Three questions that will tell you what your people think of you
- Do you want to keep me as a CEO?
- Over the last three months did I get better at this job or worse?
Phillip Rosedale, founder of Linden Labs, challenges all CEOs to ask their employees the above three questions, every quarter.
Rosedale did just that in his CEO role, and through a survey of anonymous responses to those questions, he reduced friction and improved communication in his organisations.
I heard Rosedale relay this survey question process in an interview with Kevin Rose. (scroll down to Episode 3).
Here is an elaboration of the process with comment by Rosedale in an Executive Careers article
“The beauty of the survey lies in the simplicity of the questions.
Rosedale would then share the answers to the first two questions with everyone at Linden Labs. Answers to pointed questions like these would make any of us squirm.
But sharing these results with the team makes your job easier and compelling and sends them the right message: That you see their feedback as useful and equally authoritative.
And as Rosedale says, “You can argue with a mentor, but you can’t argue with the crowd. When every third person says, ‘You’re scattered,’ it’s the truth.”
Reminds me of a former boss who used to often say, “Your job isn’t to be a good worker. Your job is to make me look good as your manager.
Do you have the courage to ask and confront those questions?”
If you’re a CEO/senior executive most people will not give you unvarnished feedback. They’ll be worried about the negative consequences of the feedback. One way you can encourage more direct feedback is to prod a person further.
You might say for example, “Yes I understand that you thought the presentation was great, but if there was one thing – even a small thing I could improve on – what would that thing be?”
In my group programmes, here are guidelines everyone uses for giving feedback.
- Say what you know to be true (in other words don’t give false feedback). This guideline comes from Paul Grices, Maxim of Quality, of his Cooperative principle.
- Eliminate the words: “criticism, criticize, negative, wrong, etc.”.
- Use the phrasing, “I liked . . . , I suggest . . .”.
- If you have no feedback to give, say nothing.
- Be encouraging in tone when giving feedback.
Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: If you are a CEO/senior executive, first consider if you could handle unvarnished feedback about yourself and your leadership, and be willing to share the feedback with all employees. If yes, take the time to set up a system for regularly asking your employees the above three questions.