Las Vegas 2022

Right Fit, Wrong Fit - Why How You Work Matters More Than What You Value

During this session, André will be drawing on key principles he utilized throughout his career to help leaders unlock the full potential of their talent and build higher levels of commitment as they scale. A sneak preview of what you can expect in this session includes:

How to build unwavering commitment by re-recruiting your talent every day

How to hire talent that fits today and develop talent that is ready for tomorrow

How to retain your best through purpose & progression instead of perks & proximity

How to create a consistent way of working so everyone can practice their craft every day


André Martin

Chief Talent and Learning Officer,



All right, to close us out, I've known this next speaker for years and there are so many things about his work, uh, that I admire. So I met Dr. Andre Martin, uh, when he was a Chief learning officer at Nike, uh, where he served for four years. And I was so excited for my friend when he took the role at as chief learning officer at Target. I had so many questions for him, such as why would an organization create a senior position to create a learning dynamic and how does he engage with other executives and uh, and how does we as a technology community leverage those values? So Dr. Andre Martin has spent his career exploring these issues, and that's, uh, he got his PhD in organizational psychology. Uh, last time he talked, he was the VP of people Dev at Google, uh, where he led the global team committed to helping Google unleash the full potential of Googlers worldwide.


And a bit of trivia for you, uh, one of the metrics that you might've seen in the state of DevOps research, uh, was the employee net promoter score. And that metric actually came from Dr. Martin when I had asked him for some help. Uh, and he proposed that metric because it wonderfully collapses so many dimensions around organizational performance, uh, engagement and so forth. And, uh, we loved it. And it, you know, that metric hit right and uh, that that's where the notion of high performers have a employee net score two times higher than that of uh, the non-high performers. So he put it back in 2019, he presented here in 2019 and I asked him to come back, uh, to come and teach us something else and what he's working on. And I'm so grateful that he said Yes, Dr. Martin




Good evening everybody. How we doing tonight? Hey, thanks for sticking around for one last presentation before you get to go do all the fun things Vegas has to offer. And I thought we'd do something a little different. I thought instead of talking DevOps, which frankly I don't know a lot about, I'm learning every day, I thought we'd talk about you, the talent in the room. I dunno if you know this, but did you know that over your lifetime you're gonna work 13.5 years, total years of your life is gonna be spent at work? That's only second to sleep. And for me, what I see is dedicated individuals who are hardworking, you're passionate, you've put in countless hours in perfecting your craft. And my guess is that there's many of you sitting in the room today that don't feel like in your current position or your current company, you're getting to show the brilliance that you have to offer this world.


Now what I'd like to do is spend a little bit of time tonight exploring how we might change that. You see, the last three years I have been consumed by a single piece of data. Let's see if we can get this thing to move. And that is that in our organizations around the world, we have over $7.8 trillion of lost productivity due to disengagement. And to put that number in context, that's three times the G D P of France, it's 13 times the market cap for Berkshire Hathaway. And to get it really close to home, it's about 2000 times the revenue in 2021 of Caesar's Palace. What that tells me is that there's individuals like yourself who aren't getting to do the innovation they desire to do. They're not getting to show their creativity, they're not getting to bring new, beautiful, bold solutions into the world.


And I think we all have a responsibility to change that first for ourselves, but then for everybody else. So as a researcher, what did I do? I spent the summer first reading everything I could read. And you know what, the one stat I showed you wasn't even the most interesting one. As you fast forward to today, there's other things happening. 31% of new joiners leave the company they join within the first six months. I can't even fathom that, right? 65% of employees right now, and in 2021, we're looking for a new job. They have their head up. 40% of us feel isolated at work, 83% suffer from work-related stress, and 30, only 32% of employees and companies today are fully engaged. Does that feel familiar to anybody? Yeah, I will bet that at some time in your career, if not right now, raise your hand if one of these things have been true. Yeah, right? I've had moments and you've had 'em too, where you take a job with a company, you have this great expectation of what it's gonna feel like, and you walk in the door and it feels like you've just entered Mars, right? Or you're looking around at the people you work with and you wonder why it seems everybody has an easier path to success than you.


You come in, you get a disappointing performance review even though you've been putting tireless hours at this job. And so I wanted to go out and find out why. And at first 25 years in the workplace, I thought for sure it had to do with good and bad culture. I thought for sure that it had to do with some companies do the right things and others don't. But you know what? I just, I don't believe that to be true. I had a few conversations, read a lot, reflect on all the companies I've been in and on par, I don't really know a company that sets out to make their employees miserable, right? I mean, it just, it just doesn't make any sense. Now there's toxic leaders, there's competitive teams, there's jobs that frankly don't hold up to what we were promised, but companies by and large want to care for the people that work there.


