Lindsay McGregor

Author of Primed To Perform

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 10, 2015

Discussion

Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
My name is Lindsay McGregor and I'm trying to fix the epidemic of broken workplace cultures, not just so people can be happier, but so they can create their best work. I'm the co-author of New York Times bestselling book, Primed to Perform, which introduces the surprisingly simple science of high-performing cultures, as well as the co-founder of Vega Factor, where we build tech to help organizations transform their cultures. I am excited to share my research and stories about the relationship between your motives, your performance and your office's culture. I'm also keen to get your help pushing the thinking forward.
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
@mcgregorle If an employer were to offer me a position where I could work full time from home, would that be smart? I think a lot of people have a tough time maintaining their sanity in those positions, but I also think it drives a whole different kind of passion and performance metrics.
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@jeffumbro Great question. We actually measured thousands of workers in the US to see how their motivation changed based on where, when or how they worked. We found that where they worked didn't make much of a difference to motivation - but having the freedom to choose how you did your day to day job made a huge difference. People were most motivated when they could continuously improve how they did their job. So if you're passionate about the work itself, go for it!
daniellevine@daniellevine · Fireside
@mcgregorle hey Lindsay! Thank's for doing this AMA. I'm wondering, what's the best thing you've come across in the last 30 days and why? Could be anything, a product, an article, a tea, a quote. Anything! Thanks for answering.
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@daniellevine Thanks Daniel! The most amusing thing I've come across lately: http://www.theonion.com/video/mo... It's amazing how many of us can relate to this!
Maya Jiménez@mayajimenez
@mcgregorle Hi Lindsay! What advice do you have for people out of college who are trying to find companies with the best work cultures for them? What kinds of questions should they ask in interviews?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@mayajimenez Thanks Maya! We've actually received this question so often that we've written a whole article about it on The Muse: https://www.themuse.com/advice/2...
Maya Jiménez@mayajimenez
@mcgregorle @mayajimenez That's super helpful! Thanks, Lindsay.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hi @mcgregorie thanks so much for joining us today. Would love to hear what the commonalities are of the high performing cultures you have witnessed? Also what do you think of @jasonfried ted talk: Why Work Doesn't Happen At Work https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=...
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@harrystebbings In response to you question about the @Jasonfried TED talk, I can definitely relate to the challenges of working in a noisy, meeting-filled environment! As an introvert, I love the time when I get to put on headphones and dive into my work. However, when analyzing a culture we see the environment as one piece of an ecosystem. To design a job well, we take a good hard look at what type of interaction is required to do the job well. We encourage each person in each role to view their job as a cycle of continuous improvement with five steps (1) understanding the context of their work; (2) generating ideas for how to improve their work; (3) prioritizing which ideas to test; (4) testing them; and (5) reflecting on what works. We look at each of these five steps in each job to determine when the person needs to interact with others. In some types of jobs, you need to be engaging with others to do many of these steps. In others, you don't! We also found that a sense of community with workplace colleagues was very important to motivation (see how it compares to other elements of culture on slide 47 of this slideshare http://ow.ly/UuiRK) - you'll just of course need to think about using that time wisely!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@mcgregorle Thanks for being here today. 🙌During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@ems_hodge Thanks Emily for joining us! On most surprising moment, it was learning that simply being a nice and friendly team manager (or employee) simply brought the culture around me to "neutral." I learned that to actually create a great culture around me, I had to help others find where they found play at work (where they loved the work itself), see the impact of their work, and see how the work would help them in their own career path. I realized that I was giving people too much autonomy to create a truly great workplace.
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
Thanks @harrystebbings ! High performing cultures all have one thing in common: they realize that why people work determines how well they work. They also realize that only some "whys", or motives, drive performance. When people are motivated by play, purpose and potential their performance tends to go up, while those motivated by emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia find that their performance goes down. We measured these six motives in over 50 major companies and found that they held true (for the data wonks out there, the charts are here: http://ow.ly/UuiRK ). While high performing companies all have different personalities, they all build cultures that inspire the right "whys"
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
@mcgregorle What is your ideal work situation?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@jeffumbro I used to think the ideal workplace situation was when I had lots of purpose. I did a lot of work with schools systems, universities and nonprofits because I deeply believed in their impact. Yet I wasn't having a good time on all of those projects. It wasn't until I started to study total motivation (or ToMo for short) that I realized it was not enough to only believe in the impact of your work - you also had to enjoy the work itself (the play motive). In fact, in our research we found that play was twice as powerful a motive as purpose in driving performance. It finally made sense. I was much more motivated when I was reading the latest psychological research, for example, than when I was when filing papers. Some people are the reverse - they'd much prefer to design a killer organizational process for paperwork than read research papers. My ideal workplace is when I am both enjoying the work itself and believing in its impact.
TBD@new_york_silly
