44. Onboarding with Ben Jackson

January 9, 2018

Our guest today on the show is Ben Jackson. Ben works in people operations and runs a company called for the win which helps companies to better their culture and create an optimized working environment for its employees. We’ll be discussing what exactly Peoples Operations means to Ben and how For The Win addresses some common problems in the developer community. Ben is a strong believer in organizing systems that enhance the experience of its participants and also that too many start-ups and companies skimp on the this all important aspect of the job. We look at some examples of perks and bots and how these relate to employee satisfaction and long-term involvement. All this and more in the episode to tune in!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What exactly are people operations and wetware problems.
  • How to attract the right type of people and talent to your company.
  • Common mistakes made in the recruiting field.
  • Ben’s ideals for improving people operations.
  • Welcome wagons and introducing new employees to a workplace.
  • Onboarding and weekly meetings.
  • Using Slack and Slack bots for onboarding.
  • Some Teach and Learns from Ben.
  • And much more!

Transcript for Episode 44. Onboarding with Ben Jackson

[0:00:01.9] MN: Hello and welcome to The Rabbit Hole, the definitive developer’s podcast in fantabulous Chelsey Manhattan. I’m your host, Michael Nunez, our cohost today.

[0:00:09.3] DA: Dave Anderson.

[0:00:10.4] MN: Our producer.

[0:00:11.2] WJ: William Jeffries.

[0:00:12.4] MN: Today, we have a special guest. He is the former director of Mobile at Vice Media, Ben Jackson. How’s it going man?

[0:00:19.4] BJ: Not bad, thanks for having me here.

[0:00:21.0] MN: Awesome. Ben, give us a little information about yourself.

[0:00:23.3] BJ: Yeah, sure. I left Vice in May to open up a firm called For The Win, it’s a consulting firm for small teams with big plans. We use research, data and design thinking to help companies grow up without losing their edge and I’m really excited to talk to you guys about people operations today.

[0:00:40.4] DA: That’s awesome.

[0:00:41.7] WJ: What exactly is people operations?

[0:00:43.8] BJ: Thanks for asking. Well, people operations, it’s operations and if you’ve heard of developer operations or design operations or any of the other sort of newer emerging branches of operations, it’s like those except it’s for humans. It’s what some people like to call wetware problems, get it? Because your brain is squishy and wet, it’s not hardware, it’s not software.

[0:01:10.6] DA: It’s wetware.

[0:01:11.5] BJ: It’s wetware.

[0:01:12.9] MN: Okay, what separates like people operations from just HR?

[0:01:18.8] BJ: People operations, it’s a branch of HR that is concerned or maybe some people might call it rebranding of HR to sound cooler. It’s concerned with using design data driven decision making and really applying a more rigorous approach to how we manage our people.

[0:01:37.3] DA: Cool.

[0:01:38.1] BJ: Everything from you know, things form pulse surveys that will help you get, what’s called a net promoter score of your employees to find out you know, theoretically how happy they are and how likely they are to recommend you to somebody considering working with you. It also includes a ton of things around Slack, and Slack Bots and all the integrations and it also you know, even just the everyday tools that you use for things like setting up benefits, filing your expenses. Really optimizing all of those to get the most out of your people.

[0:02:05.3] DA: Okay, got you. It’s like really systematizing something like with data and metrics that drive, like, to the true best solution rather than just like making assumption about how things should be at the company.

[0:02:21.3] BJ: I’d like to think that there isn’t really one true solution. I might put it as using data and design and technology to make smarter, more well informed, decisions about your people.

[0:02:32.7] DA: Okay, incrementally better, always improving.

[0:02:36.8] BJ: Continual improvement.

[0:02:38.1] MN: What are some of the things you do or what are some tips or tricks that you would do to find finding people to work at a particular [inaudible].

[0:02:46.8] BJ: For hiring, I mean, I think the most important thing for hiring is making sure that the culture at your workplace is good enough that you know, when people are looking at it and they walk I, they see people smiling, they don’t see people fighting.

