Wave’s guide to empowered management will help you gain a better understanding of the tactics and approaches top management use in the context of their role, while providing concrete and actionable frameworks to help you along your way.Wave’s guide to empowered management will help you gain a better understanding of the tactics and approaches top management use in the context of their role, while providing concrete and actionable frameworks to help you along your way.
This guide is divided in 2 different posts:
- Part I: Adopting the appropriate posture
- Part II: Providing clarity through processes ← This post
Part II: Providing clarity through processes
In Part I of this guide, you learned about what an appropriate management posture entails and how to adopt it.
In this second segment, you’ll gain clarity on how you can provide your team with an understandable and coherent structure and maintain it over time. After all, a posture without process simply isn’t as effective.
When building your processes, it is important to keep in mind that you’re creating a setup in which:
- individuals are able to thrive
- collective team spirit can develop
- you can continue to develop and nurture your personal coaching posture
Building this frame starts early, and can be broken down into two distinct timelines:
- Before a new joiner begins
- After they have integrated the team
- Defining specific moments for interactions
- 1:1 meetings with each direct report to address specific questions
- Team rituals, which are important to create a routine and a dynamic
1) Before - Recruiting & Onboarding
Everything begins with recruiting the right people and making sure everyone is aligned on what they are supposed to do. This is critical for both the team members and the manager. A clear job description that describes the expectations and responsibilities of a role is essential in ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Often, managers’ expectations lack clarity, and they expect their reports to fulfill a need, requirement or task that has been formally expressed. In order to avoid frustration and dissatisfaction on both ends, and promote a healthy working relationship based on mutual understanding from the get-go, job descriptions should be sure to include:
- Clear responsibilities
- You will be responsible for dealing level 1, 2 and 3 PII breaches within our code
- Expectations in terms of interfaces/relationships with other team members or teams
- “Will be working in a fully remote setting, with regular communication via online chat and video platforms. This requires extra attention to detail and nuance and communication savvy to keep healthy, caring and empowering working relationships.”
- Expected behaviors in terms of required skills but also and equally important, values. These values should match those of the team overall but should be declined individually based on the person's scope
- “Accountability, strives for excellence, always mindset, takes initiative”
- A draft of projects they will be involved in during the first 3 months to provide a concrete understanding of the scope of the role
Each of these elements will not only help the recruitment process itself, but provide a clear trusting context over the duration of the recruitment stage and pave the way to a well-aligned onboarding process.
When a new hire begins, it is important to keep in mind that they have very limited knowledge and understanding of your company, your ways of working, and your team dynamics. If you ask the new hire to start the position on Day 1 without context, there is a high probability that they will miss the mark, and in doing so, you may be setting them up to fail.
Onboarding is a crucial period to get a person up to speed, both on the role itself, but also on how you and the team work, together and apart. The employee should be able to use this period to gain clarity on what is required in their role, and what is the expected behavior in your team.
Being explicit about your ways of working and your expectations for their role is key, and will allow the new recruit to become functional and proficient in each than simply assuming they will pick things up, or learn through observation.
This period can also be used to investigate your new hire’s style and identify their zones of comfort/discomfort. This can be done through observation, but also by asking powerful questions like:
- "What does it look like when you get triggered?”
- “What can I do in these situations?".
You can also answer the questions yourself and make notes.
Onboarding your new hire can be compared to teaching a child to swim: first, you hold them, then you let them try things, and only afterward do you leave them alone while you remain nearby.
The onboarding plan should be organized over a 2-month period, with a progressive understanding of what the role entails, and with regular checkpoints with you (daily first, then weekly). A first step can involve asking your managee to shadow you or someone else on the team. However, the plan should always include a balance of first-hand action and prepared written documentation, allowing them to learn at different levels and serve as a base for them to refer back to at a later date.
New hire and manager’s 30-60-90
A 30-60-90 is a desired outcomes plan written in SMART format when a new hire hits the 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day mark.
