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Episode 15: We Have No Bosses!

Episode 15: We Have No Bosses!

“I’m not your boss, you’re your boss.” This a phrase used quite often at goodr. We all say we don’t want a boss… but it’s harder than you think. We built our own performance and review system based on Drive by Daniel Pink with the goal of no bosses.

When Stephen worked in corporate America he started an Evernote of all the things he would do when he ran his own company one day. The list consisted of limited vacay, a liberal work from home policy, no middle managers, and a bunch of other random shit. His goal was to create the feeling of loving your job, the feeling that “work” isn’t “work”.

Time to get AMPed! The goal came to fruition as AMP, goodr’s performance and pay raise system. It is our quarterly review process and yearly raise calculator. AMP is all about clarity, promoting growth, and giving consistent feedback. Thanks to AMP, goodr employees know their value and have no bosses. It empowers every employee with Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose projects.

In a big plain Jane company you might get a review every year, or every four years. The reviews are often focused on what’s fresh in the manager’s mind and glaze over early accomplishments. After Stephen and co-founder Ben read Daniel Pink’s book Drive, they realized that they needed to create a performance and review system.
There are three principles to AMP:

Autonomy: Directing your own life.

Mastery: Getting better at a specialty skill, not something that you’re already pro at, but perhaps something a little more intimidating.

Purpose: This is all about leaving the world a better place than you found it.

With the principles outlined by Pink in mind, Stephen and the team recognized that they could do it better than what’s out there. A key learning from Drive being that, money does not motivate people. You think it does, but it does not. Thank you Daniel Pink for doing all of the hard work. He created the clay for goodr to mold.

Everyone has a self evaluation and a committee eval for each part of AMP. All of this gets factored into the individual’s raise. We define each component and we hold people accountable to accomplishing them. By doing so, we’re getting the best out of everyone. It takes a little practice to get your mind around how the system works… For example, if you say, “I’m a good boyfriend.” What are your deliverables on that? Define how you are good at your job. For example, maybe a deliverable is to go on three romantic dates a month. When you know you’re checking all of the boxes you can coast on the feeling of, “Oh I’m doing my part!”

We want people to thrive, grow, show up every day and ball out. Doing one great thing is awesome, but you gotta do it again, and again, and again, and you have to grow. This shifts the definition of doing good work. When the time belongs to you, why would you waste it just to get through the day?? We want people to love what they do. At its core, autonomy is the ability to direct your own life and it is the bulk of AMP. We’d break it down to Autonomy is 80% of your role, Mastery 10%, and Purpose 10%. Meaning roughly four hours a week on Mastery and four hours on Purpose. Let’s break it down further...

Autonomy at goodr means you can do things how you want, what you want, and where you want. You can’t do whatever you want. Everyone’s roles are clearly defined and call out what one should be doing.
Stephen does not want to be micromanaged, nor does he want to micromanage. Does anyone actually enjoy micromanaging? Ughk, don’t answer that… How do we eliminate the word micromanage all together? Answer: Ownership and knowing your own value. Prove to yourself and the entire company that you’re crushing your role. If you’re regularly showing that you’re doing your work to a high level, how can you even be micromanaged? For example, During Tuesday with Carl all departments share updates. The Distribution Center Squirrels share how many packages they’ve shipped. Customer Service Parrots go over how many tickets they’ve solved. Every team has their respective KPIs that reflect the effort of the individuals on the team.

For Stephen’s autonomy he has three areas of focus: Chief Culture Creator, Chief Multiplier, Chief Visionary. For Chief Multiplier his goal is getting the best out of everyone. This means 1:1 meetings with Flock Leaders, compensation planning, and a bunch o’ staff meetings. He has it mapped down to the number of quarterly expected meetings. If he gets them done, he can clearly say, “I earned an ‘A’ here and this is why…”

Mastery is taking on a project that excites you and speaks to your role. We have no interest in you getting better at something you’re already great at. It’s about sharpening your skills. An example of a Mastery project that Stephen took on was improving his public speaking. As a part of this, he had to deliver three 10 minute speeches to goodr peeps, do one speech to 100 people, so on and so forth. As a result, he spoke at Running USA, to over 700 people!!! And had an epic experience speaking at an Inc. Magazine conference. It’s all about carving out the time to hone in on one skill. Shaun got certified in the Enneagram for his Mastery Project. When determining a direction for this project, it helps to ask yourself: What makes you the most uncomfortable? What is something you need to learn? Doing so forces you to put in the time to get it done. When you make people come in quarterly and debrief their efforts on it, shit gets done! It’s a built in accountability system.
The Purpose Project is all about taking on a project that’s bigger than yourself so you can leave the world a better place. Our Brand Manager works with the Special Olympics. Another Purpose Project resulted in our first pair of recycled goodrs. A Purpose Project may feel like a chore, until you find what clicks for you, and then it is a gift. For some this is volunteering, for others it is creating their art. This entire podcast is both Shaun and Stephen’s Purpose Projects. Stephen’s OG PP was to share goodr culture with the whole world. This snowballed into, “Let’s do a blog about it!” Realizing that writing is hard, enter Shaun: “Let’s do a podcast!” And Stephen is like, “I like to talk… we can do this!” This project has evolved so much that they are both moving it into a part of their Autonomy. AMP is all about growing.
Other cool Purpose Projects: Keri, one of the co-founders, she runs our content team, is an actress, performer, writer, singer, and dancer. She creates videos. Nicki Minaj did a competition to make a parody video. Keri entered for her Purpose Project AND Nicki Minaj picked her video and shared it with her bajillion followers.