And as I start having conversations, I had a realization, maybe it's not good or bad culture. Maybe it's right or wrong fit. Maybe it's not about the place and whether it's good or bad, maybe it's about whether or not I as the person fit the very nature of the place that I'm working. And so again, given my research orientation, I went out and I interviewed 50 people over the course of the summer, CEOs of global multinationals, heads of functions, new joiners, high potentials, people in Europe, China, right here in our own backyard. And I was asking them two simple questions. Tell me about the time in your work experience when you had right fit, when you had an authentic, deep and consistent connection to the way that your company worked every day. And then tell me a time when that wasn't true. And it was really interesting folks, is that in every interview, in every case, everybody had those on the tip of their tongue.


They could pull 'em up immediately and they were visceral and they were felt and they stayed with them. On the good side, there was quite a bit of the regret because most people had left the place where they felt most at home. And we talked a lot about why and why you made that choice and what happened in your mental scheme in your life to make that happen. And on the wrong side, we learned that it was devastating. It cost them their confidence, their confidence. It ruined relationships and it put them in a state where they were stressed, if not depressed. It was fascinating, fascinating. So today I hope to share a few of the insights I gained and give you some ideas about, Hey, if you got good fit, here's what you gotta do to hang onto it. If you don't have it, here's some things you can do to go find it.


And it's just the tip of the iceberg. And there's so much color here. And so if anyone wants to talk again about this, you know where to find me and I would talk to you for days. Alright? So the first thing I learned is the way people described good fit. Sorry, right fit and wrong fit, right fit was described by, I felt comfortable. I didn't worry about what I was wearing every day. I could just practice my craft. My attention wasn't in the context around me. I didn't have the Sunday blues. We all have felt that. And even though I put in the hours, it just doesn't feel like work had that experience before. Yeah, wrong fit. Wrong fit was even more interesting. It felt like I was on Ferris wheel always in motion, never getting anywhere. It felt like I really didn't want to go to work any day and it was costing me my relationships, ships, it felt like being punched in the face in different ways every day I came to work.


And last but not least was it felt like everybody had a secret decoder ring for success and no one gave it to me. These are really poignant descriptions of a phenomenon that is happening in our workplaces today. I like simple metaphors. I'm a simple guy. I grew up in in the middle of Ozark mountains. And so I always think about right and wrong fit in this way, right? Fit is about writing. Like writing with your dominant hand. It's easy. It's almost automatic. The quality's high, and it feels like you're putting in no effort wrong fit. If you ever pick up a pen and try to write with your opposite hand, you can do it. If you practice, you can get better. You're never gonna be as good as you would be with your dominant hand. And it's higher stress, lower quality. And the more you do it, the less confidence you have. That's what these things feel like.


And it was really fascinating when we talk to new joiners of companies, they describe the experience by saying, you know what? When you join a company, there's actually three different companies you get to introduce to. The first one is the company that gets marketed to you. It's all poetry and beautiful campuses and wonderful people and awesome collaboration and all the things, right? It's the company on its best. And actually more than that, it's the company that they wish that they were or that they want to be in order to attract great talent. And then there's the company you see on day one, and that's the best version of the current company. You get to meet the best leaders. They come and they talk about the culture. You get to hear the best consumer stories, you get to learn about values, get your computers, all those things that happen.


And then there's the actual company you work in day to day. And what tends to happen is this sort of pattern where you come in with all this hope and then it feels different and it feels different and you bump into the company and you're trying to figure out how to work. And in the process you start to lose confidence, lose engagement, and lose a little bit of yourself. I think that's where a lot of the $7.9 trillion lies right there is. If we just did a better job upfront of saying who we are, we would probably do a better job in keeping our talent at the optimal level of performance.


Another thing I learned is what makes up fit. Obviously in your best fit, your right fit experiences, there was a connection to the purpose of the company, why the world's better with the company. In it, there was a connection to the values that the company holds. There was a craft, you had a meaningful job in an area that you thought you could be successful. You had a great manager and a wonderful team. Those things were said by everybody we interviewed. What was really interesting is we dug in those things were important, but not as important as something that was below the line, under the water. Often not made explicit, but really important to right fit. And that is how a company works. Every company has a way of working. How do we collaborate? How do we solve problems? How do we make decisions? How do we set strategy, prioritize, manage conflict? How do we give feedback, judge performance? What's our relationship with time? What's our beliefs about wellbeing and rest? All those things are inherent in a company. And what we found is that as these leaders describe these right-fit experiences, they found alignment in the day-to-day, in the way that the company worked. It felt like they were riding with their right hand.


