WGT: Recognition initiatives, OKRs and using data with Shawna Stewart [transcript]
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Shawna Stewart, VP of People & Operations at PostBeyond.
OKRs, do they work? What if you throw in having a transparent organisation into the mix?
Shawna Stewart has learnt a thing or two about them through her work at PostBeyond. She shares some of the mistakes and pain points she has experienced and offers us a closers look at her very own Recognition Bingo programme.
Transcript of this episode was produced using transcription software with an approximate 95% accuracy so there might be some typos.
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Lech: [00:00:00] Hello, gorgeous. I've kind of missed you now, and I'm really glad you're back with me. Again, because today we are talking about PostBeyond and PostBeyond is an organization that enables other organization's employees, customers, and partners to intelligently share content through their trusted networks. And I'm talking to Shauna Stewart. Who's PostBeyond VP of people and operations.
We cover some of the models and initiatives around recognition that Shauna has introduced at PostBeyond. We also talk about OKRs that she introduced and some of the mistakes and pain points she has experienced. We'd talk about increasing transparency between the department and the board and throughout the organization.
We also cover how Shawna gathers data. And uses it in practical ways.
Here's my interview with Shauna Stewart.
Shawna. Thank you very much for joining me today. It's a pleasure to have you. My usual first question to all my guests is when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Shawna Stewart: [00:01:27] Oh, I'm glad you asked, but also thank you for having me on when I was little, I really wanted to be a computer animator. I was so sure that that was what I was going to be. You know, computers weren't really even a thing that much back when I was a kid. But you know, I told my parents, like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna make cartoons and it's going to be on TV and it's going to be great.
Cause that's I, you know, cause I had the ability to draw so I just thought what's the next one best step for me. And I still sort of feel like I will, you know, branch into that a little bit with, you know policy videos on some cartoons and like what not to do. What's a microaggression look like. And I think there's still an avenue to explore there.
So that was what I wanted to do. And that was the problem when I was little.
Lech: [00:02:11] So, when did you decide in that kind of the dream that you had, when, when was that point that you decided to go into in the direction that you, that you're in now? By the way, congratulations on your recent promotion to VP. When was that point for you?
Shawna Stewart: [00:02:27] When I went to university and they didn't really have the computer animation courses there, but, you know, I, I kind of grew out of that a little bit and started thinking more around the pragmatics of what I could do. That would be you know, a little bit more.
Secure for myself because you know computer animation and digital, I didn't know it was gonna be, you know, the tech world that it is right now and neither did my parents. So we sort of went a different direction and look at, look at the world now. But yeah, so I, you know, I, I took a liking to psychology and learning about him and behavior.
Sociology and branched into organizational behavior clinical route for a second there decided against it. Wasn't it wasn't for me. But there's a lot of that that trickles into the workforce as well. So it's not like I left it completely behind, but definitely trying to use all of those different interests and talents that I had as a kid and how I interact with my, my team now.
And they would tell you, you know, I'm pretty animated as it is, and try to use Bitmoji lists and the way I communicate and just try to keep things light. So it's not like it went away to die, but it's, it's part of what I do now with people management and working with teams.
Lech: [00:03:39] Well, definitely you've got the right background when it comes to study in terms of psychology in the role that you do, because it's such a big part of kind of understanding people. It's not just about managing individuals on the kind of as, as you would do with resources, but it's actually understanding them as well on, on the psychological side, on the emotional side.
And I think that is the element that so often missing. I find this particularly when individuals get promoted to a managerial positions to be, be a manager, be a leader for the first time of a team. And often they are being promoted based on you do your job very well. So we'll promote you so you can manage other people, could do your job and.
We teach them roughly how to kind of manage processes and do things like that. So they kind of Excel in that, but we so often fail in giving them the right tools and preparing them for actually managing people. What's your take on that?
Shawna Stewart: [00:04:29] Yeah, I think that's a big point. Not every sole contributor is just equipped to then take over a team and understand what goes into different people's personalities. What goes into what makes people tic intrinsic motivation, you know, that's not something that you just know coming in the door.
And so I work very closely with our leaders and, there's been a lot of great opportunities for some of our leaders to be in the position that they're in, terms of being promoted within the organization and so coaching them, working with them you know, we attend webinars on how to work with people who are introverted and just trying to help them see the different personality types that are out there.
Looking at personas. We're doing that with our sales team and how they interact with people externally. Right. They that also exists within the organization as well. So helping them you know, step-by-step understand what goes into it, just because you have a solution that works for three people on your team and you're saying this really motivates them doesn't mean that the outliers are going to adapt to that as well. So it's really important to pay attention to the nuances. And that's something that I worked really hard on to make sure that, you know, we're really thinking about the people behind the job and behind the work so that we can, you know, help them get set up for success in their own unique ways.