You can build the 30-60-90 for the new role before the recruiting process starts. This will help you envision success for the role, making it easier to communicate with an applicant. A CEO can also come up with their own 30-60-90 to think about how they can best ramp up for this role.
- If you’re hiring a CTO, and you would like them to revamp the hiring process for engineers by day 60, then you can ask yourself:
- What are the things that I can control from day 0 to 60 to set them up for success? The answer may be to identify key success criteria and get historic engineering close rate from HR by day 30.
- If you’re hiring executives, you may provide a rough draft of the new hire’s 30-60-90 during the hiring process and have a working session with late-stage candidates to finalize the plan. This is a great opportunity for you and the applicant to get a sense of each other’s working style and see if you’re a good fit.
Although the process as a whole may require a substantial investment of your time, it’s important to be available for your report in the onboarding stage in order to create a base of trust. They need to feel they can ask you anything, though it is important to remain vigilant that you’re creating the root for accountability and not dependence.
2) After - Organizing your rituals
Individual and collective rituals are essential to defining the right frame to work with your team. They’re also fundamental to organizing your time efficiently and avoiding ongoing queries and requests from your subordinates.
Two main rituals are essential to a structured and coherent team process, and can vary in length and frequency:
- 1:1 meetings
- Team meetings and rituals
These meetings are essential to remaining up-to-date on your reports’ ongoing projects, reminding them of their priorities, providing expertise to help them unlock complex situations, and sharing your feedback.
These interactions can be weekly or bi-weekly and should range from 30 minutes to 1 hour in length. Be mindful not to cancel these important meetings. If you can’t run it - reschedule it for later that week.
These meetings provide the opportunity to better channel your interactions with your direct reports and avoid constant soliciting on their behalf. They are meant to allow both of you to step back and should be structured in the right way, ideally prepared in writing by both parties.
This is the chance for you to check in on your employees and see how they’re feeling—both in and out of work. Dedicating at least a few minutes to ask your employee the following questions can be an opportunity to show you care and that you can listen:
- “How has your week been so far?”
- “What are your plans for the coming weekend?”
- “Is there anything at work or outside of work that’s causing you stress?”
- “Do you have anything on your mind that you’d like to discuss?”
- “What’s your biggest challenge this week?”
- “What are you most looking forward to?”
- “How are you feeling about your current work-life balance?”
- “Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you were struggling with X. How is that going this week?”
This stage promotes reflection on your last meeting's action items to see what has evolved and what has stayed the same. It’s important to maintain a common thread to promote accountability.
- “Last time we discussed goal X, how is that going for you today?“
3. Overview of ongoing projects/topics
The goal here is to support your team member and enable any deadlock to be broken if needed. It’s not about taking the problem on your shoulders, but simply working towards resolving it together.
- “How are you and the team progressing on the project?”
- “Of all your projects, which one are you struggling with most?”
- “Are you facing any issues or obstacles that I can help unblock?”
- “How can I best support you on this project?”
- “What part of this project is challenging you or not going as well as expected?”
- “How do you feel about the direction of this project?”
4. Specific items to discuss
Both parties can add items to the agenda, though the majority are preferably added by the team member.
It is important to open a space for both parties to express themselves by giving and receiving feedback.
- “I’m happy to see you were able to realign with X on the project, and I’d like you to continue liaising with them in the future.”
- “I’m happy to see you were able to realign with X on the project, and I’d like you to continue liaising with them in the future.”
- Requesting feedback
- “Is there something I can do to support you here?“
- “How do you think we could improve our collaboration?”
- “What do you think we should have done differently on this project?“
- “How can I make your life better?”
- “How can I improve as a manager?”
Be clear on expectations you set for the time until your next meeting, focusing on things like priority level, deadlines, and how will successes be measured.
- “With the upcoming X, I’d like you to be sure to put a special focus on Y this week.”
- “I’ll expect to get more on this by Wednesday, how does that work for you?”
