.
Fully Functioning Adult
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I mean, definitely if you’re not … Like you said, if you’re not in that safe space, then you think the guillotine, or the shoe, or whatever saying you want to use is going to drop at any moment, then there’s all kinds of adverse reactions, adverse side effects, you just show up, you do your job, you leave. You don’t raise your hand and say, “It can be done better.” You don’t want to take that risk, all kinds of challenges. I’m going to go back a little bit to the people factor around knowing whether people are in a good mindset that day or not. You’ve been in the people space for a long time. How do you start to differentiate between people need enough of a leeway, but not so much that they’re really just distracted and ineffective? Where do you see … There’s always kind of an upper and a lower bounds of supporting. But at some point, it’s so supportive, or they’re so distracted that they’re just not effective in the team.
Joanna Luth: Yep. There are a couple things that I would say play into that. I have a colleague who calls it being an FFA, a fully functioning adult. Yeah, I’m going to afford you grace, and the expectation is that you’re going to kick butt 110% on the days you can kick butt. And there’s a balance. I think that’s where if I have someone who repeatedly is not ready to be in the role, that’s a different discussion, so that it’s given based on that reciprocity and based on we know that you’re a team player. We know that you are capable, and you’re just having a rough day. If every day is a rough day, that’s a different discussion.
Fully Functioning Participant
Joanna Luth: It is going outside of the HR. When we look out our adulthood, I’m wanting to say society because I can’t even comment on that. But how many people are really fully functioning adults? How many people are self aware? How many people are able to draw their own boundaries, communicate what they need, and do it in a way that is, I’m going to use the word honest, but is also not … It’s about community. I could need things. I could need things, and I could tell my husband I could need things that might not work for our marriage. Right? That’s the bad kind of selfish, versus, hey I need a little downtime. Work was really rough today. All the kids need a lot of attention. Can I go draw a 20 minute boundary? And then I’ll come back and I’ll jump right in. How do you do it because none of us are working in isolation? It’s that balance of taking care of the individual, who then participates as an active, fully functioning participant in the community.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I like your description and kind of definitions or bounds around the fully functioning adult. A challenge I have based on that is it sounds like not many of us are. And maybe we are in certain situations, and other ones we really aren’t because I think there’s just certain things that they set people off, or they went through something at home, whatever it is, and some days you just don’t have your wits about you. And you’re not fully functioning at that point, I guess, because you’re blocked.
Joanna Luth: Right. And I think that’s where it circles back to awareness. Right?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Joanna Luth: Self awareness, other awareness. If you aren’t fully functioning today, but you are 98% of the time-
Josh Sweeney: Then you’re good to go.
Joanna Luth: Then I’m going to give you some grace, and I’m going to say, “Hey. Is there something we can do to work through this thing that’s an obstacle for you today?” It’s all relational. How we treat each other … We’ll see on Facebook: Why can’t people just be kind?
Find Your Tribe
Josh Sweeney: Because it’s complicated.
Joanna Luth: But it’s true. If we can treat people with kindness, that’s why I say person first. If I see who you are, if I build a relationship with you, the work we do will be better. If all I care about is the work, I’m never going to care if you’re a fully functioning adult. You’re not going to want to stick around. This is the thing about culture. You have to find your people. A lot of social media folks are talking about find your tribe, find your people. You’ve got to find your people. You’ve got to find the place where you can be authentic.
Find Your People
Joanna Luth: I have a friend who works at Amazon. She’s been there six years. She’s been promoted four times, and she’s totally crushing it. She’s also working 12 to 14 hour days and she’s a road warrior. That culture has a purpose, and there are people who fit there. I would not fit there. I have found my people, who care about person first, who care about authenticity, who care about … I’m not saying Amazon doesn’t care about these things. I want to make that clear.
Joanna Luth: But I have found my people who say, “Yeah. I want you to give 110% for a 50 hour workweek, as opposed to 300% for a 100 hour workweek.” You know? I want time with my family. That’s where I am in my stage of life. I want flexibility. I want to be me. Intradiem is the first place where I’ve been able to shave the sides of my head bald and not have people go, “Oh, you’re doing what?” And every three weeks, I come in with my shaved head. And folks think it’s cool. Those are my people. In other companies I’ve worked for, that wouldn’t fly. So how do you know yourself, self awareness, huge, key, and then find your people?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. We always called it the undercut because you still wore your hair down, but you couldn’t tell it was shaved.