Lech: [00:05:42] The purpose of the show is to, to talk to people who are on both sides of the, of the story of the fence, if you will. Or maybe it does not offense because we're, I guess we're all aiming for the same thing to, to bring, to make our organizations more people focused, I guess. So are you often interview people similar to myself can work with organizations to, to help the sit up, but also talk to people like you with who work.
Within organizations and have that kind of first frontline point of view in terms of what works, what doesn't work and things that, you tried and you and I were talking a little bit before, before we pressed record on some of the initiatives that you run and some of the topics that we actually want, I want to cover today, but I know there's a couple of initiatives in some of around recognition that you've introduced the I'm really interested to find out a little bit more.
Shawna Stewart: [00:06:30] Yeah. So there's a program that I created, Oh, it's three years ago now at PostBeyond and it's called recognition bingo. And this is sort of my baby. I have another version of it that I'm working on right now in the background for dev specifically, which I can talk about, but it basically tries to peel back what's happening behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis.
So a lot of our wins were, you know, around sales and we put a lot of emphasis on close deals. But if your deal cycle is a month, two months long, it feels like nothing's really happening in the organization for that period of time. But everybody else knows that there's stuff happening. Right. And we all have these overarching goals that we have per department.
So I wanted to capture what that looked like on a day to day basis. How do we get to those overarching goals? What are the, you know, the. The pieces of work that moved the needle to get you to that goal at the end of the quarter. So I met with every leader I met with all the teams, just to see, you know, is there alignment if a demo request comes in, is that working towards us closing a deal?
Yes, it is. Right. And so looking at those, those wins, if it's from a dev standpoint, if we're merging branches, That's a win. It's not in production. It's not, it's not deployed yet, but that's getting us to that point. Right. And looking at every, a quarterly business review, we provide a customer from a customer success side.
That's a win and we can track and see how many of those QPRs we've done. If that customer closed, you know, later on to see if they renewed and, and sort of follow that, that track line. So what I've done is. Captured all of these small wins that happen on a day-to-day basis, mandated certain people to share those wins within our Slack channel that's recognition.
And once we get to at least 41, and sometimes we go, you know, it's gets insane and it's 40 50, and I have to do a drawing. Everyone wins bingo, but yeah you know, as soon as it gets to 40 wins and this happens, you know, every few days we do a draw. For bingo. Everyone has their individual bingo cards and they have a chance to win a gift card for Amazon.
So that's the incentive there too, to put your words into the channel, but it also shows the rest of the company what's going on behind the scenes what's happening in each department and shows us, Hey, there is momentum, especially since we're working from home and we're all remote right now. I've seen the activity within that channel, really uptake because people really are like, You know, I'm doing stuff and I want to share this.
And I, you know, it's not even so much when I ask people, like, is it about the recognition for yourself? They want that recognition for their team. So we've made it very team oriented and it's like customer success had this many wins marketing had this many wins sales had this many wins and altogether, you know we would come and we celebrate it and we report on those, wins to the board and show them, Hey, Based on last quarter, this is how much momentum we've increased across the team, because they're fired up about these initiatives and so on and so forth.
Or if we have a new hire that comes in, that's a win, you know, just little things like that, that really get the team going and see, you know, successes is one of those things. It goes through different milestones. So we like to celebrate that.
Lech: [00:09:29] Yeah, it sounds like a fantastic initiative. And so is this celebrating wins that are kind of go towards a business objectives in terms of activities, as you said, kind of sales figures, closing deals and things like that. It's that. Is there any type of connection or something similar that you do around how things go towards people's development?
So if an individual kind of learns a new skill develops in a certain way, have you got anything, any initiatives around that?
Shawna Stewart: [00:09:58] Yeah. So recognition bingo in itself is more org focused. What we have on the other side is spiffs, right? So we run certain spiffs programs where . We just reward the team for getting certain doing certain courses. So if they do a SQL is a big one that everyone's focused on right now, trying to get data knowledge.
If they complete that course, then they've, they've achieved a certain goal. It will be rewarded from a monetary standpoint for that effort. Right. And now that's integrated into how they're looked at from a performance standpoint. So everyone has their side projects. Everyone has their goals that we look at every quarter and if they achieve those goals, then the reward in terms of their bonus, and also a part of the spiff program, which is around growth and learning.
Lech: [00:10:38] Okay. Okay. The reason I asked for that is because I so often seen, and I've actually been on the receiving end of that. When you, when we talk about people's development, it tends to be kind of in cycles and it tends to be something that is best every six months. And that's when you get feedback and when you talk about any types of, OKRs.
Okay. And I've, I've dreaded it a little bit. Yeah. Quite often, and I know people who actually hated that process going, having to go through that, writing about yourself in terms of achievements. Yes. There's a psychological element, a psychological element to that, that we don't like talking about ourselves.
