Highland is a great place to work. Our core values are clear. We hire talented and caring people. We’re doing well as a business and we’re gaining recognition in the community for our expertise in customer experience (CX).
We haven’t reached this place by luck. About two years ago, we decided to adopt a business framework called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® or EOS®. Put simply, EOS describes a six-component recipe for maturing as an organization. The components are Vision, People, Data, Process, Issues, and Traction®.
As a process person myself, I volunteered to be Highland’s Implementor. That meant helping to get the processes off the ground and supporting the organization as we learned the framework together.
One of Highland's Core Values: People First
Highland’s first core value is People First, so I thought I’d start by sharing how we’ve benefited from following EOS’s recommendations for the People component —getting the right people in the right seats. Below I’ll describe two steps we’ve taken to put the People Component™ of EOS into action.
1. Creating an accountability chart
An accountability chart like an org chart that is really focused on defining seats or roles within an organization along with key responsibilities for all the things Highland needs to get done as a business.
For example, here’s my seat as Director, Operations.
Director of Operations seat
This seat was created in part by taking a critical look at our accountability chart. We saw that many different seats were sharing Operations-related responsibilities, causing some unnecessary confusion about who was truly accountable for these areas. So we created a singular Director, Operations seat to consolidate that responsibility under one person (lucky me 🙂).
Highland’s accountability chart
An important guideline for accountability chart implementation is that only one person can occupy a seat. While you may sit in multiple seats, a single person is accountable for the responsibilities of that seat. For our developers, each one occupies a “maker seat.” The one person/one seat rule keeps areas of responsibility clear.
We continue to tweak the chart on a quarterly basis. We also refer to it during quarterly one-on-one check-ins a means of providing feedback and keeping ourselves focused on what’s most important for each person’s seat.
2. Evaluating team members by GWC™
From a hiring and firing perspective, we evaluate whether a team member or applicant is values-aligned and whether we can answer yes to the following three questions:
- Do they get what the responsibilities of their seat are?
- Do they truly want to work in their seat?
- Are they capable of adequately filling the responsibilities of their seat? This doesn’t mean they nail it — although they might. It means they are really good at many of the responsibilities and have the aptitude and interest in learning the other components.
EOS consolidates GWC and the company’s core values into a tool called the People Analyzer™. We use our People Analyzer to assess team members and applicants to ensure that their values and professional skills are aligned to their current or potential role.
Our “Bar” (another EOS term) for performance on the People Analyzer is:
Can only have one +/- rating
- Get It:
- Want It:
People Analyzer used by Highlanders who interviewed a past candidate (Rater names removed)
We review the People Analyzer on a regular basis to see if we need to take any people action, especially when we’re considering promotions or terminations. It’s also an extremely helpful tool in recruiting. Whether we’re interviewing a contractor or a full-time employee — if someone is below the bar, we typically don’t hire them.
This combination of creating the accountability chart and making sure the right people are in the right seats has led us to make some tough choices when it comes to team members and applicants. In the end, having the right people in the right seats has made us stronger, healthier, and more capable as an organization.
I’ll follow up this post with others covering the remaining components of EOS, where I’ll describe how they’ve benefited us and how we’ve adapted them to fit our company culture.