Episode 6 Transcript: Learn better ways to work with your direct reports

This is the full transcript of the sixth episode of Inherited Composition. You can read it below, or listen to the episode

Gonto: Welcome to the sixth episode of "Inherited Composition." I'm Gonto, your host, and I'm here with Guido.

Guido: Hello.

Gonto: So, today we're gonna be talking about how to work with your direct reports. We're gonna divide this episode into four different sections. First, we're gonna talk about one-on-ones, how often do we do them, what do we talk about, how do we structure them, etc. And we're gonna give you a few tips on how we both handle one-on-ones. Then we're gonna talk about performance review, how often do you do them, does it impact the salary, how does it work, etc.

Then we're gonna move to talk about, like, sync-ups, and basically discuss what is the difference between a sync-up and a one-on-one, and again, how often do we do them, why, what is the format, and a few tips on, like, how we handle them. And then, finally, we're gonna be talking about, like, staff meetings or our leadership team meetings, and then, again, why do we do them, how often, what's the objective. So, basically, we're gonna be talking about the four different ways in which you usually interact with your direct reports.

So, let's start with one-on-ones. Like, how you manage one-on-ones, how often do you do them, what do you talk about. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Guido: Yeah. I usually have a formal one-on-one with my direct reports once per month, but...I don't know, everything I read and listen to usually suggest having one-on-ones once per week, but, at least, for me that's too much because I already have weekly meetings with my direct reports where we discuss about, like, how projects are doing. So the one-on-ones is more to talk about, you know, career path, personal stuff, things that they want to accomplish. We also set the right structure and start the conversation to get ready for the performance review, and align ourselves on the goals and things we need to accomplish in the following month.

So, yeah, for me, usually it's once per month. Obviously, I have, like, informal conversations with my direct reports every now and then, and if they want to talk something specific, I always tell them they can bug me. They don't have to wait for the one-on-one. But, I think having a regular schedule sets the play for the conversation when you know that some time you will have that opportunity to discuss some issues that is not just project updates.

So, that's [inaudible 00:02:48]. So, how often? Once per month. What we talk about? We talk about, as I said before, you know, the different things that you need to improve. I also give them, you know, positive feedback of the things that they need to keep doing, and, every now and then, we grab the performance review, we review the objectives with...I give them tips about the thing that they should start doing to get to those goals, and I also review every talent and behavior that's described in our performance review, and also give them tips and feedback about the things that they need to accomplish, so when they get to the performance review they already know what to do.

Yeah, and that's it. So, what about you, Gonto?

Gonto: So...before that, you were mentioning that, like, one-on-ones are recommended weekly instead of monthly. Something that, to me, is important to note about that is that every person, every company defines one-on-ones differently. So, to me, it's interesting to understand, like, what does a one-on-one that is weekly mean, and why? Because, to me, like, a one-on-one in which you discuss career path, how are they feeling with what they are doing, are they happy, helping them with other stuff that is not particular tasks, that, to me, more than once a month, maybe, like, twice a month is, like, too much. But actually, something that I do regarding that is, actually, I talk to my direct report. I tell them, like, I usually do them once a month, "But, how often is it useful for you?" And then, depending on that, like, we change. And, usually, it depends on, like, who am I working with, how much am I helping them, etc.

So, for example, lately, I've been working with Ceci [SP] who leads the Marketing Design Team, and she's having, like, some struggles, and I'm helping her with, like, management, leadership in design, etc., and because of that, I'm doing a one-on-one every...actually, every two weeks, and it's, like, a one-hour, one-hour-and-a-half, or something like that. But, in general, I'm like you. I also do them once a month.

Also, you were saying that you do one-on-ones to, like, talk about career, etc., but do you use any software? Like, do you take notes? Yes? No? Why?

Guido: Yeah. So, this is funny because this is the kind of conversation that we are having in the company right now with formalizing one-on-one meetings, but, yeah, I do take notes. Regarding software, I use Bear up, but you can use whatever you want.