You know, when people ask around, they hear good things about your company, you know, word travels very quickly, it’s a very small industry, technology and design relatively speaking.

[0:03:11.4] DA: Especially with Glass Door and like platforms like that. You know, you have some bad experiences and then that’s like on your permanent record basically.

[0:03:19.9] BJ: It’s a lot like App Store reviews if there are any mobile developers in the audience which will – those.

[0:03:26.5] MN: Man, those poor android reviews.

[0:03:28.3] BJ: Hey, you get a bad App Store review and you know, that is your reputation, that is how people gauge your reputation and sites like Glass Door but even just you know, the whisper network in New York, san Francisco, LA, the other hubs, you know, people talk and they know if our place is not a place where people are super happy.

[0:03:45.7] DA: Right. Smaller community than you would think.

[0:03:50.4] BJ: If you want to attract good talent, you know, making sure you’ve got good word of mouth from people who have worked for you and who have worked for you in the past. Also I think, you know, really thinking about your company brand, not just as it is presented to consumers but as it’s presented to potential candidates. This is kind of a running theme throughout my work of applying the same standards of quality and the same methodologies that we use for consumer facing products to things that aren’t necessarily, we don’t think about as consumers.

You know, what is your career page on your website look like, you know? Who wrote the copy for that?

[0:04:31.5] DA: Yeah, that is important to make sure that it actually reflects what you actually do and when you’re selling it, you don’t want to set the expectations to a different place than where you actually are and to making sure that that brand is carrying through with the data.

[0:04:47.7] BJ: Yeah, are the job listings written in the voice of the company or are they you know, copied and pasted from some other job site?

[0:04:55.7] WJ: How do you operationalize this? What is the – when I hear people ops, what I assume is that we’re systematizing this, we’re automating it in some ways. Sort of the way that you know, with dev ops, people are more and more automating the process of building their app and deploying it.

[0:05:13.3] BJ: I think automation while it’s a really interesting and important in emerging field of this stuff, it’s much more about processes and the system part of that systemization because for most of this things, the dirty secret is there aren’t really processes at most places, everybody is kind of winging it because everybody is doing so many different things, you know, you have a lot of people whose title is – they call them HR generalists and that’s literally what they do, they are HR people who just – they do all the things and they do their best to do every single one of those things as well as they can but you know, it’s very difficult to be great at every single thing than an HR person needs to be great at, you know? Being an eagle mind.

[0:05:55.9] DA: If the company’s even smaller then maybe, there might not even be a person with that title but someone’s doing those jobs.

[0:06:00.6] WJ: Yeah, everything’s rubbed into it.

[0:06:03.0] BJ: Compliance, onboarding, exit interviews, all these things, you know, a lot of people, they learn it on the job.

[0:06:09.2] DA: Is there a certain point in a company’s growth where it’s okay, you need to go from having that person who is just like, scrabbling by and like checking all the boxes to actually operationalizing it and making it like a thing that you’re focusing on?

[0:06:25.6] BJ: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s one of the things that when you first bring in a VP of HR – a chief HR officer, that’s one of the first things they start to look at. You know, they look at the existing processes if there are any, for onboarding, for recruiting, for training, learning and development.

If there aren’t any, they put some in place and if there are some that have sort of have been thrown together and they take a hard look at each one of those and begin to make those processes a little bit more robust and maybe a little bit more tailored to the company.

They talk to employees, they find out what’s working, what’s not working.

[0:06:59.8] WJ: What do you think most engineering teams are doing wrong when it comes to recruiting?

[0:07:06.1] BJ: For recruiting, what I see really commonly is not taking open source software seriously as a team. You know, you see a lot of teams that you know, they think that getting the product out and having a great product is enough to really attract people and I think you know, I definitely pay really close attention, in the past when I was looking at companies to you know, what have they given back to the community?

I think you know, what I see a lot as well, there’s a real hyper focus on the highly visible perks and my favorite example there is the snacks.

[0:07:45.1] MN: Yeah. Got to have the snacks.