Is this interesting so far? Yeah, yeah. All right, let's keep going. So here's the big question is how can we find right fit if we don't have it? And how do we keep it if we do? And so again, we had a plethora of insights. I'm gonna share three big categories and then again, there's gonna be a lot more coming maybe the next time I come talk to y'all. The first one is, you gotta know yourself really, really well. Two things get in our way here, folks. The first one is that often when we start a job search, we start by searching for jobs. You just put yourself right in the middle of a marketing campaign. And so almost immediately, because of a lot of shortcircuiting in the way that our brains work, you've set yourself up to make a choice that might not fit you. The second thing is, is we live in this world of infinite browsing.


We're constantly looking at the world, comparing our lives to everybody everywhere all the time. And in that comparison, we think what's good for you must be good for me. What's good for you must be good for me. If you got that, I want what you got. It's the worst way to live your life because inherently you lose the connection to yourself. And so the first thing I would ask you to do is think harder about who you are at a deep level and reflect often on that. The first one, I'll talk about a couple of these, I'm not gonna go through all of 'em, but the first one is know what you value, not what you say you value, what you wish you value, what you actually value when you make the biggest decisions you make in your life. I'll give you a primary example for me. I want to believe I'm a risk taker. I really do. I want to believe I'm, I'm a risk taker that likes to get out there and try new things and do new stuff. But the truth is, when I look at the decisions I make like buying a house, I'm not a risk taker. I'm about financial security, I'm about stability.


I'm about a smart purchase, I'm about family. And when I tell people what I value, I don't often talk about the same things that I actually value in the big decisions I make. So that's one thing I would ask you to do. Think about your values in terms of what's present when you make big decisions. Second one is, are you of craft? Are you of company or are you of, cause a career is built on one of these legs. You can shift amongst the three, but one is always primary. If you're about craft, you should have as many experiences as you can in a very narrowed area. I practice culture and talent. I've never had a job that isn't culture and talent. I've done that job in a bunch of different companies because I'm trying to hone a singular craft and be really good at it.


That may be right for you. If it is, there's a certain way you build your career. You may be of company, you may have found the company that you love, the place that you adore, the place that you call home, the product, the people, the mission, all of it. And if so, you should make sure at that company you have a diverse set of experiences in a diverse set of areas. Because the more you know about the company, the more knowledge, power, impact you can have. And some of you might just be around cause you might actually use work as an instrument to accomplish something else. You might go to work to pay for the bills, to have the money to do the side hustle. That is actually your passion. You might go to work because you wanna retire and live on an island by the time you're 52, that's cause, but depending on where you come from, it will dictate the kind of career you should be creating for yourself.


So that's number one. These eight things, there's about 12 of 'em. I didn't wanna fill the list too much. You wouldn't be able to read it. The second area is you gotta get super clear about how you work. How do you make decisions, manage projects, socialize ideas? How do you like to socialize with people? Gather? How do you like to get feedback, praise and recognition? How do you like to prioritize? All those things matter. And often what we think when we join companies is that we gotta start working the way that they work. That's fitting in, that's riding with your non-dominant hand. You should be thinking really clear about how you like to work and find a place that works like you work, right? But companies can't articulate it. I talked to more CEOs this summer. I'm like, tell me how your company works. They're like, I don't know, it just does.


And I'm like, that is insufficient. Like you're asking people to come work here. That is insufficient, but that is their response because you're like, it's so natural. It's because it emanates from them. It's how they work, how their team works, how every team work, how a company gets built. So you need to know that and you need to find the ways to look for those things. In other companies, we found about 57 factors of how people work. That'll are continuums you can kind of play with. And someday I'll, I'll get that to you for sure. I the last one is, no matter if you're in a right fit today or a wrong fit situation, there's buffers that you need to use. Because if you're in a right fit today, chances are your leader's gonna change, your company's gonna transform, things are gonna shift, the market's gonna change, and you're gonna need to buffer against that change. So the place remains a place you wanna be. If you're in a wrong fit, you can make it manageable. You can do more than survive. And this one's a really important one to me because I heard more stories of more people who told me that in that wrong fit experience, they just lost themselves. Some lost years.


