At Burning Man last year, when I talked about my search for visionary thoughts on the future of work, many people said I need to meet Shane Metcalf, an entrepreneur with progressive views in that field.
Shane is the Co-Founder of 15Five, a powerful feedback software that gives employees a voice by asking deeper questions during continuous check-ins. I had the opportunity to speak with him via video conference to learn about the philosophy behind 15Five, what companies ahead of the times do differently, and his visions for the future workplace.
Here are his key messages.
15Five creates freedom based on feedback
The basic idea of 15Five is rooted in the ideals of Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, which we then turned into a product. Chouinard sought to fully understand the needs behind the adventurers who worked for him when they were out in the field fulfilling their passions. As entrepreneurs, we thought it would make our lives so much easier if we had the same synchronous feedback from our teams. Founding 15Five was inspired by one question all leaders should ask themselves: “How can I manage my business and people better by having direct insights into what’s going on with my team?”
Unfortunately, many of us only get this chance once a year during a performance review. This time is intended to talk about specific issues, but is often stifled due to a lack of transparent and ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. Since the quality of our conversations determines the quality of our relationships, the lack of frequent dialogue limits freedom on both sides. The 15Five suite includes a Weekly Check-in and 1-on-1 agenda, which provide structure and ease. Some managers may not know what questions to ask, so we make it easier to have these conversations by building a technological bridge to engage in meaningful face-to-face communication.
Progressive companies want their employees’ whole selves
We are moving out of a command and control culture from the industrial era when managers considered themselves to be the most important people and employees to be replaceable. Now, individual contributors are the ones who produce the most value for a company. It’s the job of the company to ensure they are happy and are set up for success.
The most progressive companies are changing work culture with the mantra, “We help you become your best-self. We care about your internal and external state, and the rest of your life outside of work. We want the whole person, not just a version.”
Successful companies understand that professional relationships and emotional connection shouldn’t be separated and that this is a vital piece in the productivity and performance puzzle. Those companies invest in the hard and soft skills that help their employees thrive in their professional and private lives.
The goal of a company should be to empower their employees to become happier, healthier, and more confident human beings. That inspires them to put in extra effort, and you then have a culture where people want to contribute.
Myth: Investing in culture is expensive
As technology rises, it’s important to understand that authentically caring for people is the best way to unlock performance and loyalty. We need to educate managers that this is not just the right thing to do but also the better business approach. We need to help them make the shift from a task manager to a coach who gives employees autonomy in defining success for themselves.
Previously, many large companies were created at a time when “culture” was not really understood or valued. When a business is founded today and even if it grows into a large multinational company, it grows through an understanding that a healthy culture means better business results. It is much easier to bake this in early, compared to a company where structures are already set.
The future of work is a culture of freedom and trust
One rule we have adapted as a species is the rule of hierarchy. While many companies are still based on dysfunctional hierarchies—oppressing the people below us and deliberately making their lives miserable because we are higher above in the rank— the future of work culture is focused on flipping the org chart and understanding that the people at the top are in service to the people below. Leaders must create authority based on trust rather than fear and control.
My personal vision is that people show up at work being their authentic selves, and that we design companies which help fulfill the basic human needs of security, belonging, and emotional esteem. From there, we build cultures of empathy, listening, inclusivity, and play; and shift the paradigm to one where leaders are in service to their people, and people are in service to each other. This is where we are going to see a revolution where people enjoy what they do. We’ll shift from the current statistic of ~70% disengagement to 70% of all employees being fully engaged in their work.
Interview by ASLI TOKSAL.
15Five is a continuous performance management solution that helps employees grow and develop, in just 15 minutes each week. Through a lightweight weekly check-in, 15Five delivers everything a manager needs to impact employee performance, including continuous feedback, objectives (OKR) tracking, recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360° reviews. Learn more about 15Five or follow them on Twitter.
Question to You:
Which solutions do you have in place in your company to give employees a continuous voice?