[0:07:47.9] DA: Got to have the snacks.

[0:07:49.3] WJ: Got to have the snacks.

[0:07:50.7] BJ: Yeah, the snacks have really, they’ve kind of become table steaks and a bit of a cliché in 2017, but the snacks, they tie in to something that I’ve seen not just with people operations but with technology products in general which is that they’re kind of like the CSS animations of employee experience in the sense that they’re right in front of you, you can see them, you can taste them and some of the other things that really contribute to the long term success of these companies.

Things like having a clear sense of your company values. You know, you can’t taste values.

[0:08:33.1] DA: Right.

[0:08:36.1] WJ: They don’t taste like much, it’s like wet cardboard.

[0:08:39.3] WJ: Yeah, they don’t pop or shake or have interesting cover effects.

[0:08:44.6] MN: I mean, can I judge a particular place by the kind of snacks that they have? If they just offer tootsie rolls, can I just be livid and upset all the time? Unless you like tootsie rolls.

[0:08:56.4] BJ: You can if you want to but you know, I think that in much the same way that I wouldn’t judge the quality of a product by how many bells and whistles they have on the front end. Especially at launch, I wouldn’t judge a company’s culture by what I find in the snack drawer.

[0:09:13.0] MN: Got it. I think, you know, snacks and perks and one of my favorite examples, the puppy party.

[0:09:22.6] DA: Is that where they have a puppy party?

[0:09:24.0] BJ: They have a bunch of puppies in the office.

[0:09:25.6] WJ: Have you never been to a puppy party? It’s a morale booster.

[0:09:28.1] DA: I feel like I’ve missed out. With the tipsy scoops social. That was pretty nice.

[0:09:33.2] WJ: We got to have a puppy party now.

[0:09:34.3] MN: Well, I’m terrified of dogs so I don’t –

[0:09:37.0] WJ: But they’re puppies.

[0:09:37.9] DA: No, you don’t know. But then they grow up to be vicious animals. I have to work, I can’t really trust them when they’re small like that.

[0:09:43.9] WJ: Turn into like a little bit of a Gulliver’s Travels situation where they pin you down if there’s enough of them.

[0:09:49.5] DA: Just maul you with love.

[0:09:50.4] MN: I imagine it’s adorable, I’m not going to lie. I imagine it’s really adorable.

[0:09:53.6] BJ: Yeah, those perks, the snacks, the puppy parties, all the fosse ball, it serves to mask sometimes, not always but they conserve to mask deeper cultural issues you know? Are people talking to each other, are they giving each other you know, candid feedback on a regular basis?

What’s performance management like at that company? You know, it’s great to be chowing down on Kind Bars but it’s even cooler to be meeting your quarterly goals and know you won’t be fired next quarter.

[0:10:23.6] MN: Would one have to be weary when the perks are really good?

[0:10:28.1] WJ: Yeah, we just say there’s like a correlation between snacks, snack awesomeness, an inverse correlation between the awesomeness of the snacks and the quality of the workplace?

[0:10:38.8] BJ: I hesitate to draw any of those kinds of inferences because I think in large part, they’re really not that correlated you know? Quality of snacks, it tells you a lot about how much the company likes their snacks.

[0:10:53.1] DA: Right.

[0:10:54.4] BJ: It doesn’t tell you much about how seriously they take their culture.

[0:10:57.6] DA: There are other like perks that kind of raise an eyebrow sometimes with me, more like Google, you know, it forces very famous for giving this productivity things, some cleaning your home, they’ll do your laundry, they’ll do all these things to help you like – have your mind at ease and stay at work for longer which could be a good thing if the team culture they’re on is awesome and you love what you’re doing.

But it does a bit – maybe you could just pay me more money or I can just leave and do my own thing alone.

[0:11:30.6] BJ: People are motivated by a lot of different things and they’re not always motivated by perks, you know, there’s a thing called the two factor theory of employee happiness where they talk about on the one hand, they’re being what they call motivating factors, things like passion for the mission and you know, loving your team and on the other and, there are these what they call hygiene factors you know?

