Invest in feedback and performance reviews: Lopp recalled a time early in his management career when by his own admission he ‘phoned in’ his performance reviews. The first person he spoke to was so ‘offended’ at his lack of effort, and Lopp was so ashamed, that he went away and redid all of them. He realised that any time he’s asked to give feedback is when he ‘gets to show up and really help’, and from then on, he’s made the most of every opportunity.
Let go of your legos, especially in crisis: the biggest challenge for any new manager is relinquishing the delivery responsibilities you used to have. As Lopp acknowledged, this is particularly tough when something blows up, but you have to do it. If you dive back in and take the reins, it shows you don’t trust your team, they miss out on the opportunity to learn, and you miss out on learning how to lead in a crisis. It’s a lose-lose-lose.
Always make your 1:1s: committing your time to your team members is the surest way to start building trust. It was interesting to hear Lopp, who has done thousands of 1:1s, acknowledge that when he first starts meeting with people, they rarely bring topics to discuss. (See, we told you silent 1:1s affect everyone). This isn’t because he’s a bad leader, but because the trust isn’t there to underpin the conversation. As his direct reports start to raise topics, he sees that as a crucial sign that their relationship is growing.
Give more compliments: he marvelled at the unexpected benefits that come from giving a co-worker a compliment, whether someone in your team or in the wider company. He recounted an incident where he complimented someone on their management of a situation, and they immediately set up a 1:1 with him to discuss their other work. We’ve said it before, everyone should probably give more compliments.
Get 360 feedback: when one manager did a 360 process with Lopp, it was so valuable that he said he kept the two pages of comments in his backpack for a year and a half and read them every week. In his words, ‘Never has there been better feedback for me than that document’. (At this point, we are going to mention that Kommon makes running a 360 process very easy).
Spend time on job descriptions: the hiring market is so competitive that it really pays to spend time setting out your stall. As Lopp says, the end result you’re looking for is for someone aspiring to work at your company. That means being specific about who you’re looking for and ‘articulate, descriptive and beautiful in how you describe the opportunity.’ If you think that sounds tough, he says every company that’s hiring has something amazing about it - you just need to find it, and articulate it.
Diverse teams are built over time: a high percentage of Lopp’s leadership team in his previous role at Slack were women, but he was quick to credit the work of others who came before him in making that happen. As he said, ‘there’s that moment when a human walks into the building, and it’s a simple question, are there people here like me.’ Creating a place where people feel they belong doesn’t happen overnight.
You’ll need YOLO inspiration: when asked about the biggest surprise he’d found working as a manager, he said that he was surprised about how much was done on the fly. How much was about knowing what to say and how to act when faced with a random situation which you’d never faced before. He didn’t realise everyone was essentially winging it. But the more experience you have, the better you get at it. As he said, ‘that’s why leadership is so hard. The things you know are going to happen and a bunch of other stuff also is.’