The Master Puppeteer

by placers on June 14, 2019 in Outside Insights


“Recently, I was meeting with our recruitment consultant, Freddy, over lunch and I shared this story. Back in the early days of Placers 1.0 and the CBI Group, we set out to propel one of the key tenants of our culture: employee empowerment. We asked ourselves how self-directed our teams could really be. Would they prefer an environment where they weren’t told what to do but instead treated like internal owners or “intrapreneurs”.  We gave our employees the power to make executive decisions, and the tools and support they needed to make wise ones. We developed a No Strings culture. Twenty-five years later I dare say it is the only way we can compete.”


The Master Puppeteer

Many organizations run as if they are a puppet show. Leaders are the puppeteers and employees are the marionettes. To drive the behavior of the marionette, the puppeteers subtly pull on a string. Seemingly like magic, the marionette follows the carefully calculated moves of the puppeteer. The strings are thin and transparent, barely visible until you take a closer look. As invisible as they may be, the marionette simply doesn’t have the freedom to make its own moves.

In organizations, these strings can represent a number of things. Compensation and bonuses, performance management initiatives, strict SOPs, rigid management, a culture that is closed off to change, a fear of coloring outside of the lines, the list goes on. Inadvertently, the strings met to protect businesses are stifling the game-changing ideas that could make a big impact.

My goal with Placers is to have No Strings. Ever. As servant leaders, one of our leadership team’s core goals is to provide the right people, that fit the right job, with the right tools and environment to succeed without dictating their decisions. Every employee must choose to take initiative every day, to continuously learn, to try new things, to support one another – to be great at what they do.

To have No Strings each of us must:

  • Practice See/Think /Act. This is how we make solo and team decisions. Slow down. Gather all of the information. Analyze it. Then decide on the best approach.
  • Be a knowledge worker. We all must be on a quest to learn. What can you learn from someone today? What can you teach them? The key is to always better yourself. You are your best asset.
  • Own it. At Placers, one of our key values is to have no excuses. No Strings mean you own whatever comes your way. When we operate under this value, our productivity is limitless.

No Strings doesn’t mean our employees are on their own. It means that they, and their ideas, are trusted and valued.  A No Strings culture is rare – and is perhaps our greatest single day-to-day advantage.

Help us stay true to our No Strings culture. If you’re a Placers employee and have identified processes that go against No Strings, just let me know. This is how we’ll get it right.

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