And it means that we have to self-reflect and where we were good, where we potentially failed and that's all uncomfortable. For sure. Once I realized that it was a little bit easier, but then I think these cycles that we have, our organizations are just so too far apart, and as I say, it's a tick box exercise that nothing really comes out of that.
First of all, have you come across that? I'm sure I'm sure you must have, but how can we potentially tackle that a little bit?
Shawna Stewart: [00:11:34] Yeah, I think there's two sides to it. I think, you know, you do need to have some sort of check-in point that, you know the top management is actually looking at, cause you hold them accountable to making sure their team is growing. So I think from that standpoint I'm all for, Hey, we do start. Stop.
Continue is what do you want to start? Where do you want to stop? What do you want to continue? And we keep it like that very light. And the team can just say, I want to do this and I want to stop doing this and so on and so forth. And we sort of hear it from, from their standpoint. But the other side of it is we have every Friday innovation Fridays.
So every Friday is play time. What do you want to do? What do you want to work on? What do you want to explore? And there's no parameters around it. It's innovation and growth. It's up to you. It's what you want to do. If you want to do your job your day to day. That's your prerogative go for it, but you won't get a spiff and you won't have as much fun as we're having.
Right. And so me, you know, learning about what you're doing on this podcast and, and, and what human doing is part of my innovation Friday work and exploring a little bit in answering messages on LinkedIn. And, you know, that's all part of what I'm doing on my innovation time. So yeah, I think it really does help people, you know, pushing them out of their compass or his comfort zone a little bit disruptive.
A little bit, which we love to do. We love to disrupt patterns and, and get the team thinking in unique ways. And, and I think that's really how we focus on growth and, and we push the envelope on that a lot, but we don't, we don't cram it down their throat, so to speak with them, for lack of a better phrase, because as you're saying, but I'm an experimental standpoint that doesn't really go well.
Doesn't go over well with, with broader teams where, you know, you feel like you're mandated to do that growth work.
Lech: [00:13:06] Hmm. Well, we all have different industries will have different needs and different things, work, different things, work for us. And for tech industries or tech companies, it will be certain people and certain things that stimulate them to grow for creative marketing agencies, for example, would be something completely different.
Actually I'm curious, what's your take on OKRs?
Shawna Stewart: [00:13:26] I think they're important. I think there's a lot of individuals that. Are built around or I guess they they do really well when they're structure. Right. And, and human beings are like this as much as they, you know people like to say, they're not, they do like to know what their goals are. Right.
And so having a transparent organization with a modern experience and having a clear idea as to what your goals are, what you need to achieve. And then recognition is the third piece, right? Those are, those are the three main ways that you can have a really successful organization at peak performance.
And OKRs are a big part of that, making sure that those are very, very clear cut. They're achievable. We check in with the team to make sure that they feel like they're achievable and that they can actually attain those goals and it gives them something to strive towards. And if, if they're able to exceed those.
Then they're rewarded for that as well. Right. And so we look at that from an individual standpoint, we look at that from the team standpoint, and we also look at it from a corporate standpoint because one of our one of our values is we act as owners, right? And as a, as a tech company, a startup, you want to have that feel where you are an owner and, and.
So we're all responsible for the corporate metrics as well. Right? So I think that just keeps us on the same page, keeps us trucking along and anything outside of that, where it's innovation work and innovation time, that's more play, that's more free for all. And, you know, we all collaborate what those goals are going to be as well.
So the OKR is aren't just, Hey, this is what you're going to be doing. Now. This is like, This is what you could be doing. What do you think about it? Right. So just having it be a joint conversation and, and getting that buy-in from the team.
Lech: [00:14:57] Hmm. And how long have you been doing OKRs at PostBeyond. And have, would you class them as a successful kind of framework for personal development?
Shawna Stewart: [00:15:08] Yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm fortunate in that I came into PostBeyond and there were none. So I saw that. And then I saw what happened once I put them in place and also put, you know, a bonus structure behind it and everything and explained, you know, these are the different tiers, corporate team individual. Why we do it this way, why it actually ties into our values and we just sort of felt it out.
We felt it out. Saw, you know, if the team was buying into it, started to iterate on it, based on feedback, feedback loop for me is huge. It's huge validation from you on what I need to do to, to move forward into, to tweak some, some of these OKR. But I definitely feel that we have been the most productive we've ever been every single time.
We've tightened it up a little bit more.
Lech: [00:15:54] If you can share, it would be amazing. What other, some of the tweaks that you had to make with, with in this particular example of looking out, because success stories are great, but I think it's when we make. Mistakes or where we have to adapt. That's where the real learnings are because we got some bit of feedback from from what, for what we introduced.
