After some pleasantries we jump into the topic of psychological safety in the workplace. How important this can be for teams and organizations to enable a level of comfort for real conflict to emerge. Here in the Midwest sometimes we struggle with giving feedback to each other. Thoughts about enabling the ability to bring your whole self to work.
Focus on problems and not individuals.
Leading by example. Discussing how things are going to be when there is conflict. Structure follows culture – examples of some structures that we’ve seen companies employ in order to facilitate openness and transparency.
We jump into values and how different teams and organizations that use them. All to often they are meaningless posters set up on a wall, or a conversation in onboarding, and rarely else. Tying back to structures, if we don’t build the systems to highlight and reinforce the values we should expect them to erode over time.
Bring your whole self to work. It means you’re the same person at home that you are at work. It shouldn’t feel like you’re meeting a whole new person when you engage outside of work. From a business perspective is it valuable to have your employees waste their thinking capitol trying to be a different person at work when they could be applying that towards your business goals?
people, jeff, feedback, organization, team, culture, conflict, psychological safety, conversation, jetlag, coaching, talk, deal, agile, part, values, ceo, problem, dutch, stories
Jeff Maleski, Jeff Bubolz, Sander Dur
Welcome to the Agile wire where professional scrum trainers Jeff Boodles and Jeff Maleski discuss agile topics. Now here are your hosts, Jeff Bubolz and Jeff Maleski.
Sander Dur 00:15
Gentlemen, good evening. How are you guys doing?
Jeff Bubolz 00:18
Good. Oh, good. Coming off a weekend. Nice, nice long weekend. And it’s Monday. I wasn’t weekend. For me good. I coached my last the last flag football game of the season for pattern flag football for my kids. And so that was fun. Nice goes fast, but I love always has talked about it on our podcast, like, the similarities from coaching, you know, youth sports versus coaching, you know, teams and individuals and organizations. And there’s just so many parallels. Oh, absolutely. What about you, Mr. molesky.
Jeff Maleski 00:54
Just coming off a holiday with my brother in law and his family came in from Australia. So we took them on a tour of the US. New York State saw Niagara falls down to Savannah, saw Las Vegas over to Arizona for the Grand Canyon, back home to Wisconsin. So I’ve just dropped them off last week. And then my aunt in law, we just dropped her off at Chicago yesterday. So she’s flying back to India. So like, had nine people in this house. And now we’re down to three people. So that’s a good level of population here. That’s a packed week. Yeah, it was rough. And like kids, man, I’m allergic to kids. And I had a bunch of girls in my house, and it was just crazy.
Sander Dur 01:41
Then you’re here with two dads, this is gonna be good.
Jeff Bubolz 01:45
How about you? What did you do this weekend,
Sander Dur 01:48
Sunday, absolutely nothing. I still had some remnants of the jetlag coming back from Boston. That week was packed as well, you know, the face to face going to Atlanta, do some workshops over there, explored the city explore the market, there was quite some things to do. But unfortunately, I have this annoying issue where due to my kids, I can tell I have my biological clock. And even though I’m on the other side of the world, and with the jetlag, I still wake up at 6am Dutch time. So that did not help me. So I was recovering from that. And that’s, it’s fun to see how that how such a jetlag, and they’ve been deprived of sleep, how that tends to work on your overall feelings. And, you know, that’s a nice segue into the topic of today, that sense of psychological safety in the work environment. So if I’m deprived like this asleep, and having a jetlag, I definitely feel less safe, at work, at least to be open about, about stuff, maybe more emotional, that’s, that’s, that’s a better word than necessarily, you
Jeff Bubolz 02:52
may be triggered more to write like, oh, yeah, small things that you would like go or you know, him, you know, give people space or empathy. And you don’t, because you’re, you’re in that deprived sleep state. Right. So absolutely,
Sander Dur 03:04
yeah. But same with you, with your coaching with their football coaching, same thing, you need a lot of psychological safety there to properly work as a team. I know. You mean, look at the PSM one exercise where people define what brings up what makes a great team. psychological safety, I know, at least in mine is usually one of the biggest ones coming back. I was with your courses.
