My Manager Toolkit

John Cline
Feb 25, 2018 · 4 min read
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I thought it’d be useful to share out some of the tools and resources that I use as part of my workflow as a manager. Below is a link to a number of Google docs, which if it sounds interesting to you I encourage you to copy for your own purposes. I’d also love to hear what tools you use in the responses!

Tracking Work

Last year I ended up building out a spreadsheet to help schedule various projects for my team, and it ended up also being super useful to track work throughout the year. It focuses on the week level, which is high-level enough that it’s more useful than looking at work tickets in JIRA and comes in handy for review time to look back on what folks actually did.

This has evolved a bit from it’s initial inception and most recently we’ve copied the schedule at the beginning of the quarter as fixed and then kept a separate running schedule of plan, so we can review at the end of the quarter to see how things panned out. You could also get more creative with the color coding, or add notes, or whatever the case may be, but this is a simple tool to start.

Engagement Surveys

I’ve been doing a bi-monthly employee engagement survey since last fall, and it’s become a great way to get feedback on how the team at large is feeling with pretty low effort from them. I’ll send out the survey, which takes about 2 minutes to complete, and then we’ll have a team meeting to talk about the results. See below for the spreadsheet (where you can view a copy of the form).

The questions on the survey are the same as what Gallup does in their tool, which I got from this blog post. The spreadsheet is setup to automatically collate results into the pivot table, which you can then update the graphs to read from. Sending out a new survey just requires adding a new month to the Values sheet, and then updating the graphs to use the new data.

This is immensely helpful to identify areas with the team that aren’t working as well, and the bimonthly cadence is a good length of time for any action plans you take to start having some effect.

1:1s

There’s a few things specific to 1:1s that keep these running smooth and make sure that it’s time well spent.

  • Shared Google Doc, with bolded dates that cover any big topics if mentioned (example below). I’m a big user of the Outline view in Google docs, so having big conversation topics (eg goals/performance reviews) lets me do a quick scan and see if it’s time to talk about those again. Adding a “next time” allows me or my teammate to put in the notes for our next topic as they come up
  • 101 Questions: a single serving site that shows three random 1:1 questions on every page load. Great to shake things up a bit
  • Plucky 1:1 Starter Pack: these just came out, but in a similar vein as 101 questions it’s a great way to add some variety and get out of your usual 1:1 rut. I haven’t tried these yet but I’m super excited to start working them in.

Vacation Tracker

We have an unlimited vacation policy at Blue Apron, which means that in theory you can take how ever much vacation you can get approved by your manager but in practice means most people don’t end up taking vacation. To help incentive this a bit, I’ve setup a spreadsheet with a leaderboard to flag people that don’t take enough vacation (in the example below it’s set for anything less than 5 days in the quarter).

Team members update the current with anything currently in progress or future looking, then when it’s complete you can move it to the archive tab and drag complete columns F/G/H to fill in the vacation info that the leaderboard looks at.

Onboarding

We’ve been using Donut.ai’s onboarding product, which allows you to create custom onboarding or recurring flows (which is just a series of Slack messages/quizzes/introductions). This is a great way to ensure anyone new on the team gets all the information they need when you want them to get it. You can slow drip information, setup introductions with people, and check in with some quizzes.

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