Some said, you know what? I came to this job, I couldn't succeed. All I did was try to work harder and harder and harder. And I never made any progress. And I started to believing that I wasn't good. I was getting poor performance reviews. I wasn't getting positive feedback, I wasn't getting recognition. You know what's funny is we automatically think it's about us. Maybe I'm not as good as I thought I was. And the truth is, it's probably just about fit. And so the first thing I would say is put yourself in the mindset to learn anyone who know who Nola Oaks is. She's a grandmother, lived on a single farm in Kansas her whole life. She had 15 grandchildren's, countless numbers of great-grandchildren and she had the Guinness Book World records for the oldest person to get a college degree at a hundred years old, she was still in college as a TA working on a master's program.


Now what I find really interesting, that is that you put yourself in a learning mindset. A few things happen. You get more curious, you gain confidence. It actually can reduce anxiety and depression. It can make you more successful. And the way you do it when you're in a wrong fit experience is you've gotta accept your circumstance. It's not perfect and that's okay. Otherwise you get in a a cycle of negative feelings where you're constantly using all of your creative energy to manage these negative feelings. You become victimized, right? Accept your circumstances. Decide how you like to reflect. It might be a journal, it might be talking to somebody, it might be interpretive dance, but find a way for you to reflect on the day so you're pulling things out of it. And lastly, see every day as a prototype, you've got nothing to lose. You're not in a good space.


Use it to learn how to work or find or do things in a way that can bring you pleasure. Secondly is find people who can give you inspiration. Find the storytellers in your company. They can connect you to what was, what is what might be. They can remind you of all the reasons this company is great, even though your experience isn't find models. Find people that represent the truth of the culture. They're out there. Spend time with them because they'll remind you that you know what? It is a good place and there are good opportunities. And you can be the kind of person you want to be. Find a mentor. Mentors are invaluable. Someone who can help you through this and give you perspective and keep your feet. Last but not least is find masters of craft and every wrong fit experience I've ever had, I found a person that I could learn from that could make me better at the thing I want to do. And it got me outta my head and back on to the field learning more about the thing I'd love to do. Last but not least, is work harder, not smarter. I mean smarter, not harder. Um, <laugh>.


And on this one, it's really important to understand that you have more time than you think. Recent research, 32 people, time lags of all the way they spend their calendar. 41% of their time was spent in discretionary activities that had no value to them and no value to their company. We waste a lot of time, all of us, right? You'd be amazed if you really looked at your calendar, what you did, how much time is out there for you. Secondly is the time that we do have. We tend to procrastinate. And procrastination isn't idle time wasted. It's time spent in a negative feeling pattern about the place that you are or the thing you're being asked to do. And if you can manage that, you can find a way through that you can, you can work a little bit more smart. Last but not least is when we're in wrong fit experiences. We tend to think, if I just put in more time, I'll find my way to success. I'm a smart person. I'm good at my job. I'm an A type personality. And in the end, more time does not produce more results. It produce more negativity often, and we start losing the very things that matter us. We give up our health, we spend less time with our families, we lose our hobbies, all those things. And so put boundaries on it.


Be there as long as you need to be there. But do not try to compensate for wrong fit by doing more. Right? Look at the time you do have and watch how much you're spending in negative thought patterns. And third, really put your time towards meaningful activities and make sure life outside of work is magic. So I'm over my time. Um, I'm a talker. Two things I'd end with is this. One is if you have right fit, don't take it for granted the number of people, because the ways of working are under and we're comparing ourselves to all the things that other people have. We forget that because it's comfortable. It's because we're riding with our right hand. And that's really hard to come by and you should cherish that and recognize how lucky you are. If you don't have it, it's out there. There's a company that works like you work.


You can be in the environment and for now, use the buffers to make it work for you. But look hard for how a company works. Not just their brand, not just their cool campuses, not just the the fun perks and the places and the proximity. Those things in the end don't really matter. They don't define your experience. And if you see someone in your company struggling, they're having a tough time, they're in a wrong fit, they can't find their feet, they cannot find their way to success, help 'em. I had more people help me in more moments in my career. They saw me. They made me feel valued and they allowed me to turn what was a hard experience into one that if nothing else, I learned a great deal from. So tip of the iceberg. Just to start, I hope it's a fun way to end the conference. Thanks for giving me the time. And I wish you all the best and that you find right fit, fulfilling careers, and that you get to put your brilliance on display every single day of those 13 years that you're gonna be at work. Have a great night, everybody.