🤩 Learn how to run great 1:1 meetings from expert Engineering Leaders (Oct 6th) 🚀

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How Fellow helped this new Engineering Manager better support his team

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The Customer

Meet Etienne Talbot

Engineering Manager at Poka

Industry

Performance
support software

Location

Quebec,
Canada

Use Case

Create more
participation, accountability, and organization

After using Fellow for a couple of weeks, I noticed that I will always have this app open. I’ll use it to never forget anything that I need to do, and I’ll feed it with my own reminders. I realized I need to use this every day, every week.”

-Etienne Talbot
Engineering Manager at Poka

Poka is a performance support software company built for manufacturers to help reduce training costs and improve overall equipment efficiency. With Poka’s mission to enhance manufacturers’ performance, it is no surprise that the organization began looking for its own way to improve internal efficiency!

Etienne Talbot is the Engineering Manager at Poka, responsible for front-end development. Etienne’s role is communicating with other managers, ensuring the engineering department runs smoothly, and supporting his team to work efficiently.

Overall, Etienne manages a team of 12 engineers and has close contact with those parallel to him.

It’s safe to say that collaboration and communication are a big part of the job. Etienne needed a tool that would help keep track of the many conversations he had with his team and others at the company daily. 

challenge

Etienne’s challenge: Organization as a new manager

Like many new managers, Etienne found it challenging to organize all this new information about his team and direct reports. It can be impossible to know where to start when managing an entire team of people. 

At first, Etienne relied on the old-fashioned pen-and-paper method to jot down talking points for upcoming one-on-ones and team meetings. 

Post-it notes, paper, and the notes app were mainly all I would write notes on. And when we had weekly engineering meetings, and I had to bring up some points, I was always last minute with post-its and writing things on my hand.” 

When one of his direct reports noticed him writing on his hand, he realized that something needed to be done…

They would see me with my paper notes and stickies, and I remember one of my direct reports said, ‘Yeah… you can be more organized than that.’ You know, I’m his manager, and he wanted us both to work more efficiently!”

With this form of organization as a new manager, Etienne also found it difficult to be thoughtful about meetings with his direct reports and team. Since there was nowhere to store notes, feedback, progress or takeaways, meeting preparation was always improvised. 

I don’t want to improvise. You know, it’s better if people know that you are prepared. You feel more like you are part of the meeting rather than somebody organizes a meeting… and you don’t know what it’s about, and then you get the surprise.”

As the meetings and follow-ups piled up, Etienne needed a better solution to keep both his team and himself accountable.

SOLution

Etienne’s solution: A one-stop-shop for meeting and management productivity

When Etienne first started using Fellow, it only took a few days to get used to it…

After using Fellow for a couple of weeks, I noticed that I will always have this app open. I’ll use it to never forget anything that I need to do, and I’ll feed it with my own reminders. Yeah, I realized I need to use this every day, every week.”

According to Etienne, it also helps when your teammates are on board to use Fellow for meetings. When other people use Fellow for every meeting, you don’t want to feel left out.

It’s a behaviour change at first. It’s great when other people around you start using it, and then it makes you use it because other people are doing it.”

When we asked Etienne, “What are you able to do now that you were not able to do before Fellow?” his response was:

Never forget something I need to do. Which I would forget a lot. Or just lose my notes. So Fellow helps me remember what I need to do and when I need to do it. I never have to wonder what was decided in past meetings, and it helps me offer great support to my direct reports.”

As Etienne became more familiar with Fellow, his favourite feature quickly became action items. In fact, when this interview was conducted, Etienne had just completed an action item from six months ago because it was stored and visible in Fellow!

I was talking to someone and said, ‘You know that thing you told me to do six months ago? Well, I just now made the time and got it done’ I would have completely forgotten, and it would have been like 35 pages deep in my notebook if I wasn’t using Fellow”.

As a manager of a team of 12, having a tool to keep track of absolutely everything helps Etienne stay more organized, allowing him to be a better leader. 

Another feature that has helped Etienne and his team stay on track and organized is templates. 

Fellow enables users to create meeting templates and apply them to specific meetings. Etienne has created one-on-one templates in Fellow for each of his direct reports specific to their role on the team.

I set up a template for one-on-ones, and my teammates have to fill in the blanks in the template. And then we get to talk. So it organizes the way we talk by what will be important or not. And it forces everyone, them and me, to take time and think about what we should discuss.”

Etienne mentioned that using Fellow is a behavioural change at first because it trains your brain to think about meetings differently. Once you and your team start using it together, you will never join another meeting without an agenda. No Agenda, No Attenda! 💪

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results

The results: Team participation, accountability and organization

Etienne reflects on his journey as a manager at Poka by explaining that:


As I climbed the steps of management over time, I don’t organize the team the same way I used to when we were a team of three when we first started using Fellow. Now with my team of 12 or so, it’s not the same dynamic, it is very different, and I don’t think I could have succeeded as much without Fellow.”

Fellow made it easy for Etienne to be a great manager. By using a meeting management tool like Fellow, meetings became more productive and delightful for everyone, changing the landscape of how Etienne and his team work together moving forward.

As an engineering manager, Fellow really fits my needs and could help other engineering managers be more organized and have developers or direct reports participate more and share more with them.”

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