And that's where people, I think get most value and that's where growth happens. So are there any elements of the introduction of OKR or maybe something events don't happen now for you that you could shove? You know, it didn't work and you have to change it and adapt it slightly differently for, for it to work.
Shawna Stewart: [00:16:29] Yeah, I think when you're introducing something that's structured like that for the first time, it does throw people off, especially when they're used to a startup environment. And so I going into it. You know, collaborating with the teams. We came up with a glue, a little bit of a fluff fee type of OKR structure, you know?
Yeah. If you can get 10 QPRs this quarter, you're a star, but maybe the benchmark, the market is 15. Right. That's just an example of actually 10 is all bad. Right. But let's say we started with five and said work your way into it. And then we started to see that everywhere. It was over indexing on all of their goals.
So it wasn't really like we were measuring them that. That that, you know, in a meaningful way. And so it was you know, we have to go back to the drawing board and say, Hey, you guys are over indexing. This is great. This is excellent. We're going to recognize your excellence, but going into the next year, we're going to take a look at this and we're going to tighten things up a little bit, and we're going to take a little bit of the fluff out because we can do a little bit better than this.
We can actually see what the benchmark is, and now we can start having these conversations about benchmark, right. And before it was like, We had nothing. So let's start somewhere. Let's crawl before we run and that's okay. I'm okay to say that. Yeah, this, this wasn't it. But we're going to keep at it because there's opportunities for us to change it and make it better.
And then the other part of it that really didn't go well was the qualitative portion where it was like, tell us everything about you and how your quarter was, and like write your summary summaries. Nobody wants to read a summary. It's a terrible, terrible idea. They just say I had a great time. This quarter was fun and you don't really extract anything meaningful.
And so when we switched to the start, stop, continue model. That's when we started to see that people were getting into the meaty stuff, that stuff that really, you know, what really was grinding your gears while you were working this quarter. What did you see Ray, that you had great success in that you want to double down on?
Did you find a new talent? Did you find out that you're really good at this particular thing let's play to your strengths because that's what we want to find out. That's what we want to see. And then also putting that in place for the leadership team so that they could also tell the leadership team what they need to start, stop and continue.
Very very telling something that we should have done from the moment we started the program, because these are tweaks that maybe I won't see, but they now are coming out. Right. So we can start to coach and help them be the best leaders that they can be. So I think that, you know, it's just about starting somewhere with something, putting a better structure, easing them into it.
If you don't have something like that. Right. Alrighty. And then iterating getting that feedback, collecting that feedback and learning from what's going on in the market because other people are doing this too.
Lech: [00:19:07] And you, you mentioned that you kind of had to iterate and, and ease people into this process. Have you faced a lot of resistance when introducing this, this structure, this framework? And if so, how did you manage to convince people or get them to buy in?
Shawna Stewart: [00:19:23] Yeah. I think the buy-in really came from collaborating with sole contributors on what they think their goals should be. So starting from that, that point, what are you doing on a day-to-day basis? What would you S what do you deem as success for yourself? If my customer doesn't share and then that's success.
Okay. So let's work backwards from that, right? Yeah. And wanting to them to feel really good about themselves, right? That's the ultimate goal. We don't want to trick them. We don't want to trip them up or anything. We're not trying to say you're not performing and therefore we caught you. We want them to be successful.
So I'm sharing that sentiment with them and they're working through the process and building out their okay. Ours as a collaborative effort, I think really helped to, to get that buy in because everyone could see, okay, we're all on the same team here. We're all trying to achieve the same goals. We just have to track against something.
So that we can show our success from a quantitative standpoint. And when we share it with our board and so on and so forth,
Lech: [00:20:10] Hmm, that trust is so, so important because I actually had two situations, very, very similar situations in the space of a couple of weeks of Wolf to clients where they had reorganizations happen. And in obviously there was just a similar justification why they reorg is happening, that was given to people who had to go through it and so on and so forth.
And in one of the organizations. It was absolutely fine. Everybody believed the reasons. Although the business reason wasn't stated everybody understood that it's probably that, but the reasons we're giving, you know, that it's to give people better opportunities because competitors were overlapping and things like that.
It gives people opportunity for growth and things like that. But there was no, obviously high down of the fact that there will be potential job losses as a result. But that wasn't given as one of the reasons, but although people kind of realize the business mindset behind that and one organization that was fully accepted and it was absolutely fine.
People just went along with that. And within where the other clients, the, the situation is completely different reasons were very similar people straightaway so that now, you know, Don't believe that there's something going on and things like that, which obviously straightaway indicates the, the trust element that that's not there and, or toxic culture, whatever.
There's so many reasons, potential reasons for that that we could get into. But I always forget, it's kind of fascinating where whatever you want to try and introduce. Is you, you have to have that kind of backing that, that you, the people would like to respond to that, but that just takes a fair bit of time to, to introduce those cultures, I guess.