Joanna Luth: Oh. I don’t ever wear it down.
Find Your People
Josh Sweeney: No? Seen a lot of people do that. Yeah, I love it. In your experiences, you talked about culture and kind of finding your tribe. This has come up a lot on the podcast around. We said it used to kind of be like good versus bad culture. And sometimes there are just bad elements of culture for sure. But a lot of times, and kind of what you’re highlighting in a way, is it’s really what is the right and wrong culture for me. Which group do I want to be in? Which one do I identify with the most? Is it the people that are heads down quiet, and there’s really just not a lot of chitchat? Is it the hyper social groups? Is it corporate entities? Is it startups? All of those are factors for people to succeed in the culture in the tribe that they want to be in.
But he wrote this book called Principles. And his whole focus is radical transparency. Okay. Good. Blatant honesty, perfect, fine. I’m a huge fan of Kim Scott and Radical Candor, still that directness and that honesty, but balanced with an excess of caring personally. You’ve got to care about the person in order to be able to give them tough feedback.
Responsibility To Meet Them
Joanna Luth: And Dalio sort of doesn’t have that component. You’ve got to have super thick skin to work there and hear about how much you suck. Right? Whereas Radical Candor would deliver it differently. And unfortunately like anything, like accountability, Radical Candor can be misused to say, “Josh, I’m going to give you some Radical Candor right now.” And then I give you this bad feedback, like direct, aggressive feedback. That’s not Radical Candor because I’ve missed the step of connecting with you as a person. How do you make sure you … Again, you get my foundation. Right?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Joanna Luth: How do you connect with where people are? You’ve got to meet them where they are. I can hire two employees with the same experience and the same background and the same skillset, and I’m going to have to interact with them completely differently because they are individuals. And that is my responsibility to meet them where they are, to see if they can go where the organization needs them to go.
Trust And Safety
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. I definitely have noticed that over time, where some people are naturally candid, just in the way that they communicate. And it’s not with a poor intent. It’s just that’s the communication style, and they have to adapt that for other people’s feelings and empathy and needs and things like that, which can be challenging if you’re not self aware, a fully functioning adult, and FFA. Right? But also, I’ve also found that you can be more candid and direct in your fullest sense if you have a strong relationship with those people.
Josh Sweeney: Example is, I’m in an EO, and entrepreneur organization, and I’m in a forum of other entrepreneurs. And we meet on a monthly basis, and we share a lot of highly confidential information, and it’s all with us in the group. And that’s the only group where I respond as probably my truest self, my most candid and direct. And sometimes that’s not always the best, but they know me, so it’s like, “Oh, we know each other.” You take it. You get past it. And we show up for the next meeting. It’s not like I go home and pine on it or anything else like that. But we’ve built a relationship over five years, where we have the rapport. I guess that’s the missing element. It seems like some people, they naturally speak directly and candidly, but they miss the rapport building stage.
Joanna Luth: I think that’s part of it. And I think that, again, let’s circle back to trust and safety. You might give me feedback in a way that I think is too direct, assertive, whatever word I want to use there. And once you give me that feedback, I have a choice. I get to decide what to do with it. I might say, “I think Josh is an idiot, so I’m not going to listen to that. And I’m going to disqualify that feedback and not do anything with it.” Or I could say, “Josh has been really strong in a relationship with me. And I don’t think he gave me that feedback with ill intent or to be mean.” Again, relationship, trust. How do I interpret that? If I don’t have that relationship with you, and if I don’t think you’ve got a good intention for me, I might decide that I don’t care what your feedback is. Everybody has that choice. It’s hard in the workplace because there’s hierarchy. I’m the boss. I’m going to give you this feedback. And the interpretation is, huh, I better do something with that if I want to keep my job.
Joanna Luth: Okay. I get that. That’s a tough one to get over. My dream world is, I give you feedback regardless of who I am, the boss, the colleague, the direct report. And we talk about that because feedback, if nothing else, lets us know that there’s a gap. You might give me feedback and I’m like, “That is not true. And he has got this perception of me.” So I’d say, “Hey. I’m really struggling with that.” What I think I know is that we aren’t aligned about something. How do we get there? What led you to have this belief about me? How can I show you that’s not who I am? Where have we missed? What can we do and dig in? If nothing else, someone gives you feedback, A, that’s a gift of at least, we’re not where we thought we were. How do we get back together?
