Episode 30

#030 - Nine Lies About Work Series: Lie #1

Published on: 1st March, 2021

Today we kick off our Nine Lies About Work series in earnest with Lie #1 - People care which company they work for.

One of the core arguments in the first chapter is: Perks attract, teams retain.

When organizations recruit, they offer surface-level perks that are attractive in nature (fancy cafeterias, free dry cleaning, bring your dog to work, company name brand, etc.) which do a great job of getting the attention of prospective talent in a crowded market, but do little over time to actually retain that talent.

This happens because the individuals you end up working with have much more impact on your overall happiness and career growth than anything the organization can do at the macro-level. A terrible boss or toxic teammate chip away at any of the happiness material perks can hope to give.

In general, we feel this is a strong start to the book and are enjoying the series so far - we hope you are as well. Thanks for joining us today and don't forget to hit the subscribe button or reach out at [email protected].


Robert Greiner 0:05

If you thought it was a great question, why don't you answer it anyway? So if there was a movie being made about you, which actor would play you in that movie?

Charles Knight 0:17

I'm pretty sure my answer was me. I would play myself. And I think I dodged the question that way.

Igor Geyfman 0:23

The ultimate answer.

Robert Greiner 0:24

Okay. Are you gonna do it? Right? Okay, nice.

Charles Knight 0:28

Yeah. I, the first person that came to mind was Russell Crowe.

Robert Greiner 0:34

Russell Crowe. Nice, go big man.

Igor Geyfman 0:36

Isn't he the guy that fights everyone?

Charles Knight 0:39


Robert Greiner 0:39

But he was Gladiator? Yeah,

Charles Knight 0:42

he was Gladiator but he's done other stuff, too.

Igor Geyfman 0:45

He's Yeah, he's Australian. Yeah. Would you let him do you and like the Australian accent or would he

Charles Knight 0:51

No. Yeah, it would absolutely be have to

Robert Greiner 0:55

have with accent. Voice Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Charles Knight 0:58

He is a New Zealander.

Igor Geyfman 1:00

Yes, sorry.

Charles Knight 1:01

Who lives in Australia. Yeah,

Igor Geyfman 1:03

It's easy to confuse those two if you're not from there.

Charles Knight 1:05

A Beautiful Mind.

Robert Greiner 1:06

You didn't get a great movie.

Charles Knight 1:09

Anyway. That's what that's what.

Robert Greiner 1:11

Okay. All right. Well, allow it. Good. 10 points for you.

Charles Knight 1:15


Robert Greiner 1:16


Igor Geyfman 1:17

Yeah. When I was growing up, I was in theater class. And my theater teacher.

If you're listening,

Charles Knight 1:24

Igor, answer the question.

Robert Greiner 1:25

What was your theater teacher's name?

Igor Geyfman 1:27

Mary Lou Cantu.

Yeah, Mary Lou Cantu. She was later strangely, my debate teacher.

Robert Greiner 1:33

So you're drawing on a lot of experience in this series. This is timely.

Igor Geyfman 1:36


right. Yes. Although, unfortunately, Miss Cantu had nothing to do with my abilities and debate. But she I think she was a fine theatre teacher. And she one day said, Igor, you remind me of Jason Alexander. And she meant like physically. And, you know, from an acting standpoint, I said Jason Alexander. Do you mean George Costanza?

Robert Greiner 2:00

On Seinfeld? Right? Yeah.

Igor Geyfman 2:02

I was like,

me as a 13 year old I remind you of Jason Alexander.

Robert Greiner 2:09

Oh my gosh,

Charles Knight 2:09

it was physically or no?

Igor Geyfman 2:11

Yes. Like, yeah, I

thought that was like one of the most. No, okay, look, no offense, Jason Alexander.

But as a 13 year old kid,

Robert Greiner 2:19

he's not listening.

Igor Geyfman 2:20

No. 13 year old wants to be set wants to be called Jason Alexander. So that's for sure. Not I guess that should play me in a movie. I take like Jonah Hill. Yeah, I really liked his work and like the the 21 Jump Street series. So not the super bad Jonah Hill. But like the 21 Jump Street.

Charles Knight 2:38

Jonah Hill. Hey, I'm gonna go with she actually meant Jason Alexander, former husband of Britney Spears.

Igor Geyfman 2:46

I don't think so. Pretty. That's, that's a very kind interpret. He's a good looking guy.

Charles Knight 2:55


Robert Greiner 2:56

So Jonah Hill, final answer and Russell Crowe. Okay, cool. Cool.

Igor Geyfman 3:01

Matthew McConaughey for Robert.

Robert Greiner 3:02

Will haven't given it much thought. But I do think I definitely think Michael Cera would have to play me. I've been told several times that my voice sounds like his, which is also not a compliment. But we could have it would be like a Netflix original romantic comedy. I think Michael Cera would play me and Gina Rodriguez would play Diana.

Igor Geyfman 3:23

Charles you have to change your answer.

Robert Greiner 3:24

That's how we met in high school and did long distance dating and got married later. So we probably had to introduce a lot more drama or something in there.