Jeff Bubolz 03:29
Yeah, I think it’s a big part. It’s a hard, you know, it’s an easy thing to talk about, it’s a harder thing to do in practice. And so I find that we talk about it in the classes, people like, Yeah, I agree with that, no one’s gonna tell you, they don’t agree with it, we talk about it from a classroom setting. But then you get into certain spaces, and you can definitely see it’s not there. In the it can manifest itself in many different ways. Like maybe the team makes a small change to the process. And then all of a sudden, there’s people outside of the team that are that are debating that or wanting them to switch that or judge to conclusions like those are things that I see often or there could be something like, I don’t know, maybe people just won’t give feedback. The meeting after the meeting is a very common thing that we see here in the US. So like we have a meeting. Everyone’s like, Yep, we’re good. And then five minutes later, everyone’s like, hop on a call. Let’s talk about that. And like that’s where we give the real feedback, but only when certain people in the room. So I don’t know, those are all practices that I would say like you know, they’re good things to start to think about avoiding and try to give that feedback in the moment. And maybe in there’s there’s definitely cases like in a mentoring situation. Like we have a meeting I always do a meeting after a meeting and those cases with like Scrum Masters or coaches that I’m working with a product owners, but that’s more to teach them like meta level what I was doing when I was facilitating, it’s more about that than dealing with a conflict that wasn’t addressed inside the team, you know, all right inside of the event or whatever we were just doing.
Sander Dur 04:55
What’s that? The reluctance to speak up about this in the actual event? Well, I have even more waste afterwards.
Jeff Bubolz 05:04
So we’re not Dutch. Here we are. We are in Midwest nice. Like, we have this thing here, the sun in the Midwest of the United States where we don’t we don’t talk very kindly and nicely to people when they’re we’re face to face. And then when they’re not there, we don’t we maybe don’t say that, or we don’t feel that way. We have a hard time giving tough feedback, I think we both for the most part, a lot of people really struggle with conflict. They don’t grow up seeing it, they don’t know how to manage it. And so it’s so learning, it can be a learning curve, definitely, even for adults of how to deal with conflict. I see that often. What do you think, Jeff? Do you see that same thing? Or do you I mean, you have your family here from India, right, like just a few days ago? Like, how do they deal with it different conflict differently than we deal with it here in Wisconsin?
Jeff Maleski 05:47
Yeah, I was, I was actually just thinking about this last night, if you want to see like, the worst in humanity, go to the departure area at the International Airport. Because, like, and I’m only being half half cynical when I say this, but like, different cultures have different values. And they interpret interactions in a very different way. And all of a sudden, at the, you know, I’ll speak for Chicago International Airport, right? Like, we were my family was flying out on Emirates, they’re going to India. And so a lot of Indian individuals that and they just have a very different culture, like they’re very comfortable getting up close to each other, right? There isn’t there isn’t that like safe space between bodies, right. And that’s just part of the culture. I would, again, I’m making, I’m making broad brush. So I don’t want to trigger anybody with some of these statements, I would say they’re probably more apt. Apt isn’t the right word. Almost aggressive with the way that like, they move in, and they will go after something. But that’s just part of the, again, the culture like when there’s not abundance, like you have to be selfish is the word that comes to mind. But it’s not like a mean type of selfish just like, this is my opportunity. If I don’t go after this, nobody’s going to just hand it to me, right? And so there’s just this, this stirring pool of these different ideas, this diversity, and I think that’s like, there’s there’s pros and cons to that. Now, bring that into the workspace. And all of a sudden, we talk about diversity. We want diversity of opinions, perspective, mindsets, and all of that culture is certainly certainly part of that. But to what we’ve been talking about with psychological safety is if we don’t have a safe space, we might jump to conclusions with the way that people are behaving. Jeff, you were talking about, you know, that Midwestern nice, just wanted to clarify a little bit. It’s not necessarily to face which I think we could have interpreted like, being nice to somebody in person, but then going and talking shit behind their back. Like it’s not it’s not that it’s just we’re not very conflict prone, right? We’re very accommodating in the way that we approach things. And that’s very different than an east or west coast, even in the US, right?
Jeff Bubolz 08:02
Yeah, when you get into a retro here in the Midwest, like you really got to dig to and ask a bunch of questions. And it gives space for people to like, sit with a conflict or deal with a conflict. And it’s not going to be like, I don’t know, it’s just so much more direct if you do a retro on the east coast or the west coast. Oh, absolutely. You know, how was it? I guess I only heard hear from other people. I’ve never been in a retro with Dutch people. But I just under the persona from the bat, you hear is that very direct, right? Like that’s, I would assume that you would have a lot of authentic conversations,
Sander Dur 08:36
this might be a potential culture shock coming up? Absolutely. Do you think is very interesting to hear about the gap between both Europe, for instance, dealing with different cultures, we want to have psychological safety, we want to be able to bring our whole selves to the workspace yet we do not want to go into conflict and therefore we are enabling ourselves to not to bring that whole self and and to minimize the psychological safety. So what could we what should we be doing in getting a step further? I mean, if you would participate in a Dutch retrospective, a very blunt, direct, outspoken Dutch meeting, they’ll say anything, what they think of that point, not to mean, not to be demeaning or not to be mean in general, but they there is just no discussion, no debate, no difference in interpretation possible that you will be direct. If they think you suck, or at least your work sucks, or your behavior sucks. They will tell you.
