433 | How to Have Better One-on-One Meetings with David Hassell

Better 1 on 1 meetings with your direct reports starts with a better understanding of the person that you are talking too. If you understand what they want to accomplish, the progress they have made lately, and the challenges they are facing, your 1 on 1 meetings with each employee will improve. There are many ways to tune in to them before the meeting. Today’s guest is David Hassell, CEO of 15five.com. Their software enables you to tune-in to what is going on with your people and creates powerful ways to lead them. David shares some research the company has collected that will improve your 1 on 1 meetings.

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Leaders in the Trenches Featuring with David Hassell

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Target Audience: David Hassell is a serial entrepreneur and presently Founder & CEO of 15Five, a SaaS company focused on helping managers and CEOs and get the insights from their people that they need to be highly effective, and to build great teams and organizations.



David Hassell: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Listen, leaders in the trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: [00:04]
Hi, this is Gene Hammett. I’m the host of leaders in the trenches. My question today is how do you have better one on one meetings with your employees? Better one on one meetings means you actually are coming to the meeting not to just get insight around what’s going on and then figure out how to best serve them. You are actually having it in your hands before the meeting starts and there’s really no other way to do that than have some pre-work done. Now I’m sitting down with David Hassle today. David is the founder of 15five and that really is a software that will help you become more prepared for those ones on one meeting. We talk about the power of culture in today’s economy about how things are changing so fast and why you must create culture.

Gene Hammett: [00:48]
Just as much emphasis on that as you do your product as your sales, as your marketing, your customer service and what comes first. He answers the question about what’s more important for a leader, employees or customers. You might not be surprised, but tune in to find out the answer. Now here’s the interview with David.

Gene Hammett: [01:07]
Hi David. How are you?

David Hassell: [01:08]
I’m great Gene, how are you?

Gene Hammett: [01:09]
I am fantastic. Well, I’ve already let our audience, so a little bit about who you are, so it would be great for you to tell them in your own words about you and who you serve.

David Hassell: [01:18]
Yeah. So, I’m David Hassle CEO of a company called 15 five, and we build performance management software for companies between say a hundred and a thousand employees with a whole different paradigm of how to do business. So our belief is that performance management is a bit of a misnomer. I believe that performance is a byproduct that’s our assaulted focusing on other things. And our view is when you create cultures inside organizations and support managers with the right practices, you can help people be in becoming their best selves over time in which we believe performance and loyalty as a byproduct.

Gene Hammett: [01:51]
I totally agree with that. I have talked hundreds of times on this very podcast around the importance of really going beyond performance and really looking at how an organization and the best way I described this is creating growth leadership are in a growth culture.

David Hassell: [02:07]

Gene Hammett: [02:08]
I would love for you to tell us in your words, why is culture so important in today’s age?

David Hassell: [02:14]
Yeah. I think we’re in a world now where people are now taking it seriously. I would think even 10 years ago, you know, I talked to a lot of business leaders and many of them and traditionally more traditional businesses would roll their eyes and you know, they had, it didn’t have quite an under an understanding of the importance of culture, but I think it’s absolutely everything. You can take the same person that could be a high performer and put them in two different cultures and they’re going to show up completely differently because the culture is, it’s invisible. We can’t see it, but we can feel it. But it’s made up of things like our shared beliefs and are the ways we do things together and in our social norms. And all these other things, including, you know, what our standards are, what our standards of integrity are, what standards of them authenticity are, how we communicate with each other, how we do everything. And it’s the source of all action in all results.

Gene Hammett: [03:07]
And you went with you know, putting a person in a different context. I’m going to ask you from a strategy standpoint because a lot of people go, oh well you just take the right strategy and execute on that with, you know, hard work and all of that stuff. But what is your perspective on strategy versus culture?

David Hassell: [03:26]
I think they nest, I think it’s culture first, then it’s a strategy, right? And it’s action. And so, you know, if you’re just focusing on the strategic and the tactical levels and you don’t have the cause, the people are the people who are going to take the actions inside that strategy. I don’t care if you have the best strategy in the world, if you don’t have people who are committed to the higher purpose, right? Who is acting with integrity, who are intrinsically motivated, right? You’re going to lose every day even to accompany that maybe doesn’t have as good a strategy, but it has all that

Gene Hammett: [03:58]
You know when we first talked a couple of weeks ago about our companies and you know, where we can make this fit. I share with you some of my research and I want to bring that up, here again, today I’ve talked with over 300 fast-growing companies, the leaders of those companies. And I asked them one key question and this question is as a leader, what’s more important? Employees or customers?

David Hassell: [04:17]
Yes. Right?

Gene Hammett: [04:18]
What do you think it is?

