How to work with me doc.
SocialWithin has grown from 3 people to 27 people in 18 months. I want to make sure I can help everyone accordingly. So, I’m creating this doc to provide clarity for my top priorities and how I like to work with others.
Here are my top priorities for 2019:
Please note that I am looking to create more head space to have clarity on how we can build the best business. I admire the work our team does and want to support however I can, but I need to minimize my involvement and defer most decisions to other great people at SW. If I’m not responding to an email or slack messages or you see less of me in the office, know that I’m doing this to focus on my top priorities and will do my best to get back to each of you. I will try to help strategically, but may not be able to provide guidance on day-to-day matters.
Below are people you should speak with regarding:
- All things people operations (L&D, office, events, recruiting, culture, personnel issues, HR, etc.): Person X (X@socialwithin.com)
- All things client related (account management, creative processes, client issues and matters, mentorship and guidance, etc.): Person X (X@socialwithin.com)
- All things finance (budget approvals, controls, credit card issues, client invoicing, etc.): Person X (X@socialwithin.com)
- All things data/analytics (dashboard issues, data science, client reporting, etc.): Person X (X@socialwithin.com)
- All things Marketing (events, PR, marketing, content, etc.): Person X (X@socialwithin.com)
Below is a guide to working with me as we look to grow the company. This is specifically for my direct reports (listed above), but you’re welcome to copy this format and have a similar working guide for yourself - perhaps it’ll provide clarity for your team so they know how to work with you.
1:1s and how I want to work with you:
- I want us to follow the DACI model: Drive - Approve - Consult - Inform. I will drive minimal initiatives and trust you or someone on your team to drive projects/tasks or key initiatives. I’m happy to approve or consult on most decisions. In fact, the less I drive, the better I can service you.
- I’d like to have bi-weekly or weekly 1:1s. We’ll try to keep the times consistent, so you have ample time to plan accordingly. I will be traveling often this year, so there will be weeks where I have to miss our 1:1s completely or reschedule.
- I’m a fan of joint 1:1 doc to track our agendas, actions, goals, and updates. If you’re reporting up to me, I will trust you to own the doc and manage it accordingly.
- Our 1:1 time is valuable and important (both to me and you). I expect you to be prepared and to participate, even though we’ll have to manage video conferences and time zones if I’m traveling. You will own 1:1 agendas and desired outcomes.
- If I miss our planned 1:1 due to travel: please update our working doc and we will do a longer sync when I’m back in the office or do a video conference/phone call offline. It’s critical that docs are always up to date with progress being made on key initiatives regardless of our scheduled 1:1 times.
- Monthly and quarterly planning session - It’s my hope we make these happen with strong pre-work and good follow-up afterwards with our teams and partners (internal or external). Given that we’re entering a growth phase, we will do both monthly and quarterly sessions. Monthly sessions will be more tactical, whereas quarterly will be more thematic and strategic.
- Career sessions - your fuel and happiness are incredibly important to me. I want us to touch on this every half (or more frequently if needed) to ensure you’re fueled and enjoying every part of this journey of building a great company. “Enjoyment” will likely be a function of intellectual challenge, hard work, feeling connected to the bigger picture/mission, hitting goals/KPIs, driving strong impact and leading others to drive a strong(er) impact.
- If there are unique challenges you want to solve or want to explore other options at the company, share them with me. I want to enable and amplify you in every way possible. Please do not shy away from career conversations.
- If you hit a roadblock and for whatever reason realize that SW is not fulfilling you, then let’s talk through this. I will support you through thick and thin… Growing a company is not easy and I will help as needed.
- Personal goals - I’d love to help you achieve your personal goals. We should consider reviewing 2-3 personal goals you have each quarter. Personal goals are things you personally spend time on (not including team plans, company goals, etc). We can discuss them each quarter and then design a plan on how we make sure you get the time, space and support to accomplish what you need. I am happy to share mine with you as well, so we’re open and transparent with each other.
- I like discussing options and whiteboarding important things in a group setting. I like to ask questions and expect that you’ve done your due diligence already when you approach me with questions/problems. In an ideal scenario, you’ve already come up with proposed solutions for more tactical work and are simply bringing me in during the “approval” stage of DACI. For big strategic initiatives, I want to be involved earlier on. I may not “drive” it, but I want to whiteboard things out with and provide guidance wherever needed.
- I want you to become the “CEO” of your business unit or book of business. You’ll have to earn my trust and once you do, I will likely be inclined to add more on your plate. This is a positive thing and will enable you to drive a bigger impact across multiple business units.
- I will trust you to work cross-functionally (XFN) to ensure you’re covering ground and thinking through the edge cases. Please do not make decisions with asymmetric information. Work with others. Ask questions. Seek guidance and inputs. Make group decisions and not in silos.
- This is obvious, but I need to vocalize it: I dislike micromanagement and I’m not a micro-manager. I will likely be annoyed if I have to follow-up just to ensure you got something done. I have high expectations of you and expect you to have the same high expectations of your team. I will struggle to trust you to become the “CEO” of your business unit if deadlines are missed, goals/KPIs are not met, XFN efforts are sub-optimal, etc.