Jeff Bubolz 09:39
Yeah, I think one thing that definitely helps is having a shared goal, right? So if we’re all just kind of working as individuals, but you suck, it’s like I can just deal with that. It doesn’t really matter. Like it doesn’t really affect me that much. So shared goal and then some, like accountability towards that goal. And then I think those things help is one thing also getting to know people as individuals is another thing that I tend to do. And so just getting to know them starting off with like a check in and having something be more personal and just different events or meetings, not just the retro, but that’s something that I’ve done. I mean, it’s actually funny in the virtual world here. There’s been times where we get on and like, like, how do we work with these certain people? Because like, they, their audio doesn’t work, we can’t, their cameras don’t work. They, they can’t even how do we communicate, like, if we can’t get by that barrier, then we can’t even how we can have conflict. So it’s like making sure people have good audio, good video, they can talk, they feel okay to talk. And once you get that started, then I think just, you know, making sure everybody’s talking early and often in a meeting and make sure it’s focused on the problem and not on an individual. And so one thing that I talk about too a lot with teams, as I’m coaching them is like, what words are we using? So if we use pronouns like I, you, instead of like us, and, you know, things like that, or our, like more team ownership like pronouns, that definitely changes the conversation, when we add, it’s our problem versus it’s your problem. The testing team isn’t getting this done, the developers aren’t doing this when we start talking about people in that kind of respect. And that’s like we as a team aren’t delivering how could we get faster, like we just have these big handoffs, like that would be a different way to phrase that question. And it makes a big difference, I think of how people look at it, and how they look at that problem. One tactical thing, and we’ve got from Bob gallon, who was on our podcast not too long ago, and he was talking about his book, badass agile coaching. And when he has conflict, he oftentimes takes it right sit on a board or someplace visual, and then stands both people. So they’re looking at the problem and not looking at each other. So then the conflict doesn’t go between the two people. It’s like both of us looking forward at the problem. It’s simple. You think, Oh, that would make much of a difference. But in practice, as I’ve tried, I’ve applied it a few different times, like it does make a difference. It definitely level sets the conflict level and the tension level. When when there is something that’s that’s kind of hard to talk about.
Jeff Maleski 12:03
Yeah, one other thing I want to add in there and kind of make it explicit, like, I think it was implicit in a lot of what you were just saying there, Jeff, but really focusing on attacking problems and not people, right. Like, it’s not a person who is the problem. It’s the behavior that is being displayed as the problem. And so if we can decouple the behavior from the person, I think we’re going to have a lot more productive conversation about ways to remedy the issue, because it’s no longer Jeff, Google’s is the problem. It’s Hey, Jeff, when you’re late to the daily scrub, here’s the issues that come out of it, or the dysfunction that we’re seeing, how can we have how can we rectify this situation? How can we change that behavior?
Sander Dur 12:46
For that, I always try to work with the coin feedback method. So connect, ask people, I have some observed observations I want to run by Is now a good moment, or maybe go into a different moment, or do you want to go outside to the office or, you know, maybe someone is just not the right mindset at that point in time. So connect with them that make sure that people are getting into the right mindset. So share the observations, as you guys both mentioned, and it has this and this impact, even though it might be behavior whatsoever. And the end for next next steps? Do you share my observations? Do you agree with them? Do you need my help, you know, maybe something’s going on at home, maybe they have some personal things going on, that they’re not necessarily comfortable with sharing directly. But by lowering the threshold to share this stuff, that brings you into a whole different realm of accepting feedback or talking about it. I know, for us a Scrum Masters assuming that you guys work as Scrum Masters as well. And coaches leading by example, is a major part of it, too. I mean, how do you approach? How do you set that stage? How do you lead by example?