Charles Knight 3:31

I'm gonna go watch a movie with Michael Cera now because that I'd never crossed my mind until you said something. Now the glass is shattered. And I can only hear him now. Robert.

Robert Greiner 3:42

Okay, so we are talking nine lies about work that and we're talking about line number one today? Yeah. All right. So let's recap what we're doing here, Igor, and the roles we're playing.

Igor Geyfman 3:53

Yeah, this is a book that I read quite a while back and really when it first came out, and I love reading books that are contrarian in nature, and I really enjoyed reading this one. And a couple of these lies really struck me as before understanding them before reading the book, I was like, Oh, boy, these dudes are totally off, off base here. But I'm interested to hear what they're gonna say about it. And then as I actually, I didn't read the book, I listened to the book Originally, I read the book since then. But as I listened to the book, I was like, boy, I can really see why they're presenting these things as lies and and I understand their interpretations. And they're not always saying the opposite. So lie number one, people care what company they work for. It

doesn't mean that people don't care what company they work for, but it just doesn't. It's not always the negative statement. That's true.

Robert Greiner 4:38

I'm reading each chapter as we go. So I've read chapter one and read the intro have not read any of the other lies yet. Charles you are reacting with a hot take. You haven't read any of the book. That's intentional. One thing that I don't know if

Charles Knight 4:53

I am also lazy.

Igor Geyfman 4:55

we'll call it busy, Charles,

Charles Knight 4:57

busy, busy,

Robert Greiner 4:58

This might be because I am reading with an eye towards having to discuss it on a podcast, but I used all of the highlight colors. Every one of them. So on the Mac App, I'm pulling it up right now, if I want to highlight something, there's four different colors. I used them all. So that says something. I'm not sure what

Charles Knight 5:16

Yeah, you know what we'll, we'll talk another time about taking while reading.

Robert Greiner 5:20

I have a very, so it's more so I can scroll through it and talk about the things that I

Charles Knight 5:24


Robert Greiner 5:25

Yeah, yeah, that's all referencing later. Yeah.

Igor Geyfman 5:27

I love the judgement of Roberts like reading technique. That's great.

Robert Greiner 5:32

Charles, you can show me how it's done later.

Igor Geyfman 5:34

They tell him Robert can back this up. They tell stories in their book quite a lot. So in chapter one, they started with a story about Lisa, as somebody who was working for a company left to go work for another company, and then came back to her original company, I think six months later, or something like that, you know, didn't take her didn't take her long. And that the anecdote that kicks off, the first lie, being people care what company they work for. And I think, just to start off, this was a really strong start to the book. I know, we went back and forth. Last week around an initial thoughts and impressions after seeing the cover reading the intro, those kind of things, it's very clear that they're building a foundation here for the remaining eight lies. And we'll see a theme here of focusing on teams team health trust. And so like, in my mind, there's not a smarter place to start, or build a scaffolding for your solution on if you're writing a book about leadership and organizations. So I would I start off, I fully agree with the lie itself, which is people care which company they work for. And then the corresponding truth, which is, people care what team they're on. Lisa is a good anecdotal story where she had multiple years at a company spent six months researching where to go next, because of opportunity and perks. Within two weeks, 13 days at her new company, not only had she decided she was going to leave, but she already had a timeframe in mind, which is crazy.

Charles Knight 7:00

Okay, Robert, you're a convert of the book, where do you say they started strong?

Robert Greiner 7:04

I'm not No, no, no, they started strong, I still feel the same about it as I did last week,

Charles Knight 7:10

I get it, all things being equal.

Robert Greiner 7:13

Yes, people will rather choose a company that is in alignment with their values or whatever. But really, this lie is about, hey, it's less about that. And it's more about the people that they work with?

Perks attract, they don't retain anything like your dry cleaning, salary, even, like all of the things that you would bundle up and, quote, unquote, culture, all of the things companies brag about on the best places to work. Those are macro things that don't, at the end of the day, retain your people and have them fully engaged at work. That's the argument.

Igor Geyfman 7:48

And Marcus and Ashley go pretty hard at the idea that, like company culture is even a thing.

Charles Knight 7:55

They don't care what company they work for, is it? People don't care about the culture. Because I think there are very many, there are a lot of people who will say I won't work for that company, because it's polluting the environment.

Igor Geyfman 8:09

And I think that's just a little bit different, right? There's probably no go areas, like some people might not work for Philip Morris or something like that, because they just don't agree with the product that they produce and its impact. But we're not talking about some strict opposition to product category. Or like a very specific business practice. We're talking about when companies present their company culture, they're like, we're a company of integrity. We're a company of openness, we're a company of innovation, all these kind of keywords that companies used to distinguish themselves as different from other companies. So I don't think what we're talking about here are just maybe a personal disagreement with a very specific thing of a very specific company.