Gonto: Bear is, like, local. You don't publish it anywhere? It's, like, local notes on your computer?

Guido: Yeah. It's local notes on my computer. I don't publish them. I do publish them when I'm having the transition. So, we can discuss that in a little bit, but usually, it's just for me. I tag them, you know, by date, and I just write down both things that need to be accomplished or things that I need to take action. For example, sometimes people tell me, "Oh, I'd like to get this particular issue fixed," or something, or, "I need you to talk with another manager to solve a particular issue with another co-work," whatever. So, I use that to take notes and see the things that I have to provide an answer in a short time. So, say, "Okay, I'm gonna give you an answer about this particular issue in the next two days."

So, that, and also take notes for the things that I need to keep track on and things that I need to review for the performance review. So, let's say, "In the next two to three months this person should accomplish X, Y, or whatever, and if she or he does that, then that should translate to this particular behavior in the performance review." So it's easier for me, when I have to do the performance review, to gather all the data I need to provide the arguments of why I'm doing the things I'm doing.

Gonto: And I was asking because, like, for me, for example, like, I always send the note for two reasons. I don't save it just for myself because, one, if, unfortunately, you have to let them go, or something, you need proof of, like, why. So, actually, having sent that to him or her means that they know and they've acknowledged it, so you have, like, proof in your dog. If you only keep it for yourself, I think it's hard because it's a conversation and it's not, like, easy to prove. So I definitely recommend everybody to, like, take notes.

And then, the other thing is actually sending a list with [SP] an acknowledge makes it easier for some people to process, because some people are more, like, audio, some people are more visual, and, with this, you get two things. Like, you do the audio, but you also send them, like, the visual list of, like, "This what we chatted about. Do you agree?" And then, that's the final one.

So, for me, for one-on-ones, I've never used a software. I actually...I use Slack. I send it on Slack, and then I just pin it, but we are now...we actually just decided last Friday that we're gonna be using Small Improvements to take notes for one-and-ones. So now we're gonna be working on, like, doing a training company-wide on how to use it, and then start using the software for one-and-ones because it's an easier way to find it, track it, etc.

Guido: Yeah. We're in the process of evolving [SP] the software for both performing reviews and one-on-ones, and I do have to say that Small Improvements is the best I could find about one-on-ones. And, I agree it's better to have, you know, both the reviewer and the reviewee have shared notes. And, Small Improvement has a feature where you can set an agenda or the things that you'd like to discuss beforehand, then you can both have shared notes and you can also have private notes, all inside in the same tool. So that's a good option.

Gonto: And, for me, in general one-on-ones, I do it same as you, once a month, except, as I was saying, sometimes I do it once every two weeks, or something like that for special cases.

Guido: How long? Like, an hour?

Gonto: Yeah. It's always one hour once a month. And then, what do we talk about? It's very similar. So, first off, I have select...set-up questions I always ask. One is...not every one-on-one, but I tend to talk about their career path. And that's basically asking them, like, "Where do you see yourself in one year or two years?" And then, based on where they see themselves and where they wanna go, I basically work with them on how to get there.

So it's basically, "Okay, if you wanna get there, these are the things that we need to work on. These are the things that are working." So it's basically trying to create that career path with the other person, and I think it's very important to talk about it, because if you don't talk about it, the person will think that, like, maybe there's no career path, or, "This is it. I can't grow anymore." So I think it's very important to be conscious about it.

And I always ask, like, general questions, like, "What things are you doing now that you don't like?" To see if we can help change some tasks, or, like, "What things...like, how do they think that they are doing? Like a self-assessment, to be self-aware. I then give them my feedback, and I also, of course, every time, them for feedback for myself to see if I can do something better for them.