And and have that Some of the points that you've mentioned, actually kind of with recognition bingo, and even with now the OKR has introduced them that you often take the results of that to the board, because at the end of the day, our organizations as much as I believe, should be people focused.
Before sales numbers it is the sales that fuel the organization and there's no denying that. So you take all types of information to the board and how kind of do, how did they react in terms of the initiatives that you run? Do they get involved? They make suggestions of what they want you to do or kind of their own initiatives that they believe you should introduce.
Shawna Stewart: [00:22:10] I think we're really fortunate in that we have a pretty, pretty decent board behind us and understands the importance of. Of people first. And you know, they, they understand that modeling and, you know, we've been recognized in a lot of different ways externally for our culture and for the way that we drive purpose and, and, and look at all of these different facets of, of performance.
And so I think, you know, they're, they're pretty bought into some of these initiatives that I've put in place and the outcome of that. So I would say that that's, that's one thing, but I think even just back to what you were saying previously about reorg, you know, I think it's really about the transparency, right?
I think if you're transparent with your organization, from the very jump you, they like our company knows every single dollar we have. Every single month, maybe more than that, we over-communicate because we want them to be informed as to what we're doing. What's going on. We've also been through reductions in force twice, you know?
And so I've seen it go one way where we weren't being transparent and we lost a lot of people. We had a lot of regrettable turnover after that and going into it where I had more control over the circumstance and over the transparency that was was, was there. I saw it go a different way where people actually did stay after the fact.
Right. And so I think it's, it's about, you know, really being transparent with your team, having the board understand that that's something that needs to happen because this is a different world of work, right? The world of work has changed so much and people focus is, is the way to be, or you're not going to have this.
The productivity that you're looking for, you're not gonna have people bought in. You're not going to have people who feel who have they have purpose being in there in your organization. And then you're going to have subpar work and that's going to be on the fault of the organization, right? If you really want, I want to have that, that creativity, that buzz, that momentum, that legacy feel, you've got to really bring it up, everyone into the fold of what you're doing and be transparent.
Be forthcoming with them about where you stand, because when you have to make sacrifices like that, They're right there with you. They understand why it's not just a, Oh, we'll have to tell you something. The business isn't doing so great. All of a sudden, I'm sorry. We didn't mention it. It's a. We're still looking at receivables.
We're still looking at a sales this, this month and we're still, we're really excited. And it does really bring the team up when they do see us doing really well, because it means a lot more, the expectation isn't that we're going to do great all the time. The expectation is if we work really hard, the outcome will be great for us and we can move forward together collectively as a team.
Lech: [00:24:43] and has, have you always had that transparency?
Shawna Stewart: [00:24:46] Absolutely not.
It's a, it's a, you know, a learning curve of what would I want. Right. And so you kind of have to step back when you're in a leadership position and even for myself now, as a, as a VP, take a step back and think about what do you know versus what does everyone else know? Because sometimes we get lost in that bias where we're like, you don't need to know that it's, it needs to know thing.
Right. But I tried to peel that back and think about what book of business isn't getting. Insight into this area of the business, where this could be a conflict or this where they just deserve to know. And, you know, we have the ask me anything session where we just talked to teams about what's going on in the business.
If we're, we're, we're doing an initiative, but we don't know if it's going to work out. We talked to the team and we get them to ask us questions. And I love to see that I love to see their brains working in a, in a way that a founder's brain would work or an owner's brain would work to show you like there, they are bought into what we're doing here.
They're bought into the legacy that we're trying to build. And you won't see that if you don't ask and you won't see that if you don't share
Lech: [00:25:50] For a second that I thought you're going to say that. Yes, you, yes. You did have that from the start. Which would have been a made equally amazing. I think the, the reason I asked her that, because we, I'm a big believer in transparency and I've spoken to so many people who, who are the same, but it's one of those things that is so difficult.
To introduce because it's again, so close to based on trust and trust is not something that can happen overnight. And you just can't say to somebody, trust me. You can't, they, you need today. You need to earn that trust with, with th with the people. So I guess I'm curious, how did that happen, especially cause you, you mentioned your sign, but to, to have that transparency from, from board level to share what many organizations class as top secrets.
Information in terms of financial transparency and so on. How, how did that happen? Is it something that you instigated? Is that something that was a kind of collaborative and habit naturally? Can you, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Shawna Stewart: [00:26:45] Yeah, I think, I think the one thing that people confuse with. With transparency, which is why it's so hard to introduce it, or even think about it when you're talking about an organization that has never looked at that critically is that the idea is that you need to convince people of something or that you need to convince them to trust you.
When sometimes it's just a matter of sharing the facts and saying it is what it is here. It is. And trusting that your employees are mature enough to digest that information. So if you're in the red. And you got to work your way back up to the green from a monetary standpoint, show him, show them what it is.
