Blake Robbins @blakeirYour first manager is, arguably, the most important person in your career.
In school, we’re told to not choose a subject because of the teacher. For work, we most often choose the industry and role but don’t have a say in our manager.
What would happen if you chose the people over the area?
Your manager has a life-altering impact on you. Just like kids adapt polar characteristics to their parents, we learn what to do and not to do from our managers. Every single manager has their strengths and weaknesses and they impact us subconsciously. Especially early on in our career, the bad experiences shape us the most. We come home, complain about the mistreatment and vow to never become like that ourselves.
10 years ago I started a list of every manager I’ve ever had. I capture all positive traits I want to emulate as well as negative traits I want to avoid.
The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.
It’s easy to forget what annoyed you when you were a more junior employee.
It’s powerful to remember your own pain to become a better manager.
One of the many things my previous good managers have taught me is the power of effective 1:1s and development meetings. When done badly they are a waste of time, when done well they can be both clarifying and liberating.
1:1s and development chats are the lifeblood of your organisation. When they flow freely your organisation is healthy and thriving.
They are tools for alignment, unblocking and upgrading.
💫 Weekly 1:1s
I believe as a manager, you should aim to have 1:1s with your team at least fortnightly. At Startmate, we have them every Monday in order to align on our main priorities for the week ahead.
*Bonus: take them as a walking meeting or phone call whilst walking. It gives you both an opportunity to get out of the house and walking in the same direction stimulates alignment.*
OK - 1:1s align you on the week.
Great - 1:1s are a forum for feedback.
Exceptional - 1:1s are a place for reflection and upgrading.
Here is the template I developed for our 1:1s.
The team fills out a Notion template ahead of the meeting and we take it with us on the walk.
1. How are you feeling? How was your weekend?
>> The interpersonal relationship is more important than the work.
2. What was your biggest accomplishment last week?
>> Celebrate the wins. It’s easy to only remember the negative.
3. What have you been avoiding?
>> We all avoid things. But why? You quickly get an idea of the blocker. Often this is a mental barrier that a task feels insurmountable. Then help break it down and take the first step.
4. What are your priorities for the week?
5. What would you like feedback on?
6. What would you like to give me feedback on? What do I want feedback on?
7. Situation Workshop
>> Pick a situation in the last week and reflect how it could have been done differently. Workshop it together. Here is an excellent post on Cloud Streaks about upgrading through Situation Workshops.
8. Anything else on your mind you want to cover?
9. What are you most looking forward to in the week (doesn’t have to be work-related)?
You won’t cover each question at every 1:1, but it’s important to have a forum to talk about the good, bad and ugly, feedback and things going on outside of work.
🦸♀️ Quarterly Development
We have monthly development chats focused on the goals set against the role as well as any feedback. I recommend having a larger quarterly check with a greater focus on planning for the future and reflection.
Here are some questions which will prompt a good discussion.
H/T to Sophie Taylor, Chief of Staff at Blackbird 🙌
- Is there a role/s (internally or externally) you aspire to in the future? If so, what is it? When would you like to achieve this by?
- What parts of your job would you like to deepen your skills in or get additional training in?
- Are there any new projects or areas you’d really like to work on if you were given the opportunity?
- What career goals can we work towards in the next 6 months?
- In the past 12 months, what did you Iove, long for, loathe, and learn in your role?
- This past quarter, what do you feel should I have been held to account for that I was not?
- Imagine you were replaced by someone who outperformed in your job. What do you think they would do?
- What do I do well as a manager? What do you like about my management style?
- What is something I could do better?
- What could I do as a manager to make your work easier?
What are your favourite questions?
Send them my way.