Q. Besides the endless travel of that year [during which Conde ran his company as a top-down, command-and-control organization], was there something else that made you shift styles?
A. Yes, it was a huge disagreement with somebody who worked for me directly, and he ended up quitting shortly thereafter. And it wasn’t that the decision that we disagreed on was so big. It was more that, to him, it just wasn’t as much fun anymore. He felt he could do more, and I was in his way. I was chasing away somebody extremely valuable, and that is when I realized I never would have put up with that myself. If you start micromanaging people, then the very best ones leave.
If the very best people leave, then the people you’ve got left actually require more micromanagement. Eventually, they get chased away, and then you’ve got to invest in a whole apparatus of micromanagement. Pretty soon, you’re running a police state. So micromanagement doesn’t scale because it spirals down, and you end up with below-average employees in terms of motivation and ability.
Here he is on feedback:
Q. What is some of the best feedback you’ve received?
A. A boss once told me: “Cris, you’re a smart guy, but that doesn’t mean that people can absorb a list of 18 things to do. Focus on a handful of things.” Very constructive criticism, and the way I’ve translated that is, when I do reviews, everything is threes.
So, “Look, Charlie, these are the three things that are going well. These are the three things that are not going well.” Now, that’s very important because then people know that everybody’s going to get three positives and three things they should do differently. Then they don’t take it personally. I’ve found that to be an incredibly valuable tool.Structure? The Flatter, the Better
Corner Office - New York Times
January 16, 2010
I love that.
I've come to prize the quality of not being defensive. At this point, I'd probably put it right up there with courage, generosity, clear thinking, and a good sense of humor.