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.
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.
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.
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'm with the OP that 1:1 every 2 weeks is better.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think that depends on how happy you are where you work. Some people might have thoughts about that every hour or so.
This is from the "Expectations" section of one of the linked "READMEs" (Forter's). Does anyone else this is a very aggressive expectation?
What I'm saying is, maybe they could use some managers?
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.
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?
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'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.
> This is how I prefer to be managed...
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 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.
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.
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?
Right now, this article is positively fawning.
Employee number whatever: 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.
(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.)
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.
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.