Introducing GoodTalk (by SoapBox)
The story of how we bottled up some of our culture.
I’m a first time founder. Actually, at SoapBox, we’re all first time founders.
For the 6 years we’ve been together, we’ve been doing 1 on 1s for 5 of those years. Nobody taught us how to do them. We just learned from reading, experimenting, and by keeping the best parts. Over the years, we’ve come to have a point of view on what 1 on 1s should look like:
- The agenda belongs (primarily) to the employee
- Focus on the person first, and the work second.
- The best conversations mix structured and unstructured time.
- Everyone leaves the meeting with “more wind in their sails”
We played with several ways to facilitate the meetings — email templates, google forms, and of course, even pen and paper. When talking to fellow friends and founders, this seems to be the norm: no consistent way of documenting or managing 1 on 1s.
So we built a little something internally.
Recently, a few things came together for us that prompted us to finish up our little internal tool for 1 on 1s (which we’ve been using for the last year).
- Promotions led to an increase in managers at our company.
- Our continued (heavy) use of Slack.
- A more well defined point of view on what motivates people at work.
- Insights from our product, SoapBox, related to team collaboration.
But, we also wanted to look outside our four walls to understand best practices. So we also interviewed managers and employees about when, where, why, and for how long they do 1 on 1s. We asked them about what made for bad and good 1 on 1s. We compiled lists of questions and best practices that managers used.
Which made us more curious about other organizations that were in the same boat. So we sent out a survey to over 1000 managers and employees. Here’s a snippet of some of our learnings (more soon):
- > 72% of managers said 1 on 1s are the most important or one of the most important thing they do to motivate employees.
- Managers see 1:1s as being primarily for providing coaching and career development (29%) and for building trust and improving the relationship (24%)
- Employees primarily see 1:1s as a check-in on performance against objectives (40% of respondents said this was the primary reason for a 1:1).
- The majority of 1:1s have no agenda that’s shared prior to the meeting. This lead to a common complaint on what makes a bad 1 on 1: the discussion wasn’t productive.
- > 75% of managers report receiving no training on how to conduct a 1 on 1 meeting
The situation is far from ideal but the solution seems fairly straight forward. We just needed to help managers build the right habits.
GoodTalk is a a slack bot that helps make your 1 on 1s more productive, fun, and engaging.🎉
We have good understanding of the problem and we look forward to hearing your feedback.
Add a response on Medium with your journey. I’d love to hear what works for you!
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