Charles Knight 8:52

Okay. So they say culture isn't a thing. Right? That's what you're saying Marcus and Ashley

Igor Geyfman 8:57

company culture isn't a thing

Robert Greiner 8:58

Well, let me fast forward a bit for you. So what they're saying is, when we come back to this idea of employee engagement, reducing voluntary attrition, and keeping people productive and happy for the long term, what the authors argue here, and what I agree with is that all of the benefits and perks you can put around a company work fine to attract people once they're there. That's not what keeps them there. What keeps them there is the individual people and the team that they're on and work around.

Charles Knight 9:29

Okay, that I buy. That I buy completely. Yeah, yeah, it's, it's to me you need I think you need both. Right?

Robert Greiner 9:36

You have to get them in the door. And so there are market facing for lack of a better word, activities and signals and messages you have to send to attract people to come work for you. That's probably much easier for a company like Google than a, you know, mid market organization. That's fine. But what keeps you there once you enter the door, and I think Lisa's point is from that interview, it's it could take 13 days, right? I've been in organizations before I was like, Oh, yeah, I'm not working here any longer, I'm going to start the process of finding a new job. And that was because of interactions with other people. Not that didn't have anything to do with the organization itself, or the cafeteria, or the perks, or the health care has to do with individuals.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I

remember when I was coming out of college, I got, I went through an interview process like a multistage culminating in an office visit, and they extended me an offer. But the offer was in a different city than I interviewed. But wait, I met all of these people, I like these people. I want to work with these people. They're like, Oh, all of our people the same. If you like these people in this office, you have those people in the other office, you don't need to see them or talk to them.

Robert Greiner:

So that's it. That's a micro example of what this book is saying is wrong with companies and organizations, like that mentality

Charles Knight:

is just what they said. So all of our people are the same, right? So isn't that a bunch of BS

Robert Greiner:

and look at our firm, almost a dozen offices. Now, each one is unique in its own way to people from there are unique in their own way. They all have to pass the same interview process, the same promotion process, we use the same expectations framework, but it's different. And that's a good thing. And the I would not say that you could pick someone up out of Dallas, land them in Toronto, and everything would it would be interchangeable? Like you just can't, you can't do that. That's not reality.

Charles Knight:

Okay. I'm in. I buy that.

Robert Greiner:

Charles, there's a really interesting point in the book that I wanted to cover with you specifically, because you said last week that we've done, you've seen tons of surveys, engagement surveys, and you're skeptical of the results. And what they said, looking at the data, because remember, these two authors are steeped in data in this space. Now whether or not they can do anything super useful with it still remains to be seen. But what they say is they the range of responses vary more widely within a single company than they do across companies.

Charles Knight:

And their conclusion drawn from that is what now?

Robert Greiner:

one that culture as a construct doesn't make sense. Because if you ask everyone within the same company, hey, do you feel good about the direction of your firm of your organization, you would expect a pretty tight coupling there because they're all on the same ship. But they're all giving you their responses from the perspective of their individual teams. And then when you extrapolate that out across companies, you see much less deviation at the macro scale. And so what you're saying is these things are hard to make sense of Yeah, because you get the widest possible range already within your organization. And it just looks the same,

Charles Knight:


that that's why I think engagement, employee engagement, as we know, it might be a faulty construct that's pointing to what I think I'm trying to say is that it's I think we're using it as a proxy to measure something that we don't know how to measure otherwise. And maybe employee engagement is the best thing that we have. But I'm sure it's still useful. But it's I don't think it gets at the heart of what we're talking about. Maybe what they're saying is that, is there another way to measure team performance, or team dynamics, that would be a better proxy for how to keep people engaged and employed and retained over the long term, but because I'll tell you that when y'all help me understand the books perspective, the first thing that I thought was, Oh, my gosh, companies do such a good job of trying to get out those signals and indicators to initially attract people. What would it look like if we instead inverted it, and we had, you know, teams, broadcasts their own signals to try to recruit people, right, every company takes a company originated view of recruiting. But what this lie and this corresponding truth is telling us is that's not the most important thing. It's the actual team that you will work with. And some people connect those together, we do a really good job of leading with the company, and then getting people exposed to the office and potential team members as a part of the recruiting process. I think we do a pretty decent job of showing people that but what would it look like if we led with the team, and then followed up with a company that would be hard, I think to do at scale in a standardized way. But wouldn't that results in a better outcome for recruits and companies?

Robert Greiner:

You certainly have this first 90 days window kind of thing where part of the recruitment process might need to extend into the initial period of an employee's time at a company and help to make sure that the team oriented trust building components like all that groundwork gets laid, there's critical mass there so that they get sticky and want to stay And then probably some kind of feedback loop over time that keeps reinforcing those things within the team, there's probably not like getting people in, according to the book hasn't been the problem it's really keeping them engaged and interested when they're here. And that comes down to the individual team level. And so if you're going to do something as an organization, probably tweaking your recruitment process, in a way to communicate the solid team teamwork and foundational stuff, but really, I think it happens in that crucial early time with a new employee, team member, and then continually over time, Igor, you're shaking your head?