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. How do we meet in the middle after having that? We’ve gone through. There’s lots of different layers of this when you’re implementing it in a business.
Joanna Luth: Yes.
Josh Sweeney: So from a culture perspective, there’s reinforcing this and there’s training with the management. There’s overcoming those objections. There’s different sessions you can do to help people understand who each other really are to not take it personally. What do you guys do at Intradiem? What are some of the aspects that you implement and exercises you use to make sure this happens?
Joanna Luth: That’s a great question. It is a five year strategy on learning. Again, I started in September.
Josh Sweeney: You’ve got a little bit of a …
Joanna Luth: Yeah. I’m going to say things and the people at Intradiem are going to be like, “She’s not doing that. I don’t know what she’s talking about.”
Josh Sweeney: It’s coming.
Joanna Luth: It’s over time because you have to build a foundation. One of the first things I did when I started with the company is hold focus groups. And I said, “What do you love about being here? What don’t you love? What would you change at whatever?” Your basic stop, start, continue. And there are a lot of things for us to solve, and we’ve been solving them. Okay. This is big context to get to the question.
Trust In Relationship
Josh Sweeney: Sure.
Joanna Luth: When you look at people need, engagement, or Maslow’s hierarchy, or whatever, they need to have security, like basic survival. They need to have equipment and tools to do their job. And then you start to get into this relational stuff. We’re actually working on things in parallel because we’ve got some folks who have old laptops. How do we solve that? That’s easy to solve. But until you provide the bottom levels of the pyramid, it’s really hard to build that trust in that relationship. We’re working fast in parallel to try to get to the level where we can really dive in to what we’re doing with relationships.
Joanna Luth: That’s my foundation to say, “We’ve launched manager and leader training,” and in that training we use the DISC profile. DISC, I like because it’s communication styles. It’s not your personality. It’s not who you are. It’s how you portray that. And even if you can get that, I’m a D in the DISC profile, which tends to focus on fast pace, three bullet points.
Manager And Leader Training
Josh Sweeney: Both way emails.
Joanna Luth: Don’t tell me the video is the last thing in the email. Right? The bullet points, the fast pace, the make a decision mostly based on gut. And I’ll course correct if I need to. More task focused than people focused, so my natural state is that, so I’m modifying, coach myself to be people focused and empathetic and supportive and coaching and nurturing and all those things that you naturally assume come with a chief people officer role. Right?
Josh Sweeney: Right.
Joanna Luth: We go through that, self awareness, who we are, how we communicate, what that looks like, then other awareness. You, you’re not. You’re probably an I. But you might be a C or an S, which would be a more methodical pace. Cs like to have things 100% right based on data. They cringe at the gut decision course correction. How do we just even look at that, and then modify our communication so that we can be heard? I’m not even talking about personalities yet. Just learn how we interact. We’ve trained all our leaders and our managers on that. And we’re reinforcing that. One of the reinforcements will be then running it on entire teams so that managers and leaders can have a reinforcement day with their teams, and their teams are learning about the DISC profile as well. That’s sort of level one that we’re doing.
Objectives and key results
Joanna Luth: Running in parallel with that, we’re going to be launching a course about living our values. We’ve just refreshed those. And so what does good look like? What is just right? What’s too much? What’s too little? What are the behaviors that we associate with that? Because we look at performance not only as results, not only as attaining those metrics, but also how you behave and how you treat people. Performance is both. So that’s year one, how we’re going to talk about how we’re going to work together, how we make sure we have the same rules that we’re playing with. You could be a sales person and have a 300% quota, and you’re crushing it. But if you’re yelling at legal and you’re yelling at finance and you’re being a jerk, I don’t care what your numbers are. Half of your performance sucks.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah.
Joanna Luth: Right? We’ve reinforced that as well in our team goals and in our individual goals. We set goals quarterly, again, ala Kim Scott, Google OKRs. Right? Objectives and key results. And each team, and ergo each manager and each person, has committed to setting their OKRs three times this year, and to having at least two feedback conversations per month. How have we incentive that? It’s tied to the bonus. We’re saying, “Part of your bonus is making sure you’re talking to people and staying aligned and greeting person first and employee second.”
