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“Manager READMEs” from some tech companies (hackernoon.com)
394 points by thmslee on May 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 99 comments

These should be taken as the hypothesis statement at the start of an experiment, that will or won't be borne out by what actually happens. Show, don't tell. One reason: People can be wrong about themselves. Or they can, with varying degrees of either idealism or self-dishonesty, present a rosy view that amounts to little more than a sales pitch for themselves. If it's true, you'll find out soon enough. If it's not, you'll find out soon enough. Therefore these documents have little value and should be kept to the minimum length needed to discuss practical things like email expectations and overall goals - things everybody has to agree on.

I completely agree - this document is worthless without follow through and accountability; which honestly was my motivation for writing mine. I want my reports, peers and boss to know how I expect to work and hold me accountable to the promises I make - I am not perfect, but the principles I outline is what I strive for.

Too many teams I have worked in have way too little personal on-boarding in my opinion. At least with these presentations I know how the manager "wants" to present him/herself, if this turns out to be false, as you say, I'll know soon enough.

On the other hand there are managers that do not introduce themselves enough to new employees which forces you to effectively learn by trial and error how you should interact with them.

My point is I would appreciate an idealist sales pitch about a new manager more than just an unplanned, informal conversation.

It definitely does provide a sort of head-start on reaching that understanding, so in that sense it's valuable.

+1 what bites you next time is not the same time as what bit you last time. Hard to imagine how anyone will respond in an untrained situation. Interesting to see how quickly these things become a fad in silicon valley

There seems to be a fair amount of skepticism about this method, but I think it’s a great system - and it can with great success be extended to everyone else in the company too - not just managers. At Dropbox, a lot of employees have (and we’re all encouraged to have) a “Working with me” document that describes your personality and work style, how you like to get and receive feedback, your career goals, your schedule and communication preferences etc.. it helps people work with each other in a more compatible, effective and empathetic way. But there’s definitely a level of vulnerability and trust that is needed to make it work, however it’s a powerful tool if you have a good culture to support it. Just my 5 cents.

Were the "working with me" documents started by employees or was that something someone pitched/asked for from management? I'd like to do like that. Even as an individual contributor, there are times where I find myself describing my working style or communication style to new teammates.

Interesting that many seem to prefer weekly 1:1s. That seems far too much to me. I would absolutely dread having to spend so much time on that with my manager or my managees and I can’t imagine there are substantial benefits to it (does anyone REALLY have meaningful thoughts about their job/career path EVERY WEEK?)

Whenever I've managed people, I've made a point of scheduling weekly 1:1s; did that even with 12 or so reports, and it did take a significant chunk of time, but it was IMO one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, I could do for them as a manager (and also the one I enjoyed the most about the role).

As other commenters have said, the 1:1 time is the report's time. It's a chunk of time in which I'm entirely and exclusively available to them. I have a set of standard questions I can default to, mostly trying to understand how they're feeling, and open-ended enough that they can talk about whatever they want. Some are done in 5 minutes with a progress report, some take close to an hour in which they sometimes share personal stuff; it's all good from my POV, happy employees are productive employees.

It's absolutely not just about their job/career path. You wouldn't believe what a MASSIVE difference it makes for people just to be heard and have your undivided attention.

I am about 6mo into a job with weekly 1:1s, and am coming from a job that did them every other week. I am always excited for my weekly 1:1.

As a disclaimer, my boss scheduled a weekly 30min 1:1 when I started, but with the caveat that we could make it less often if I found it not useful. He just preferred weekly during the "settling in" phase.

Almost without fail, our 1:1s go over time, totaling between 45min and 1hr. I can't imagine how my boss finds the time, but I so appreciate that he does.

I keep a pinned slack message in our DM, of priority-ordered things to discuss. Often these are things like:

- Something went wrong this week. How did I do? How could I have performed better?

- I noticed something unhealthy with our team, how can we fix it?

- You did something that surprised me as a manager, what was your thought process (this is sometimes critical feedback, sometimes curiousity)

- Is this thing I want to do a good idea?

