Kicking off the 1% Club

I really find value in spending time talking to the individuals in my organization, not just about the project of the moment, but about their ideas, thoughts, and frustrations. I’ve found that by knowing more about what motivates people, what their passions and hobbies are, that I develop a better understanding of their motivations and the thinking behind the work they do. I also know I value when my bosses take time to learn a bit about me and who I am, and I’m hoping others feel will feel the same.

I’m writing this on my return trip to Virginia from spending a few days in Northern California where I was meeting with 4 individuals from different teams in my org. The genesis of my trip was to spend time with each of them due to recent org changes I’ve made. I hoped to ensure them that their thoughts are both encouraged and expected, their involvement is crucial to getting the move forward steps right. These talks are similar to many other conversations I have with my staff, albeit, mostly informal and more happenstance much of the time. There are so many valuable things I learn from these talks, and the feedback I get indicates individuals appreciate the time and data I’m able to share in these settings.

Today I’m excited to claim I’ll be adding a slightly more formal approach to these conversations. I’m kicking off what I call “The 1% Club“. Over the next 12 months I’m committing to spend at least 1 hour with every member of my organization in small groups that represent between 1% & 2% of my staff. This will be 50 separate 1 hour meetings with 4-8 people at a time. This size allows a more intimate conversation than team meetings generally provide. Additionally, I’ll be hand crafting each 1% attendee list such that the makeup of each consist of people who don’t normally get to work closely together.

I intend this to be a loosely structured conversation, but I will moderate the discussions, and prefer to mostly listen rather than talk. I’ll also be mindful of the extrovert tendency to dominate the session and reserve the right to halt the conversation of a topic so we get to hear from everyone. I am going to identify a few key messages in each meeting and collect and collate them to share with the larger org. Topics discussed can help inform our future efforts, identify and uncover obstacles to overcome, and ensure we’re doing a better job connecting the business roadmap to the work we’re all busy doing. We won’t talk about individual career development, at least in specific terms, nor confidential things that would be best handled in our normal manager to employee 1 on 1’s. Otherwise, the agenda is a “stream of conscious”, fluid, in-the-moment opportunity for participants.

Objectives:

  • Hear from employees directly on their view of the business, our central Technology Operations organization, and what is and isn’t working for them.
  • Determine how connected to the larger company people believe their tasks and work are.
  • Learning from peer teammates and better understanding of what others are working on. Make introductions and better “one team” efforts.
  • Learn what motivates and energies my staff, what are they passionate about, what are the “hot buttons”.

I’ll follow up this post as I progress and share my thoughts on the impact this effort makes, but now I’m off to schedule a number of upcoming meetings.

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2 thoughts on “Kicking off the 1% Club

  1. I really like this idea. However make sure you also have a way to follow up on action items or issues that come out of these talks. That is currently a big issue in my organization. I have plenty of people that can listen and feel sympathetic, but nothing is changing.

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  2. I love this idea, I am curious to see the level of engagement you get. I find that 1:1 I get a log, but as soon as I get a group of any size, that isn’t the right mix of people, things shut down.

    I would love to see how this works out and any techniques you find work to get people engaged and contributing. I agree very much with Derek’s comment on the followup. It works and is needed to drive any change. This means having people be accountable for the change, turning the negative to a constructive and positive set of actions with empowerment to act.

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