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How Memo Bank practices management

03 April 2019

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10 minutes

Management is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Why Management is important

We are building for the long term; therefore, we see people management as our most important mission. We know that some people have a negative image of management and see it as a counter-productive, useless job. If you think that, there is a good chance that you have never experienced having a great manager.

We believe that a great manager is invaluable for everyone’s career and personal development. However, for it to work well, we need to define exactly what we think management is and create a compatible structure.

Management Principles

Here are some principles we have regarding managers:

  • Managers are neither parents nor teachers. They are mentors.
  • Team members are neither children nor students. They are adults and professionals.
  • Managers are the go-to for technical problems, but another team member can be approached, too.
  • Managers are the go-to for personal conflict resolution, but another team member can be approached, too.
  • Managers have no privileges over individual contributors (travel policy, bigger offices, etc.).
  • Managers are responsible for hiring, promoting and dismissing team members based on 360-feedback. On these three points, they listen to their team but make decisions alone.
  • The opinions of team members are taken into consideration when it comes time to hire a manager for the said team. But the decision is ultimately made by the supervisor who will oversee the manager in question.
  • Managers are responsible for empowering, motivating, and developing their team members (thanks to 1:1s and Progress Reviews).
  • Managers are the spokespersons for their team, but other employees can replace them in this role.
  • Managersare not necessarily the most senior or skilled person in the team. They are the best person to perform the functions mentioned above.

The manager's appointments

1:1s (Pronounced “1-to-1” or “1-on-1”)

In our view, the best form of management is not the absence of management, but a diffuse and continuous form of management: neither absent nor overwhelming We talk about ‘continuous management’, as one might speak of continuous integration, to describe a style of management characterized by regular interventions on small matters as they arise.

We believe in continuous management; you should not wait to talk to your manager about any work problems. You’ll have a 1:1 every week to discuss anything that might be blocking your work, any problem you have, or even any non-problem you have.

Progress Reviews

The majority of companies have nothing other than a mandatory “Annual Review.” We have been through it and do not retain an unforgettable memory of it. Most of us can remember this awkward moment of trying to painstakingly fill out a standard form once a year with no real help from the manager.

To make the process easier:

  • we make it twice a year so that you don’t have a full year to review (more frequently would be too much though).
  • we try not to address all topics; we focus on what matters. Since everybody has 1:1s, day-to-day topics should have already been dealt with on a weekly basis.
  • We guide the Review because we know that it is not always an easy exercise.

What are Progress Reviews about?

Progress Reviews are about:

  • Recognition. — Taking a moment to look back at the path we have covered for the past six months. It is the moment to take stock of individual contributions to the team, to the projects and to the vision.
  • Expectations. — After discussing the past six months, we talk about the next six months. Setting personal goals and following up on them in the long term.
  • Feedback. – The manager and the employee evaluate the past 6 months, discussing what has worked well and what could be improved.
  • Conversations. — The meeting ends with a conversation between the manager and the employee about the next 6 months.

What is the process?

Preparing the Progress Review (2 weeks ahead)
  • The employee create a Google Document using the Progress Review template.
  • The employee completes the document following the instructions contained in the template.
  • The employee forwards the document to their manager, making sure to give them enough time to read it.
Peer Review (2 weeks ahead)

We think it is relevant to have feedback from people you work with, not only from your manager. A peer review is a feedback provided by your peers. They recognize your work and your improvement, and they can also give points for improvement.

Two weeks before your progress review meeting, the peer review will automatically be sent to five peers you worked with. The peer review feedback will be aggregated and anonymized before being shared.

What happens after the quarterly assessment

Once the evaluation is complete, meaning after the meeting with the manager is over, the latter fills out a document summarizing the exchange. Once the employee and their manager agree on the content of the document, they sign it and each keep a copy.

Who manages the managers and the founders

Managers Review

Just as all individual contributors, managers also have a peer review system. Two weeks ahead of the manager’s progress review, the human resources team will send a manager review to their reports. Meanwhile, the manager also evaluates themselves

If more context is needed, the manager’s supervisor can request the opinions of others. In this case, feedback is collected by the person in charge of human resources and then passed on to the supervisor in an anonymized manner. Once the manager‘s evaluation is completed, they communicate the main results to their team, either in writing or verbally.

Founders Review

As founders are also managers, they also have a manager review. As they do not work under the responsibility of a manager, the evaluation of founders differs from that of employees or other managers.

Here’s how the founder review works:

  • Every six months, founders’ reports will receive a manager review.
  • For each founder, another founder (named the second founder) will play the manager’s manager role, but in the following way.
  • If the evaluated founder does not recognize themselves in the feedback given to them, they can discuss it with the people under their responsibility.

For the system to work, to endure, the anonymity of the evaluators is maintained. Individual contributors may also choose not to participate in the evaluation of the founder who also serves as their manager.

Recommended readings

If you are interested in the topic, we recommend:

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