Jeff Bubolz 13:53
Yeah. Well, I’ll go into one more tactical thing that we get into lead by example. But one more thing that we got from Lisa Atkins, when we had her on the podcast was, like, talk with people, but how you want it to be when there’s conflict before there’s conflict, like when you’re starting an engagement or starting working with a team, like, hey, how do we want this to be when we’re when we have a conflict? You know, some people will be like, Well, I really struggle with like getting direct feedback, because like, I worried that I’m gonna get fired, or I worry about my security here in this organization. So if you tell me that I’m safe from that standpoint, but we need to get better like that, then I’ll be I’ll be good, you know, or if you don’t wait, you know, some people like tell it to me in the moment, I don’t care who’s around or some people are like, wait till after the meeting, I’d rather just, it just be us when we talk about it. I don’t want to be embarrassed in front of others or something like that, when you give have to give me tough feedback. So that I think that’s great. And then if you say, Well, you know, this is what you said and I’m living that I think that’s one way that you can be connecting with them right, having a conversation first and then doing it is a great way to connect. And I think you can actually use that as a relationship builder instead of something that tears down your relationship. If It’s done. Done. Wow. Yeah. So I think that’s another one. I definitely do that more in my like when I’m coaching through certain roles, maybe not with everybody, like as a practical like as an Agile coach or an advisor if we’re an organization, but but I think as any leader that’s out there that has people that report up to them, like, that’d be a great conversation to have with them. Like, how do you want to be when it’s tough? What is it that you really want here? How can I help you do that? Like, I think those would be great conversations, to build some kind of shared ownership, and then like, have you help, they’ll help you with conflict and feedback and things like that into the future.
Sander Dur 15:35
Speaking of leadership, do you see any differences there? In the US, I guess, the hardest to speak up about these kinds of things, the higher you gotten into the chain.
Jeff Bubolz 15:48
Like every organization is different, you know, some have a culture where it’s really, it’s accepted, it’s the norm. Some organizations don’t where it’s very political, like, it’s hard to go up one level inside of the organization to have a conversation, like you need to talk to your manager before you do that other ones, it’s like, go talk to the C suite door’s always open walk in. So I can’t say that it’s one way or the other inside the US, I think it’s very organization specific.
Jeff Maleski 16:11
It’s really anecdotal. But I feel like it has more to do with the size of the organization than it does the location. In a smaller group, you’re, I think, almost by definition, you feel more comfortable, more secure in a smaller group of individuals than you do in a larger group of individuals. And so if you’re gonna feel more secure with that smaller group of individuals, you’re gonna feel more safe to vocalize anything that you want to talk about in that way. And the larger the group gets, the less safety there is there. So I think, to me, again, anecdotally is, at the smaller organizations that I’ve worked with, in the past, there was a lot more openness and transparency, I can give a lot of great examples of that. Like, back to our center days, when Jeff and I worked together, even at acorns, there’s this really great story that, you know, during the pandemic, somebody had spray painted, something to the effect of silence is violence, and no, you’ve got to speak. So no, is the CEO of the company and at an accompany all hands, like he gave some really a passion passionate feedback on that topic, I don’t want to say exactly what he said. But it was very clear that he gave a damn about what had happened, he gave a damn about the employees. And he was very comfortable speaking with his emotion, and how he felt about it. And there was a great dialogue, you know, from not that there’s tears that and I don’t want to paint it as a tear, but like, new junior software developers, were giving feedback to the president or the CEO of the company. And like, that was fine. But I don’t think I would see that at a 5000 person company or a 1000 person company or something like that. So I do think that that size has something to do with or is a component of that conversation.
Jeff Bubolz 18:05
I will also say that I think culture follows structure. And so if you want a culture of openness and bringing your whole self to work, then you need to put structures in place that allow for that. So when we were at that one company, I mentioned center, every Friday, there was a 15 minute call with everybody in the organization. And you could ask any leadership would give an update of like, what was happening from the company level, maybe five minutes or something? And then anybody could ask any question they wanted to? You just unmute, post it and then the leadership would deal with the question, and everybody got to hear the answer. So it’s like an open forum every week. So the rapid feedback loop in that it’s weekly, not like monthly or quarterly. And, and that, like they had to think about stuff on the spot. I think that gives you transparency for like, yeah, you can ask the question here, or you can come to my office, like, we want these things, and they never shut people down for like asking a question. They might be like, we need to think about that one, or like, we’ll get back to you on it and stuff like that. They may have deferred or tabled it at times, but they didn’t. And most the time, they did deal with it. And so just kind of brought that up as a you know, that’s the culture here. Like we have transparency, and we deal with issues when they come up. So I don’t know, like, what are your thoughts, Jeff, like, I think those certain structures you can put in place, even when you’re beg to help promote that level of collaboration and divide put down those walls, you know, the silos that tended to grow up?
Jeff Maleski 19:22
Yeah, I was actually going to ask Sandra, for your perspective on it. Like, you know, as we’re having this conversation started with, like, hey, is this a culture thing it made to Jeff’s point? Is it a structure thing? What what is what is your perspective? What are your observations?
