Lots of missing weeks, blame holidays, illness and me getting pissed off
Started the week in Porto, then over to Lisbon and finally back to London.
The plan was to run end of year reviews with some of my design leaders. I’m moving their reporting lines to mine: partly to ensure their current manager has clear focus as he starts to establish Farfetch’s design practice team, but mostly because I want to ensure we’re giving these particular folks room to grow and develop in their own right.
I’m a little worried as the previous manager is phenomenally good and has a very different approach, so one of the things I wanted to do was to start things off with a very open ended, exploratory conversation to help me understand them, and to give them a chance to help understand where I’m coming from. It turned out that the previous manager couldn’t make it, so I decided to leave the retrospective with him (I’ll participate) and use the time to have a more forward-thinking discussion.
What we did.
Open ended discussion focussing on what might we want to amplify or make stronger within their current practice, with me taking notes (allowing them to think more freely and me to capture thoughts).
My notes included:
- topics and themes which came up
- comments that I found interesting and wanted to explore more but didn’t want to disrupt flow
- opportunities I saw for actions and development
I committed to writing up my understanding of the discussion, and asked them to reflect on the discussion afterwards and write down their thoughts.
At this stage, the outcome we’re looking for is a clear understanding of what their ambitions are for their professional growth, this means thinking years ahead and thinking beyond the existing business organisation and structures. I want to make sure people are thinking about their working life, and not just their working life at Farfetch. In later discussion we’ll pull this timeline back a little and start thinking about the next year or so and what actions we can take to move towards their ambitions. To that end, I’ve asked them to do a little homework…
Homework 1: write your end of year review for the year 2021
- What were your proudest achievements?
- What did you do that pushed you outside your comfort zone?
- What would you like to do in the year ahead?
This seeks to take a standard bit of organisational furniture and to refigure it to provoke some thoughts about the sort of work and practices that someone could be doing in their future. The intent is to uncover some hints of the sorts of things that will make people proud, where they see some stubborn/longstanding obstacles to their growth and also gives them space to distance themselves from the work they’re doing today and talk freely. I’ve often found that people tend to extrapolate out from their current role, so asking people to go a few years ahead means that becomes less likely.
Homework 2: write your leaving card for 2021
- What did the people around you say to you when you left?
- How did you make people feel?
My friend Ken Yau gave me a quote that I come back to often:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou
I like this because it reminds me about the very human side of leadership and that feelings and emotions are a very important part of our professional lives. This second piece of homework is set up to help people think about their work in these terms. The intent in this homework is to ensure that we’re thinking about growth in terms of all the skills we need - not just the more obvious ‘technical’ ones.