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Smarter change

Appreciating people

I’ve been running a Basecamp Leadership workshop for the human enterprise for a while now. One of the most useful and rewarding elements of that program is Crediting – which is about

exciting people to exceptional performance

Why Should Anyone Be Led by You: Goffee and Jones

Here is Indra Nooyi talking about an initiative she began as Chairman at PepsiCo.

Well, you know, I ran home to India right after I became CEO and my mother was living in India at that time. And, you know, she asked me to sort of show up, dressed up and sit in the living room with her. And I did, and people’s time would come in and, you know, people I barely knew came in, they just say, hello, uh, congratulations, like 10 secondsAnd then go sit with my mom and tell her you did such a good job bringing up your daughter. She’s brought pride to the family prior to the country. Uh, you know, you should feel so good. But then it made me think to myself and say, Hey, once you turn 18, you don’t get a report card on your kids.

So I came back and I said, you know what? Since my direct reports and their direct reports, the top two levels of the company have already made it. It’s going to be a good report card. So let me write to the parents and say, thank you for the gift of your child to PepsiCo. So this was not a form letter though.

There’s about six paragraphs, three paragraphs talked about why I’m writing them this letter. I didn’t want them to get upset or what are you door? You know, why is the chairman writing to me two paragraphs, very specific to that. Very specific what they were contributing, why I thought fantastic. And then there was a closing paragraph and I copied the letter to every employee because sometimes parents didn’t speak English.

And I wanted to make sure that when they saw the word chairman, they didn’t get scared. And it was the best thing I did at them. Because over my time at PepsiCo, I wrote about to–to 400 executives. I wrote to the spouses and the parents. And I have to tell you the relationship that was set up between me and the parents was just unbelievable.

And the executives just love the fact that the parents now had something to celebrate about their kids on a regular basis. I remember one story of an executive who’s of Indian origin. He said to me, his father made a hundred copies of the letters, Saturday, um, ground floor of the apartment building they were living in and everybody in the building who came home from work, he gave them a copy of the letter and said, I want you to see what the chairman of PepsiCo thinks of my son. So there was that level of pride that I had, and many, many executives in American companies who read that and then started to write to parents of their executives, said that it was one of the most emotionally amazing things they’ve ever done for their employees.

Indra Nooyi

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