Igor Geyfman:

Well, I'm

not shaking my head, I think there's, there's two things, there's two actionable things that they're the first is, hey, you as a job seeker, as an employee, don't be so quick to trust the top 100, places to work for the Glassdoor reviews, all those sort of things that are meant to signal company culture, because the data shows there's more variety, and range within a company than there is between companies. And so the signal that this is a top 100 places to work is not the best indicator that it's going to be the best place for you to work. And probably the best thing for you to do is to try to meet and understand the team that you'll be working with, as soon as possible in the interview process as a way to, you know, overcome the marketing. And they don't call it this, but let's say that the culturement the company culturement. And on the other side, Charles, what you're suggesting is maybe somehow teams can signal their the team culture to recruits, but like in a global way. And I don't see how that can scale. But I definitely do understand how this you're bringing the team perspective, and people from the team too, as more upstream in the recruiting process, like that's a good way to help the candidate, understand the specific team and the dynamics that are going to be at play for them when they join, and then also for the team to better understand the dynamics that they're going to be receiving whenever somebody new joins their team, because anytime someone new joins the team dynamic changes because of it, in some ways. And one of the things that they posit was, I think it's an eight, engagement.

Robert Greiner:

Yep, which are split into four and four into two categories. So one is the me questions and the weak questions. That's what they call them. But basically, for that outline, hey, am I working on a good team Am I engaged here, and then the other four are, am I growing and getting the opportunities I need to be successful in my

Igor Geyfman:

career and the generally targeted each chapter, each lie is targeted at the team leader, they describe that the team is really the the most meaningful a unit, right with for an organization. And the team leader is being targeted in this book. And so what they're saying is, you as the team leader, have the opportunity to build positive engagement and a great team culture for your for your folks, regardless of whether they're getting nap pods, and free massages and organic Greek yogurt in the fridge every day, because those aren't the things that matter. The way that you interact with your team along these eight dimensions, and how your team feels based on these eight dimensions, you do have a lot of control over, you don't have control over your company's culture. And you also don't have as much what your company quote has a culture. But you implementing that culture for the team is pretty ambiguous,

Charles Knight:

or enforcing it, maybe worse, but they talk at all about the teams. So if you're joining a company, and you're joining a marketing team, and that's a marketing team of five, and you'll probably be in that role and on that team for years, especially if you're coming in entry level and you're working your way up things like that you join a consulting company, you'll be on six different teams in three years, potentially even more than that. And so, do they talk at all about characteristics of a team duration durability of a team at all? Or is it just the generic team?

Robert Greiner:

Maybe somewhere in between? They do. They don't have any specific guidance over what you said. But they do say hey, teams simplify. They help us see where to focus what to do. Culture can't do this. It's two abstract teams make work real. And really this idea of teams making homes for individuals. So culture in their mind, and I would tend to agree pushes people towards conformity to a common core of behaviors. Teams focus on the opposite. So they don't so much offer guidance like that. But what they do say is here's a question as a team leader, you must know, at all times to constantly be moving towards a more productive, functional trust. Based healthy team. And so that feedback loop would just basically have to adjust based on the timeframe, which I, but I do think that's would be the place to start. And the thing I like about this too, the advice that they offer, there's no harm in it, there's questions you can ask, you're not going to be worse off for asking your people how they feel about these specific areas, which we'll get into it here in a minute. And so it's up to you as a leader to apply some art to that science and figure out what makes sense for you in your individual team. Also, if you're an individual contributor, some of this is within your control as well, because you can help reinforce and engage in behaviors that Build Team relationships and trust. And so those are the two kind of core concepts, Charles that create the foundation here. There's not really a meditation on how much time it would take, though.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I guess I just wonder why then, if they're focusing on the team lead, and what is in their control? Why attack company culture,

Igor Geyfman:

I don't know if they're attacking it. I think they're just saying it's not a thing. Like it's and it's almost to me, like an empowerment technique. Because if you are a fervent believer in the cult of company culture, then sometimes as a team leader, who's sometimes in big companies really far down the hierarchy. You're like the victim, you're at the mercy of whatever your company culture might be, or might be perceived as, and I think they want to empower you and say, it doesn't matter. You You have ultimate control to enact things on your team, and for your team and with your team to help improve people's perception in these categories are people's lived experience in these categories. And we can go over the questions. And these questions are, I think the basis for a lot of their research for the rest of the book. And so it might be useful for us to, to review them anyway.