Sander Dur 19:35
I think in many cases, it’s a wild growth as well. You know, same as with the question, how do we define self management? organizations tend to forget to think about what’s, what’s our ideal culture? How do we want us to to thrive? Where do we want to be? What kind of plays or how do we want to demonstrate our values? Organizations, I feel good Caught up in the daily business and therefore, skip these kinds of things and just become sort of a free for all, if you know what I mean, if that makes sense.
Jeff Bubolz 20:10
But if you really think about consciousness, you know, to like what’s happening because think so tactical stuff,
Sander Dur 20:15
I think so it’s especially with scaling, where you see a disconnection between the higher management and teams doing the work. While there is so much more value in that, not just on the connection level, or on the feedback level, or the psychological safety, by going into the project management, or the product management vacuum as well. This is where we want to be as, as an as an organization when it comes to our mission and our vision, and how does it work of the teams like the sprint goals and product goals? And how does that relate? And how do we fill that void? It’s the same with the more interpersonal stuff. Now, if, as a CEO, taking in the most extreme example, if you can say, you know, I’ve made mistakes as well, I don’t know what’s going on. I would like to have your feedback, where this is how I messed up, this is where I would like to get your input on someone that does so much good on the mental health of people in the teams. So coming back to your question, Jeff, sorry for that, for the very elaborate answer. I don’t think there is necessarily a conscious thing, but there’s more of a wild growth because of the daily business, not thinking about what’s the culture that we want to, we want to achieve. A great example of that, I feel is Dan price. I’m not sure what the companies that he works for. But setting that financial compensation, basically the same for everyone. So you don’t have that the CEO is way above the rest. And, you know, he treats his people like he wants to be treated not just in a financial position. But same with behavior in general. And I think that’s super powerful.
Jeff Maleski 21:52
Yeah, there was something you had brought up? Well, a few things that you brought up inside of there. One was the values conversation, which I have the two of us, I’m the more cynical one. But like I always feel like those values, conversations at big companies are just bullshit like you. Maybe you hear about him on day one, when you’re going through the hiring, or the onboarding process. And then maybe as a quarterly staff meeting, somebody will bring it out, because hey, these are our company values, but like you never hear about them in any way, shape, or form. And so they really just become meaningless at that point. But something else you had said inside of there is while I appreciate the humility and the humbleness of a leader coming up, say, hey, I want your feedback. I would love to, you know, I’ve made mistakes, and blah, blah, blah. Unless they’re telling you how to provide that feedback. I find it very disingenuous, right? Like, if you’re the CEO, you’re the leader of a company that has more than 50 people inside of it. So let’s say it’s a typical 250 person organization, like, what are you supposed to do? Like, send an email over to the CEO? Is there a Slack channels sent up as a carrier pigeon? Like what? How are we supposed to actually engage in conversation. And I’m willing to bet that never happens, because the door was never opened to actually tell you how to have realistic feedback with each other. So I think it’s a good first step, but unless you actually have the processes in place, the structure to Jeff, what you were just talking about, like that’s just so meaningless. To me, that’s just fluff.
Jeff Bubolz 23:27
I think you have to have those structures. And I think another powerful thing you can do is have stories. And up you can’t tell a story one time, you have to tell it over and over again, like certain organizations have certain stories that get told over and over again, that kind of like, tell you about their culture tell you about their values. And so if you have a value of courage, tell me about how you live the value. Tell me about how we celebrate them. I had one team that I worked with one time, and they were really into servant leadership, they went through that we went through this little workshop, and they were like, super excited about so they took the TOL values of servant leadership. And every sprint they have like that was there like setting the stage to the retro, and it was the servant leader of the sprint. And so the person who was a servant leader, the last sprint of the sprint, had us find a story to tell of somebody who lived one of the values, the sprint, and they would tell a story would be like a one paragraph thing, and they put post it on their team wall. And then like, over time, they don’t put a bunch of these stories, and they, you know, people would come and it’d be part of like, onboarding them. And they read these stories, they talk about them. And it just became like, more and more of that was lived every day, because it’s something that we were told stories about, and something we celebrated. And so I think you can do that with almost anything. It just you got to do it regularly, and put a structure in place around that to help you do that. And so those are conscious decisions to like, invest in your culture, you know, and make the time and space for that, that I think you can do inside of an organization. So you can start small like it’d be one scrum team doing this. It could be you know, if you’re a leader, it could be your team that reports to you if you’re a senior manager at some organization, like maybe you multiple teams and managers doing this. So it can be lived many different ways.
