Thursday, April 21, 2016

Encouraging People to Ask for Help

The New York Times' Corner Office column, by Adam Bryant, featured an interview recently with Amy Pressman. She serves as President (and co-founder) of Medallia.   The firm provides customer experience management software for firms such as Paypal, Delta, Nordstrom, and GE Healthcare.  Pressman describes an important element of Medallia's culture in her interview.  Here's an excerpt:

We work hard to overcome the “impostor syndrome” that a lot of people feel. People present themselves with résumés of unbroken success. But none of us are perfect. Unfortunately, when we hit roadblocks and need help, many of us don’t feel like we can ask for it. So we’re essentially curtailing the pace at which we can learn, because it’s much harder to learn in the shadows without asking for help than to just come out and say, “I am really struggling with this. Please help me. What do I do?” A lot of people are hiding, and we have created environments where we do not learn quickly. Ultimately, the one sustainable competitive advantage that a company can have is a culture that enables its people and the entire organization to learn faster. Fast learning has to come from a place of people feeling safe to talk about what’s working and not working, of recognizing that their job is not to appear perfect but to get better. We run a week-long onboarding to expose new hires to all these ideas. Also, one afternoon during the week we tell them, “Go out and do something that is holding you back and scares you.” It sounds kind of faddish, but the exercise is actually really powerful. It makes a point: Don’t let the fear of failure — or even of imperfection — hold you back. 

I love the concept, and I'm curious about what the onboarding process entails at Medallia.  How does the firm inculcate these values right from the start?  How do they expose people to these ideas?   Most importantly, I love the goal that they have set out to achieve:  How do we create an environment that enables people to learn more quickly?  Every firm should ask themselves that question.  

1 comment:

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