Getting to Yes, And

Marcus Buckingham: Nine Lies About Work


Marcus Buckingham

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Kelly talks to best-selling author and thought leader Marcus Buckingham about his new book that deconstructs the lies that underpin so much of our daily working lives.

One of the lies you tackle in the book is that people care what company they work for, and that we need to focus less on culture and more on teams.

“We talk a lot about how valuable culture supposedly is in terms of finding and keeping good people. But if that were true, then the evidence would be that you could go into a company, any company, ask a few really careful questions about what it’s like to work there and what you should find is a uniformity across every single department or part of the company. And yet, when you go and do that, you find that it is not true. Instead, what you find is variation inside a company by team, by team, by team, by team. So longevity and job performance depends massively on the team you’re on. And so the whole focus on culture is a red herring. We should focus on what happens on the best teams.”

In improvisation, we have a phrase ‘all of us is better than one of us,’ which points to the importance of group strength which is based on our different abilities.

“What's interesting, I think about Improv. If you think about what enables Improv to work, you know so much more about this than I do, but you put a group of people together on a stage and say, go for it. What you've got is a bunch of uniqueness. You've got a bunch of different people with different strengths and weaknesses. In the business world, of course, it's different strengths and weaknesses as employees and yet in the company at large, we take a lot of time trying to teach people how to be the same; everyone in the same job to do it the same way is the competency model you're supposed to have and we seem to be trying to grind down the uniqueness of people.”

Another thing you point out is that leadership feedback only works if it is consistent and frequent.

“Well, one of the things that you take away from the real world is that frequency trumps quality. If you want to get better at anything, frequency beats quality. The analogy would be, I suppose, if you want to lead people well then you talk to them every week about near term future work, every week individually, not as a group - individually for 15 minutes; ask them, what are you working on next week? How can I help? In a sense, it's like brushing your teeth. You don't do super high quality teeth brushing two times a year, you do it every day. And the same is true of leading.”

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