Guido: Yeah. That's a good point. I think something that is really important is that one-on-one is not just for the reviewee. It's for the reviewer, also. It's a good opportunity for you to get feedback about what you do as manager. And, as you say, I think it's important to align expectations and to provide feedback frequently. And, also, particularly for me, I use them to check on the other person's life projects. So, for example, somebody is moving into another house, and I know that that's gonna take one to two, three months from the moment they're trying to do that. So I ask, "Hey, how is everything going on with that? Can I help you with something?"

And, I also...going back to career, I always ask, "What can I do to help you accomplish X?" So, that's...I think is a good question.

Gonto: And I agree. And, some other things for one-on-ones is that I always think that they have to be awkward, because one-on-ones are about...and we mentioned that in another chapter. One-on-ones are about something that's personal, and anything that's personal is always uncomfortable. I've read a book called "The Advantage." If you haven't read it, it's amazing, one of my favorite management books, and something they talk about is this idea of vulnerability-based trust. But, in order to have conflict, discussion of good ideas, etc., you need to have trust with the other person, and it's vulnerability-based, which means that they know who you are, what are your errors, or the things that are not great with you? What things are great? And you can talk from that point, and I think that that's something that we should always try to do.

And then, something I found, which is crazy, is that the best things that I do in one-on-ones is not help them with one particular task, or something like that, but rather I actually learned a lot for my one-on-ones from talking to my psychologist because he helps me understand myself, my brain, how it works, and that, plus some books that I've read, help me help others, because usually, what I'm doing is I'm managing managers, and they have either problems with their direct reports, or some peers, or this, or that, and I just help them think what things to do, why, etc.

For example, I was talking now with somebody on my team, and they were saying that they were being insecure. And, I'm insecure as well. I'm less insecure now than before, but I've had my share of insecurity. And I think that as you start recognizing yourself and being more aware, you can realize some of the things. So, for example, my tip to her about it was about the fact that, usually what happens is you think something and then you feel something inside, which is insecurity, and then you get these thoughts of, like, "But is this right? Am I sure that I should be doing this, because maybe I don't have an experience, or I don't know, or this, or that." And then, that basically creates this untangled thing, which is a mess.

So, I think that something, for example, that helped her was I was telling her, "Go to the past and look how many times your first idea was right and how many times your self-doubt helped. Once you start realizing, for example, that your self-doubt doesn't help at all, then you start noticing that your first idea was right, and maybe this insecurity makes no sense. So, then, by being more aware, when you start getting the thoughts of, like, "Oh," like, "I don't know how to do this, I don't have the experience, etc.," you just are aware of that in that moment and you discard it because you know, based on your rationale, that, in the past, that wasn't right, you just killed [SP] it. And that's something that is very helpful. And then, change is about repetition. So, then you repeat that consistently, and then you're gonna change.

So, those are some of the discussions, for example, that I have with my direct reports. And I have a lot that are new managers, so I talk a lot about these kind of things.

Guido: Yeah. For me, what's really helpful, I'm in the process of...I'm transitioning from being the head of communication to be the director of people care. And, in that process, I need to delegate all the things that I was doing as the head of communication to my direct report. So, it's also a good opportunity to be transparent of the new challenges that I'm facing, and say, "Hey, I'm also not really sure about these particular things, so I'm being transparent. I'm probably gonna need your help." And I always ask them or tell them, "Please, if I'm doing something wrong, or if you don't agree with something that I'm doing, this is a good opportunity to tell me so I can change that behavior." So, I think it's a good opportunity to have that conversation both ways.

Gonto: I agree, and I think that one-on-ones are just like a fictional moment that you create to talk about these things, but, in general, as you've said before, like, I talk about this, like, when something happens, but then I actually use the one-on-ones as a fictional time for the people who don't like talking about it, so then you create that moment, and also it's good for reinforcement. So, even if I have given them feedback on things during the month, I've reinforced that both the good and the things that need to improve, so that then repetition and consistency, which is basically what creates change, I think.