- Debrief on progress (or lack thereof) on a predefined goal.

- Help me with this stupid HR/Expense report thing

And the list always ends with:

- leave space for <BOSS> to discuss things he wants

This is easily the most valuable growth time of my week. I appreciate my IC time to do an excellent job, but the 1:1s help me pick my head up and think about bigger things.

> As a disclaimer, my boss scheduled a weekly 30min 1:1 when I started, but with the caveat that we could make it less often if I found it not useful

I always preferred managers like this, who are not totally dogmatic about things like weekly meetings - instead doing what works best for each individual.

I don't know but when I was reading your comment I just kept thinking that the weekly 1:1 that you're advocating is being done for your reports is really just being done for yourself.

I'm with the OP that 1:1 every 2 weeks is better.

Is once per two weeks better for you, or also for everyone else? I've noticed that people are pretty wildly different as employees. And that it's a lot easier to ask for fewer 1:1s than to ask for more.

Before my first one-on-one meeting with anyone reporting to me, I refer them to this link:


I give my reports an opportunity to raise any topics they wish to discuss. Then, following the example set by a previous manager of mine, I always ask these 4 questions:

- On scale of 1-5 (3 being ok, 5 being really bad), what’s your stress level?

- What has been the most challenging thing since our last meeting?

- What has been the most rewarding thing since our last meeting?

- Are there any resources that could assist you or our team with our projects/goals?

I meet every other week for a half-hour with each of my reports. I've found it invaluable and am a strong proponent.

I've also had one-on-one with managers who just wanted to shoot the breeze or complain about other people we worked with. And during one really bad stretch, I had regular one-on-one's with a manager who, after putting me on a PIP, would quiz me about random details of our applications in an effort to collect evidence for HR that I was unqualified for my job. So YMMV.

- On scale of 1-5 (3 being ok, 5 being really bad), what’s your stress level?

I would think "1" would be OK. Anything over "1" would have a level of stress, and stress is a productivity/motivation/health/mood killer

(I'm one of the managers with a README in the article)

It really depends - I've had direct reports that have had plenty to cover on a weekly basis, and others that don't really have anything new -- the point of the weekly 1:1's is that they have dedicated time whatever they want or need from me - and it's their time to use as they see fit. If they want to skip that week because there's nothing new on their side, that's fine (but not every week), and if they are done in 10 minutes that's fine too. Other people have wanted closer to 2 hours a week of 1:1 time. It really comes down to the individual.

We had/have similar concepts at my first employer NASA/JPL and my current employer Red Hat. At JPL we called them Quiet Hours, in practice were closer to 30 minutes and they were held at least monthly which is significant amount of time when managers had 15 or more subordinates. Sometimes we rolled them into lunches. At Red Hat Consulting, we’re geographically distributed (even if geographically organized) because of our projects so we do 15-30 minute calls once or twice a month.

It’s a practice I’ve induced my managers into since JPL. And they’re hugely emotionally helpful since I don’t normally have a team that I work with to bounce things off of at lunch or happy hour anymore.

Kudos to you Elliott. Sounds like you’d be a decent manager to work with.

I'm really curious now, for those who want more 1:1 time, what sort of topics are often covered?

Career progression, walking through or pairing on problems, even personal life topics - remote employees sometimes desire some additional contact as well.

I worked with a team of remote devs, and ended up on both sides.

As a dev seeking manager time, I wanted/needed information. Diagrams, access, contacts, meetings. There was no onboarding and nothing but a codebase for a massive system. This was more like every other week, though.

As a peer, I ran interference with a lot of the junior devs to make sure they had the info they need, to push for the info they didn't, and to get them hooked up with the people who had it. The lack of information enabled a lot of isolation and feelings of imposter syndrome, and the weekly chats gave my peers a forum to vent.

Being remote, communication & culture require a lot more attention and effort.

What I cover is a mix of decisions I need in the next week, technical questions I need help with, or a project I'm thinking about proposing. The general idea is to get some feedback on what it takes to earn a promotion, and where I stand.

