You probably know that feeling when you start in a new place where you don’t know anyone, and you don’t know anything about what they do and how are they organized.
The only way to fix this is to talk to people and exchange with them so you can understand better the context you are.
This happened to me and I was thinking, how could I run different meetings with different key people who have some responsibility within the organization? to be precise I had scheduled seven 1:1 meetings, 1 hour and 30 minutes each, after getting my outlook working and having all meeting invites scheduled my next challenge was the most important one, how to take the most out of that 90 minutes so they don’t feel I’m wasting their time. During the next 2 days I will be meeting 7 people and my goal is to know better how things are working here and how people are organized.
To give you some more details, these 7 people are not random ones, 3 of them are the responsible of 3 teams, and the other 4 represent the business part of the projects and systems those 3 teams are working on.
Status Quo Canvas
Why I gave it this name? Of course, I needed to use something fancy and catchy 😉
Jokes aside, I did it because I have seen many of those business canvas and somehow this reminded me of them, a structured representation of some information.
How to run the 1:1?
You don’t want to expose all the different areas of information to the person you are going to meet. You start by explaining that you are going to run an activity, where the goal is to understand how this person and the team are working, so let’s see the different areas of information!
One by one start by asking about the needed information, starting by:
Describe your current role
Here we are interested in knowing the perception of the person about the role is performing, let’s first give some time to the person to explain you in his words how he sees it, and then make sure he writes it down.
In some organizations, I have seen people with the same title but with a quite different perception of the purpose of the role, and this is why we are asking this.
Draw with a diagram your current team setup
Here we want to know how the team is organized, which kind of specialties we have within the team, like QA, FE, designer, etc… and also we want to know the systems and platforms the team is responsible for, and all fixed meetings happening during the week.
Top things you enjoy doing
Here we are interested in knowing what this person enjoys the most doing.
Top things you don’t enjoy doing
The opposite of above, we can find things here this person has to do because it’s expected in the role, this is also valuable information.
Process-wide, what to keep because it’s useful
Here we are interested in knowing about all established process that the team has to deal with, sometimes we have to follow certain rules or procedures, or we have to attend fixed scheduled meetings and stuff like that, we want to know the processes this person see value.
Process-wide, what to improve because isn’t useful
I think it’s quite clear, as I said sometimes we are “forced” to follow certain rules or processes out of our team scope because it’s needed to keep certain order and safety.
Or we run meetings we see that are not giving value at all, for example… I think I don’t have enough fingers to count the times someone told me that Daly Stand Up isn’t useful, which is a valid point! We want to know this stuff!
What would make the team to be more autonomous of more effective?
At this point, this person has been reflecting a lot about what is happening and how things are currently working, go and ask the person the question “What would make the team be more autonomous or more effective?”
You will listen things like, “This won’t happen”, “This is not something I will get”, etc… doesn’t matter to be honest, right now I’m interested in knowing what you(that work every day with the team) would change to make it possible.
Draw your perfect team setup
Go and take the first diagram the person made, and ask if he or she would make any change, it’s totally ok to remove/add people or projects, tell the person to feel free to alter the diagram as he or she wishes.
Describe your ideal role
Similar as above, go and take the first definition of the role that the person made, and ask to re-write it, we want to know the perfect role definition made by the person who would perform that role, with this information we could see if the person is really enjoying the current role, or the changes he or she would make.
How then would you evaluate your performance?
This one is quite interesting! You just asked about the perfect role, so now let’s see what this person thinks it’s important to succeed in the role he or she just described, this one is interesting, let’s see what it means to succeed for this person.
This activity helped me a lot, helped me to understand the different perceptions of the different people working in an organization, every person has a different point of view and this is why is magic!
Talking to people is key to understand situations and contexts, and I think approaching a meeting like this, with a path and some structured information can help you a lot to get the needed information. Take your time and think about how you want to approach the different people, if you go and seat face by face and start talking about stuff… you won’t get the same.