Shane is me

On Repetition

February 17, 2022

I repeat things a lot as a manager, and it’s not something I realized before I jumped in a little over six months ago.

There’s news to proliferate, and especially when it’s something sensitive (eg. something about a new career ladder and new bonus structure getting rolled out at the same time), that’s telling the same story over and over again. It’s saying the same story so many times, you’re sure every human you know has heard it. Only to find out there’s still confusion.

There’s change management to handle. During a re-org you can tell your direct reports until you’re blue in the face about all the things that are happening behind the scenes, it’s not final, but you’re just giving a heads up. This is important for people that are changing teams or managers, they need time to grieve and process. In the weeks leading up to the change you’ve told the story over and over, you’re sure every human you know has heard it. Only to find out there’s still confusion.

This can be exhausting, especially if it’s all happening at the same time - ask me how I know. On the other side of the desk, I never really thought about this at all. My manager just gave me some tidbit of useful information and on I went.

Something I’ve noticed in all this, when I start to tell the first people about these things it’s like the first dress rehearsal of a high school play. By the last person my message is so polished that it might as well be a feature film at the hands of Oscar-winning editors. I’m sure this inconsistency doesn’t help, but it didn’t seem to matter where they were in the order of people I told this information.

After asking around, I got a great tip: set up a private channel with just your reports for information sharing when it’s appropriate for the whole group to talk together. You can do this for more than career ladders and change management. They can be transparency snippets from anywhere. If you see something coming that will help your team, start a new discussion in your channel. The more you share, the more it will get used. I actually found that I would put a quick snippet or link to a slide deck, whatever it is, much more often into the private channel than I would remember to bring those little details into a 1:1 meeting.

Pretty soon you’ll find some questions about things going on around the company coming to the channel instead of DMs, that’s when you know you’ve won.

Something also happened after I set the channel up - I transferred a few direct reports to other managers after a re-org. I went back to the person that recommended I set up a private channel to begin with. Do I keep everyone in there? What harm could it cause? They replied back that they absolutely only keep their direct reports in the channel. Primarily, they said, because if they don't have absolute ownership of a message, it's not fair to the other leader. So after a quick private chat with each person that was being removed, I adjusted the channel and forward we go.


Edits:

2022/03/10 - Added information on what to do when a direct report moves to another manager; tip about sharing things quickly vs. forgetting

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