The Carousel Culture Podcast

We work hard to create an amazing company culture. Listen as we explore the subtle details of what makes Carousel an amazing place to work!

EP008 - The Influence of Leaders with Amber Woller

Show Full Transcript...

Amber. So, um, last night I had some extra time and I was firing off like a million emails at like nine o'clock at night. And, um, and it was doing that mostly because, um, I just like, I, I got like, I had some time. Like the kids were doing something else. So I was like, you know, kind of in our, you know, our carousel work style that we always talk about just like flexible time, whatever.

But sometimes when I do that, I feel a little bad. Yes. Why do you think I feel bad? Well, Unintentionally, it can send a message to your employees that they should be available 24 7. Yeah. Also be working at nine o'clock at night. I cannot be. Yeah. And like, am I supposed to respond right away? I was like in bed or I was like playing with my kids and.

You don't want to create those expectations. And, you know, I know that I've had a discussion with my boss, Andy, about vacation. Yeah. And w we have a very flexible policy, but I have felt a little guilty, like, oh, am I taking too much time off? Because I haven't seen him. Time off. Right. And we have talked about it and you know, even laugh about it, but it is one of those things.

Like if the manager isn't taking time off, suddenly the employee starts to think, well, I know they say I can't, but maybe I can't. And is it going to make me look bad? Like I'm a poor employee. If I take time off and just like, oh, am I a poor employee? If I'm not responding to an email at nine o'clock or if I.

W my phone. Cause I have zoom on my phone. The phone rings at six 30 in the evening and I let it go to voicemail. Is that wrong? I mean, usually the 6:30 PM calls are not from customers. It's from people who want to sell you something. So it doesn't really matter. But there is that expectation that is created unintentionally.

If we're not careful. Yeah. I would say like that, that is exacerbated by our. Fairly flexible culture, right? Like you're saying like the vacation policy is not super defined. We talk all the time about like using a flexible schedule to make your life better. Right. But the opposite side of that can be true.

It can actually make you feel kind of like having to be on, on call. 24 hours a day, which is not what we intend right now. And then to make it even worse. Um, a lot of the leaders in our company are really, um, I was going to say, I was, how do I phrase it? Just like really sometimes obsessively crazed about words because they like it.

Right. Not, I mean, not that sounds kind of weird, but you know, like sometimes I get so into the thing I'm working on. It's just like, oh, whoa. Yeah. I was like the whole day. I didn't even realize like, got so late or, um, or not really, or it doesn't even really look like we're modeling the. Yeah, behavior, um, especially around the vacation thing.

Like, uh, and I, I think that most of, um, most of the leaders are probably taking about three weeks of vacation, but they're probably not doing it in a very like vocal way. Like I know I will totally sneak off days all the time. But to everyone else, it will totally look like I'm working because I'll be on slack.

I'll be answering emails, but we'll be doing that sort of like if I'm on the bus or, you know, in the car and my wife's driving, you know what I mean? But it's not like I'm not ever super disconnected. Yeah. And that creates another expectation of if someone goes on vacation, like, am I really allowed to disconnect or do I need to still respond to slack?

And I know I did take some time off once. And I had said, oh, I'll still like check in once a day to check on certain things. And it was one of those, like, it was a casual vacation. So it wasn't like, I really wanted to, I mean, I had some time and I only. In those moments, but it was where, oh, I'm not really doing that.

Great modeling of just stepping back, realizing that everything's going to be okay without me being involved. With leaders. It's awesome to have leaders that are so passionate about what they're doing, that they're willing to like time slips by the way. But there has to be that acknowledgement that not everyone is going to have that same drive and passion and that's okay.

Yeah. And I would say it, doesn't almost like whether everyone has that same level of passion is, is, uh, You're right. It will, they'll totally be a variable. Um, but having leaders that do get too lost in, in their work, and then aren't like showing that they are actually taking breaks is like not, not a place where we want to be.

So like, uh, these cultural norms, um, Start to emerge, right? So this podcast is about the carousel culture. And this is why this is so great to have these conversations because like, how do you define what's happening here? Like in a policy, right? If you're looking like, make policies, like you have to take this amount of vacation, right.

Not really our style, but you can see why part, sometimes those policies like those more hard policies around when. And when you should, and shouldn't be working, they help shape a culture. And some ways they actually probably promote some more healthy behavior. Um, we want to make sure that like our sort of undocumented cultural norms that have emerged over the past few years, aren't causing an unhealthy behavior.

So I have to have that conversation. I use these examples. Just to help, to kind of help everyone understand, right? Yeah. Um, I, I would put it out to all of our leaders in the carousel team, both formal leaders and informal leaders. Cause, cause I believe everybody in our team is, is a leader, um, that we, we need to be more vocal about like when we're taking time off, how we're going to take our time.

How are recharging, things like that, because if it goes unsaid, it creates, again, these like cultural norms that are kind of like undocumented. Yeah. So I once had a boss who told me, like, if you need me after hours and it's like something important, he's like, Like dial my number once, hang up and then dial it again.

And he's like, if you call me twice, I'll know, this is something I need to otherwise. He's like, he's like, I'll just assume it can wait til tomorrow. And so having those kinds of boundaries that we can express to our employees, Whether it's the boundaries for the employee to have, or the boundaries that the leaders are exercising themselves.