I had a job where my Manager didn't schedule weekly 1:1s, and what ended up happening is that the only face time I got with my manager was when I did something wrong and needed to get beaten up. I dreaded all contact. After some years of this, I suggested we have weekly 1:1s instead, and it was great, because we could share other topics: good things, when things were going good, career growth, etc. Totally changed things.

One thing to distinguish is whether that's a scheduled opportunity or a forced occurrence.

For example, I have weekly scheduled 1:1s with my manager, as does everyone else he manages (we can see the times on his calendar), but rarely do we actually chat every single week. I think my last one was 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Additionally, my manager isn't actually on the team, and has no idea what goes on day-to-day. Our 1:1s are usually him getting caught up on what the team is doing and my perspective on our newer team members, rather than anything about myself. Often it gets sidetracked by something totally unrelated - one of these 1:1s was how I learned his favorite superhero is the Hulk, though I don't remember at all how the conversation actually got there.

Being able to chat often like that, and get comfortable talking to your manager, makes it a lot easier when you actually need to talk to them about something important.

I agree. I've had managers who like to do the weekly 1:1 and in every case I've ultimately left those jobs. It's too time-consuming, too intrusive, too personal, for no benefit that I ever saw.

Out of curiosity, did you mention that to them?

I would try to say that I really had nothing new to discuss this week, but the meetings were not optional. And to be clear, the meetings weren't the main reason I left those jobs. They were more just annoyances than anything else. But I feel the same way about stand-ups which are apparently pretty popular.

Sounds like we are pretty similar. I just never saw the benefit as an employee or a manager. I really hate meetings that are unproductive, and weekly 1-on-1s always felt that way.

I thought the same thing. Weekly 1:1s are worthless. That’s coming from an employee who had to do them and a manager who refuses to do them.

I found them a waste of time when I had to do them. I hated them because if I needed to discuss something with my boss I would, and I had better things to do with my time than talk to him. They are also an interruption, so even if they are only 5 minutes, that’s at least 30 minutes of ramp up and down time.

Hmm... so you aren't one of those people who feel uncomfortable bringing things up to their boss. That doesn't mean they don't exist.

One of the fundamentals every manager needs to learn is, people are not all like you. Extroverts may need someone to bounce ideas off of. Introverts may need a time to bring something they have been thinking about to your attention, because otherwise they assume you don't want to be bothered.

People have families and relationships and health issues outside of work that never the less it may be helpful to discuss if it impacts stress, times they can be in the office, their work flow, etc.

And then, and this is truly important, there are interpersonal relationships in the office. Are two employees not getting along? Having a 1:1 with them will often let you get both sides of the story, instead of, potentially, hearing nothing about it.

Finally, while your bosses may have been fine with you discussing something with them any time you wanted, or fine with an email on a topic, I personally hate being interrupted, and would prefer anything like that be scheduled, and find that in person or video chat conversations are helpful in providing context that text communications, especially those that aren't in real time and interactive, may lack.

> People have families and relationships and health issues outside of work that never the less it may be helpful to discuss

This is one of the problems I had with my managers who like to do one-on-ones. They always wanted to talk about things outside of work. Got to the point where I just wanted to say none of your effing business, but I tend to be more polite than that in a professional setting.

For me work is its own thing. I don't go there for friends, relationships, entertainment, mental health or medical advice, and don't expect my employer to provide or want to be involved in those things.

You’re not alone, although we are hard to employ in the BA it feels. I feel it’s partially due to the prevalence of divide and conquer and creatives’ pattern recognition, I’ve also been pushed off a hand worth of jobs since moving here for non-performance reasons (ie. social/cultural), leaving me pretty apprehensive and alone with damaged confidence. Not watching Silicon Valley or Black Mirror feels like the next outgroup indicator in development. The latter experience alone is enough to scare off any manager who wants to talk life outside of work (never mind my extensive pre-sf success and big circles, I must disclaim, I still feel like a good person who just wants to move on and thrive personally and professionally).

> Hmm... so you aren't one of those people who feel uncomfortable bringing things up to their boss. That doesn't mean they don't exist.