Robert Greiner:

And it might give you a flavor. yet. Igor would love for you to talk through each question, then we can maybe react to it, Charles, just to tie a bow on that. And I'll just read from the book here, it says the good news and all this for you, the team leader, and that could be tech lead, who doesn't have like formal role power, that could be an individual contributor, taking ownership of a chunk of work and advocating for a position that could be a manager, a director and executive, it doesn't matter. Like at some point, you have a team around you, you will be leading them in a formal or informal capacity this applies to you. So I think they really use that term Team Leader Igor disagree with me, if you think I'm wrong, I agree to use it in the broadest possible sense at a moment in time of leadership, which is

Igor Geyfman:

really when they see a team leader, I don't think they're so specific. And that's the team manager. Yeah,

Robert Greiner:

that's right. So what they say is the good news, and all this for you, the team leader, is that what people care about most at work is within your control, you might not be able to weigh in on your company's parental leave policy or the quality of its cafeteria, but you can build a healthy team, you can set clear expectations for your people or not, you can position each person to play his to his or her strengths every day or not, you can praise the team for excellent work or not. You can help people grow their careers or not. And you can over time, build trust with your people. And they say the bad news for you is that your company most likely looks past this. So while you're doing your best to create these experiences for your people, your company may not be holding your fellow team leaders accountable for doing the same on their teams. Companies almost universally miss the importance of teams, as evidenced by the fact that most companies don't even know how many teams they have at any one moment in time. Who is on the team, especially in matrix organizations, right? And then let alone the best ones. We are functionally blind to teams, which is interesting, because we love the high performer. We love the superstar. We love the guy or girl who can come in and save the day. But we don't really think of teams that way. Like, hey, that's a really killer team over there. Let's give them this chunk of responsibility. Oh,

Charles Knight:

really? I do want to hear the questions. But the book is saying that most companies are blind to the importance of teams. They don't even know what teams they have or who's on those teams. Most companies can tell you what the org chart is.

Igor Geyfman:

And so they'll tell you like the business units and the functional departments and their reporting. Matrix season. So I think part of it is individuals and I think part of it is maybe process driven, like their goals and their objectives and their strategic decisions and their financial plans and those sorts of things

Charles Knight:

is fascinating. Okay.

Robert Greiner:

I don't know that we think about assigning responsibility or delegating to teams of people. I think we put individuals in charge of initiatives and then assign things to the leader of that initiative to make happen which is the top down way of think influencing teams. Yeah,

Charles Knight:

but but I think nobody would assume that person does it by themselves. Smart people would assemble a team.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. But you're relying on the person again, you have no concept, the concept of team has gone away. Now, let me give you one example. So if you have if you're in an organization, you're struggling mightily with attrition, let's say, and it's a large organization, you have lots of departments, teams, multiple geographies, those kind of things. You can't do one thing for all the teams and have that work.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Gotcha. Yeah. Yeah.

Robert Greiner:

You know, the eight questions,

Igor Geyfman:

yes, the big questions, and they're broken down into two categories. So the first category is the best of we. And the first one is really interesting, because it does have a lot to do with the company. And I'm really enthusiastic about the mission of my company. And I'm guessing when they ask the protocol for this questionnaire, it's probably some sort of Likert scale. So one to five or one to 10, something like that.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, I think it's one to five, right?

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. I'm really enthusiastic about the mission of my company. And you can maybe even argue that's, that sounds like that's out of the hands of the team leader. But I actually don't think so I think making the company mission real for people is a key job of a team leader. Because it's a theory until people connect that to the specifics of your work. And so I think that's a big part of your job as a team lead. And so helping people be enthusiastic about that, I think is an important role of a team lead. So I'm really enthusiastic about the mission, my company,

Robert Greiner:

like another point that sort of corroborates the arguments in the book are, there's only one like mission and direction of a company. And yet the results for this question will vary wildly. And a lot of that has the data are in that a lot of that has to do with the individual experiences that humans are having on their team, interacting with other humans, much less to do with the organization itself, even though the question is about the broader organization?

Igor Geyfman:

That's right. That's right, Robert, this is question number two in my team, I'm surrounded by people who share my values. Question number three, my teammates have my back. And then the final question and the best that we can.

Charles Knight:

Go ahead, Charles, as you can say, we've answered these questions before in our engagement survey. He's also I'm very familiar,

Robert Greiner:

we've answered these exact questions before,

Charles Knight:

we have the results on a big nicely formatted PowerPoint slide. And the whole leadership team is in there looking at all of their results. The main problem with that, though, is they're broken down at the top level at the macro level for the whole company. And then maybe you get a breakdown by office. But you don't go any lower than that. You might stratify based on seniority or something. But you're getting the widest possible range. You're right. And that's why we employed a different tool to be able to get a lot of those same questions answered at the team level. And lo and behold, yes, is office five and five. And lo and behold, we're not exactly sure how good that is at trying to get a pulse of engagement and retention and things like that, like, and this goes back to my his engagement, the right thing to measure. Well, I don't. And I think maybe they're trying to say the same thing. If the T if this is targeting the team lead, trying to get them to say that they have control over retaining people on their team by making sure that they have growth opportunities and things like that, wouldn't we be better off measuring growth, opportunity and growth attainment of all the people in the company? Or on the team? it? Wouldn't that be a better measure than employee engagement? as we know it? That's what I'm searching for is is there another thing that if we spend as much time and energy and money on as employee engagement, we would actually result in a better outcome for