Show them that and say, this is why we got to grind a little bit harder this month. If you're with me, you're with me, I'm sharing this with you. If you're not, if you're like, I don't know, this is not a secure place to work. Come talk to me. We'll, we'll figure it out together, but I want you to know. And when it's really green share that too.
Right? So you don't just save the best parts of yourself for your, for your employees, for your team, you show them everything, and you showed that vulnerability and there'll be more locked in and more bought in and work even harder to try to get you to that place where we aren't able to share that success together.
When they are feeling like they're part of the story that's being written. And when you keep it behind closed doors and try to think of like, how do we share this with the team without scaring them? It's like, you're, Oh, you're working too hard. You're working too hard. People will not freak out as much as you think they will.
If you actually do trust your team and you think they're locked in, you think that they're the right people to be there. There'll be there the end of the day. Right. And so I think it's just a matter of, here's what it is. That's transparency. I'm not going to evangelize this. This doesn't look good, but. We can do something about it.
Are you with me? And let's action that, and let's go forward having a plan it's important too. Right? You know what I'm saying? Like, this is the strategy we're going to do to get us out of that, but just communicating the problem and showing, Hey, these are the solutions, but I need you guys with me. Then they feel like, okay, I have purpose here.
I have some reason to, to, to really go forward with this. And I understand what's at stake and I think it just makes it more impactful when they are seeing us on the other side of that.
Lech: [00:28:49] It's so true in, in giving people that purpose, that ownership, and then giving them that idea that they're part of something is so, so important. And I often draw analogies between how we run organizations, how we lead people within organizations and how we are as individuals in our. Normal private lives.
And if you think about it that transparency you know, giving people parts of yourself and saying this, and these are the facts. I can only present them to you. You have to make up your mind what that means to you. And, and hopefully we can move forward from that. That's what you would do in any type of relationship, any type of friendship.
Romantic relationship, whatever it might be, you, you wouldn't be hiding. Of course, we often do. We're not perfect human beings. That's, let's face it, but then if you think of that is exactly the same thing that happens in organizations, but it's even more difficult to achieve that, to be able to create that environment of saying, listen, guys and girls where this month sucks.
We don't know. We haven't been doing really well. We're in the red. I'll do my best to pay you this month. But I want you to know because there's nothing worse. People, not often, not only the world, they kind of lose trust, but they will feel cheated when payday comes in the day on the day of pay to you.
You find out actually, you know what, we can't pay you this, you know what, tell me what I'm signing up to. And then I will decide when I want to sign up, sign up to it or not. If I do, you know, I'll bear the consequences of that decision. I knew what I was getting into rather than being cheated. And you see it so often when interview process recruitment process is so fantastic.
Everybody's so delighted to be joining your organization because it's all when, so swimmingly, well, you know, they've been sold. And then within the first two weeks, they, they want to hand in their notice because one of the other days, and it's just fascinating how we separate. What we do, and our relationships in our private lives, individual lives and how we do that with organizations.
Shawna Stewart: [00:30:49] I agree with that a hundred percent. I think I usually look at a day in versus of like, how do I run my relationship? Like a business, because it is it's like, what are we doing to grow? Right. What, what are our, okay, ours? What are our next step? What's our one year, three are five-year plan. Right. And, and my partner would, he could speak to that.
Right. I that's exactly how I think. And it works so well. It works so well, same thing. If you're working with your parents, if you're working with friends, like it's just, it's one of those things that just, it works structure works, doing, being transparent, works all of these different ways that make up an organization.
It comes down to people it's organizational behavior, and then people respond really well to it when it's done really well. So why wouldn't it bleed into other parts of your life? It makes perfect sense.
Lech: [00:31:38] Let it be known that if I ever start a podcast on how to bring in chaos and personal development into relationships and friendships, Shawna is going to be my first guest.
Shawna Stewart: [00:31:48] Yeah, I'm a sign me up.
Lech: [00:31:53] And listen, we talked a lot about, about the board and there's something that, again, you and I were chatting a little bit about and that is shareholder supremacy because it's, so yes, again, it's and growth and, and our people focus with organization is so well-connected so strongly connected to how organizations run and to run.
They need that. They need funds. They need money. No, no denying that. So, and often. You know organizations have they have good board, they go shareholders, whether it's a public organization or not, you know, there's there, there are investors. How do you marry the two? Or try and the two. So in terms of pushing back, because let's face it, it's tough and there's more and more studies coming out.
That show. If you focus on people over the long run, it will deliver better growth to any investor. Who is in it for the long-term that is a given that's what they understand, but there are still so many investors, so many shareholders that think now I'm in it for the short-term engineer, push, push numbers, numbers, numbers.
If, if, again, if you can share how, how are these things at PostBeyond and or what have you observed? What's your take on that in general, within the industry?