I don’t know, is there parking close by, what’s the commute like, do you have to be on a sweaty train for an hour? Or, even sometimes there literal hygiene factors, I don’t know how the bathrooms are here right? I didn’t use the bathroom before I came in.

[0:12:09.0] DA: Like noise pollution.

[0:12:10.5] BJ: To have acceptable bathrooms and yeah, noise pollution, light, all kinds of things, open plan offices can be notoriously bad for hygiene factors.

[0:12:19.4] DA: Yeah, it’s a perk sometimes but maybe not always.

[0:12:24.7] BJ: Or even just people talking on the phone next to you and you might have headphones but headphones, listening to music or even white noise is not as productive as working in silence if you believe the imperial evidence that’s been published in peer review journals.

[0:12:39.4] DA: Yeah. That sounds like a pretty clutch point to bring to the table with people ops. “Hey, actually, there are scientific research that support the fact that hey, decibel level is above 70, let’s bring it down a little bit”.

[0:12:55.6] WJ: What do you think would be the easiest improvement that engineering teams in New York could make to make their workplaces better, to make their people ops better?

[0:13:05.2] BJ: With infinite money, the easiest thing to do is give everyone an office with a door, assuming we’re not living in you know, a place with infinite money.

[0:13:13.3] MN: Or infinite doors.

[0:13:14.4] BJ: Or infinite doors.

[0:13:17.4] MN: Why would the offices with the door make that change?

[0:13:20.3] BJ: The office with the door, at least for engineering teams, from what I’ve read and Joel Spolsky has written agnosia on this much more than me but developers, they don’t do well when they’re being interrupted. By noise or by sort of people walking by their desks or that tap on the shoulder of hey, can you look at this and the easiest way, really, the only fool proof way to avoid being interrupted is to go into a room, close the door and if necessary, lock the door.

[0:13:51.6] MN: Right, I imagine knocking on a door is much more – people are less likely to do that than tap you on the shoulder or stuff like that.

[0:13:58.7] BJ: There’s a much bigger psychological barrier. I remember one former co-worker of mine from the New York Times, he had one of those bicycle mirrors on his laptop so that people couldn’t creep up on him and so when you approached him from behind, he would just say, “Hey Ben, what can I do for you, without turning around of course.”

[0:14:20.8] DA: I wish I had one of those. I used to have a boss that was like just so quietly walking all the time and he would just like – pop up and be like, “Hey, how’s it going?” He’s like a cartoon character. I don’t know how he did it.

Once you find people and you recruit them and you get them really excited about your company and be like, how do you keep them and make sure that they’re growing and have a clear purpose?

[0:14:43.1] BJ: The easiest way to make sure that people stick around is to have a structured onboarding planned out before they get there. Ideally, before they even start, as soon as they’ve signed that offer letter, you sent them a welcome packet and brought them into what they call the pre-boarding experience. Getting them excited to start work, if you have any kind of weekly drinks or office gathering, invite them to that before they actually walk in on their first day so that when they do walk in their first day. They’re walking and giving people high five’s instead of handshakes.

[0:15:15.6] DA: Interesting, yeah, I like that.

[0:15:18.1] BJ: Once they get there, ideally, you’ve got their laptop setup with pretty much everything they need, the quicker you can get them spun up and actually working on something meaningful in that first week, the better if they can push code to production on their first day, that’s fantastic.

[0:15:33.5] DA: Yeah, that is like a pretty great feeling, like not to have to go through too many meetings to get onboarded or too much bureaucracy.

[0:15:41.7] BJ: Yeah, other things that help, especially with onboarding, making sure that they have a mentor, not on their team, someone they don’t work directly with but someone who can just go to and vent or asks stupid questions because everyone has them and no one’s asking them.

Also, you know, at one of my client’s we put together, we call it the welcome wagon and that is a group of four, five, six stake holders or other people from across the org who just have a one on one during the first few weeks with the person and they understand by I talk to those people, what are the different parts of the org, what do they do, what are the people inside there care about and how can I work most effectively with those departments.