Guido: Yeah. Now that you said that, I remember having a one-on-one with a person that didn't like one-on-ones, and the first one-on-one I had with that person, everything was fast, you know, like, "How are you?" "Good." "Okay. So, are you okay with what you're doing now?" "Yes." So, it was, like, 10 minutes, and when I finished that, I felt really bad, you know. It's like, "This was the worst one-on-one ever." And then, for the next one, I really prepare myself. Like, I did research about how to ask questions to person that maybe don't like to have these sort of conversations. I started to take notes during the month of the thing this person did well, and things that need to be improved, and things that I realized that this person was struggling with other team members.

So, with all that information, that took a lot more work than I used to, I had more direct questions, I provide feedback with examples, and then this person, at the end of the meeting, told me, "This was the best one-on-one I ever had." So, yeah, it changes a lot depending on the person that you're having this conversation. So you have to adjust to the other person's style.

Gonto: Yeah, 100%. So, let's talk a little bit about performance reviews. So, you were talking a little bit about you set up one-on-ones, like, those are the set-up for the performance review because, in the performance review, you're gonna use the info for the one-on-ones. But, tell me a little bit more about, like, how often do you do the performance review, how are they structured, and what things do you like and don't like about how Wolox does it.

Guido: Sure. We do performance review every six months, so it depends when you start working with the company. So, we don't have, like, a fixed period for the entire company. Our process has, like, different behavior talents or skills then you need to pick 12 skills. Sorry, you need to pick 12, 9, or 5 depending if it's your first, second, or third performance review, and after that is always 5 skills. And then, we took the 12 that have the more, like, the higher scores, and then we use that to compute the score, and that score will give you the level or category that you are in, and that is used to calculate your salary.

So, yeah, a review has, like, what we call universal skills or talent, so everybody gets evaluated on those, and then you have specific talents depending on the area or department that you're working. So, if you're a software developer, you have skills about how you code, you know, how you do code review, your coding style, things like that.

So, we are now changing the process a little bit. So we are adding fixed meetings every two months, where you have to provide feedback about particular talent. You don't actually set score, but you tell them the things that person should accomplish the next period, so once you get to the performance review, is just checking on those skills and those comments if things had been accomplished or none. So, that's the process at a high level. I usually used these intermediate meetings, so every two months I replace the one-on-one for this particular meeting, where we have the high-level discussion, and then we go to the performance review and we talk about specific behaviors.

Things I like about the performance review that we do at Wolox is that, if you understand the model and you take the time to do it, you usually get a good result, and it gives you a framework to provide feedback, but the bad thing is that it takes too much time, and if you have too many direct report, it could be a burden.

And, as I said before, it needs a lot of training. So, we are struggling a little bit when we add new managers because we realized that we need to do more training than we're used to because, again, we grow a lot in these two years, so the people that...you know, the founders and the first employee, we are really familiar with the performance review. We know the good things about it, the bad things about it. We know how to work with the framework, and we know how to structure the conversation. But, people that is new in the company need a lot of training, so we need to get them in couple performance review just as an observer, and to get the feeling about how to execute them.

And the other problem is that we don't have a particular software to execute them, so we have a lot of operation time that we need to do, like, you know, scheduling the meetings, what happens if somebody forgot to schedule a meeting? You know, keeping track that everybody is doing the performance review, then providing updates to HR. So we are in the process of evaluating both Small Improvements and Impraise. We're probably gonna pick one of those to start executing the performance review on those softwares.

Gonto: Make sense. Something that, to me, is interesting about what you're saying is that all of these, like, training...and that's something, for example, that we are working [inaudible 00:20:49] in Auth0, which is, like, training for managers, in general. Like, as you were saying, like, to me, training is not just like getting them to be ghosts for some performance review, but actually to, also, give them a formal training on how to do performance review, how are they done, etc.? And we're now creating a leadership development program, for example, for those kind of things.

