management Writing

The Weekly Notes Post

I read a lot of stuff on the internet, and a lot of that is about being a better manager. It’s rare to find something that is:

  1. Extremely concrete and actionable.
  2. At the exact time you need it.

But in November, I did. I found this post from @SonOfGarr about sharing information with his team.

Week-in-Review: a document containing relevant meeting notes from the week prior.

Over the past few months I’ve evolved my own process. We use internal blogs heavily, so I publish it there and include a link to the previous one at the end of each one. Either I wrap up my week with it on Friday, or it’s how I start the week on Monday morning. I put it together as I look over what I did the previous week and figure out what my plan is for the one coming. Because much of what I do ends up in written form, and the notes from meetings I was in are often in other places, it’s an opportunity to tie all that together in a more coherent narrative. It’s also an opportunity to talk more about the why – which is something that I haven’t always taken advantage of that I can work on.

I also find this a useful place to post initial or partial thoughts that I haven’t fully fleshed out yet. For example, I was thinking that we should probably improve our tooling, so I mentioned that one week to see what came of it. It’s also a place to explore themes that I’ve noticed in communication. Whenever similar things come up in 1:1s or skip 1:1s, then I’ll highlight the things I’ve heard from multiple people and explore them a bit.

With a team of 25, I don’t manage to interact with everyone, every week. However in my last round of skip 1:1s I asked people if they had any feedback for me and was pleased that this weekly post came up from a number of people as something they appreciate. It has become part of how I make my work visible to the team, and combined with skip 1:1s how I try to demonstrate approachability, accountability and transparency. Improving accountability on the team has been something that we’ve been thinking about lately, and I think it’s important to demonstrate that accountability in return.

I miss writing code, and the concrete deliverables of a feature, a test suite, the high of conquering a bug. It’s easy to want to go back there, when the nebulous and meta-ness of what you actually should be doing feels overwhelming. For me part of embracing longer term impact is to make it concrete where I can – to theme my weeks, and see if I can push one major thing forward – and to celebrate my wins where I get them. The regular act of sharing with my team what the details of that looked like helps with that, even as I judge myself by the impact over the longer term.

There is also a small, personal benefit to the WIR. I found that whenever I finish a WIR, I have this tremendous feeling of accomplishment. I used to look back on my meeting packed calendar and think that I didn’t get very much accomplished. The act of writing my WIR helps me extract the value from each meeting. It allows me to reflect and keep things moving forward. It makes me realize how much I “did” each week. Authoring a Week-in-Review has been simple, yet powerful management tool. If you’re trying to figure out how to share information your team needs, that only you have gathered, and you want to cut out a team meeting, give it a try.

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