Those cross departmental relationships, man, they are glue that holds the organization together and they end up becoming like this person’s little advisory board.

[0:16:29.4] DA: Yeah, it’s really good to see people at the lunch table or a communal table like sharing a meal and exchanging conversation and getting some different perspective. I wonder, is it something that you’re seeing more and more like having a mentorship role at organizations, like formalized?

[0:16:44.1] BJ: Yeah, I think it’s getting much more popular because it works so well.

[0:16:48.0] DA: Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve found pretty enjoyable.

[0:16:53.6] BJ: Yeah, the other thing that I think really help people stick around are making sure their manager has a one on one with them every single week. Ideally a structured one on one – one of the formats that I like is 10 minutes for the direct report talk about, whatever they want, 10 minutes for the manager to talk about whatever they want and then 10 minutes of them to talk about what are we going to do in the next week.

Then also, you know, having regular check in, spaced out at a cadence, not just about the work and the manager direct relationship. But about the onboarding experience itself. Separate from that weekly one on one, you know, after the first week, there should be a second one on one just to talk about that first week’s onboarding.

[0:17:33.6] MN: Right.

[0:17:34.2] BJ: After 30 days, another one on one, just to talk about that first month and bringing that process and taking it not just for you know, a week, two weeks, four weeks but taking it to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. And then all the way out to six months and 12 months. That is really strongly correlated with higher attention. You get people on a plan that’s structured, that takes them six to 12 months out. You see them, the figures I have read are anywhere from 60 to 70% more likelihood to stay three years or more.

[0:18:06.3] WJ: Where do you get these stats?

[0:18:07.5] BJ: Lots and lots of Googling, white papers, there is an organization called The Society for Human Resource Management that does a lot of research. There are places like The Aviding Group, a lot of management consulting firms that sort of sell onboarding and engagement services. You know they finance research, they have big staffs and deep pockets and this is part of how they do their sales.

[0:18:28.4] WJ: Fascinating.

[0:18:30.0] DA: Cool, yeah and that seems like a very agile concept to, like building these feedback loops and hopefully using them to stir the direction that you’re going with all of the other employees and your hiring process and finding out what really works for you and the company.

[0:18:46.8] BJ: Absolutely, you know I think that the HR world is slowly starting to come around understanding agile as more tech startups have taken off and more of them have moved into the technology in the startup industry. They started to see like, “Oh this is how we make products for consumers and you know this stuff it really, really works.” You build a small thing, you test it, you get some feedback, you build another small thing, repeat the cycle.

[0:19:11.8] DA: Yeah. This is like, “But wait, I am going to make the most amazing policy. It is going to be a hundred pages long. It will cover every single possible scenario and you are all going to love it and adhere to it every day.”

[0:19:26.3] BJ: Even just the getting feedback from real users and beta testing things, beta testing your employee handbook. Sound revolutionary just saying it, right?

[0:19:39.2] MN: It’s pretty interesting because you – I’ve been in Strive for I think I just hit my three year anniversary and I don’t think I’ve looked at my handbook since three years ago which is like really interesting.

[0:19:54.1] DA: But that is not entirely true because you’ve actually had your hand in creating some of these policies and iterating especially on the prof to.

[0:20:00.3] MN: Well it’s like, “Hey Mike messed this up. We got to make a policy,” that’s like right of after today. Mike should do something that was really out of whack so we need to nail this down a bit. Yeah, I mean I was responsible for Strive has has something called professional development where consultants can take time to study whatever they want and they have hours budgeted for that and we were trying to increase that to motivate more developers, more consultants to –  like as a hiring technique to bring people in so they can introduce some of their own unique related projects but for the consultants themselves to stay on board and learn new things and take time to study what’s hot in the market and yeah, I was responsible for building that aspect but I think the rest of the handbook guide haven’t beta tested so but that is a really interesting concept because I think a lot of people just overlook it once to get hired and then that’s it.