- I don’t care for specific details unless I think things are off track. I will ask for details if I notice this. For new initiatives and projects, I may ask for deep dives and more 1:1 time just so I can be supportive and helpful.
- I expect you to make most decisions without me and if you come to me, I’ll usually put it back on you with: “what would you like to do?” “what’s the right thing to do?” My job is to help prioritize and re-prioritize.
- Driving action items and being strategic:
- Coming out of our 1:1s, there will be action items that you will own. I don’t like chasing down action items but will notice when things slip. It’s completely fine to renegotiate deadlines with me but I won’t be pleased if you’re trying to negotiate a deadline on the due date or after the due date.
- You will spend your time across strategic initiatives and tactical executions. At this stage of our company, you’ll likely spend most of your time on tactics (most likely an 80-20 time split leaning tactical). Don’t get frustrated by that. Allow yourself breathing room to ensure you’re maximizing the 20% on strategy-related items. I’m guilty of this. Try to steer away from fire fighting all the time and focus on top business priorities. You and your team members should have their top 3 priorities listed as a sticky note on their desks, so everyone knows what’s most important. Mine are shared at the top of this document, so you know exactly what I’m focused on.
- I’m metrics-driven and I like dashboards and data. It’s a simple and objective way to measure progress and results. Let’s make sure we’re reviewing consistent information on what really matters and use data to get insight.
- I like to make agreements on simple frameworks and “how we will do things,” so we don’t make exceptions often and constantly invent new frameworks and processes.
- There will be a few different ways we make decisions. I will usually clarify this during our meetings to ensure there’s alignment.
- Group decisions: Joint decisions are when everyone’s input will be needed and we will need 100% consensus before moving forward.
- My decision: There will be instances where I want to hash things out, get inputs from you and the broader team, and then I will make the decision.
- Your decision: I won’t be the decision maker here, you are. I will help you explore what all the decision vectors are, and then allow you to proceed.
My operating principles, focus and day-to-day work:
- I try to reverse engineer goals, so that we can work backwards and have clarity. If I come across roadblocks or challenges, I often ask:
- What levers can we pull here?
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- Why is this important to solve?
- Who can help us solve this?
- What inputs do I need from my team to help us make this decision?
- How will this help improve the mechanics of our business?
- I’m usually in meetings or calls during the day. Any free time I get during the work day, I spend it on catching up on emails. Strategic thinking usually happens at night after dinner. I want to optimize for creativity in 2019 and 2020. I want to make fewer decisions that are higher quality and drive greater impact.
- New business excites me and I need to focus on sales and key partnerships. That said, I’m incredibly client focused and love helping our account management and creative teams. Please pull me in as needed; especially on crucial items and enterprise client issues. Client retention is a priority for all of us. If there’s a fear of an important client leaving, please bring it to my attention in advance. Do not bring me in when the client has given notice or about to give notice. I can’t help you at that stage, but could perhaps assist and guide if things have been rocky for a few days.
- Use 1:1s for items better discussed verbally. Emails take a ton of time, so use it wisely. If we don’t have 1:1s for a while, then please feel free to email or ping.
- I read fast and don’t enjoy writing long emails. I will occasionally write longer emails to ensure I’m exhaustive if sharing an important idea or notes.
- I will read almost every email I get within a 48 hour time span. I’ll often respond slowly because I’m firefighting another topic(s). If it’s urgent or important, then please add “urgent or important” in the subject.
- You’re welcome to ping me if it’s important, urgent or requires a timely response. I prefer things to be short, sweet and digestible.
- Short questions on ping are fine but I might be inconsistent in response times since I’m often in meetings/calls.
- If it’s a long topic and not time sensitive, maybe just wait for our 1:1.
- Poking me while I’m in office:
- If I have my headphones on, then please know that I’m heads down and need to stay focused. If I don’t have headphones on, then you’re welcome to come and poke me.
- On top of this page, you have a list of people that you can reach out to regarding anything. Please go to them first and they can assist. You’re welcome to come to me if they cannot assist.
- Again, on top of this page, you have a list of people that you can reach out to regarding anything. Please go to them first and they can assist. You’re welcome to ping me if they cannot assist.
Overall, I like more communication rather than less and I like to know what’s going on with you and your team. It’ll help me do a better job to assist you. I’ll try not to create a ton of email volume and will be the first to suggest a quick in-person or phone sync versus a long email or slack thread.
I like plans that are documented. I don’t care if it’s slides or docs or spreadsheets, but I expect detailed work has been done. I like to be included early and often in important developments, but I’ll generally only weigh in when asked or on final review.
Feedback is a gift. I want to give more feedback when opportunities arise and expect the same from you. Let’s help each other become better.
Management and people
I care a lot about people. I care about you, your team and their development. Please make sure we’re touching base on your team, building our teams’ skills and ensure they’re well-positioned to be world-class at their craft.
Let’s get good ones and know the impact we drove. Measure. Measure everything!
Hope these notes are helpful. I’m very excited about all the great things that are ahead.
Note: I was inspired to write this document after reading Elad Gil’s book, The High Growth Handbook, where he interviewed Claire Hughes Johnson, COO of Stripe.