Taking responsibility (for myself)

It’s been a month already! The curve is still steep and the learning is relentless. I’m still loving it, with all its ups and downs. A great question to ask yourself is: What is a game worth playing –  win, lose or draw? (Source: Mike Harris).  For me the opportunity to scale Redington’s culture is a pretty awesome one. I continue to feel very grateful for this role and the incredible people I have around me.


Over the past month I’ve had the privilege to interview various people from new graduates, to a new receptionist, to a potential head of marketing. By the time I get to interview someone, they have survived robust interrogation from the rest of my colleagues. So what do I do? I don’t need to test their competence, I need to see if they are culturally the right fit. They could be a great hire, just not for us. I try to put them off working for us. I try to understand their ability to take difficult feedback, willingness to disagree/challenge, curiosity and learning agility, and ultimately how much they care about the job. By having a single, final, central reviewer of every candidate we can uphold an objective standard across all hires.

Over the past couple of weeks we have spent a lot of time talking about our people, talent, behaviour, potential and culture. To manage our own biases, not just assessing people by our own standards and values, we  found real value in meeting as a group to discuss each individual against the firm’s values and expectations; and not just the company we are today but the one we want to be tomorrow. We tried hard to review each person through a broad and balanced lens. We went out of our way to allow our people to shine through differently; we don’t want to end up with a firm of clones. We knew we needed to be careful not to assess our people against an impossible perfect standard/expectations. What we really wanted to understand is how self aware they are, how much they have grown, how they have responded to failures and difficult feedback, how much they have done outside of their comfort zone and what is their drive and agility to learn. We want to provide an environment for the brightest and most conscientious employees to thrive. Our aim is to hire/reward/promote people with a great aptitude for learning and do everything we can to help them grow as quickly as they can.

One question that has come up a few times is whether want a firm of ‘Mavericks’ or put another way how much diversity can we handle. This is a great question and we’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about it. When you study what makes great teams it is not a team of solid performers, nor is it a team of stars. However, if you can combine people with different strengths, personalities and skills to collaborate and serve the greater team then you can have something special. Which means if you going to employ people across the cognitive spectrum, you need to be much clearer about the behaviours that are expected and what is non-negotiable. We are putting a lot of time and effort into this.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve had some very difficult conversations and made some difficult decisions. It would have been really easy to avoid making any decision, to wait for more data or to give it more time.  In these situations, I have learnt that you need to identify your fear, lizard brain and not less it override. Our unconscious mind will go out of its way to avoid difficult situations. We can hack this fear by forcing ourselves to do the most difficult things first. I’ve learnt that it is possible to have tough conversations and give difficult messages, in a fair way, whilst maintaining a person’s dignity. Frankly, you have to care enough to tell someone the honest truth and to do the right thing by them.

I saw a homeopath (in his capacity as a therapist) this week to ask for his advice. In this kind of role people spend a lot of time absorbing everyone’s issues, without much opportunity to download and I wanted some advice on how to deal with this. As Rob (Chairman & co-Founder) and I have discussed before to do this job successfully you have to be able to hear, empathise and understand everyone’s concerns without being dragged down yourself. The therapist confirmed that I could do with my own regular supervision (just like professional psychotherapists have to have). I need to have people that I can download to, share with and talk to confidentially: someone to ask me how I feel; what has challenged/frustrated me; and what is going well. He advised that it really important that I don’t see it as my job to fix people’s problems. My role needs to be to listen, hear, acknowledge and reflect back. I need to help people solve their own problems. I know there is a real stigma associated with this, but I’m really glad I reached out for help. I don’t have to figure everything out for myself, someone has probably been here before.

We have to take proactive responsibility for our physically, mental, emotional & spiritual health to be of any use to anyone.

One thought on “Taking responsibility (for myself)”

  1. “They could be a great hire, just not for us. I try to put them off working for us. I try to understand their ability to take difficult feedback, willingness to disagree/challenge, curiosity and learning agility, and ultimately how much they care about the job”

    I find this a interesting strategy Mitesh. When you try to “put them off working” for you, what do you want to or expect to see in response?

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