Jeff Maleski 25:05
It reminds me I don’t know if it was ever part of the PSM one, if it was just another practical that we did during during our training in previous jobs. But anyway, there was this, this awesome little facilitation exercise around just imagining a team that you want to be a part of like, what is the day in and day out look like for that team? What? Why are you excited to come into work every day and work with this team. And kind of drawing it back to where we started the conversation with with psychological safety, like that, to me is a very, that that tactical thing that you were just talking about there, Jeff, is a very practical way of making it feel like not only are we going to welcome other individuals, but we’re going to celebrate the things we want to see in each other. And we’re going to make it part of our practice to not only highlight these things, but that is literally part of the onboarding process. When you are a new team member coming onto our team, you’re going to revisit all these stories of awesomeness that we have had with each other. So that we very clearly set the expectation with you. This is what it means to be part of this team. This is what we expect from you as a team member. And this is what you should expect from us as a team member. I think even that would be a great foundational piece for psychological safety, clearly setting expectations up front and warmly welcoming a new person onto the team.
Sander Dur 26:22
So creating a definition of awesome.
Jeff Maleski 26:25
There. I love it a definition of awesome, that’s what we need.
Sander Dur 26:30
Let’s stick to that. Now we’ve been discussing bringing our whole selves as well, what does it mean to you guys to bring your whole selves, because that seems to be open to interpretation still.
Jeff Bubolz 26:43
So for me, it means that you bring who you’re not a different person at home, then when you are going to work. Now you might have a different filter in certain situations, and you still gotta like, say certain things, or maybe approach problems and a little different way. But you’re the same person. One thing that I do with teams is, I mean, I personally like using Disk, but not for like just being pigeon holed. For one thing, it’s more like a, it’s a, it’s a language that people can use to say, I agree with this, and I don’t agree with this, or I would modify this. And it’s a way for them to talk about themselves, and inspect themselves with the team, and talk about how they want to be treated, how they like to work, things like that, what they favor, what they would like to avoid. And I think that helps the team to really get to know each other and gives them a language for it. So that’s one thing, like and when I do a district like this adapted versus like, how you are at home, and so with those are very, very different, then that means you’re kind of being a different person. And so the one that I use there, like that’s just, I guess it’s a sign that Ooh, something’s not right here, like, you’re acting drastically different than you would at home, that’s probably takes a lot of energy from you’re probably getting very worthwhile from work. So just that’s one way that, you know, I use that as a no, if that’s happening, but really bringing your whole self to me, it’s like, you’re just, there isn’t a difference. If somebody if your friend, a friend meets you, from your personal life and a friend from work meet each other, they are meeting the same person. And, you know, they’re they would, they would recognize that person. And in neutral context, you know,
Jeff Maleski 28:21
I don’t, I can’t recall the book that I’m reading right now. But in the introductory of it, it had articulated, I’m gonna butcher it, but it essentially was talking about two different types of characteristics that you have, you’ve got the characteristics that you put on your resume. And then you’ve got the characteristics that are going to be spoken of you at your eulogy. And, for me, it really struck a nerve because I was like, you know, what I want to be known for is, you know, if it was on my tombstone, it would be something like Jeff molesky, cussed a lot, but passionately cared about people. Right? And like, that’s who I am. And, you know, I do speak like a drunken sailor, right? Like I cost, it’s like, 3.6 customers per minute is my average, right? But I also truly, deeply give a damn about people. And that’s what it means for me to be my whole self and bring that into work, right. And also understand that you can hold more than one perspective in your head at a time. You can say, Yeah, Jeff has got a foul mouth, but he’s also really good at his job, or he really cares about people or whatever, like, fill in the blank there, right? Like, people are multifaceted and there can be pros and cons. And there are pros and cons to individuals. Let’s just accept that. All right, as long as there’s more pros than there are cons. Get the fuck over it. Okay, like, life goes on. We’re gonna be good. Like, let’s let’s just do awesome stuff together.
Jeff Bubolz 29:51
Think about it. For like Jeff’s perspective. If he spends all his time trying to hold his tongue and not like swear he’s not thinking about your product as the product owner. He’s not thinking about how to up position this best in a marketplace, he’s putting more and more energy into like that than the not being himself than into like doing nothing you hired him to do. So I think from a value perspective, from an organization’s perspective, I want to put people in the best position to succeed. That’s what any leader should try to do inside of an organization has created an environment where people are successful, and can be successful. And I think when you put certain norms out there, you you know, of like people not being themselves, you’re, you’re creating an environment where they have to do too much thinking on the simple things, you know,
Sander Dur 30:33
yeah. One of the latest examples where I feel that people actually able to bring their whole selves, to me was the scrum the dog face to face and I don’t want to glorify the in the scrum that org community in general, because I do that quite a bit already. But one of those things that I noticed we’ve never met Mr. Beautiful murals. And the same with Chad and Sabrina, and every every basically, anyone who was there, everything went smooth from the get go, no holding back, no nothing. What’s that thing that made it that made that community or that that possibility to bring yourself without any fear of repercussions? And beer does help?
