Mike Rognlien on This Is Now Your Company

May 17, 2018 David Witt

Mike Rognlien on stage As a part of onboarding, Mike Rognlien, builder of awesome people at Facebook, would always ask new employees if the culture at Facebook was a deciding factor in their decision to join the company.

“Every time, in more than six years of asking that question, almost every hand would go up,” says Rognlien. “Then I would tell them, ‘Great, now it’s your responsibility not to mess it up.'”

In his new book, This Is Now Your Company: A Culture Carrier’s Manifesto, Rognlien shares that every person must own their contribution to the organizational fabric of a company, no matter what role they are stepping into. It begins by owning your role.

“If the definition of culture is the sum total of all of our behaviors, then you can start tipping the culture in another direction by changing your behavior.”

To help with that, Rognlien suggests organizational leaders encourage higher quality conversations between managers and direct reports. He says most companies don’t have an environment that allows people to sit down with their managers and ask, “How are we going to get through this together?”

Rognlien describes this relationship as a 50-50 partnership, meaning the direct report has just as much responsibility for clear goals and performance feedback as the manager.

“You are half the relationship. If you know more about something, or if something specific requires special care or attention, then you’d better be willing to have that conversation.”

Rognlien goes on to discuss personal branding, feedback, and leveraging your strengths. He closes the interview by discussing a hot topic in today’s organizations—unconscious bias. He explains that bias exists in every organization—and that some biases can actually be helpful and support organizational values.

“At Facebook, for example, we had a bias for moving quickly. When interviewing or working at Facebook, if you were moving slowly, you would feel it—the bias for speed was ever present. That’s an example of a conscious bias that is useful and has served Facebook well.”

Rognlien explains that the unconscious form of bias accumulates over time without being recognized and it can lead organizations to act in ways that go against stated values. While he believes organizations can’t completely eliminate bias, he suggests steps can be taken to bring it out into the open.

“Our goal is to create people and organizations who are comfortable talking about unconscious bias. We have to stop being afraid and we need to have those conversations.”

In closing, Rognlien encourages listeners to step into their fears.

“The only way you will know if something isn’t going to work is to try and fail. If you can learn something from it, was it really a failure?”

Be sure to listen through to the very end of the session, where Ken Blanchard shares his key takeaways from the interview!

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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