Something we set up is, like, a mentor-mentoree program, where you have mentors and then mentorees say what things do they wanna learn? And then they are set up with a mentor to learn, for example. But then, about our performance reviews, I'm not a big fan, actually, about how we do them at Auth0, so I'll explain first, like, how we do it at Auth0, and then what things I like, what things I don't like.

So, at Auth0, it's very different. We do performance review only once a year, mostly, like, October, November, something like that, and basically, they are done just before we do the yearly salary upgrade, which is in January. So, this is the [inaudible 00:21:47]. And our...like, we worked a lot on this in the past. It was, like, a lot of disagreement on how to do it, etc., and then what we ended up agreeing is something as very simple and very qualitative, which is something as simple as, "Start. Stop. Continue." Like, "What things should Gonto start doing? What things should Gonto continue doing? And what things should Gonto stop doing?" And I get a 360 review from people that report to me, some of my peers, and then my direct manager.

And I like the qualitative feedback, but there are a few things that I don't like about the process. First of all is that, even though we're transparent, and I believe in transparency, I strongly believe that performance reviews should be anonymous, because some people...even if you're a transparent company or afraid of saying something, if they like you, they want to make you mad, or something, so sometimes they won't give you a comment, or something, which may become worked [SP] with vulnerability-based trust, but I think it's hard.

And then, the other thing is we don't have anything that is quantitative. So, when you start thinking about, "Start. Stop. Continue," you have to think a lot about good [SP] things, and what I do is I use the stuff that I wrote for each of the one-on-ones and I basically put that, because the idea is, once a year, I put all of the feedback I've given them during the year.

But, then what we don't have is, like, more specific things on, like, we do now a 360 with...that is we've done for the Marketing Leadership Team, and we're gonna do it again now in the next off-site [SP], a 360 that is anonymous. And it's basically very qualitative. It's, like, different topics, six questions per topics, probably 50 questions total where you grade somebody from 0 to 5. And that makes you think of specific things, like, are they good with change? Are they good with, like, leadership? How are they with meetings, with these and that? So, it's very structured, and it makes you think about things, and if it's qualitative, and just like an empty text, you don't think about.

And then, the other thing I like [inaudible 00:23:48] is that you have to give yourself the same test, and do the points, and do that, which actually makes you think how self-aware you are. So, basically, how do you rate yourself versus how people rate you. And that is very, very important because if you rate yourself bad on some things, and make yourself aware, and that makes it more prone that you're gonna improve, whereas if people rate you 1, or something, and you think you're a 5, you're not gonna improve because you think you kick ass, but you don't.

So that's definitely something that I would like to see more in our performance reviews. And, as I said, for the Marketing Leadership team, we're gonna basically start doing that. I stole the idea from the CRO, which actually does that. I liked it, so, we're definitely gonna do it.

Guido: Couple of things on what you just said, regarding self-assessment, I agree, in our performance review, the reviewee is in charge of doing the self-assessment, complete all the performance review. Myself, as a reviewer, has to do the same thing, and when we get to the meeting, we check on each particular skill and, kind of, negotiate what should be the final score. And I think that that's a good conversation, in general, because it provides a way of checking if you are aligned with the other person.

Regarding anonymous feedback, I strongly disagree with that because my main point there is that if I don't know who is providing the feedback, and the feedback needs some action to be done, I don't know who to iterate this with.

Gonto: But you don't think that people won't tell you things if it's anonymous?

Guido: Yeah, I know, but I think it's being able to iterate with the other person and know who to talk with, it's more important than that, but, yeah, I don't think that there is a right answer, so it depends a lot on the company and the culture, and how you work with your direct reports. But, we do provide anonymous feedback as a company, so when we have the all-hands meeting every six months, people can ask questions anonymously, and they get, like, a survey every six months, also, where they provide feedback to the company anonymously. But, when we talk about direct reports, we don't do them anonymously.

