Running a company with (almost) no rules

Ricardo Semler, of the massive Brazilian company Semco, gave a TED Talk last October about what it’s like to run a company with radical openness, and nearly non-existant rules and structure.

Much of this is not that far from what we do at Automattic, and is definitely an interesting watch:

Giving Effective Praise

I seem to run into managers far too often who are quick to critique, but slow to praise.  Meaningful, authentic positive re-enforcement is one of the most important things to have as a part of your company culture.

From a Sandglaz article from last fall:

What better pick-me-up is there than praise for your hard work? Praise can turn a bad day around. It can remind you that although you’re stressed and buried in piles of work, you’re doing a good job. That’s why team members, regardless of their positions, shouldn’t hesitate to praise each other.

Praise and positive feedback go hand in hand. They’re timely, specific comments about something a team member did well. Unlike feedback, praise doesn’t have to be constructive. It can simply be used as a motivational tool to boost performance. Praise is also based on personal judgement, whereas feedback should be factual and issue-focused.

These aspects of praise are well known. But here are some interesting, scientifically-backed tips on how to properly praise your teammates.

  • Avoid the sandwich approach
  • Praise teammates while they’re working toward a goal, not after they’ve achieved it
  • Tailor praise to the teammate’s personality and experience level

Read the whole article:

How terrible products get built

The story of the Pontiac Aztek

Pontiac-Aztek-INLINE-626x352These things require a culture of complete acquiescence and intimidation, led by a strong dictatorial individual who wants it that way.

The danger with the totalitarian management style is that people won’t speak up when there’s a problem. They’ll get their heads cut off or the messenger gets shot.

From the project leader on the Aztek:

We’ve all made up our minds that the Aztek is gonna be a winner. It’s gonna astound the world. I don’t want any negative comments about this vehicle. None. Anybody who has bad opinions about it, I want them off the team.

Teams need to be a safe place for people to have opinions, and good leaders need to be able to hear those opinions and evaluate them without ego or hubris getting in the way.

Read the entire article from Car and Driver

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