Jeff Bubolz 31:17
I mean, yeah, yeah, I think part of it is, you know, the people that are in the community are kind of been vetted, and they all have certain similar values, and we’ve had to all go through a similar role. So walking in everybody inside of that room, you know, they’ve gone through a certain process, you know, they know what they’re talking about, from a technical standpoint, like they’re very, they’re very good at whatever, you know, from an agile scrum perspective, they know their stuff. We don’t have to even debate that or think about that. And so now, it’s like, what’s the problem that you want to solve? Like, what’s the biggest thing? How could I help you with that? How can you help me with my problems? And it just, I don’t know, we come, maybe we come to that face to face with a mentality of like, I want to give and get help. And I think that just maybe who we are as a community, but I don’t know how you, I think it’s part of it is shared values. And, you know, we have a shared goal. And so I think that helps a lot. And maybe there’s just I don’t know, for whatever reason, there is built in trust. Like, I just feel like anytime I run into somebody, and they told me they’re a psda, there’s an interest trust. I know, like, we’re, we’re on a certain level of like, we we agree on certain baseline things. And so I think that makes a difference.
Sander Dur 32:24
Shouldn’t that be the same thing in any organization? I mean, you go through the same process as well, you get through the same hiring process, you go through the same onboarding, mostly. Maybe?
Jeff Maleski 32:36
I don’t know. Yeah, but most aren’t, like hiring processes or shit. Like that, at least at least hear, I don’t know, you know, your end of the world, but hear their garbage most of the time. So like, if you’re, if your intake processes garbage, like expect garbage in on the other side of that process. So I don’t know if we necessarily do that good of a job holistically in corporate America, of actually hiring for purpose, hiring for common alignment, hiring for values, etc.
Jeff Bubolz 33:11
Yeah, I think we talk about it a lot. But we don’t do a very good job of implementing it,
Sander Dur 33:15
then that goes sort of back to my comment on thinking about the culture that you want to have. And it’s the same with the hiring process. I, personally, what I see also in corporate America, especially in corporate America, that there’s a huge disconnection between human resources and my absolute hate for the term human resources. And people in the team who are actually involved in the hiring process, do you Jeff fit into our team in our micro culture, that’s something that HR or the hiring manager will never know, because you’re not part of the team. People in the team should be making those kinds of decisions, not someone who’s completely disconnected from the actual work.
Jeff Maleski 33:54
Yeah, and to exactly that point, I think that’s the exception versus the rule, right? It’s the exception that you’re actually interviewing with the team that you’re going to be a part of, it’s an exception that you’re actually getting to talk to know how they operate and what that culture is, like, you know, it’s more of the rule that, hey, we’re gonna have a phone screen to make sure you’re not a full fucking idiot. Cool, you can move on to the next step where you’re going to talk with one or two of the managers there. And then maybe the next one is with a director or something like that. And it totally bypasses any of the people that are actually doing the work, right. So it completely sidesteps what you would expect that process to be like. Now, again, broad broad strokes here that I’m painting, but there are places that do things very differently. And in fact, you know, Jeff, and I went out to Menlo a number of years ago and got to see their hiring practice. When I was with Health Champion. We had something very similar where, you know, we actually paid somebody to come in part of the interview process. They came in for a day and they worked with the team. If they were an engineer, they were writing code. If they were a quality engineer, they were testing and they got paid for that day. It wasn’t like some unpaid internship, like we actually paid them for their time because it was valuable. We wanted to see how they performed, we want to see how they worked with the team. And then a decision was made. So yeah, there’s absolutely places that are experimenting with other ways of doing it. But again, that’s, that seems like the exception to the rule.
Sander Dur 35:18
Same thing, by the way, for me for the annual reviews and the appraisal on these kinds of things. It’s so disconnected from psychological safety or bringing your whole self to work. I mean, in in Agile and Scrum, we practice continuous inspection, adaptation. But if you only look back once a year, like this is what you’ve done, and that’s what you’re going to get your bonus for, you know, no opportunities anymore to improve whatsoever.