I also liked what you said about 360 feedback. We are also incorporating that this quarter. What we're doing right now is you, as a reviewee, got the chance of selecting three peers, and, as a manager, I can also pick three peers or other managers to provide you feedback, so, at the end of that, you get six people, top. Right now we are asking three questions. I stole that from you, your "Start, Stop, Continue," and we are also adding, in the next month, two more questions regarding two specific skill that the reviewer chose. So we're gonna provide a question to provide feedback for that particular skill so we have more information when we get feedback.

Gonto: That skill, was it because they set it as an objective for them, or something to learn, or why do they pick that skill?

Guido: Because, when you get a notification from People Care about, you know, you having to schedule your performance review, from all the skills that you have available, you have to pick five. So, we grabbed one or two from those five and ask feedback so we have a more guided conversation.

Gonto: I like the idea of the skills. I actually might steal that. And, yeah, I agree that 360 are key. Only last thing that I wanna mention is that we also use a tool, and we actually use Small Improvements, as well, for the performance review because it's very configurable and it has Slack integration, which, for us, being a remote company, is something that is definitely key.

So, let's go to the next topic, and this is something that a lot of people confuse, which is, what is the difference between a sync-up and a one-and-one? Because a lot of people just do them together, and I strongly think they should be separated. But, what are sync-ups for you? How often do you do them? What's the format? Why? And, like, how different are they from your one-on-ones?

Guido: Yeah. I think we do completely different things here. I don't have sync-ups with my direct reports, like, you know, schedule beforehand. If I need to have an update on a particular project, I will call my direct report and schedule a meeting, but what I do have is weekly meetings with each direct report and their team.

I'm in the process...I don't think I should do this, you know, like, forever, but because I'm transitioning from being the Head of Communication to the Director of People Care, I need to get into each head team to understand how they're working, helping them structure their weekly meetings. And, I think, eventually, I will stop doing that, but right now I participate in five weekly meetings with each head and their team, and in that weekly meeting, we review all the things that need to be accomplished for this particular week, what we're gonna do for next week. We prioritize the backlog. We have any discussion about a particular issue than needs solve, and they may require my opinion. And I take notes about the things I should do, and things I should start coordinating with other areas or departments.

Regarding the format, is a one-hour meeting with the team, and I usually...all the software I use right now to keep track of what's happening in the company or in the People Care department is just Google Docs with each particular area or team, and I write down things that need to be accomplished this particular week. Any comment or any decision that has been made is documenting there. Then, on the next meeting I check what was written on the previous entry, go through that, add new actions, document what we agree on, and that's it.

Gonto: Makes sense. And, for me, as you say, is completely different. So, I do, actually, sync-ups with each individual that reports to me half an hour every week. And that's what I was saying, like, what is the difference between sync-up and one-on-ones? Because, for me, I do them once a week because this is basically, like, status report. It's like, "What have you been working on this past week? And what things have your team been working on?" Something that, to me, is interesting about this is, like, when you have a team that reports to you that are all IC, is different than when they are managers of ICs than when they are managers of managers.

And, how my sync-ups have changed is a lot. So, when I had ICs reporting to me, I was basically knowing what the tasks were, what were they doing? And, basically, like, if they needed help or feedback. When it was a manager of IC, that changed, but I still know what each of their ICs do, and I try to help them, but when it's a manager of a manager, no chance I know basically what everybody is doing.

And I find it very useful because, again, it's a fictional half an hour where we both talks about what things have been happening, and it's a good time to brainstorm and work together, and also give them feedback not on what they are...like, not specifically on their behavior, like a one-on-one, but more on the tasks and the things that they are doing. So, they give me, like, reports, or, like, documents, white paper they wrote, they provide feedback, or, like, those kind of things.

So, I find them, like, very, very useful, in general, all of the sync-ups. And, why do them? Is just to stay in touch with everybody that reports to me. But the sync-ups are different depending on the person. So I have people that...like, I have two that create Docs. So, before we do every one-on-one, they sent me a Google Doc the day before with things like updates, questions and discussion topics, and then I actually comment on that, on questions, on their status update, things, feedback, etc.