Shawna Stewart: [00:33:04] Yeah, I think I have a different outlook now that I'm in the VPs position too, because I'm very much closer to to the board. And I think it was a mindset switch for me because nothing about them changed. It was more so how I perceive them that changed and coming to the realization that. They want the same things as me was really powerful because it's not that they're dictating what we need to do or what we should do or saying, this is where you need to go.
They're advising, right. They're guiding. And it's really up to you. The person who's in the company who knows the pulse of the company and the heartbeat of the company to, to advocate for that. So if it is, you know, if there is a misalignment to say, you know what I see where you're going with this, and I understand it, as long as they explain it, cause you have to ask them for them to explain it.
I understand it. This is my standpoint. So let's meet in the middle, right? Let's meet in the middle and figure out how we can get the best of both worlds. And it is a little bit of negotiation, but at the end of the day, when you do marry the two. You are going towards the same thing, because I want to see upside for the board just as I want to see upside for myself as someone who has options in this company.
Right. And so we're all working towards the same thing. So as long as we have that mindset that it's not just the board versus us, or, you know, in some cases that does happen or it's like, we gotta, we gotta plead to the board about what happened, or we have to cover this up to the board. It's again, the transparency.
This is where we ended up this, this quarter. It is what it is, but this is our strategy to get us out of that. And it's up to them if they want to believe it or not, or if they want to intervene, if what they want to do with that information. But again, it's the same thing of don't cover it up. Don't sugar coat.
It just be honest, show them that you're going to make that change and make that adjustment. And that the whole team is bought in that everyone on the team has, is there a place in what that strategy is going forward? And I think that is how you're able to build that trust. And the board will say, Okay, we'll leave it with you for another quarter.
And then when you come back, if you've got good news, then it's even better. Right. So I think it's just a matter of advocating for yourself with your understanding of how the business runs for internally. And then also hearing them out from their point of view, as, as, as shareholders, as, as investors and, and understanding the two, and then just coming to some sort of middle ground where you guys at the end of the day say, okay, we want the same things.
Let's go forward. Let's get it.
Lech: [00:35:26] Hmm. So you imagined you had this kind of disagreement with you where you kind of have different viewpoints and, and different vantage point of, of. Situation you got your first quarter of the, they gave you that leeway, but at that end of that quarter, you still disagree. You still have a situation.
You believe that you've kind of delivered that it showed results, but they are constantly still pushing back on that. How do you tackle a situation like that?
Shawna Stewart: [00:35:51] And those in a situation like that, I would press a little bit more on what they think the strategy should be. Right. So it's, it's easy to disagree and say like, well, quantitatively, you guys didn't do what you said you were going to do. And, and I'm upset. Right. But it's like, okay, well, we tried our strategy.
What do you suggest? What do you recommend? Can you introduce me to you? That can help us to, to really see this, this. Turn around, right? You have the connections, you're the investors, you're the ones that are, you know, can, can walk us in the door and give us intros and, and, and, and take us to the next level of where we need to go.
And I think it's asking for help is important too, because as leaders you know, we tend to say, we, we, we want to hide if they're, if we're not doing well, because we're worried the board's going to see us this way. But if you're strong enough to say, Hey, I need to just, I need to call on you for a second here, because that strategy did not work, but I know that, you know, people in this sector, I know, you know, A lot about this type of analysis.
Yeah. Or maybe you don't, I don't know, but I'm asking, you know, for that insight, I'm asking for that guidance and then working together on how you can move forward with the next steps, because the onus is on both of you at that point, right. It's not just like, let me take it away. I'll deal with it. I'll figure it out.
And then if you're unsuccessful, then you try that again. And then you're reprimanded for that. It's a matter of, okay. Let's collaborate actually, because I probably need your insight too, to guide us and help us move out of this little spot we're in right now.
Lech: [00:37:14] Definitely a tough topic and we have, again, I've seen so often organization within organizations. People do lose that battle in a way. And even me saying that, losing the battle, and that is representative of, of what's going on that perceiving this as a conflict rather than a constructive disagreement disagreement of some sorts that you can both work out because let's face it.
If everybody agreed all the time we w we would be in a completely different place. I believe probably. Maybe not as good as, as we are in not whatever good means to people. Okay. What have you got going on in the next few months? Any projects and initiatives that you you're working on that you're really excited about because you think that they're gonna make a huge difference.
Shawna Stewart: [00:37:57] Yeah. I mean, right now we're, we're peppered around data, a lot, a lot of data, big data, really working on that and really trying to have ambassadors of data and putting emphasis on You know, the importance of soft data as well. So soft data in terms of qualitative metrics, right? So if we're looking at, let's say an example is a employee feedback survey.