David Hassell: [04:20]
Well, you know, I think that, uh, you know, they’re both essential, right? You’re not going to have a business unless you have both. But in terms of priority, I would always prioritize the employees first because if you create a really great employee base and they’re the ones who are interfacing with your customers, they’re the ones who are or doing the deals, who are bringing the customers, who are building the relationships. And you know, it’s apparent when you go to the airline counter in the differences between the different airlines. You check in with, you know, which of those companies are employee first and which of those companies are quote customer first and my experience with the customer First Airlines tends to be that I have the worst experience as a customer because it flows down that way. Right.

Gene Hammett: [05:06]
It seems like the people that are really happy with what they’re doing day in and day out have more of a spring in their step when they deliver, whether it be sales or marketing or anything. When you are putting together your software, we don’t want to talk about why you’ve developed this software, but what gap did you see in the market that allows you to create a solution like you have today?

David Hassell: [05:30]
It wasn’t necessarily a gap per se, it was more, well I guess it was a gap, so I used to do strategy consulting for Ceos and their leadership teams and I would run these all day processes that anywhere from one to four times a year where he’d help them get clear on their core purpose, their vision, their values, the objectives there are focusing on in any given period of time. Whether it be a year or quarter, and I come and check in with these companies, you know, months or a year later. And you know, there was no shortage on clarity on what they wanted to do by the end of that day that I work with them. But a full 50% would come back not having achieved their objectives. And I realized it was all about people that they had, right? The team and the culture.

David Hassell: [06:10]
And I had this belief that the manager, employee relationship was the critical relationships inside organizations. If we could, if we could improve that dynamic to have managers really being in a supportive role, there are people that understand what’s going on for them. And so really be outstanding managers. We could transform cultures from the inside out. So that’s what we started building.

Gene Hammett: [06:32]
What did that first look like when you’ve launched 15five?

David Hassell: [06:36]
It was a very basic tool, which it’s still the core of, of the 15 five platforms, what we call the weekly check-in. And it’s based on an old practice. The founder of Patagonia used to, used to do that. He called five fifteens where he’d have every employee in the company spend 15 minutes a week writing a report that takes their manager no more than five minutes to read. And you know, just around things like what’s going well, what challenges are you facing, how could we improve morale? An opportunity to share to your appreciation what we call we call high fives and you know, it’s evolved into a much more full-fledged platform now, but that weekly check-in is really continuing to be the heartbeat of the platform.

Gene Hammett: [07:14]
Now, what would you say to managers and leaders out there that are doing a weekly check in the old fashioned way, which is sit down and have a cup of coffee, take them to lunch, whatever it may be? How is yours, what you do better?

David Hassell: [07:27]
Well, they absolutely should do that. So we’re not replacing face to face communication to those things are really critical. What we’re doing is streamlining that. So there’s a, there’s a number of factors. So typically if you’re going to sit down with someone, the minimum amount of time you’re probably going to spend is 20 to 30 minutes with that person and I think it’s a real waste of time just to spend that time gathering updates and you can do it asynchronously when a person has an opportunity, when an employee has an opportunity to self reflect and they have space to do that without the pressure of someone sitting across to them, they tend to be more forthcoming and have an opportunity, especially if they tend to be more introverted and sharing, you know, the full range of what’s going on. Now as a manager or a leader, I can go in in 30 to 40 minutes, review a team of six to eight people.

David Hassell: [08:10]
I’m completely briefed on what’s going on throughout the company and then I can actually respond asynchronously on certain topics and get more clarity. Or I can live in three to five other people in the company who address a specific issue right there. As I’m doing that, I can then add things to my one on one agenda. So when I do have one on ones, we don’t have to waste all that time going through all the updates. I’m already briefed. Then we can spend that high bandwidth, expensive facetime. I’m going deep on the most important strategic issues and that’s the way we see that.

Gene Hammett: [08:41]
So it’s kind of like the pre-work.

David Hassell: [08:43]
Exactly. It’s Kinda only pre-work.

Gene Hammett: [08:44]
Well, I can really relate to that because I always want to be prepared for the meeting. So if I was doing the reviews of the one on ones, I want to know what we’re going to talk about as opposed to just showing up and if I’m actually giving it. Because in some cases I have been that person. I wanted to be able to take my time and think about it. What are some of the things you can share with us from a data standpoint on, you know, trends that are going on with this manager? Employee relationship?

David Hassell: [09:10]
I think from a, you know, from a more of a broad market place. A shift. I think what we’re seeing now is the most progressive in high performing companies today are realizing the true importance of and can potential of people and culture. And I think what you’re starting to see is, you know, HR, human resources is traditionally been focused on the more I think protective, you know, putting policies and procedures in place to make sure that the company is protected. I, you know, the one or two or three bad actors in the company, of course, the policies that apply to everybody versus being focused on how do we create cultures that really bring out the best in people and attract and retain the best people.