Igor Geyfman:

that may not be like completely reliable, either. The way that I, the way that I hope this makes sense for me, is, I basically take the engagement survey questions. And if answered at a five, are these all the factors that make me feel good about working somewhere in multiple dimensions, it could be the growth dimension, it could be the wanting to stay there, it could be whatever I care about, but asking myself these eight questions, and I'm like, if I say yes to these eight questions, or high level, is there something missing? Or is this fairly comprehensive in my, you know, positive emotions towards the company, in whatever dimensions, no matter for me? And so if I come to work, and I'm really enthusiastic about the mission of my company, I'm surrounded by people who share my values. I feel that my teammates have my back. And I have confidence in the future of the company. You know, that subset of questions to those questions, feel like the right ones for me to answer from like a positive progress and positive feelings at work.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, and maybe to take it one step further. Charles, correct me if I'm wrong We ask these questions using a tool called office vibe, which asks weekly questions. So I'm really tight feedback loops from feedback from over half of our firm participates, like on a regular basis. And so it's pretty good data, pretty good amount of the time. And when we ask people like, Hey, can you make sure you fill these out? They participation tends to go up. But no one looks at those results for you for your teams and says, Charles, you are not building a team of trust, none of your none of the people on your team feel like you have their back or their teammates have their back, you need to fix that. And I'm going to hold you accountable to fixing that. And it's going to show up on your review. And you're going to be measured in your compensation package around your team's results against these questions. Like that doesn't happen. And so we do ask them, everybody asked them, I don't think I think there are two problems. One, the level of granularity is too high. It's not at the individual team level. And then to we're not holding, measuring, these are holding people accountable for results or improvement on those questions.

Igor Geyfman:

And then like for Robert and I, were on the same client. And so when we get office vibe results, we get the same results. We don't do this at the team level. We do with that the collection of teams at the client level and for us, there's 12 teams. And so I don't know how my how my teams are doing versus Roberts team at a certain point if they're too small, like you can

Robert Greiner:

could but we don't that's the point.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. It becomes not anonymous. Interestingly enough, one of one of the account accountabilities that I have is improving office vibe engagement scores.

Robert Greiner:

Igor, please turn this 7.1 into a 7.3.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. I mean, that's exactly right. That's where do I start. And so my, my thing is, I have to start thinking about initiatives at the high level, that then I can roll out to the individual teams. And that's really what we've done. The last sort of thing that we wanted to raise was around growth opportunities. And there's, there's some methods that we needed to roll out to ensure that people were able to identify growth opportunities and communicate those in a timely way. And so we created an umbrella process. But that process did have to be rolled out at each of the teams. So it was me going talking to the team leads of the 12 each individual 12 teams that we have, and walking them through implementing this process with the folks that that work with them. I it was a broad solution that then had to be brought down to the individual team level. But that was brought down to each team, regardless of how, you know, their team specifically felt about their growth opportunities.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, maybe make a little more sense in that personal growth side. Like I think these are a little more obvious. Charles, then I want to come back, though. And I want to ask you, you agreed with the premise. People don't care what company they work for. They care what team they're on. We double clicked on that. And we said, Really, what this means is perks and culture. And all of the public signals and organization puts out there attract talent, they don't retain talent, the individual day to day interactions, humans, when the work is actually being done. Teams interacted with that general health and dynamic is what makes people want to stay. You agree up to that point? I think yes, I heard right. Okay, cool. So then I want to ask, what should we do instead of this? Because I think we're pointed at the same that we've uncovered or we all agree that the problem exists, the phenomena is there. What should we do to improve in that space? If it's not? Hey, here's it essentially boils down to there's a questions. It's your job as a team leader to make sure that your team is answering highly on these questions.

Igor Geyfman:

In our last episode, when we did the intro, you shared like a figure on how we underperform in this area, like it was in the intro to the book,

Robert Greiner:

was it only 20% of people are fully engaged at work?

Igor Geyfman:

And I think that's what originally spurred Charles to ask, the question is, does that matter?

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, I think we're probably right, on the definition of engagement.

Igor Geyfman:

It's good to talk about because we do accept, not all this, Charles obviously isn't accepting it. But people have a tendency to accept when somebody says more engagement, as measured by these things, is good. And only having 20% of people fully engaged at work is bad. And we can do better. And Charles just asking the question is, well, yeah, we could probably do better. But would that

Robert Greiner:

actually, is that going to move the needle

Igor Geyfman:

for the things that can? That's a valid question,

Charles Knight:

and I would say, is there a better way to move the needle? Because I think, hey, if you've got a low and employee engagement scores, and you take initiatives to increase them and you roll them out across the teams, those are all good things, and your employee engagement scores will go up again, and I think that is beneficial to the company and Also the people on the team, I just wonder if there's a better way.