But it is definitely an iterative process to make that handbook a lot better for the next person, for the person who’s actually starting for the first time.

[0:21:04.3] BJ: Yeah there is an open source employee handbook I believe from a company called Clef. I don’t believe they are still in business although please forgive me if I am mistaken about that from the people who run Clef.

[0:21:14.9] MN: So do they do – I mean is it like on GitHub or?

[0:21:17.4] BJ: Yeah it is on GitHub if you just Google GitHub employee handbook, it’s probably the firstresult.

[0:21:21.8] MN: Nice, so you could get clone, change to names to Bobby, bam. You’ve got your very own employee handbook.

[0:21:29.3] BJ: Of templatized things on GitHub that are super helpful, they also have a code of conduct template which if you run a Slack team or any other virtual community inside your company and you don’t have a code of conduct, you should really think about putting together a code of conduct.

[0:21:47.9] DA: Interesting.

[0:21:48.3] MN: So what exactly would that entail? Would it be like something that’s implicitly agreed upon or would I have to sign off on that really, “Okay I have read and understand this” I checked the box, I signed my name?

[0:22:00.8] BJ: I mean no one is going to sue you if you do them from your Slack because they violated your code of conduct but you didn’t tell them what it was. There’s no equal Slack opportunity commission out there.

[0:22:17.9] MN: I’m being repressed to the equal Slack opportunity.

[0:22:21.1] BJ: Yeah, Slack users are not a protective class but you will probably get if you boot somebody from your Slack and you don’t have a code of conduct is a very frustrated and hurt and really upsets and surprised person. The surprise is the worst part, you know? Going through pain is fine if you know it’s coming but when somebody blindsides you and all of a sudden, “Oh my god, I am not on Slack anymore,” people take that, they don’t take it very well.

[0:22:45.9] DA: Right, you should set aside which categories of gifs we want to have in the Slack and which we are not okay with.

[0:22:53.8] MN: No puppy gifs, only cats and kittens.

[0:22:56.4] DA: Okay, we are not letting you write this policy.

[0:23:01.1] BJ: Yeah, I mean every team has their own norms. I’ve seen teams that have put together bots that will flag certain words that maybe aren’t the most gender neutral or super sensitive so that if you say, “Hey guys, I’ve got something on prod,” the bot will ping you and say, “You know try using folks next time.” I am a big fan of the word folks, Obama, also a big fan of the word folks. It makes you sound folks-y and sort of approachable like, “Come on folks, we’re all folks here.”

[0:23:34.0] MN: Yes, we are all folks here.

[0:23:36.2] WJ: So is that a chat bot that we could all download?

[0:23:39.2] BJ: Yeah, I am going to find it and I am going to share it with you for the shownotes.

[0:23:42.7] MN: Awesome, we’ve got to get that on the shownotes and hopefully introduce that to our clients that we’re on and in our own Slack channel because I would love to say folks more often rather than guys. Just to have a bot remind me to say folks is pretty nifty.

[0:23:58.3] BJ: One of the other things that is worth mentioning while we are on the subject of bots is, so in September I launched a Slack bot called Aloha, that is an onboarding automation bot and it basically does the same thing that a service called Drip does with marketing automation, you know they’ll send you emails. You know when you get those emails that’s like, “Hey you signed up for this service seven days ago but you haven’t logged in. What can we do?”

It’s like that but over Slack direct messages for onboarding people so when they join, they get a note that says, “Hey, welcome. Here are some rules of the road. Don’t use channel mentions because that sends a push notification and we have a team in Poland that will wake up,” which is huge and that’s a really, really great place to also plug your code of conduct and say, “Hey FYI you should read this. If you don’t and we boot you, don’t come crying later.”

[0:24:45.2] DA: Yep, your puppy gifs are not welcome here.

[0:24:50.0] MN: No, I’m not going to, puppy gifs are cool. I will add that on the code of conduct.

[0:24:53.4] DA: So are there any other tips or rules of thumb for onboarding that people can take away?

