Key takeaway: Remote work environments require deliberate efforts to cultivate a culture of connection. Embracing team-based incentives, as recommended by Alexis Monville from Red Hat, can counteract the potential hindrance of collaboration caused by individual incentives, while Impact Mapping provides a four-step approach to prioritize goals and establish OKRs based on the organization's core purpose.
How can impact mapping and other flexible hybrid work models increase connection in the modern work environment?
Alexis Monville, Chief of Staff to the CTO at Red Hat, was no stranger to distributed engineering teams when the pandemic hit. But the company soon realized how much it had to learn when it went from 40% to 100% of the organization working remotely during COVID-19.
Now, Red Hat has taken steps to help its employees work in a flexible and customized hybrid model that fosters connection.
On an episode of Dreams with Deadlines, Alexis shares Red Hat’s hybrid work model and ways to build better teams. Keep reading to learn about workplace connections, incentives, and impact mapping to determine objectives and key results (OKRs).
Building hybrid work that works
At Red Hat, working models used to be cut and dry. Remote workers stayed remote while in-person workers were assigned seats in an office. Now, it boasts a flexible hybrid model. This system acknowledges the motivation for coming into the office.
“When you book a space in the office, you book whatever you want. We added that flexibility because yes, some people wanted to come back, but not necessarily to work at their desk. They usually wanted to come back to meet with other people.”
Employees can still opt for in-person work at a designated office location. Yet, they can choose when and how they experience the office setting, like requesting a standing desk or a workspace with two computer monitors.
Welcoming workplace connections
But how do you build a network with distributed teams?
Enter Culture on a Plate.
Red Hat’s Culture on a Plate system serves as a coworker “matchmaking” service, pairing up individuals from different parts of the company for 30-minute meetings when both people are available. These meetings occur around lunchtime, with attendees encouraged to eat “together” on-camera — hence, the plate in its name.
“People cannot collaborate if they don’t know that they are working in the same direction. Each time, it creates friction if they are not.”
Not every organization will be able to deliver virtual connections on a silver platter. But encouraging intentionality through organized events or structured networking can help distributed teams stay invested in company culture.
Incentivizing sales success through teams
Many teams focus on offering individual performance incentives, such as financial bonuses for achieving sales goals or customer satisfaction metrics. But Alexis believes individual incentives tend to drive anti-collaborative behaviors.
Alexis shares an example from sales teams. Even if leadership instructs experienced salespeople to help new hires become better at sales, seasoned high achievers will still be motivated by individual incentives. Over time, a small percentage of the team will likely close most deals, while the majority close a much smaller portion of company sales.
“The real problem ... was not because they weren’t nice people, because they didn’t want to, or because they didn’t want the success of the company. Their system was driving their behavior, and their behavior was not to collaborate with others [because of their individual incentives].”
To combat this, Alexis suggested splitting sales into pods or teams of three people. This would help employees focus on incentives beyond the individual, driving team-based motivation.
When salespeople could pick their pods, the results were astounding. The team-based incentives worked, allowing organizations to onboard new salespeople, increase sales quotas, and maximize impact.
Impact mapping to create OKRs
One of the biggest hurdles to establishing OKRs for teams is misaligned priorities, especially at the leadership level.
Alexis recommends a four-step approach called Impact Mapping for teams facing difficulties establishing OKR priorities. Impact Mapping allows you to focus on the outcome and prioritize more effectively.
Step 1: Find the "why"
The impact map is divided into four columns. The first column covers your why: the goal of the project. This plays heavily into the rest of the impact map, so ensure your team’s aligned on top priorities.
Step 2: Determine the “who”
Step two is establishing who the key players are. This covers those who can help you achieve your why and the ones that pose challenges. In determining the who, consider how they'll affect the why.
Step 3: Establish the "how"
Next, decide on the how. The how covers the behaviors you’d want key players to adopt to help you achieve your why. Consider what actions you could take to influence key players toward these behaviors — this enables you to understand what achieving your why would look like.
Step 4: Identify the “what”
The final step is determining your what — the specific actions you could take to encourage behaviors that support your why. A critical component of this step involves prioritizing what’s feasible and what you can do right away.
The end game of Impact Mapping is establishing OKRs that help you achieve your goals. You set priorities based on achieving your why rather than getting bogged down by hundreds of possible action steps that may or may not be connected to your why.
By determining the desired impact first, you can get creative in finding specific steps to help you achieve that impact.
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