Robert Greiner:

And we've seen situations, though, think back for conversations that we've had about teams you've witnessed at clients or even internally here, and they're having a miserable time. And you could point at the team leader and say, Hey, if they were doing a better job building and cultivating a strong team based on trust, and really investing in the growth of their team, this would not be a problem. That could be a problem, direct report, that is acting as a cancer that spreading, it could be the ineffectual nature of the leader themselves, not giving proper feedback and cultivating the team. And that just builds up over time, Whatever the cause is, we've seen that go horribly wrong over a period of time. At a minimum, though, I think, and I would need to maybe think a little bit deeper about whether or not these would be the eight questions I would use. But if there was some mechanism to get this feedback, and hold those leaders accountable for growth in these areas improvement in these areas, I think that we would not have had nearly as bad of outcomes not have witnessed nearly as bad of outcomes as we had. Let me just run through the the best of me categories. So

Igor Geyfman:

another four questions, a question number one here at work, I clearly understand what is expected of me. Question number two, I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work. Three, I know I will be recognized for excellent work. And for in my work. I'm always challenged to grow.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I think maybe to summarize my position here. I my sense is that we are experiencing this at our company, other companies have experienced it too, as evidenced by what if employee engagement was just a big hoax, like somebody created this construct. And all of these companies are paying into it to try to improve something called employee engagement, which they're really trying to measure because they want better performance out of people and their teams. And maybe that's productivity, maybe that's sales. There's some sort of business metric, whether that's true or not, Robert, I think you asked, hey, what would people focus on instead, the Daniel Pink's book drive, autonomy, mastery purpose. Now those three things are important to support employee to feel intrinsically motivated. I would point to that I still think it it hits on there's probably a Venn diagram here, a lot of that stuff, like some of your questions, or that you're reading around, am I able to use my strengths? There's an element of autonomy there every single day, and I growing and learning, there's a mastery component, there's probably an overlap. But this I think there are other things out there that, at least in my mind, are more clear cut than a highly scientific engagement survey that when we received the results, we look at each other. And what the heck do we do with this? So we should go talk to our teams to better interpret the results, which is a good thing. But why don't we just talk to our teams about autonomy, mastery and purpose, or something else?

Robert Greiner:

I think you've I think you've run right into the parallel track that the book is recommending that I don't think I'm not reading the book as recommending you do a company wide survey around these eight questions. I think the book is talking to you, specifically, Charles, and you say, go to each individual on your team and ask them these questions over time. And you will know more about what they're looking for, where the soft spots are, what you could do to improve as a continual conversation over time. They don't recommend any kind of large tool to track it. They say they're out there. But it's like, Hey, you go and you have the conversation. ask these questions, which fit autonomy, mastery purpose. And then this side, one of team cohesiveness, which I don't think is maybe covered in those three, yeah, but affected by them, buy it for sure. And we have pick your own pick for the four that you like, you could substitute these eight questions with whatever you want. The point is, go and have that individual, those individual conversations and make adjustments based on the areas that are within your control. And that will improve productivity, happiness, reduce voluntary turnover on your team, whatever you want to call as engagement, it will move the needle forward specifically for your team. We don't have an answer yet for the organization, except please go do this everywhere with all of your team leads all the time and hold them accountable for it. I didn't hear a good answer there. But it's as a team lead. You can do this specifically with your team. Yeah,

Charles Knight:

that that makes sense. I want the whole office wide thing. I spearheaded piloting that and rolling that out in our office. And that was my biggest thing was like we shouldn't do it unless people are willing to go have conversations about it, what we're asking and the results. So I'm 100% aligned on that.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, it does no good to gather feedback from people and then not act on it. They don't they're not gonna trust you or give you honest feedback ever again. Yeah,

Charles Knight:

it's worse now. Yeah, nothing, it actually causes damage. If you ask for feedback and you don't act on it,

Robert Greiner:

you get a little bummed from asking. And then a steep drop off in trust if you do nothing about it. But if you do something about it, that's a good thing. So at the end, the conclusion, while people might care which company they join, they don't care which company they work for. The truth is that once there people care about which team they're on, sounds like we all agree how to improve the team you're on is a bit more of a discussion, maybe we should pop that off on a separate episode thread, I'll make a note, because I think there is a very deep space to get into about improving the quality of teams. And that's the difference between being part of a group that changes the world, right, Apollo 11, or being part of a team that fails publicly and spectacularly right, the fire festival, top notch teams, lots of money and funding. No one was dumb, or wasn't working hard on either of those teams. The difference was around trust cohesiveness, engagement. Broadly speaking, I really liked that term, either. But there is something there. That's the difference. That's why the underdog can come and win sometimes, it really does come down to the team and then the individuals on that team. Yeah,

Charles Knight:

I think I go back to the team is a useful construct. And it can be defined at multiple levels. But I think at different levels, it becomes really hard to scale this stuff. And I guess that's where maybe if we dive deeper, and if people are interested, we can talk about because that is the challenge of civilization, I think is like doing this stuff at scale. Like I think if you're, if you just focus on your team of five people, that's great. But if you want to focus on an organization of 500 teams, are really trying to do something great in the world. I think there's other construct systems that are needed in place to support that, then I would love to dig into with you all.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, I agree. The rest of the book is built on this as a foundation. So they do say if you want to learn how to build great teams read on, and I haven't yet I'm just I'm always one chapter head. I will say though, I do have a serious concern about the recommendations in this book as it relates to scale. As in, we can all the three of us can part ways and go do all of these things on our teams, and we'll be better off for it, or teams will be better off for it. organization will be better off for it, I think have enough people do it. But there's no way to like systemically go and make sure this happens. Except to maybe if you have, if you're over multiple levels of an organization, you can start to think about how to do that. But the onus is on you or on the organization,

Igor Geyfman:

it makes sense for them to target team leads, because it's saying, hey, you have some sphere of control here. And you can make a difference at the team level influence the difference here?

