Employees Don’t Need to Become Better at their Jobs. Managers do.

Great managers sometimes lose their best employees. Usually, it’s inevitable.

The reason people leave isn’t always black and white.

Sometimes employees leave because they’ve simply gone as far as they can within your company. Sometimes they want better pay. Or sometimes they just want to try something new.

But sometimes they leave for other reasons.

Perhaps they have concerns or frustrations about the business, a product, their team, or your customers — and these concerns impact your team’s work. And it seems like management isn’t paying attention to them.

How can you fix that?

Maybe you need to find yourself an orange box.

What’s so special about this orange box? Nothing yet. It’s just a cardboard box covered in orange crepe paper. And there’s a hole on top.

But here’s the magic of this box: it can help you find out what your employees are thinking.

Michael Dearing, founder of Harrison Metal (an early-stage investment firm), said while he was at eBay, he figured out that the best way to quickly figure out what was going on inside the minds of his teammates was to establish an anonymous question-and-answer process.

Every week, people stuffed the orange box full of 100 percent anonymous questions. Those concerns and frustrations went straight to leadership, unfiltered.

Dearing would then read and answer those questions verbatim during their weekly all-hands meeting in front of everyone. (Sometimes this would be done via email.)

“The orange box helped me see their thoughts and speak to them faster than any other mechanism,” according to a brilliant video, Questions from the Orange Box, posted by Harrison Metal. “Anonymous Q&A helps build a workplace where leaders mean it when they ask for questions. And where leaders speak to colleagues honestly and publicly.”

Although, theoretically, anyone can ask question during an all-hands meeting, many choose not to. It can be intimidating to ask leadership tough questions in a clear and compelling way.

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