I understand that. But I do tend to hire employees who are not like that. Regardless, I feel like having often scheduled 1-on-1s are an unproductive method of bring things up.

> One of the fundamentals every manager needs to learn is, people are not all like you. Extroverts may need someone to bounce ideas off of. Introverts may need a time to bring something they have been thinking about to your attention, because otherwise they assume you don't want to be bothered. > People have families and relationships and health issues outside of work that never the less it may be helpful to discuss if it impacts stress, times they can be in the office, their work flow, etc.

I don't disagree with that at all. But I do disagree that often scheduled 1-on-1s are the best solution for that.

> And then, and this is truly important, there are interpersonal relationships in the office. Are two employees not getting along? Having a 1:1 with them will often let you get both sides of the story, instead of, potentially, hearing nothing about it.

Which I have done. But again, I'm talking about often scheduled 1-on-1s.

> Finally, while your bosses may have been fine with you discussing something with them any time you wanted, or fine with an email on a topic, I personally hate being interrupted, and would prefer anything like that be scheduled, and find that in person or video chat conversations are helpful in providing context that text communications, especially those that aren't in real time and interactive, may lack.

I find that scheduled things just delay information, and its better to be interrupted. My belief is that a manager's job can require them to interrupted often. Its just the nature of management.

> so you aren't one of those people who feel uncomfortable bringing things up to their boss. That doesn't mean they don't exist.

Not at all. I'm happy to complain all day long, but what good does it do week after week? 1:1s are not a make everyone happy and not an opportunity to retread the same old stories. We work in the same place, we see the same things. We don't work together that closely, you're too disconnected to understand and taking up time from my actual responsibilities. Weekly 1:1s aren't just a sign, but proof of bad management in any company.

Your bosses did them wrong. If there's nothing to discuss they need not take longer than 5 to 10 minutes, just a chance for you to assure the boss that there are no blockers that you need unblocked and boss to briefly tell you about stuff that may be coming up on the horizon and to make sure you’re happy.

No, that exactly what they were like. If I have a blocker though, I'm not waiting a week to tell my boss. I'll tell him right away. And stuff coming up we'd discuss at our team meeting. As for being happy, we'd discuss that as needed.

Eh, I think it depends on the individual. I have a 1:1 with my manager every three weeks, and that's plenty for me. If something urgent comes up between meetings (which is pretty rare), he's just a Slack message away. But some employees have enough to discuss that weekly is great for them. I think it's nice for a manager to at least give their reports the option of a weekly 1:1; if there's nothing to discuss sometimes, it should be ok to cancel, and if you just need a 5-minute check-in, that should be fine too.

You probably hit on why some people love them and why some don’t. I think it depends on the manager, the employee, and the nature of the job. When I was an employee, I hated them. As a manager, I talk enough with my employees that scheduled 1-on-1s are unnecessary. We are also so busy that I can’t see scheduling 1-on-1s. But I could see other companies, employees and managers being different.

Yeah, agreed. It'd be nice if a manager let their reports set the frequency of the 1:1s, or at least encouraged them to cancel or cut them short if they don't have much to discuss. (Obviously canceling to the point where you don't get to chat for months isn't great, but there's a happy medium somewhere.) But many of the managers I know seem to value the ritual (or perhaps the "look at me, I'm doing useful work!" aspect) of the 1:1 so much that it would reflect poorly on the employee at review time if they skipped even rarely.

It's not about there being meaningful / weighty subject matter every week! Rather, by establishing a weekly cadence (which has value per se in creating and strengthening an interpersonal, human connection), it ensures that if/when there _is_ a momentous discussion, there is minimal friction involved, in having the conversation and in how that conversation goes.

"So much time" means they are taking longer than they need to. There is no reason a weekly 1:1 needs to take more than a more than a couple if minutes in some cases: "I'm still buried in $project", "Need anything from me?", "No, I'm good".

It does seem natural for people to want to fill some minimum time period though. I always seem to be the one calling "anything else for this meeting?" to cut them short before the rambling sets in. If nobody is guiding the meeting, then it is your job.

