Got Coding Standards? Now try Leadership Standards.
How many organizations spell out what they expect from their managers?
How many employees understand what they can expect from their manager?
Most organizations provide management training, online tools, and coaching. But although managers' responsibilities are often implied and sometimes reinforced, they are rarely permanently spelled out.
That’s why we created the Squarespace Leadership Standards - to help new (and existing) managers quickly get up to speed on how we manage at Squarespace.
Writing down the minimum expectations
Many engineering teams use coding standards or conventions; a set of guidelines that recommend programming style, practices and methods for writing code.
Similarly, our Leadership Standards want to provide an overview of recommended practices, but centered around leadership. It includes guidelines on topics like 1:1 meetings, onboarding new staff, and communication of team goals.
As a manager you may not hit all standards every time, but we expect our managers to strive towards them. The standards are as straightforward as the reason for creating them: research shows that the managers’ direct reports will develop faster and achieve more when managers apply this rhythm.
We didn’t frame it as a directive, but rather a framework to make it easier for employees and their managers to get clarity on how to build great teams.
To help managers get their shit together, HR needs to get their shit together
Many organizations understand that managers should occasionally organize social team events, but don’t give managers clarity on available budget for such outings. Or organizations ask managers to organize regular team strategy offsites, but don’t make it easy for them to organize a venue.
Leadership Standards are as much about creating clarity as it is about forcing HR teams to think about the tools required to enable our managers.
Take - for example - the recommendation to organize regular team outings. This subsequently forced our management team to provide clarity on how much to budget is available per head and how often outings should probably happen. It also encouraged our Experience team to think of team activity options (like sailing, bowling, crafts and many more) and to think about a process and system to make it easier for managers to organize them (we added a workflow in our team's JIRA Service Desk).
Publishing these standards has pushed my People team to think through all the processes and to create great tools to make it easier for managers to meet the standards.
Feedback: ask employees progress against the Leadership Standards.
To keep the Leadership Standards front of mind, we added some simple yes/no questions in our regular 'Feedback Loop for Managers' (at Squarespace we formalized the process of managers getting feedback from their reports) to gather if employees feel that their manager is keeping to the standards. Simple and honest.