Things I Find Useful to Hear From Reports
Apr 21, 2017
~3 minute read

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of things that as a manager I find useful to hear from my reports.

I’ve encountered this problem…

  1. and I’ve got it handled. [Great! Thanks for the heads up; I’ll make sure to help connect people with you if they’re relevant to the solution.]

  2. and I have some ideas/thoughts but I need a second opinion. [Sure. We can chat about it and make sure that you feel confident about wherever we land.]

  3. and I have a solution but I can’t implement it alone. [Okay, let’s figure out a plan and who we need to involve.]

  4. but I’m not sure how to solve it. [Hm, maybe I know an answer from my experience or a person from my networking to suggest, and if not we can brainstorm together.]

  5. but I’m not sure if it’s important. [Alright - let’s talk about what the broader team priorities are and how this problem may fit into that.]

Something went well…

  1. and I want to keep doing it. [Cool! Let’s make sure that it fits into the team’s roadmap, or that if it doesn’t, we set clear expectations about time allocation to avoid conflict.]

  2. and now we have one less thing to worry about. [Win! Is this something that we should ensure keeps going, or is it a one off? Either way, great to hear, and perhaps we can apply what we’ve learned across the team.]

  3. but I don’t feel like I got recognized for it. [Doh! Let’s figure out how we can ensure you get the recognition you deserve.]

Something didn’t go so well…

  1. and I’m worried about fallout. [Hm, let’s walk through it and figure out what we should proactively address and what we just need to keep an eye on.]

  2. and I’m having trouble dealing with it. [Okay, we should get you some support, whether that be something from me, a peer/TL, a mentor, or some other resource.]

  3. and I’m trying to figure out how to avoid that in the future. [Right, let’s talk and figure out a plan.]

  4. and I need you to fix it, because I can’t for one reason or another. [Got it. Tell me more so that I’ll have a working context and then I’ll see what I can do.]

I heard a rumor…

  1. but I’m not sure if it’s true. [I may or may not have heard more details about it, and I may or may not be able to share them depending on the topic, but I do try to help connect the dots and/or set the record straight where I can.]

  2. and I’m anxious about it. [Hm, I may or may not know for sure, but we can try to proactively address whatever is making you anxious even if I don’t.]

  3. and I’m hopeful about it. [Good to know, I’ll make sure to take that into account if I have any ability to impact it.]

There are plenty of other ways each of those sentences might end - I’m definitely not trying to imply that for each of those scenarios, those are the only possible ways I might expect my reports to think. My goal here is primarily to help individual contributors understand the various kinds of useful discussions we can have. A secondary goal is to help other managers understand what kinds of useful conversations they could be having with their reports.

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