This is Kommon People — the newsletter from Kommon which highlights stories about people, organisations, and technology to help you be a better manager. If you like it and want more like it in your inbox, consider subscribing.
Before we get into this week’s edition, a quick follow up to last week’s piece on the importance of creating a great candidate experience when hiring. In short, if you don’t, it can be costly...
A few years ago, UK cable and mobile provider Virgin Media quantified it (for their business at least). They found that a significant number of their applicants were Virgin Media subscribers, and that 6% of rejected candidates ended up switching to a different provider after their interview experience. 6% of 123,000 rejected candidates was £4.4 million in revenue a year. Unsurprisingly, this finding prompted a radical change in how they approached their candidate experience...
Onto this week’s issue.
It’s no secret that firing someone is one of the hardest tasks we have to do as managers.
What’s sometimes forgotten is that the conversations we have with the individual are only one part of the job. How and what we communicate to our teams and our companies is also vital.
If we don’t communicate outwards, what’s left isn’t an empty space. Instead, rumour and speculation will rush in to fill the vacuum left by our failure to provide support and explanation.
Lots of companies also claim to have a culture of transparency and openness, and how you manage a firing can be a very telling sign to your employees as to how true you hold those values.
You know the feeling.
Perhaps you’re in a meeting where your CEO is explaining a strategic reorientation (layoff), or a sales manager is trying to justify an unexpectedly tricky third quarter (unrealistic sales targets), or a product manager is detailing why customers aren’t engaging with the new features yet (poor design processes) . You know it as soon as you hear it.
You try hard not to raise an eyebrow whilst you immediately message a bunch of people about how hilarious it is that they expect you to just believe this stuff.
But that’s other people. When you’ve got some difficult or complicated news to convey, you do it clearly and honestly. Sure, sometimes you fudge around the edges, and talk about synergies, alignment and moving forward, but you’re pretty sure no-one notices.
A recent study has (and we’re so happy to put this in print) ‘evaluated the psychometric properties of the Organizational Bullshit Perception Scale’ and found that workers consistently perceived bullshit where it existed in their workplaces.
Specifically they noted three areas.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a separate study from 2020 found:
“There are a number of potential negative effects of workplace BS, including lower job satisfaction, increased distrust in leadership and reduced performance…”’
So try and resist the temptation. Your team will notice.
We’ve spoken before about the dangers of generalising about what offices are or aren’t ‘good for’, so we’ll tread carefully here. But a recent post examining the structure of remote work in academia potentially has some lessons for how we onboard new staff and develop their careers.
The post is by Matt Clancy, a Progress Studies Fellow at Emergent Ventures. He looked at the ways academics collaborate on research papers and ultimately concluded that academia is an ‘example of successful innovation by distributed teams.’
(Some academics may beg to differ.)
Specifically, we wanted to focus on one finding. Clancy writes about the positive impact on other local researchers when new members of staff joined in-person.
‘I suspect proximity might be quite important for forming working relationships, but less important for maintaining them.’
Anecdotally, this has been reflected in others’ experience over the past year. Where more senior members of staff with pre-existing relationships have adapted more smoothly to pandemic-induced remote work, those without those bonds may have struggled to form them.
As with all remote work theses, if you think this might be applicable to you, the next stage is to speak to your team and see if it resonates. Particularly those who might be recent joiners.
If they feel they are struggling to build relationships with others in the company then consider whether there’s ways you can help.
Body language has always been an essential part of communication. With remote work, that language has evolved to include digital cues which will influence your team’s perceptions of you as a manager.