Q&A: Dean Carter of Patagonia Answers Your Questions, Part 1 - HighGround

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Q&A: Dean Carter of Patagonia Answers Your Questions, Part 1

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Last week we tackled some of the questions asked during our webinar with Deloitte’s Josh Bersin and Patagonia’s Dean Carter. Attendees had a ton of great questions for Dean specifically so we asked him to sit down and tackle them here. Thanks again to Dean for taking the time to share his insights and stay tuned in the next few weeks as we share more of the Q&A from the webinar.

Do you have any tips for how you handled the change management of this process? What about managers that don’t participate, how do you handle them?

Focus on your early adopters first and then on getting a solid majority to “try it.” Never worry about the laggards right away – aim to make them the minority and then circle back only after the majority is using your tools most of the time.

For companies currently following more traditional processes, where do you recommend they start?

Pick any of the following:

  • Goals: Revisit them more than once a year – and better yet – try including a quarterly stretch goal.
  • Check-In: Give your employees a simple agenda and encourage them to schedule one in the next year at a time of their choosing (or in a wide window you set for them). Survey afterward to see if they did it. If there are differences between those who did and didn’t, use your findings to build your case for more.

What were some of the things you did to stimulate the peer feedback?

Encourage people to just “try it.” Give them permission to first ask for feedback from someone they trust and about a situation where they already feel they did well.

Another great tactic is to hold a leadership staff meeting and give them all an assignment to ask for two pieces of feedback from others in the group. Afterward, schedule a subsequent meeting and ask them each to share what they learned from their feedback — it’s a good approach to help leaders try it out.

Do you provide structured feedback questions for employees to leverage or are they responsible to write them on their own?

Yes, we structure our feedback template through the HighGround tool. In our view, it’s critical to be able to structure your feedback.

Did you have a problem with managers doing poor check-ins? What type of training was provided to the managers so not just “complying” with HR?

Sure, some managers are still much better than others. We do training for both managers and employees on their different roles during the Check-In. For managers, the key is to let employees drive the conversations, encourage them to ask good questions and at key points, insert their points of view.

Are Check-In meetings structured (i.e. calendared/scheduled at specific dates) or are they happening organically? If so, how do you know they are happening and how are they being documented?

HighGround helps structure conversations by giving employees a simple digital form to help organize their thoughts. The Check-In is simply the employee walking the manager through their form. We also encourage a general timeframe. For example, Check-Ins take place in the first month of a new quarter but employees choose when to do them. Typically employees repurpose their first one-on-one meeting for the quarter.

Can you talk about building better teams, not just building more productive individuals?

That’s a whole other [webinar] session and topic. The quick answer is that our approach is built for the future of work, which is far more matrix and team-based. You get feedback from your team members and your crowd (including customers internally) to help you grow and improve. We also set team goals and you can align your individual goals to the team and company goals.