Building Strong Culture
Josh Sweeney: Love it. That’s a great strategy.
Joanna Luth: That’s cool.
Josh Sweeney: Hopefully we can have you in two years from now, or a year from now, and see how it’s all unfolding.
Joanna Luth: I’d love it. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
Josh Sweeney: I love it.
Joanna Luth: That’s how you know when you’ve found your people, when that isn’t threatening. And that’s how you build the foundation for a strong culture.
Josh Sweeney: That’s fantastic. You know you’ve found your people when you can be honest, transparent, and vulnerable.
Joanna Luth: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: And feel safe, basically, as you said earlier. Have that safe place.
Joanna Luth: That’s right.
Josh Sweeney: Awesome. Well, it was fantastic having you.
Joanna Luth: Thanks for having me in. It’s been fun.
Josh Sweeney: Yeah. Have a great day.
Joanna Luth: Thanks.
Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoyed this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit EpicCulture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@EpicCulture.co.
Podcast Highlights and Resources
- Person first, employee second.
- I encourage our managers to do and our leaders to do is think about person first, employee second.
- Accept that wholeness and work through it.
- It’s important too to have the skillset to think about others.
- It requires, as managers and leaders, that we are better managers and leaders.
- How we learn from our failure is the key to success.
- It’s all relational.
- if I build a relationship with you, the work we do will be better.
- You have to find your people.
- You’ve got to care about the person in order to be able to give them tough feedback.
- You’ve got to meet them where they are.
- “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
In 1975, Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Over forty years later, Bridgewater has grown into the largest hedge fund in the world and the fifth most important private company in the United States according to Fortune magazine, and Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Along the way Dalio discovered unique principles that have led to his and Bridgewater’s unique success. It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio, that he believes are the reason behind whatever success he has had. He is now at a stage in his life that he wants to pass them along to others to do whatever they think is appropriate to do with them.
In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency,” include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. He also describes the innovative tools the firm uses to bring an idea meritocracy to life, such as creating “baseball cards” for all employees that distill their strengths and weaknesses, and employing computerized decision-making systems to make believability-weighted decisions. While the book brims with novel ideas for organizations and institutions, Principles also offers a clear, straightforward approach to decision-making that Dalio believes anyone can apply, no matter what they’re seeking to achieve.
Kim Scott is the author of the NYT & WSJ bestseller Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss without Losing your Humanity. Kim led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google and then joined Apple to develop and teach a leadership seminar. Kim has been a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and several other tech companies.
Previously, Kim was the co-founder and CEO of Juice Software, a collaboration start-up, and led business development at Delta Three and Capital Thinking. Earlier in her career, she worked as a senior policy advisor at the FCC, managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo, started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow, and was an analyst on the Soviet Companies Fund. Kim received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA from Princeton University. She is the author of three novels; she and her husband Andy Scott are parents of twins and live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bad bosses make people miserable. They also kill innovation, stifle growth, increase costs, and create instability. Well-meaning people become bad bosses without even realizing it.
Great bosses have relationships with each of their employees. This relationship is a source of growth and stability for individuals and companies. Anywhere I’ve observed a great boss, I’ve seen the same three principles for approaching this relationship play out. I’ll describe these principles mostly by telling stories, some successes, but also plenty of mistakes—mostly mine. Some are funny, some are painful, and many are plain embarrassing, but they’re all instructive.
Even if your company is nothing like the places I’m describing (Google, Apple, Twitter) and your own boss is a control freak or petty tyrant or simply useless, you can still adopt these three basic principles and become a great boss yourself. I’ll explain how, and why you’ll be happy you did.
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a Global business network of 13,000+ leading entrepreneurs in 185 chapters and 58 countries. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
We educate, we transform, we inspire and we offer invaluable resources in the form of global events, leadership-development programs, an online entrepreneur forum and executive education opportunities, among other offerings designed for personal and professional growth.
At its core, EO is a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth, personal development and community engagement. In addition to our mission, vision and core values, our global makeup is comprised of nearly 13,000+ individual member stories.
Prototype Prime is a 501(c)3 non-profit incubator focused on early stage software and hardware technology startups. Our mission is to provide startup companies with the support they need to launch & scale.
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