Consider that a lot of meetings happen because people need to look busy not because what is agreed on the agenda (if there is agenda in the first place)

40 hours a week is spent reliant on the behaviors of these other people. I'd be surprised if 30 minutes or whatever a week was enough!

I have weekly 1 to 1s. They aren’t typically about career path or job, they are protected time so that you can go through priorities and talk about any conflicts between scheduling - and they are useful for getting your boss to commit to decisions. Sometimes they only take 15 minutes. Sometimes they take an hour.

does anyone REALLY have meaningful thoughts about their job/career path EVERY WEEK?

I think that depends on how happy you are where you work. Some people might have thoughts about that every hour or so.

Monthly would be a better cadence for me, but that may be because I've mostly worked in jobs where I talk to my manager frequently on a daily basis.

The trick is to do it not in a meeting, but on flight.

>We work for 9.5 to 10 hours a day. Some people start early (7AM) some later (9:45AM), and go home accordingly.[1]

This is from the "Expectations" section of one of the linked "READMEs" (Forter's). Does anyone else this is a very aggressive expectation?

[1]: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sx5ssYb_xMrmwPpyjD5xP7Rv...

Forter is an Israeli company, unfortunately 10 hours/day is now a norm in Israel.

From my month in Israel working at a startup, it seems like long lunches and smoke breaks are also a norm. Maybe they compensate?

Doesn't this mean that the office operates 9.5 to 10 hours a day because people work schedules are different? Means not that a single person works that much, not even the Manager but it could mean that its expect to get requests at any time in these 10h.

No, it means each person works 9.5 to 10 hours per day and can set his/her start/stop times accordingly to achieve that.

The best company I've ever worked for had no managers (beside owners). They made it to $1B, loved by HN crowd, their products used by many of you, and nobody ever wanted to manage anything there. People just discussed stuff and decided to do whatever looked super interesting. One team there had actually a person that was behaving like a manager, and that product completely flopped on the market.

If you mean Valve... there's a guaranteed low-effort revenue stream, the Steam client has been awfully stagnant (and the parts that are client-only, like your games library, are the most stagnant of all -- Steam has slowly added tools to help curate the store, but none of those things like tags have made their way to the library, and if you've ever binged at a few Steam Sales and bought some Humble Bundles boy could you use such tools). And a lot of the people responsible for the most beloved projects have left[1][2], and they've had a bonfire of consumer goodwill over the lack of a Half-Life 3 or Half-Life 2 Episode 3. Their last game release was in 2013 with Dota 2, unless you want to count letting Nexon release some free-to-play games using their branding and a VR demo.

What I'm saying is, maybe they could use some managers?

1) https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/02/valve-chet-faliszek-writ... 2) https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/kim-swift-leaves-valve-fo...

> the Steam client has been awfully stagnant

I’ll say. Every time I open it the only thing I can focus on are the close/minimise/maximise buttons that are still on the pre-Yosemite style.

Valve (presumably the company you're talking about) is sitting on a money faucet, and while they seem to be good at some things, they're pretty bad at a lot of software/services features which a more traditional management structure could easily do. Flat structure seems like it made more sense for what Valve was 5 years ago than what the product is today.

It sounds like you worked at Valve, or possibly Gor-tex, or another company with similar values.

If so, I have a question. How does compensation review actually work? Like what are the detailed logistics?

I understand the whole no managers thing and that your peers determine your salary, but how? How does that actually work? Who actually says, "this is the number" and who tells you the number?

I can see it working, up to a point; introducing management can shift how things work overall, but if a company can get away with it, and that's what works for them, then great!

Relevant: https://getlighthouse.com/blog/flat-organizational-structure...

Care to name the company? You only have nice things to say about them, and I think many people are interested...

Sounds fun. Did they ultimately succeed as a business though?

I feel strongly that the kind of people who identify the need to create a document like this are probably not the people who most need such a document written about them.

That is, in order to feel it necessary to write something like this, you must be a manager who prioritizes answering the question "what can I do to maximize the happiness and productivity of my direct reports," over "what can I do to ensure my own personal success, regardless of anyone else." Such a person is already going to do the right things, and is much less likely to be hard to work with.

