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Published at Mon Feb 13 2023 in
Rows HQ

2023 W6: "Got a minute?"

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Every week I post about one thing that happened at Rows. We're building in public!


Last week was busy as ever. Meeting wise, I can highlight:

  • 3 planned demos and another 4 impromptu ones;

  • 2 feedback discussion sessions;

  • 1 communication by a colleague who announced he is leaving the company.

Among these, a common trait was that the messages seemed unplanned: several of those moments were started by Slack messages that started with "hey, do you have a minute?", sent to me or to a groups of 2/3 people.

At Rows, most of the time we work asynchronously, that is, we communicate ideas and deliver feedback on features via docs, not meetings. When we need face time, we book meetings on each others calendars. Right now, Rows is in a very fast-moving phase and so last minute messages are much more frequent, and that's how those Slack interruptions emerge.

I think they're fine, but the average message can be easily improved on. This is the feedback I have received years ago, and that I now share.


The Need for Speed

Most times, you don't need to interrupt colleagues. But interruptions are part of life, and so let's assume you need them.

The #1 rule I follow — the only rule in fact — is to include the topic in the requests:

  • Replace "Hey, got a minute?"

  • With "Hey, got a minute to talk about the API launch message?"

  • Or "Hey, got a minute to talk about the API launch message doc I sent? I need to start producing assets tomorrow."

Vague messages make it really hard for the receiver to decide if they should or not "have that minute" to spare. For me, personally, some topics are always worth an interruption: demos of features or decisions on releasing stuff. User conversations are always a priority too. They unblock others, which is important.

It's ok to be excited too:

  • "Hey, I'd like to spend 5 minutes discussing two awesome alternatives for handling dates in Integration results."

  • "We're about to post this flamethrower of a Reddit post with a Rows Chart and I'd like you to give it a quick read if you got a minute to spare."

Note: this applies to calendar invites too. You don't want to block a time slot for "Sync". Add the topic of the meeting, and if possible what you want to get out of it.

Hot HR topics

The first part was easy. Adding context is a no brainer.

But what if you want to communicate that you are unhappy? Or if you want to give negative feedback? Maybe you even want to leave? Do you want to put that in writing?

I am partial to giving at least some information.

"Hey, I would like a few minutes of your time to talk about my position here." is a perfectly clear message, and it can go many ways. It does assume that you want to talk about it. When a decision is already set, I generally don't sugar coat it, and prefer to go with "I would like to share some news."

All the HR scenarios imply there was some previous communication on the topic. Again, I think the same applies if you're setting up a meeting for it. Add those details!

Pro tip: announce big hot stuff early in the week, thorny HR topics on Friday afternoons tend to overflow into the weekend, which sucks for everyone.

Clarity goes both ways

A company should have a routine to communicate info, and be upfront about what's included. At Rows:

  • Every Monday we post our Updated Investor dashboard on the #general Slack channel, with commentary on the metrics.

  • Every Monday we do a Show & Tell session where we show feature demos, insights from data analysis, marketing plans.

  • We have an all-hands on the first Friday of each month where we go through a mission recap, a business update, a team update and FAQs.

  • Every Friday afternoon we send an HR update email, including open positions, hires, leaves and leavers. Note: We communicate leavers on the week they announce it.

And that's all.

This week will be a blast.

- Humberto