Jeff Bubolz 35:43
Yeah. I think that there’s a big opportunity missed there, right? Like, what if you did it? So we do it annually? Now? What if we just did something a little shorter, right, like we used to do half an annual releases when we built products, you know, if you used to have Windows 98, and Windows 2008, was every two years we would do these things? And I guess companies have done that, too, where it’s like, oh, that’s a tough year, we’re just going to skip that, you know, that part of the year, not give anybody any raises for a year. But like now we were it’s more continuous. But could one step be quarterly? Like what if you just did quarterly? Think about that people out there? Like, what if every quarter, there was some type of feedback mechanism was like, Hey, do we hit our goals? Do we make progress towards them? What do you think? Are we have this much budget for this? Now, depending on what happened, we have a quarter has gone by you worked with this team for a quarter, hey, maybe we should decide as a team where that money gets distributed, I think that’d be a great idea. Give the money to the team, let them figure out how how it gets distributed. Also give them the transparency of what everybody else makes. I mean, it very easily could be like there could be a big salary. discrepancy, at least that happens a lot here in the US with, you know, certain minorities and sometimes women like, like, they don’t like to talk about it, but it does happen. And so like making that transparent, like the team will correct that I guarantee they will if they see it. So I those are things I have to think about is how do you have short term goals, because then you can see the benefit, and you realize that faster, then people will work harder towards it. It’s just like exercise or working out or anything like that. You do like that? Like, I mean, if you if you didn’t see the benefits for a year, would you stay with it? No. Like you need to see them over a few weeks, like some small benefit, or you won’t, you won’t keep doing it. So I think the shorter you know, the feedback loops we can have there, the better at this point.
Jeff Maleski 37:28
One quick thing of what would want to add in there again, I don’t have kids because I’m allergic. But like, if I did have a kid, I cannot for a moment. Imagine this scenario, like little Johnny, it’s his eighth birthday. And you know, you pull up a seat and he’s like, alright, Johnny, let’s review the last year of accomplishments that you did. All right. So on day 36, you learned how to ride a bicycle. And that was really good on day 110. You, you got all your chores done. And like, that just sounds so stupid when you lay it out like that. No, you you recognize accomplishments in the moment, and you reward accomplishments at that time, right? Like why? I just again, I’m the cynical one. Like I just can’t imagine how somebody was like, You know what, let’s just wait a year. And realistically what happens is like everybody busts that are asked for like the month leading up to it. It’s like kids during Christmas, right? Like, that’s when all the chores get done, because they want to be on the good list because Santa is watching. But nevermind the the other 11 months of the year when Santa was like out of focus, right? Yeah, sure. Like, it just seems so stupid when you look at this stuff. But like that’s the way it is. It’ll
Sander Dur 38:35
go back to 2020. January 2020. I created my whole year plan COVID was not one of those yet fucked over my entire plan.
Jeff Maleski 38:45
Yep. Not only yours, few other 100 billion people.
Sander Dur 38:50
A couple of other people have been, they may have been affected as well. So moral of the of the story, we got to eradicate Taylorism.
Jeff Bubolz 39:02
Well, I won’t say eradicate I just say that there’s a time and a place for certain things, right? We have a lot too. We have a lot of things in this world right now. Because of Taylorism. Right? Like we have material things. It’s really progressed, the way things have worked over the last 100 years, we’ve made some huge technology advances. But different types of work to hire, require different types of management, different type of leadership, different types of organization. And so best practices work when you’re building something that’s very repeatable. But when you’re building things that are not repeatable, then we have to think about different ways of working. And there’s to be more emergent practices. We have to really embrace things that lead to innovation and control is not something that leads to innovation. Control leads to a certain standard of quality things being reproduced a certain way, but that’s not what you want. A lot of times in product development, we want innovation. That’s the thing where you’re going to get the 100x You know, return on something. So create an environment that allows for that, I think is is definitely a challenge, but it’s very different than what you know, maybe a tailor stick approach would have you do?
Sander Dur 40:09
Sure it was a very much exaggerated Of course everything has
Jeff Bubolz 40:13
a hard time. I’m just like, everybody bashes the tailors. And from an Agile community standpoint, I’m like, wow, it’s not all bad. Like there’s we did get some pros from it, you know, so
Sander Dur 40:22
there are no best practice Scrum and Agile. Guys looking at the time, unfortunately.
Jeff Maleski 40:29
Oh, good brother.
Jeff Bubolz 40:30
Oh, yeah. It was great. It was great chatting with you. Thanks for having us on the podcast. It was a lot of Likewise.
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