David Hassell: [09:51]
And so you’re starting to see that, you know, HR folks rebrand themselves as, like VPS or directors of people in culture instead of, instead of heads of HR. And that started the silicon valley and it’s progressed through the workforce in the US and so there’s a big sea change happening. And I think it’s being driven by a number of dynamics. I mean, we have them, one of the tightest labor markets we’ve had in a long, long time. You have the millennials who have, you know, we’re kind of the first a group of or the first generation of the true digital natives who have not only moved into the workforce but are now moving into management and leadership positions. And we also have companies growing more and more distributed teams more so than they have in the past. So, you know, building culture when you’re not, you don’t have all that face time requires, you know, an even higher level of effort.

Gene Hammett: [10:39]
All those factors are really important for people to pay attention to because they aren’t going away.

David Hassell: [10:44]
Right, exactly.

Gene Hammett: [10:46]
David, you know, you work and see a lot of different companies doing different strategies. What are things that people are doing and spending money on that just aren’t working?

David Hassell: [10:55]
Well, I think that one of the things that, that leaders focus on that doesn’t work is really, how would I say this? So you know, just focusing on the strategy and the tactics and the end results and not going to cut deeper. Right? So if you’re just, if you’re just looking at someone’s outward behaviors and the results and you’re having conversations about that without understanding who is this person as a human being, what are their strengths and gifts? You know, what do they care about? Are they intrinsically motivated? Are we creating the right culture to have this person thrive?

David Hassell: [11:28]
I mean, in the right role, you know, do we have an organization where our mission, vision, values are actually really authentic and aligned to the point where everybody in the company is signed up to be a member of that company because they’re, they’re committed to those and they’re inspired by those. You know, oftentimes I think today, you know, when you talk about mission, vision, values, a lot of people will roll their eyes because there are so many people who are, have adopted that kind of concept. But I’ve done it so poorly that we see a lot of, you know, a lot of organizations that are not really in alignment with or not authentic with what those are. But when it’s, when it’s really practiced, right? And there’s, there’s a deep level of authenticity. There’s a real power in it.

Gene Hammett: [12:06]
I think one of the things I see most often in the mission, vision and values is something I think you’re a software actually addresses, which is it happens over time. It’s not an exercise that you do over a weekend and you hope to get it all squared away and then we can move on to something else. It happens, you know, week to week, month to month, year to year and across everybody. And you know, 15five really does address that very well.

David Hassell: [12:33]
Yeah. And I think that that’s the, you make a really good point. There was before I started 15 five one of my now early advisers and investors had a company in San Francisco that I was working for and we would always ask them to send us their mission, vision, and values beforehand. So we knew who we were speaking to in the room and you can actually rate the values. And the CEO’s assistant wrote back and said, I’m sorry I can’t send them to you because we’re not allowed to write them down. And I was like, what do you mean you’re not allowed to write them down? And he said, well you know our CEO believes that if we write them down people are not going to remember what they are. So they actually, it was all word of mouth and what he was pointing to was actually quite wise because you know the companies that write these things down and put them on the wall and they never talk about them and no one knows what they are, right? Your culture is going to drift away from them unless you have a way to really incorporate it into the daily conversation. It’d be something that is alive in the organization. The designing them, writing them down part is only step one and a cultural drift and if you’re not like bringing people back to what those values are on a day to day basis, it’s going to drift away from that and you’re going to create cynicism in the organization.

Gene Hammett: [13:36]
I want to take you back to something you said that that I don’t want to bypass. You talked about recognition. What are you seeing as, you know, some trends and things that we should be paying attention to reward and recognize the right behaviors for employees in our culture.

David Hassell: [13:53]
Well, I think it’s clear that you know, a lot of the research, the social science research points to a deep core need for human beings to feel recognized. They feel like their work matters. And so I think we’ve known that for a long time and you’ll see that a lot of organizations will try to put in place things like employee recognition programs and whatnot, but more often than not, those things tend to feel a little forced and they don’t really feel fully authentic. And when you can create a culture of appreciation where people are ongoingly recognizing and appreciating each other for good work, then it’s not up to the leadership to do it right. There’s no program that’s needed. And that’s one of the things that we, that’s one of the most transformative things about the platform. We call it high fives. At the end of every week, people look around the company and say, all right, here are the four or five people I’m going to recognize this week and all that great work gets elevated so the leadership can have a view into it.