And they set it one day before, so then, when we do the meeting, I actually think it's more productive because we've already worked a little bit on it before offline, and then, when we talk online, it's the discussion points, and the questions, and the things that we have instead of telling me exactly what all of their team were doing or things like that. But, without it, it's more informal, and it's just like a chat.

But I actually find them very useful because the best...like, I think best when with other people. Like, when there's people and I need to talk to them, and then they talk to me, I'm a very gut-feeling-based person. And, because of that, having this pressure of talking to somebody and having to answer at that precise moment, and then getting their thoughts after that, it helps me think and create better ideas, so I actually think I can help them more. And, in the sync-ups, I also try to make them the owners. I make sure that they are the ones who make the decision.

So, usually, as I said on the other episode, I do a lot of questions, Socratic method, but it depends on the person. I have some that come ask me questions, so I ask them questions back, and others who are very autonomous, and they don't like being told what to do. So that's another thing that I definitely work with each of them differently.

And then, tooling, I actually don't use any tooling, only Google Docs in these cases where we actually prepare them before.

Guido: Yeah. The good thing about using Google Docs is, like, it's a simple tool. It lowers the amount of inboxes that I have to check on, and it's easier to comment on a particular item. It's not a good tool if you wanna have a synchronous conversation. I wouldn't recommend using Google Docs for that, but, for me, I tried a lot of things. I tried using Trello. I tried...I don't know, Evernote. So, the thing that only worked for me was using Bear to write down notes or things that I need to do, and having a Google Doc per direct report where I check the weekly status, and that's it.

Gonto: That makes sense. So, let's go to the last topic of the day, and that's, like, staff meetings. So, how often do you meet with your leadership team, so the people that report to you, but all together instead of, like, just one by one? And, again, like, how often do you do them? Why? And what do you talk about?

Guido: Yeah. I do that once a week if the...what we call the People Care Heads Meeting. So we are six people in total. It's a one-hour-and-a-half meeting. We are changing the methodology a lot, and we are trying to stick to the one provided by EOS, which you basically have the first 50 minutes about checking on what they call goals or stones, which is basically metrics, the quarter metrics, and checking how you are doing with that. If you have five minutes to provide headlines, which is basically telling something that happened during the week that it's important for everybody else to know. For example, a particular team member accomplished something and you want everybody to know about that.

And then, you have a period of time where you have to go through the issues that you have over the week, so you need to write down all the issues that need to be discussed, then you prioritize those issues, and then, based on that priority list, you start working on them as a team. You may work on one issue during the meeting. You may work on several issues. It depends. And, at the end of the meeting...

Gonto: Do you change the order of the issues? Like, how do you set up the priority of what issue to discuss?

Guido: We have, like, a slot of time where we only prioritize. We don't discuss all the issues. We say, "This is the most important one." Once that's done, we start working on that particular issue, and you move down to the list. And, five minutes before the end of the meeting, everybody has to assess the meeting and put a score. And then we have the remaining time to discuss about what we need to accomplish for the next meeting to get to a score that we like. We are aiming to get to eight. Right now, I think we are in six, so this is the second time we're doing this. So I'm hoping that, over this month, we're gonna get to eight.

Gonto: That makes sense. And, we hold [SP] something similar, so, like, weekly meetings. We call them the MLT weekly meeting, which is, like, Marketing Leadership Team, and we actually also have, like, a very standard format, that the idea is that it cascades throughout the organization. So, I have a staff meeting with the Executive Team, called the SLT meeting, where we do basically every week on Friday.

So then, on Monday, we do the Marketing Leadership Team meeting. What we do is, first part is SLT updates. Like, what are the updates from the Executive Team? What has the Executive Team discussed about? Where are their notes? And the idea is that we basically spread the knowledge and spread, like...communication is something very important. So, basically, decisions or things that were discussed, we chat about them with the Marketing Leadership Team. We let them know when something is confidential for now until we can be fully transparent about it.

