Lighthouse Leadership Weekly #66: Going too far for your team, handling the end of non-competes, and more…

by Jason Evanish, CEO Get Lighthouse, Inc.

Did you see the news this week? No, not that trial, not the bill, not the sportsball draft, not the war...okay, actually there's too much news to follow.

I wouldn't blame anyone for tuning it all out.

But there was some news that matters to managers; the FTC ended non-competes across the United States.

For some of you that's a pretty big deal, which is why in today's edition we tackle that topic, in addition to a lesson in going too far in trying to be employee friendly, a special offer next week only, a new post on talking about strategy with your team, and more.

Let’s dive in…

Table of contents:

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🥘 Food for Thought

“You must care deeply about your people, but not what they think about you.” - Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter, founder and investor

I saw this tweet from a friend this week and it reminded me of the essential lesson from Dick Costolo quoted above. Here's what my friend said:

If you don't want to click through to the full story, the TLDR is that he tried to be super nice and accommodating to his team, promoting people and being hands off, all to a fault.

They took advantage of his generosity, stopped taking good care of customers, and the company took a hard hit because of it.

As he put it, "This level of thinking almost killed my business, and I was ultimately responsible for it all."

“You must care deeply about your people, but not what they think about you.”

It comes down to what Dick Costolo said so well. And you need *BOTH*.

Caring deeply about your people means things like:

  • Building rapport with them and taking an interest in them as humans
  • Creating psychological safety so your team speaks up when there are problems and is willing to share bold ideas
  • Making reasonable accommodations when people need them and things come up that are bigger than work

Yet, you also have to *not* care what they think about at you. This means:

  • Holding your team to a high standard that you enforce and reward
  • Turning around or letting go of low performers, serious rule breakers, and people that hurt your business or team
  • Being willing to have hard conversations, make difficult or unpopular decisions, and do what's best for your customers and business.

Doing both of these can be difficult and scary. Most people are only good at one or the other, yet to be a truly great leader, you *must* master the balance of both.

But what I say here is the tip of the iceberg. So much of our content on the blog and newsletter is to help you with small pieces of each side at different times.

And a great place to start is take ~6 minutes and listen to Dick's talk here:

📰 News & Reports for Managers

📌 Non-competes have been eliminated by the FTC. Are you ready?

In case you missed it, the FTC ruled this week that non-competes are unenforceable nation-wide.

A few states, like California, already invalidated them years ago, while in other places like Massachusetts, who has had very militant enforcement of them (to the point laid off employees had to leave the state to get a job) will have some serious adjusting to do.

I won't pretend to know how this may play out in courts, but we should assume that at least in the near term any non-competes your business relies on will not be enforceable.

Let's talk about what that means.

Admiral Grace Hopper

If you don't have a non-compete anymore, how do you keep your team?

Cutting to the chase, this is the real question that matters. If you operate in a business or field where you're used to them, you need to start thinking about how you can adapt.

Here's a few ways you can start thinking about and strategizing to avoid losing good employees to competitors or them starting a competing business with you:

  1. Make them want to stay: This should be the first and most obvious thing to do. With a very big stick no longer available, adding a few more carrots to incentivize people wanting to stay is a good move. Typically these are things like work flexibility, accommodating reasonable requests, career growth and financial upside, and a positive culture.
  2. Make it convenient to stay: If your biggest fear is people striking out on their own and taking clients with them, then the best way to keep your best people is to make sure that they recognize all the things you do for them. My father's accounting firm handled all kinds of tedious back office issues for his staff for exactly this reason.
  3. Let them leave if they want, but learn why: Mike Tomlin likes to say, "we like volunteers, not hostages" and that's as true at work as it is a pro football team. If someone wants to leave, take the time to really listen and understand why. You'll likely learn things that can help you retain other people, or even change their mind.
  4. Welcome people back if they boomerang: One of the strongest signs that the grass is *not* greener is when someone comes back after leaving. Assuming the returning team member is a positive addition, it can be a morale boost for them to return and share why your workplace is better.
  5. Listen to your team! No one knows better what your team needs, or what's wrong with your culture as well as your own team. If you're worried about retention with Non Competes gone, the best thing you can do is talk with your executives, peers, and team members and see what consensus you can find for things to change.

The truth is, there are no silver bullets. If your industry is used to having strongly enforced non-competes and now you don't, you and your competitors all face the same challenges.

However, by recognizing that your industry is about to change, you can get ahead of these challenges and start making changes to your policies, culture, and management habits.

How are you handling the end of non-competes? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

🔜 Starting Monday, join us to Master Managing Up, next week only

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There is a better way.

You can improve your relationship with your manager.

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The same is true for your relationship with your manager.

And that's why we've put together this special program to help you master how you manage up to your manager.

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>> Sign up now for Lighthouse Lessons: Mastering Managing Up here.

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Jason Evanish

Jason Evanish

As the founder and CEO of Get Lighthouse, Inc, Jason and the Lighthouse team have helped managers grow their leadership skills in dozens of countries around the world. They’ve worked with a variety of companies from non-profits to high growth startups, and government organizations to well known, publicly traded companies. Jason has also been featured in publications including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.

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