Closing the Gap, Productivity Techniques, and Management Mistakes

Manager TLDR - Issue 37

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Hey fellow managers and leaders,

We have some exciting news to share this week…

As some of you might remember, we ran a survey at the beginning of 2021 (which 530+ of you completed).

Well… the results from that survey are going live this week!

So get on the waitlist now to get early access to The Future of Meetings Report and learn about the Clubhouse room we’ll host to celebrate the launch!

Now… back to the usual programming.

This week’s newsletter covers operating systems, productivity techniques, common management failures, and gender equity (in honour of Women’s History Month). 

Let’s get into it!


🤝 Closing the gap: A manager’s guide to advancing gender equity in the workplace? (10 min read) | Fellow Blog

TLDR: As bosses and managers inside organizations, no matter the industry, it is our collective responsibility to understand what is happening in the world and work avidly toward gender parity in our workplaces. Many of us want to do the work and make changes but we don’t know where to start. Here are 3 of the 5 suggestions offered in this article for what we as managers can do:

1. When hiring new people to your team, consider a blind hiring approach where applications mask the job seekers’ ethnicity, gender, and age in effort to help eliminate bias at the initial stages of the process.

2. During one-on-one meetings, carve out some specific time to talk about short- and long-term goals and professional development, and ask specifically about the barriers your direct report is facing in career advancement.

3. Understand that words and language matter. One simple change you can make is start your emails with “Hi Team” or “Hello Everyone” instead of “Hi Guys”.

“This particular March marks one year since hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, with women disproportionately affected by the crisis, stalling careers and rolling back progress possibly by decades. One in four women are now contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether. So, this month is indeed a time to talk about the hard-won gains, but it’s also a time to recognize just how many challenges women still face in the workplace and to acknowledge that due to the pandemic we have indeed slid backwards.” 


🚀 Focus on your first 10 systems, not your first 10 hires (27 min read) | First Round Interview

TLDR: Some of the most common management advice comes down to one element – hire the best people. However… while hiring the best people is crucial for companies to succeed, Kevin Fishner (Chief of Staff at HashiCorp) believes that most content doesn’t talk about the importance of building great systems. Here are 2 systems you can implement to follow up on goals and document decisions:

1. System #1 – Operating Cadence: The operating cadence is “the quiet drum beat” setting your team’s rhythm and direction. Fishner recommends scheduling three goal-focused rituals: an annual planning summit, a quarterly business review, and a weekly team meeting.

2. System #2 – Documentation: At HashiCorp, most large projects start with a PRD (Product Requirement Document) and are followed by an RFC (Request For Comment). The process of creating these documents forces people to clearly define the problems they’re trying to solve, while giving visibility into decisions.

“While early employees help set implicit norms, building systems early in a company’s lifecycle sets explicit norms. How do decisions get made? How are meetings structured? How are goals set? These systems are much easier to build when the company is small, and very challenging to put into place as the company grows.” 


✅ 8 productivity techniques to tackle your to-do list every day (9 min read) | Fellow Blog

TLDR: A productivity technique is a method or process you put in place to make sure that the items on your to-do list actually get crossed off. If your to-do list is slowly becoming out of hand, try out one of these 3 (out of 8) productivity techniques to get more accomplished and minimize distractions:

Pomodoro technique: Break a task up into 25-minute periods of time, called pomodoros. In between those periods, take a 5-minute break. Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, you can take a longer 15-30 minute break.

Task batching: This consists of grouping similar low-value tasks together and completing them all, back to back, in one sprint. 

The burner list: Your left column (front burner) will consist of your most important task. Your right column (back burner) is where your second to highest priority task goes. Your bottom-right column (kitchen sink) consists of the least important action items that are separate from your front and back burner projects. 

“No matter what’s on your list of things to do for the day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How you decide to cross off the items on your list is up to you, but it’s always a good idea to utilize a technique to ensure you don’t fall victim to distractions, procrastination, or just straight-up forgetting.”


⚠️Common management failures in developing individual contributors (6 min read) | LeadDev

TLDR: To be a great manager, you can’t afford to let the ICs on your team feel that they have no career path, so it’s up to you to manage this well. Here are 3 common pitfalls that you should work to avoid:

1. Doing all the project management yourself: Teaching someone how to run a project is painful. Yet, teaching your ICs these skills is one of the best things you can do for their future promotion prospects.

2. Hoarding information: When you don’t give your team the context for the work and just pass on tasks and work items to them, you make it clear that they are simply ‘doers’ and your job is the job of the ‘decider’. Make sure you’re sharing important information with the team.

3. Focusing too much on your personal output: As a manager, your output is not measured by your individual work. Rather, your output is measured by the work of your team and the people that you influence. 

“Remember that your job is now about generating leverage by developing your team, which means delegating the technical work to them while helping them identify other skills they will need to successfully grow. If you can do this, you’ll have a bright career in management, and a loyal group of amazing senior individual contributors to work with in the future.”


🎙New on the Supermanagers podcast

We interview leaders from all walks of life to tease out the habits, thought patterns, and experiences that help them be extraordinary at the fine craft of management.

Episode 42: Darren Murph, Head of Remote at Gitlab, talks about the concepts of asynchronous meetings, hiring to fill your weak spots, and encouraging a culture of “short toes”.

Episode 43: Alice Ko, Director of Marketing Communications at Procurify, walks us through creating psychologically safe teams and shares tips on how you can individualize your approach to management.


🗒Meeting Template of the Week

Level 10 meeting agenda

A level 10 meeting is a 90-minute weekly check-in with your team focused primarily on issue management. The agenda for level 10 meetings is specifically structured with 7 talking points to identify and solve issues and develop a strategy for accountability. 

Level 10 Meetings

… and that’s a wrap!  We hope that the content we curated inspires you to continue growing as a leader!  🌱

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Thanks for being part of our community,

Manuela & the Fellow.app team

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