Alli is the Flock Leader for our sales team. She started a nonprofit called Breaking Silence, it’s about bringing awareness to sexual assault and non violence, primarily on college campuses. goodr made a pair (three pairs now!) of co-branded sunglasses, all of the money goes back to her nonprofit. When we launched the glasses, a man broke his silence. The sunglasses inspired him to share his story about interpersonal violence. We always define “wild success” at goodr, this wasn’t even on the board of wild success.

AMP has evolved over time. Everyone in the company participates in the AMP quarterly review. This involves the presentation of the individual’s AMP deck. Shaun and Stephen are on the AMP committee. At first AMP was scored one through five. The numbers broke people’s brains. Three was an A, but that felt like a D. From here, we changed it from numbers to letters. The max you can score yourself is an A, but the committee can score an Extra Credit or a Flamingo. It’s key to remember that you "earned" an A you never just "get" it. All of the grades are then mapped to a number, your numbers are added up and multiplied by .0008% to determine your raise. The average raise in the U.S. is 2.9%. That’s not good. Most people at goodr get between a 6% and 8% raise. It shakes out to, if you get all Bs you get a 5% raise. If you get all As you get a 7.68%. Your annual raise legit is determined by your performance. You can calculate it at any point and figure out what you’re on track for.

Stephen started participating in every review at the beginning of 2020. It took a couple of years to figure this out. It felt like we were dragging people down, so we got better at giving feedback. Now the AMP process is actually fun. Stephen wants to understand what everyone is doing at goodr and he’s ultimately there to pump people up and give positive feedback. It’s a celebration. It takes about three days to do everybody in the company. We're super hoping that Stephen starts showing up to these reviews in a cheerleading outfit.

The goal is to have no surprises in a review. It means we need to be giving consistent feedback throughout the quarter. Instead of an, “Omg, we’re not aligned,” we can celebrate.

If you’re going to have a work from home policy, you need a system in place to keep people in check. We save money on staffing because we don’t have filler roles just putting their thumb on people. Our revenue per employee is really high. The individuals need to really enjoy the work, otherwise it just feels like they’re being told what to do all of the time. As a result, tons of time is saved from commuting and we have fewer meetings. This is all part of the bigger culture ecosystem. Slack ties into this, the no email, the no gossip. All of this stuff zens together. And if your head is spinning because you're not quite sure what all those references are to, it’s okay, just go listen to the other podcast episodes.

If you’re interested in mixing up the review process at your company, ask yourself: What is your goal as an employer? Our goal is to have everyone be fulfilled and love what they do. Create your pay and performance structure off of that. That’s the hard part. You have to define your goal. We went through Carole Baskin’s meat grinder to get to this point.

What is your current Purpose Project? Sharing goodr’s culture with the world. Stephen is thinking about writing a book about goodr next!
What is your favorite Purpose Project? Keri and Alli’s!

How much commute time do you think you’ve saved by now? Stephen is a bad example because he lives close to the office and loves going into it. However, the average commute in Los Angeles is 56 minutes. This calculates to, outside of Covid times, a goodr employee gets about 18 days back a year by not having to commute daily.

How much has AMP changed since we first implemented it? A lot! The bones are there, but there has been a lot of nuance. It’s about 80% rock and 20% worth of change.

What is your favorite part of the quarterly reviews? Stephen loves being able to sit there and pump people up. The hard conversations happen between the meetings and not at the meetings.

Will we ever get too big for Stephen to be in all of the reviews? He kind of hopes so, because then we’re doing something really right. Perhaps half every other quarter? He’ll always do some version with everyone once a year.

Understand that there is so much nuance to get to this point. It is not a perfect system and oodles of work goes into this. We are fed so much bullshit on how we “should” do things and your ability to take a step back and realize that there is a broken system in front of you is really paramount. You don’t have to follow us, but you also don’t have to just keep doing what you’re doing. There are plenty of ways to inspire people and help them grow.
1. Make sure it is important to you.
2. Give yourself permission to fuck it up.

3. Be willing to commit if you want to see change.

4. Base level: Watch Daniel Pink’s Ted Talk. Next level: Read his book Drive. And consider re-reading these show notes to try to copy what we did!

If you haven’t signed up for CULTURE goodr emails, get on it! This is the last episode of Season 2, but we have some awesome bonus episodes planned before we dive into Season 3.

Until next time (err and after that too...), be excellent to each other!