The people who really need these kinds of documents written about them are the ones who are actually difficult to work with - but for many very good reasons, that won't happen.

I think the publication of these are offering others the opportunity to be introspective of their management styles. While the document I wrote isn't necessarily covering anything I don't already tell and re-affirm to my direct reports, it was a great exercise in thinking through my management style and what it means to me. I hope that the more popular these things become, further conversations can happen in the community to figure out how to help those managers that might need that help, and help organizations identify potential problem areas in their org structures.

A lot of these README’s seem a bit samey. Is this a trend that was stared somewhere? Was there some dude middle-managers all look up to who suggested an example README that was used to provide inspration?

It's less about writing the same README, I think, and more about there being an industry consensus on what a "good" manager says and does.

Is there any verification that these are the good managers? (genuine question)

Oh no, I didn't mean to suggest these folks are or are not actually "good" managers, just that what they've all got here is congruent with my current understanding of what the literature tells us a "good" manager says and does.

I'm not trying to say any of it is accurate either, just pointing out the consistency being likely due to a shared set of sources rather than copying one another outright.

How about an employee README?

> This is how I prefer to be managed...

Yeah, I think this would be pretty useful. I'll admit that I'm not very easy to manage, and with me, less is more. I notice that many managers, especially new managers, seem to think they need to be very visible in their reports' day-to-day in order to feel like they're doing something, but that doesn't work with everyone.

Being able to easily tell your manager up front what you think you need from them, and what you don't, could be pretty useful.

Then again, that's part of what 1:1s are for.


I don't need a manager. Just tell me what you want and I'll make it for you without anyone messing up with my productivity. Thank you!

If I tell you what I want you won't be engaged or excited. Also, I may not tell you the right thing -- it may not play to all your strengths or what you are interested in right now.

If I tell you what the company goals are and our teams goals, and then ask you how you can use your unique talents to help us achieve those goals, you'll be much more engaged in the work, and also have a greater understanding of how your work fits into the rest of what your team and your company is doing.

Context, not control.

I firmly believe cooperative talented people can self-manage and drive vision better than any top-down authority. I can understand it won't work with people that go to work just for money though.

My boss has told me more than once that his goal is to get the people under him to fill the role he's currently filling as our direct manager. This is, according to him, the only way he can move upward. He currently does a decently large amount of work for us as a team, but he's trying to shift that work onto us, because as you're pointing out here, cooperative and talented people can indeed self-manage.

The problem he encounters is when that doesn't work out because no group is perfect, and frankly we're probably not ready to manage ourselves quite yet.

But I think you're onto something here, and I also think every one of the managers who wrote READMEs in this submission would agree with you. From a logistical standpoint, someone has to attend all those meetings with other teams, with the leaders of the company to hear what they're thinking and translate it for the rest of the engineers, and make sure the boring stuff like vacation time, sick leave, etc. are being looked after.

It's not really about being in charge/calling shots, it's about taking a group of talented and smart people, and making sure they're getting the info they need to keep build cool stuff.

> It's not really about being in charge/calling shots

I believe, admittedly based only on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, that this attitude is shared by a vanishingly small minority of managers, at least in practice.

Even the manager you mentioned referenced "the only way he can move upward" which implies even he ultimately wants to be in charge or call the shots in some hierarchical system, or am I reading too much into it?

more like hackernews_user.md

This is phenomenal. Not only do I find some of the concepts mentioned in each README to be useful in my own work, but I also want to work for all of these managers!

All managers are people too. You just have to break through and you'll get to things like this.

I wish the author balanced his praise with some criticism.

Right now, this article is positively fawning.

My bad. These were just my notes... Feel free to respond on medium with yours

This is excellent and exactly the motivation I need to keep hustling to stay independent.

Reads like managers dictating how they are and how things are going to be.

Employee number whatever: Here are your new instructions, deal with it.

> Here are your new instructions, deal with it.