And you know, I look at that quarter over quarter, but if I look at at that year over year, right. And then again, year over year, I can see certain trends that came out of that and I can start to predict behavior, right? I can start to predict at certain times of the year, this particular stack comes down and people are dissatisfied.
So when that event happens at that point in the year, we should do better around transparency, or we should do better around X, Y, Z. So just trying to figure out what best practice would be. And that's in all facets of the business, customer success and sales, looking at prediction and. Tying data to that.
So there's a lot of work that's being done around that, which is really exciting. But one of the things I spoke to when I was talking about recognition, bingo is the bounty bounty programs, which I'm working on right now. And so. We already had some sort of beta version of this in place. Prior to me kind of revamping it, it's sort of like, let me try it, see how it goes, then iterate.
This is the iteration portion. And so what it is is it's specifically a recognition program for, for developers. And it's based on work that they do outside of their regular sprint work. So there are certain enhancements and certain features that we would love to build in the product, but we can only do so much with the dev time that we have.
And so those ended up getting on the backlog and on the back burner. And then we don't see the traction that we need to move our product to the next level and take. You don't take your customer feedback and really make those little changes and big changes at the same time. So what the bounty program does is it attaches a bounty to these features that are on the back, the backlog.
And so what I want to do is game-ify it, and, you know make it so that there's points attributed to completing certain bounties. There's going to be an individual component where they are monetized around that, which will be between the dev team and myself, but for the broader team. Getting that in recognition, bingo, every time a bounty is completed getting a lunch for every set number of bounties that are completed, you know, just really putting some recognition around it and putting some emphasis and excitement around us, building out the product and having that be just the innovation work that the dev team could do, because what it is is it's a problem we're presenting and a potential solution, and they get to play.
They get to decide how they want to fix that. They get to just go in, not have to be structured by, this is the grooming. This is the storyboard. This is what you need to build, but they get to have some time to say where they build it to maybe 75% of it's like what it would be. And then we take it to the next level and actually put it on the roadmap.
So having some fun with with some bounties as my next little venture is where we're at right now.
Lech: [00:40:55] So you, you are gamifying a recognition program, correct? For the basic, for the backlog. Wow, that sounds so cool. And as a, as a former project manager in an ID department and I know that many people will re will agree with me. The backlog is where is similar, kind of to the second, second page in Google search results.
No one ever really looks in there. That's where things pretty much go to die. So I if I was you. Trademark that or patent that because if, if it does work for you and by the sounds of it, it's got really good chances that it will. There there's some serious money that to be made here in it, departments and organizations that, that do struggle with that.
W One point i wanted to come back to is something that I often get asked is how can we use data to help us because we've got all of, you know, all this data again, what we said before we started recording knowledge, we've got data, we've got knowledge, but it's about how you use it.
And I think that's where people struggle at a lot.
Shawna Stewart: [00:41:52] Yeah, I think it's a, it's like the qual quantitative, right? If it's not quantitative, is it even data? Right. And if you can say, I have had this many things of this happened and therefore it means this, and it's such a linear line, but you can interpret data in so many different ways and it really does.
STEM from anything that's happening within your organization and beyond that, right? Everything over time is what creates data. Right? So if it's a pattern, I could look at what happened in COVID. If we have another year where COVID is like this, I can say, this is the trend. This is how I'm going to use the data two years in a row of what.
You know what I've seen, that's similar across those two years. Right? So it's really just looking at it in a different way and using it to make decisions, right. Making data driven decisions is so powerful because it validates what you're looking at, what you're doing, what you're moving on and moving forward on.
So I think that's definitely a piece that needs to happen across businesses and not just with, you know, data analysts. I think it's definitely really powerful for everyone to be looking at what they have in front of them. And seeing, looking at the retro, seeing the trends and trying to pull from that and make sense of it, to predict what may happen later on and forecast
Lech: [00:43:00] Fantastic. Shawna it's been an absolute, Oh actually. Sorry. Nearly forgot to ask apart from the stuff that you've got going on, if people wanted to reach out to you, follow where you're up to, where's the best way to do that. What's the best way to get in touch with you.
Shawna Stewart: [00:43:13] Oh you can connect with me on LinkedIn. I do share a lot of my ideas on there and some articles that I read, I tried to to, to do that every innovation Friday and, and throughout the week as well. So there's some good things that come out of that, hopefully with a connection like that. And if there's any.
You know, collaboration in mind. I also respond to messages on LinkedIn as you know. So yeah. Yeah. I love to work with people. I love to collaborate. I love to give feedback. I love to hear what people are working on and what they're doing. Cause it gets me excited and gets me amped about where this world of work is going.
Lech: [00:43:51] Shawna and I connected on LinkedIn. So she's true to her word. And I'm so grateful that we have, because it's busy. This has been a fantastic conversation. And thank you very much for that from Shawna.
Shawna Stewart: [00:44:01] Thank you.