During these meetings, it’s important to take notes in a shared document on which you can identify action items and next steps at the end of the meeting with an owner for each. This creates clear takeaways for both parties and reminds you exactly what you need to do before the next meeting.
Group gatherings are paramount to providing a shared vision and understanding of the team’s goals, objectives and responsibilities, and are equally essential to creating a pleasant and respectful working environment where trust is forged between team members.
Team routines can be structured around:
- General meetings to share information
- Resolution meetings and/or team working slots to deep dive into specific topics collaboratively
- Social events to create bonds
Each meeting should have a defined leader (person preparing and leading the event) and note taker.
Allow the team to spend time together and are important for sharing information and identifying group blockers. They are typically held at the beginning of a cycle (week, project, etc.) and should always follow a pre-defined agenda and unchanging structure:
- What’s new in the team and company: a good opportunity to create bonds between colleagues. It can include more or less formal moments. One example of ice breaker:
- “Meme Monday.”: Ask everyone on your team to share a quick (and appropriate) image or gif that captures how their weekend went.
- Updates: about the company, new team members, changes in the organization or processes. The structure can vary depending on your team's organization or structure.
- Review: of numbers or ongoing projects.
- Next steps: a list of clear action points to be achieved before the next meeting, with a designed responsible.
These meetings can be:
- Stand-up format: where everyone shares updates about where they are and where they intend to do
- Async: in written format and focus only on what requires discussion
Resolution Meetings & Team Working Slots
These meetings are sporadical and are planned when there is a need to make a collective decision or work together on a specific subject. They require preparation in advance in order to define key questions and an efficient structure. Assigning a note-taker is primordial to keep records of key decisions and ideas, and can be closed with a final 5 minutes focused on defining clear next steps.
These events are, of course, optional, however, they contribute greatly to building and cementing your team’ spirit and can be organized by different team members. They are even more important in remote settings. For example at Wave, we organize online game sessions with the team.
As a manager, fine-tuning both your posture and process is integral in building and maintaining a trusting relationship with your direct reports. It’s what will allow you to push your team to meet your success metrics, and even surpass them, without losing top talent in the process.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is a learning process. You’re probably going to make mistakes as a manager. But when you do, it’s important not to feel discouraged. Learning is a process, as much for someone in a leadership position as in any other role.
A few key things to remember as you move forward as an empowered manager:
- Your frame has to be reviewed regularly → observe what’s working or not with your team and make the necessary adjustments
- Ask and learn from the feedback you receive → give yourself time to let the feedback sit, then ask yourself if you agree or disagree, and based on that, take action and make the necessary changes
- Adopt a growth mindset around your practice → preserve time for self-reflection and continuous improvement to work on your posture through coaching.
That’s how Wave supports our clients: by providing them with simple and actionable frameworks like the ones you’ve seen in this document and by helping them reflect on their daily practice of management, and adjust their process and posture along the way. Very often, after covering the basics, we reach more complex issues, such as:
“I’m feeling uncomfortable about talking about X with my report” (handle conflictual situations)
“I’m struggling to delegate X tasks” (delegation)
“I don’t like to be “the boss” of my former colleagues” (legitimacy)
These issues go beyond the scope of frameworks, and take us to a place where coaching can have a more powerful impact.
“To sum it up, this week off has allowed me to realize […] that our work together has become essential for me because it contributes to my balance and how I’m able to challenge myself in order to grow… ” - alias Cocoa Leopard, CEO
We at Wave invite you to experiment with these techniques and frameworks over the coming weeks, introducing them into your role and workplace progressively. After doing so, we invite you to please share your feedback on what has worked and what has been more challenging.
Interested in starting working on your goals? Book your first session now.
Guide to Empowered Management I: Adopting the appropriate posture
In most companies, the natural progression for a career track is to become a manager, yet an average of 1 in 4 managers report having received no formal management training. This guide will help you gain a better understanding of the tactics and approaches top management use in the context of their role, while providing concrete and actionable frameworks to help you grow into the manager you’d like to become