I wish this where modern workplace problems. Now when you deal with parasite managers you don't get any instructions, never. So you are stuck with getting bored to death or starting to do something by yourself. If you do the first at some point you start complaining so much about life that your group will exclude you. If you do the second your manager will keep watching and use every mistake, every mediocre decision, every conflict with a colleague against you. If you succeed he or one of his friends takes the credit. If you fail you are blamed 100% because you made all the decisions by yourself.

Getting shitty instructions sounds like paradise compared to that.

One of the READMEs specifically promised that the manager believes their paid job is to adapt to their reports' style, so, no.

And one spent a good third talking about how you should feel about termination, the risks thereof, and what you should do about it.

I reread them all but couldn't see it, sorry - which one was this?

(I mean, that sounds like a good thing. Firing people who aren't good for the team is an important responsibility of any manager who doesn't want the rest of their team to quit, so I would ideally want to know that my manager has at least thought about it a little.)

Welcome to Netflix and Me ( https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1TPSwdqDqVfWG9anfiOjG... ), including slides like "Are you afraid of being fired yet?"

Oh, that's the old version of http://bit.ly/roy-slack-readme , which no longer has it (and I skipped reading the old version because I read the new one, thanks!).

My understanding is that Netflix intends to have an unusually high-firing culture (cf. their culture deck, "The unusual part is that we give adequate performers a generous severance package"), so if I'm at Netflix I absolutely want my manager to be up-front about how they interpret that and what signs I have that I'm an adequate performer and not a top one. By signing onto Netflix I am afraid of being fired, but that reflects on the company and not on the manager. (And the answers this manager gave are good: statistics about firing and an explicit statement that it won't take you by surprise.) You'll note that the firing talk is gone from the current version, and the green/yellow/red performance stuff (which is generically useful) stays.

(Hi, I'm Roy Rapoport -- the author of both slide decks).

Referring to the Netflix version of the slide deck as "the old version" of the Slack version of the slide deck is inaccurate. I'm in a somewhat unusual position amongst the people whose READMEs were quoted, because I got to write one from both sides of the fence: As the established person welcoming a new member to the team (Netflix), and as someone joining a new organization (Slack). READMEs, for me, then end up looking very different.

It's also worth noting, as geofft notes, that Slack's culture and Netflix's culture are very very different, so the concerns of people within them would be different (and should be addressed differently). The concern that you might be fired was pervasive for new people at Netflix, and I sought to alleviate it; it's not a commonly-held concern at Slack.

That's a netflix-wide thing, not specific to that manager.

One out of 12?

If you were a manager, what would your README say?

This is a great idea. I’m going make one of my own for my employees. Lots of great ideas in these.

I wonder how many direct reports these managers have. Does anyone have insight? I believe 1on1 is good from my experience in companies where there is a lot of change and a lot going on the #1 feedback I get is people want more information, more 1on1, more team time. With roughly 40 direct reports 1on1 is nearly impossible with the other demands.

At one time I had multiple teams with 16 direct reports - at that point it was very hard to have a weekly cadence for 1:1's with everyone, as that would've been 8 hours a week. My solution to this was to start with bi-weekly 1:1's, having 8 people scheduled one week, the other 8 the following week. Then each week I had office hours scheduled - this was time dedicated to the team to be able to book my time and was not allowed to be booked for any other meetings - this way people who wanted to meet on an off week could. The second step was determine who could (and wanted) to step up in to management roles - ultimately, this lead to promoting two managers under me, and moving their direct reports to being a monthly skip level 1:1, reducing my overall bi-weekly 1:1's across my part of the org.

Honestly, I think 40 direct reports is borderline insane. You can't effectively support that many people (as you note yourself). Speaking as the author of two of these READMEs, at Netflix I had at peak around 12 direct reports (one was a manager with his own reports) and at Slack I have 3 (all of whom manage their own teams).

"It’s on github! Super cool."

They all look very similar to me. I would love to see a gist with points from all of them.

Pretending managerial shit is delicious won't make _corporate culture_ any more palatable.


If you don't like "managerial shit", then all the more reason you are dependent on having a very good manager for your own sanity.

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