Robert Greiner:

I agree.

Igor Geyfman:


Robert Greiner:

Okay. So quick numeric score, one out of 10. How do you write the first chapter, their advice, their assertion, their conclusion, the details, they have to back it up, Igor, you can say 10 out of 10. Or you don't have to say 10 out of 10, even though you're taking them position to the book.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah, cuz this is my sort of personal take on it. I am a big believer in like the power of the team as being like the home and the anchor for individuals, and not so much the company, I think we can like debate, the effectiveness or even the usefulness of things like engagement and the specific engagement protocol. But I'm like a nine. For this one, I'm pretty close to being all in on the assertion being made here and agreeing with it. Cool.

Robert Greiner:

I'm a seven out of 10. I fully agree with the assertion, in my mind there, this is still a known thing, like building great teams, I would go, before I recommended reading this book or this chapter so far, I would just say, hey, go read Patrick lencioni, his Five Dysfunctions of a team or the ideal team player. And that's going to put you in a mindset to do the same kind of stuff, maybe in a different way that I think Charles you were outlining earlier. And so I don't know that I am fully aligned with this as the most optimal advice and way forward. But I do fully agree with the clear assertion here, that people don't care what company they work for, they care what company they join, and then they very quickly move to caring what team they're on, and the individuals matter. And as a team lead, that's your responsibility to make sure that goes well. So seven out of 10, strong start to the book. I'm optimistic moving forward.

Igor Geyfman:

And I'm totally on board in backing up the idea like, Hey, this is not like a comprehensive guide to running a great team, even if you take the book as a whole, but definitely not this chapter. And I definitely will second both of the books that Robert mentioned. So Five Dysfunctions of a team ideal team player. Really great ways to if you're interested in the subject of building better teams, and want to go deeper than chapter one of this book. Those two books are really great ways to continue your journey.

Robert Greiner:

that's meant to shock you. If you don't agree, Charles, what do you think man coming in cold?

Charles Knight:

Yeah, I didn't read the chapter. So it feels weird to read it. But I agree with you, I'm 10 out of 10 for the assertion about they they care what company they join and who they work for. So I'll say that, I think probably a lot of my reactions is this undertone of I think employee engagement is just, it's the wrong thing to focus on. So that's not a knock on the book, because I it is 10 out of 10, I believe that personal experience firsthand, I've experienced that and seen others as well. I think I'm more curious about all of this kind of assumes that you've got a receptive team lead, who's willing to learn and grow as a team leader and increase the engagement of the team. What I like about Dr. Daniel Pink's drive is that it's about Okay, people are motivated intrinsically only the external rewards, bonuses, perks and stuff like that. They can actually hurt in long run, and they oftentimes do I would, I want to make more team leads who are interested in growing high performing teams. And because that, that I think is the challenge at scale, is finding people who are willing to do this work to read these books to put it into practice, and have the tough conversations. And I know that's not the purpose of this book. But I think that's what this conversation has highlighted for me is that we need more team leads who are willing to, to grow and learn and to help create more effective teams to solve the problems in the world.

Robert Greiner:

I'm 11 out of 10, on agreeing with you on that, man, that is such a hard thing. And almost impossible to do at scale. You can pluck out really exceptional teams look at look at like the NFL, right, for example. They all have billions of dollars, all the resources they need all the talent that they could ask for. And yet you have teams that go practically undefeated dynasties that succeed year over year, and teams that spend more money on mediocrity and worse. And I think it's that's a really hard problem, like you've talked about Charles and it's one that's easily shocked and avoided by most leaders today.

Igor Geyfman:

Are you talking about the Superbowl rumored?

Robert Greiner:

Not specifically, although

Igor Geyfman:

I think it stands done. If you look at the whole Tom Brady buccaneers thing. Tom Brady is not the best technical quarterback in the NFL, but that's like his leadership, help the Bucs. Go to the Super Bowl a and then actually bring a ring. There's something there as a team lead. He was able to move the needle for Charles is not interested. Moving on.

Robert Greiner:

I know you gotta go man. Yes. Okay. Cool. Great. Spend time with y'all today.

Unknown Speaker:

Thanks. Oh,

Robert Greiner:

bye. That's it for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to follow us on Twitter at one grab coffee or drop us a line at Hello at one grab coffee.com

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Wanna Grab Coffee?
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A podcast about all of the topics we discuss during our mid-day coffee breaks. We bring you stories, thoughts, and ideas around life as a professional, leadership concepts, and work/life balance. We view career and leadership development as a practice that spans decades and we are excited to go on this journey with you.