So like the leader says, I'm emailing you, but don't worry. I'm not expecting any response immediately on this. I just, I'm in the zone. I'm working and it's not something you have to say every single time. But as long as the people that you're communicating with understand and know, like you said, they know, Hey, I'm taking some time off.

I'm taking a few hours off here and catch it later. Yeah. Yeah. The other thing, this shifting gears from just kind of like the vacation stuff is, um, like expectation of like work output, right? Like I'll work, right. Like in timelines, right. Because, um, yeah, I was talking with Eric, uh, a few months ago and, um, one of the things that he was recognizing is that when he would ask somebody.

Like specifically to do like a little project, um, they would like absolutely drop what they were doing and work on it immediately. Yes. But his, that was not his intention. His intention was like, Hey, when you have some downtime, could you kind of like work on this project? Right. The timeline wasn't like immediate.

It was like over the next couple of weeks, but he didn't articulate that. So whenever, so that people would just drop what they were doing and work on his thing, because. Right. Like he, the president of the carousel, he asked me to do a thing. I'm going to do the thing, such a huge thing to know those timeline expectations.

I feel that in myself, I'm quick to drop what I'm doing. If someone asks me to do something, even if it's like, oh, I know I have some deadlines. This is not a good time for me to do that. Um, but I did yesterday in my meeting, somebody was commenting that. Making a plan for something going forward. And it was so great to hear them say, Ooh, you know what, that timeline, that's going to be unreasonable for us to do that well.

So let's make our deadline, you know, the end of April rather than in two weeks, because of all these other things happening. And so it's really great. And especially that one of the people in the team was commenting about how stressed and how much kind of overloaded plate that this person had. And so it was a great moment to be like, okay, we don't have to have this right away because otherwise people feel that pressure and they start to get stressed because they're overwhelmed because they have all these things to do.

Or on the flip side, if you never have a timeline, it can become a little. Easy to put it off and delay it. And then it was like, oh yeah, we talked about doing that one time and we never really did it. Yeah. I mean, I can think of lots of HR stuff that we've talked about. Like, oh, maybe we should do that. And it's kind of like all these other things that, you know, the do have these immediate timelines that pop up and you're like, okay, well we'll just push that off.

And that's not a great thing to do. So as, as. In Harris hall, making sure that you're kind of like setting the stage of setting the expectations for things. And then on the other side, if, um, if you're working on a project, ask what the expectations are, right. Because even there's timeline expectations, um, and sometimes there's like quality or detail expectations, right?

Like sometimes we just need like, no, I just need. A ballpark answer to this. Right. But then someone will deliver a like super detailed, exact report and like, oh no, I'm sorry. You just spent eight hours on that. What I really needed to love the 20 minute guests, right? Yes. So, um, in software, in software, I always talk about, there's like a triangle.

Um, that's like, um, oh no, I'm gonna mess it up. It's like speed, quality. And. Cost speed, quality and cost. Right. So like, and pick two, right? That's that's like the mantra and software, like, but you can't have all three. So which, which one, which ones do you want? Um, but we can kind of apply that thinking probably to a lot of projects we work on, like, do any of that fast, do you need done with super high quality or do you need to done with like, you know, super high or low cost, right?

Yes. So, um, what other kind of like an unintentional expectations. You think like leaders might put on to other people that they're not really realizing. And so we talked about like, sort of like time off and work expectations. We talk about like, like how to work output expectations and timeline expectations.

I think it can be easy to

maybe lean on certain people. Thinking, oh, they will always have the answers and you lean on them when it would take you two seconds to go find the answer yourself. Um, and so finding that balance of like, okay, do I need to go to this person to search this out? Or can I find this on my own? And I mean, that goes both ways, whether it's a manager asking an employee or an employee asking a major, or just like one employee to another employee.

Yeah, actually. So why see, I, I I'll see that happen quite a bit where it's like, um, it's kinda like the, uh, like asking for help, right? It's like, yeah, I'll see. Like sometimes people will. Ask for help too quickly. Like, Hey, you didn't even try to find that answer or the other way, they'll like spin their wheels for like hours.

And it was, it would be just like, oh, could you please just have come ask me? Cause I was like, uh, like a two second question. Right. You know, we got unstuck. So yeah. Kind of like expectations around what I say, like, uh, work autonomy. Yes. Right? Like how much are you working with a team or relying on, um, your coworkers or manage.

For help that how much are you? Like just. Get through it yourself. Right? Figure it out yourself. So there's gotta be a good balance in there because some people are really bad at asking for help. And then there's others that are, they're not going to try anything. And they're going to ask somebody else like, Hey, can you take care of this?

Can you help me with this? And, and even moments. Cause I can see there have been moments where I'm too quick to ask for help on something, but then there's other moments where. I spend forever trying to solve a problem. And like, I just wasted five hours trying to figure out this one thing. And if I had asked this one person, I probably would've had it figured out much faster.

And yeah, you hate to spin your wheels for that long. That does not feel good. Now. Try not to ever spend that long. So cool. Well, this is a good, this is a good conversation. So. We're calling on not just all the formal leaders, but all the informal leaders, um, in our inner team to make sure that, um, you're setting clear expectations, right?

Clarity is one of our core values, making sure that you're very clear about timelines, work, delivery, costs, all of that stuff. Um, and that you're setting good example. And modeling good behavior of those things. Okay. And not being afraid to ask for clarification on the expectations or calling out. I feel like this is an expectation.

Is it really an expectation for me?