1-on-1s

2 min read

Purpose

We use 1-on-1s as our way of checking in to see how well we’re working together.  It is constructed as a regular way for passing feedback both ways between any two Xenders. We have found that a lot of our very best ideas are the result of 1-on-1s.  Our team meetings, parties, town halls, and team structure is all the result of feedback provided in 1-on-1s.

You should feel empowered to be direct and honest in your 1-on-1s.  It is the right place to be sharing honest information to someone your working with on what is going well and what you want to see more of.  If you follow the golden rule, we find these sessions extremely productive.

Frequency

At minimum, you should be having 1-on-1s with your immediate manager about once every 2-4 weeks.  This is your responsibility to make sure it happens. Book the time in your manager’s calendar and chase them if they’re not there on time.  You’ll notice we dedicate Friday’s to internal team meetings so it’s wise if you set up your 1-on-1s on a Friday.

Beyond that, you can also arrange 1-on-1s with anyone in the organisation.  Typically,

  • with founders depending on who you ultimately report to.  This is happening about once a month now but as we grow bigger it will slowly decrease.  At any time, you can always choose to request a 1-on-1 and we will find time in our diaries
  • with Viki.  She is in charge of our humans as an alternative outlet for understanding your situation and how to improve it.  For example, if you’re not getting through to your manager, Moses and Bo are not listening and you want someone who can punch us in the face, Viki is your best bet.  
  • with another Xender.  Whenever I hear a complaint, I will ask the involved parties to have a direct conversation.  We think things are resolved best when the two parties can have a direct conversation. This avoids miscommunication and the politics associated with adding external parties

Format

Our 1-on-1s are 30 min long and start with you giving upwards feedback.  We want to make sure we unpack that material and then we’ll dive into feedback the other way.  

The exception to this format is probation assessments and our 360 reviews, where the managers will take most of the time to describe your feedback.  Make sure you understand the feedback and what you can be doing differently going forward.

What I expect

  • You come with one thing that is going well.  For example, this can be about things you’re directly involved in or impacted by.
  • You have an idea for one thing that we can improve, with specific examples

What you should expect from the other person

  • Actively listen to understand the root causes of any issues
  • Provide you feedback in the format: overall concept, specific example with what you did, how that made them feel, what can be done better next time

A special confidentiality note for 1-on-1s with founders

The three of us tend to do 1-on-1s across the board with all layers of the organisation and we will want to talk with you on a regular basis.  We also want you to be very honest and direct with us. We will also be that way with you. This means we tend to hear a lot of feedback about other Xenders.  

By default, we keep the feedback you give us in 1-on-1s confidential.  Where we spot a pattern, we will take that feedback to someone and say we’ve seen a pattern, e.g. that you’re an overwhelming personality which has risks if you don’t temper your voice.  There are caveats to this; given we’re a small organisation it’s often not difficult to deduce who said what, which is not necessarily a bad thing and hopefully encourages direct conversation.

If you give us feedback about someone else, we will ask if you are willing to speak to that person directly as we think they will appreciate the feedback and you can provide the best context for why the feedback exists.   With both sides having the right attitude, we’ve noticed that this brings about the most effective changes and provides greatest clarity.

If this doesn’t work and if the issue is important enough, we may take escalated steps to push the involved parties to listen to feedback.  In this situation, we may facilitate a discussion between the involved parties.

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