David Hassell: [14:45]
I mean I live in Sedona, Arizona. I’ve got offices in San Francisco, really, North Carolina, New York City, a bunch of people across Europe, and so I don’t get to see the work. I just walked around, but I log into my high five feet every week and it’s incredible. All the amazing stuff that’s happening and as an employee feeling recognized, being recognized by someone else feels good, but it actually you generate also positive emotions and connections to your peers by doing the recognition and so it really, it’s very transformative for culture when you build a culture on positivity and recognition because it’s not the norm. That’s not where our minds tend to go.

Gene Hammett: [15:21]
I appreciate you sharing that with us because I think it’s something that is often missed and I see a lot of companies struggling to have any kind of recognition program whatsoever, but one that’s really become a part of the culture is going to have more transformative benefits. David, is there anything I haven’t asked you about that really you feel like would be necessary to share with our audience today about culture?

David Hassell: [15:46]
I do. Yeah. So we’re going to, we’re in a big mission. I briefly touched on it when you asked me at the beginning what 15five is. We have this concept that’s really, really resonated with, with folks out there and you know we have an hour and 15-minute webinar about every two weeks on the topic and we call it best self-management. So I think that the term best self, how best type itself, a lot of people talk about, you know, I want to be my best self. It’s in the Zike guys. That’s kind of what people are talking about these days. It’s we believe that if you create a culture focused on what we call best self-management, which is building an environment that brings out the best and who are your people already are today, right? Because I can wake up this morning, maybe an exercise and meditate and I’m going to, I’m going to have a very different day that I wake up and I’d get rid of my iPhone, right?

David Hassell: [16:30]
And then I get into some challenging situations, right? And I’m not in a great mental space. So how can you create an environment that has people really show up as their best while putting them on a track of learning growth and development and self-introspection and whatnot? So they continue to learn, grow and evolve. And what we’ve found, we’re going about a hundred people in our company right now growing a hundred percent year over year. We’ve only had to voluntarily three people voluntarily leave the company ever. The last person left in January cause they wanted to surf thing travel around the world per year and a half surfing. So I do believe for another job, the last prior person was four years before that. And we’ve built one of the most capital efficient companies that most investors I talked to say they’ve ever seen. And so, you know, I attribute it all to this concept and this pipe, you know, it’s been an experiment we run inside our company where we radically care about our people and we also radically care about performance. And you know, we’re committed to everyone learning, growing and developing and thriving. And my belief is that when you actually focus on supporting your people in your organization as opposed to trying to get as much as you can from them, right? They’re going to pay back to the company. And Major, Major, major ways. And one of the best ways we can support people is to help them identify and do the self reflect, reflection to understand what are their strengths. Are they aligned with their role? Do they have the support to continue to learn, grow and develop and maintain that focus? And the result is high performance and loyalty.

Gene Hammett: [17:57]
I appreciate you sharing that with me because I know that it’s more than just a software that you know had to be created. There’s, there’s a lot to it and you’re doing it. I walking the walk. So David, thanks for sharing that with us here at leaders in the trenches.

David Hassell: [18:12]
Absolutely. Thanks for having me on.

Gene Hammett: [18:13]
Where could we point our audience to if they wanted to get more information about what you’re up to?

David Hassell: [18:18]
I think the 15 five blogs is probably the best resource to www.15five.com/blog and I was a number of grades, ebooks on there and great blog posts that go to the philosophy that protects that.

Gene Hammett: [18:28]
Perfect. Well, again, thank you for your insight and for being here at leaders in the trenches.

Gene Hammett: [18:33]
Great. Thanks for having me. Well, I love kind of conversations like this because I get to learn from people that are in the trenches and you get to learn as I ask them questions. One of the two things I learned here is the importance of having an appreciative culture about having ongoing appreciation within it, not waiting for the performance review, and that really is important. The other thing I learned about is having that pre-work done, having the employee fill out information around where their struggles are, what they’re working on, and how they’re moving forward and anything that will prepare you for the time you have with those ones on one meeting. Now that is such a great conversation. If you have any questions about the growth of your company, the culture, making it a competitive advantage, please reach out. I’d love to create more content just for you. Just tell me your question and if you want to have a conversation, reach out to me at [email protected] as always, lead with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Creating Growth Leadership are in a Growth Culture
  • The gap in a Market
  • Managers and Leaders doing Weekly Checks
  • Employee Relationship
  • High Performing Companies
  • Management and Leadership Positions
  • Building Culture



And lastly, please leave a rating and review for the Leaders in the Trenches on iTunes (or Stitcher) – it will help us in many ways, but it also inspires us to keep doing what we are doing here. Thank you in advance!

If you want more from us check out more interviews:

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