@mcgregorle if you could say one thing to a crowd full of the 100 most influential executives in America right now, what would it be?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@new_york_silly Great handle! I'd say that culture is the most important asset you're not managing. It leads to higher levels of creativity, innovation, customer experience and sales. Yet few organizations build a culture on purpose. Often, a mediocre culture -- something friendly but not high performing -- just emerges. One company we work with spends five times more on human capital than they spend on marketing. Yet they have ten times as many people optimizing their marketing. It's time to stop treating culture like a magic beyond our control - and begin approaching it like a science that we can use to unlock the potential of our people and our organizations.
Alexander Lindroth@alexlindroth · Alex Lindroth, Always Reading New Books!
@mcgregorle @new_york_silly Hi Lindsay, what advice would you give to a leader who understands that culture is the "most important asset" they're not managing, but who has no idea where to start managing it? Is there a "step one" for those who want to get started?
Taylor Hook@hook_taylor
@mcgregorle Hey Lindsay, I run a 12 persons sales and account management team for a SaaS/Mobile services company. Much of my team is young and in their first professional career post-university. I'm interested in how you would approach motivating millennials beyond monetary/commissions. Second question is how do you get them to realize their culture/work place is special when they've had no other experience to compare too?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@hook_taylor The first step would be to teach them that the happiest people take time to figure out where they find play, purpose and potential. Some tips for increasing those three: (1) For play - figure out what part of the job each person enjoys most, and encourage them to find ways to experiment in that area. One Starbucks manager, for example, encouraged his baristas to play with how they connected authentically with each and every customer. Toyota assembly line workers are encouraged to come up with new tools to do their job better. For a sales representative, it could be experimenting with how they introduce a product, and sharing what works with their teammates. The essence of play is inspiring curiosity and experimentation. (2) For purpose, how can you help them see and experience the impact of their work more? For (3) it's finding out what skills and abilities someone wants to develop, and finding more ways for them to do that. More examples of what you can do are here: http://ow.ly/Uup8N To the second part of your question about millennial not having other workplaces to compare to - ask them about their experiences in high school or college. Ask them to reflect on when they performed at their best - on a team, in a club, or in a class. What was happening in that situation? You'll be amazed to see them talk about the play, purpose and potential they felt in that situation.
Paulo Braga@plobraga
Thanks for been here today, @mcgregorle! According to your scientific researches, what is the most commons situations happening on the companies nowadays that harm people doing their best work? Did you come to study startups? Is there any significant difference between then and big old fashion companies?
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@plobraga Thanks for the question! We were surprised to find no major differences in motivation between people in small and large companies - unfortunately there were mediocre and toxic cultures at any and every size! At the level of individuals, the most common mistake was to try and motivate others using the wrong motives. Think about the last time you were assigned a project, or the last time you assigned a project to someone else. What was the rationale behind the project? Many of us use reasons that rely on emotional or economic pressure: "Do this project because the boss told us we have to." Or "Complete this by Thursday or else we'll be in trouble." Or "We won't be living up to our potential if we can't get this done." Thousands of studies have actually shown that motivating someone in these ways reduces performance. Instead, we should explain how the project will help the customer (inspiring purpose), or help the person doing the project learn and grow (inspiring play and potential). In our data, we see that most people feel a significant amount of emotional and economic pressure in their work, but that this leads to lower levels of performance. One experiment at by Harvard Professor Amiable found that when poets read a list of the negative reasons for writing poetry for just a few moments, their poems were almost 30% less creative than poets who read a list of play reasons! That was just reading a list for a few minutes - imagine the effect of an entire organization's culture! At a macro level, we have seen that most organizations tend to freeze their organizations for the sake of predictability. What they don't realize is that by doubling down on predictability, they tend to destroy the ability of their people to adapt and innovate. Tactical and adaptive performance are both critical - but they have to be kept in balance by a thoughtful leaders.
Karina Lopez@kaririiiiiii
Hey Lindsay! How can we tackle inequality in the workplace, specifically towards women of color. The number of women of color in the workplace with positions of power are slim and typically experience hostile work environments due to their socioeconomic background, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Are there any methods that you practice in your workplace that enable a happy and efficient workplace culture? Thank you for your time with us!
Lindsay McGregor@mcgregorle · Author of Primed To Perform
@kaririiiiiii Great question. We've found that low ToMo practices have an even more adverse impact on women than men. We also saw in company data that some organizations had noticeable differences in motivation among minorities, while other companies had no such difference. We encourage organizations to measure the ToMo of their people (our simple measurement tool is at www.primedtoperform.com and in our book) to identify if there are any patterns among different groups. We've also found that people's first instinct is to blame individuals for a problem (like not enough women at the top) - rather than look at the whole ecosystem. We all have a "blame bias". Psychologists have studied this phenomenon (known in the literature as the "fundamental attribution error") in depth. Many organizations assume they have a "recruiting problem." We encourage organizations to first look at how the culture of a company is affecting the motivation and performance of all types of people. Ask "what about the environment could I change to help this person succeed in their job?"