2022 W53: The last 1on1 of 2022
Every week I post about one thing that happened at Rows! We're.. building in public!
🎉🥳 Welcome 2023!!
I hope you all had a great NYE party. If you didn't, well, it's over for everyone anyway.
Let's make this year count.
Last week was the last of the year, and about half of the team took time off and was resting. For those who stayed it was a good time to build things and catchup.
One of my meetings was a 1on1 was with a direct report.
As we're getting into a new year, I focused the meeting on:
Asking my colleague for his feedback first. How he's doing, what topics are on his mind.
Then we went through my quick summary: what I think is going well, what isn't, and the three topics I would like him to get better at for 2023.
Finally, we went through every piece of feedback I had, with concrete observations.
I think it was quite productive and we aligned fast.
Everyone does 1on1s a bit differently, but here's how I structure them.
As background, I have 4 direct reports within the Rows team of >35. They are all managers as all of them have direct reports. Because our teams are "full stack", all of them manage people from several disciplines (designers, engineers, managers, etc). Two have a tech background, one has a mixed product-business background, and other a more business profile.
From my side of feedback, I am heavily document based. I try and have a file per meeting where I jot down my thoughts. There are 2 key bits to the document:
This is the TL;DR, the juice.
What is going well, what isn't.
Key things to deliver this quarter.
Things I believe the person should invest in, to improve as a leader.
This is a list of objectives each person should pursue, and observations where things went right and wrong.
(area) Implementation and Problem solving
(objective) Manages a Team that delivers impact through their challenges. 🚨
(example observation) On 2022-12-28: To improve: Our new NFT Charts failed to materialize, and usage numbers for Crypto VR things are going down.
Personally acts as a guarantor that solutions match the stated challenge.
Promotes demos to manager, balancing team autonomy with founder input.
Documents clear, impact-oriented challenges from users, data, team, trends & creativity. 🚨
Acts as the final step of challenge prioritization for maximum impact to the company goals.
Is bold, pushing the team towards 10x challenges.
Is motivated no matter the task at hand, and motivates others.
Helps us source and develop the best talent.
Focuses on actions, making sure we take decisions and commit to them.
Understands how the team and process limit our impact, and improves it.
Promotes and presents exceptional docs such as plans, statuses, learnings & meeting notes.
Contributes to the community and is an advocate for the company. 🚨
Things to note/ Before you ask:
Yes, we give feedback in real-time as we see things happening, but I also document stuff. Partly, this is because I am a file lover. Partly because we are also an async organization. But the biggest point is that it pays off to document and think: if I want to help my reports, I should have an objective image of where they are strong and where they aren't, and I should accumulate these bits throughout the month.
(Anyway, in my experience it's far more enriching to write about people (users reactions, team) than features. F specs.)
How I know this works? Well, this particular person was promoted at Rows precisely because we accumulated many small, strong evidence that he was capable of far more.
This is a lot of work. I usually spend at least 1 hour preparing per 1on1 of 30-45min. Sometimes, more than that. Half of the time is catching up to all my notes, then organizing information, then visualizing the person in my mind and creating action points. Per point I will have 2-3 of those time observations (YYYY-MM-DD xxxxx).
You probably noticed the 🚨 emojis, that signal the key things. Before the 1on1 meeting, I will choose up to 3 areas of bigger importance. If we aren't hiring, sourcing talent really isn't important.
The secret of feedback, in my opinion, is the summary. First, I try and have as many objective points on what happened, project outcomes, problems, etc. Then, I read them end to end, and tune my brain to detect my own concern or excitement over those observations, and write the summary accordingly.
What came out of this meeting:
This particular manager is working on a few big, pivotal projects.
One of them is late by a couple of weeks. This is bad.
Two others have just been closed, one with very good results and the other one still doesn't have data to show for yet, but it will likely be last least "good".
For 2023, I believe there's a couple of areas of UX where he should acquire more knowledge, as I've noticed us do more errors and discussions being less autonomous/automatic.
Otherwise, he should focus on the projects for Q1 and set his team up for success. This includes the wave of feedback that's coming: big bold projects get more feedback because users and the team will be more excited (and opinionated) about it!