[0:24:58.6] BJ: Break it down into steps but really granular steps like the same granularity that you apply when you’re breaking out user stories. So it’s not just their first day of work that is not a step and even the moment they walk in the building that is not really a step. You know if they show up to the building and they go to security, that’s a step. They meet their manager and are shown to orientation or their desk that’s another step.

You know one of my favorite examples of the power of really breaking this things down into steps is the scenario of what if someone needs to go to the bathroom during orientation or while they are being showed in their desk, you know? They’re not going to walk out of orientation on their first day of work with a bunch of people they have just met for the first time to go tinkle.

[0:25:43.5] MN: Right that’s a problem.

[0:25:46.0] DA: Yeah so there’s like different social pressures that you’re trying to make the best possible impression and so you want to make them feel more comfortable.

[0:25:53.5] WJ: Yeah, white boy problems.

[0:25:57.1] MN: Cool, Ben I feel like I learned a whole lot about people ops and you know as a consultant, you think about turning code and stuff like that but you are a person, the rest of the time you’re at work.

[0:26:08.9] WJ: You are wetware.

[0:26:10.0] MN: Yeah, you are a wet ware at the end of the day so learning a lot about the human aspect and the wetware aspect that’s a new word for me, wetware, the wetware aspect of the job is really interesting to step back and actually talk about that. So I really appreciate you coming down and sharing that, really cool.

[0:26:27.8] BJ: Awesome, thank you very much. It was a real pleasure to be here.

[0:26:30.5] DA: Thanks man, do we have any teach and learns?

[0:26:32.6] BJ: Yeah, I’ve got a teach and learn for you. So I have been learning and now I am going to teach a little bit about a thing called OKRs since I started for the win I have learned a ton about OKRs. OKRs stands for objectives and key results. These are how organizations measure their performance but more importantly OKRs it’s something that you can cascade down from the organization to departments. So each department might have their own OKRs that contribute to the objectives at the top and then each individual manager and every single one of the direct reports also has their objectives and their key results that will tell them that they are moving on the way towards getting those things done. So it’s a nice way of making sure that people are very bad at remembering things that every single person remembers what they’re actually supposed to accomplish and also the things that will let them know they are accomplishing those things and then all of those objectives are tied into the objectives one level up.

[0:27:33.7] DA: Yeah that sounds useful but tricky to balance because I’m sure numbers are helpful but a lot of numbers aren’t.

[0:27:42.5] BJ: Yeah and not necessarily even quantitative goals but the main thing is just make making those objectives explicit and making those markers along the way explicit, you know that is really the only way that everybody can be on the same page about what we are really supposed to be doing here and that’s the reason why most projects fail in my experience is people not being aligned on the goals.

[0:28:03.2] DA: Cool. Yeah, I dig it.

[0:28:04.9] MN: Awesome, Ben thanks so much for coming on down. This was a great conversation.

[0:28:09.2] BJ: Thank you very, very much and if anybody wants to catch me on the internet, I am Benjamin Jackson on Twitter, my website is ftw.nyc, you can email me at omg@ftw.nyc and I hope to see you all around.

[0:28:25.6] DA: Yeah and that is For the Win right?

[0:28:27.6] BJ: That is For the Win, helping small teams with big plans.

[0:28:31.4] DA: Yeah, love it.

[0:28:32.4] MN: Awesome, I’d like to thank our producer, William thanks for coming on down.

[0:28:36.2] WJ: Anytime.

[0:28:37.0] MN: And our co-host, Dave thank you.

[0:28:40.0] DA: Awesome man, great to be here.

[0:28:41.4] MN: I’m Michael Nunez and you can reach us on Twitter.com/radiofreerabbit. Please if you’re listening and you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe and you know, always give us a five star rating whenever you can. This is The Rabbit Hole, we’ll see you next time.

Links and Resources:

The Rabbit Hole on Twitter

Benjamin Jackson on Twitter

For The Win on Twitter

For The Win

Ben Jackson Email

Vice Media

Joel Spolsky

The Society for Human Resource Management