Then, after that, we have, like, a "Good News" section where, basically, people just say good news, like what things happened that were good? Maybe it's an award that the CEO get, maybe it's a PR that we're sending, maybe it's a new landing page that we shipped, etc., or the other thing that can be on "Good News" is things that you're doing that might help other teams.

Then, after the section, we have, like, a "Prioritization and Blockers." So, the idea is, "Are you blocked with something, and how can you help unblock that?" And, in marketing, we have a lot of different teams, and, actually, something that happens is that we have, like, a lot of teams asking things for the Shared Resources Team. So, we have teams like Marketing Engineering that basically serves the other marketing teams. They serve [inaudible 00:38:51], they serve Content Marketing, etc., so something that happens is that, as they are setting their goals and their tasks with [inaudible 00:38:59], maybe, for example, they have everything set up, and then Product Marketing needs a new landing page, and they say, "I can do it in two months." And they say, "No. That's, like, too long."

So, then those discussions, we do them on the MLT meeting where basically, that's a blocker and it's a prioritization issue where the Product Marketing person will see and they say, "Hey, like, this test is supposed to start in two months. What is starting in the next week, or the next two weeks, because we need it by this day because of this, this, and that?" And then, once we find out what is gonna be done before, we let those two people discuss and see if they can get to a rich point that works for both. If not, then I will intercede and help them out on, like, prioritization. But, the main idea is they can solve those prioritization issues and blockers basically by themselves.

And then, we also, as we do that, we set a lot of action items for people, and then you can see, like, all of the meetings, we have a menu that we put on Confluence. And, in Confluence, the good thing that we came from Atlassian is that you have tasks and to-do items for people, so then you can see what things you should be doing that maybe were discussed. And then, other things that we have is we also have some meetings where we have scheduled time for representation, or something. So, for example, last MLT meeting, we had a presentation around the new homepage where we sign in the new home, and this was, like, a milestone. The design is almost finished, so it was presented to all MLT to get feedback.

Another thing is, for example, we're changing the work house, and that the work house is now gonna be using, like, a dimensional data model. So we presented that in the team and we saw, like, how it was. We also get people from outside the MLT team sometimes to present on things they are doing, like the new customer marketing, or new partner marketing, or basically some of those things. And I find it very useful because it helps with cross-team collaboration inside my org. And we have, like, so many diverse teams, but I think it's important that they all meet together and try to create synergies for them working together.

Guido: Now that you said that, I also remembered that one of the managers at Wolox, the VP of Operations, he has a weekly meeting with all the team managers, and they have a slot of 50 minutes where they have a guest from...anybody else from the company, let's say the head of Design, for example, and they provide a 50-minute lighting talk about a particular topic. I don't know, like, working with communication between designers and developers, for example. So, the team managers start getting a lot of information about how other teams work, and that's really good idea, and I think I'm gonna start doing that with the People Care team to, you know, have other people on the company tell us about anything. That's a good idea to start. You know, understanding how other teams work, and about their struggles and how they think, I think that's a good idea.

Gonto: Yeah. I like it. We don't do that. Ours is more like presentations on things like plans, strategies, etc., to add feedback, but I actually think that that's a good idea. We do get other teams to present things in the all-hands meeting, where we get all marketing team, and we share something. But I definitely think that that's a good idea.

Guido: Cool.

Gonto: So, we wanted to release a 20-minute episode, and I think we're, like, 45, or something like that.

Guido: Yeah.

Gonto: So we were great with timing. That's the problem when you have an outline and not really a script, but, again, thank you, all, for listening, and we hope you really enjoyed the show. See you next time.

Guido: Bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode. If you want to know more about us, you can check our website inheritedcomposition.com. In there, you'll have a sum-up of our episode, as well as transcripts of everything we have said, and links to everything we've mentioned. You can also follow us on Twitter @theICcast.

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