Working Remotely and the Virtue of Aggressive Transparency. Simon writes about the value of aggressive transparency in a distributed team. Great structure for thinking about expertise and performance at work.
The Startup Guide to 1-on-1s. Nice overview of how to think about one-on-one chats in a growing company. Includes a bit about how to do them effectively and an overview of questions that can help prompt conversation.
On poorly managed teams conflicting and irrelevant work is allowed to go on because leaders don’t notice, care or take the time to guide people’s efforts in more useful directions. Capable people may work away in their private tasks, believing they’re making progress (and earning bonuses), when in reality they’re doing work that will be thrown away or even hurt the project. When someone puts their head down to work, how fast they’re going doesn’t matter if they’re heading in the wrong direction (or towards a cliff). How a talent is directed can be more important than the size of the talent itself.
Work vs. Progress – Scott Berkun.
This highlights something that is really important and that is the separation of Customer Success and Customer Support. In most ways, they are not related, they are opposites. Reactive vs. proactive, case-oriented vs. success-oriented, cost-center vs. revenue-driver, etc. It’s one of the reasons that Customer Success won’t (can’t?) work if it’s part of Customer Support.
Opposites? Fuck that.
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. At a certain point, though, enough instances of something becomes a trend. And the trend I’m seeing in conversations about the customer experience is deeply frustrating.
Too many people who lead “Success” teams seek to define all the valuable pieces of the customer relationship as Theirs. They draw a line in the sand and say, “This is my fiefdom. Back off.” In doing that they push all of the labor and time-intensive aspects of the customer experience onto someone else.
Replying to support tickets becomes not about the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your customers. It pushes support into a box that’s solely a cost-center, case-oriented, and unconcerned with helping customers successfully use your product. As part of this success-advocates elevate their teams as somehow inherently above and better than those mere peons who handle tickets.
That’s crazy! Even the most reactive, labor-intensive ticket represents an opportunity to earn goodwill with your customers. When you nail that experience you can create a ripple effect across revenue, social media, and the broader marketplace. That is customer support. It’s only an opportunity, though, if you choose to seize it. If you chalk support up as just a cost-center, that’s your loss. Good riddance.
This whole trend of customer success is a tired repetition of customer support as an entry-level-dead-end job that people simply seek to move out of. Customer support, when done well, is a career. Every conversation, whether it’s reactive or proactive, is an opportunity to learn from your customers. That is immensely valuable no matter your departmental definition. Every time you try to isolate certain elements into a single department and declare that proactive support won’t, and cannot, work with customer support you do the broader community harm. Every one of us is in this to help people succeed.
Agree and Commit, Disagree and Commit. Fantastic talk at Stanford by Greg Ballard. He suggests the ability to strongly disagree with, and yet still commit to, an idea is one of the most valuable workplace skills.
We must develop an acute awareness of the passage of time and with it our diminishing window of opportunity. If we fail to do so we cede to others the opportunities which today are uniquely ours. We must work with a sense of urgency.
Sense of Urgency – Andrew Bosworth.
Work very hard—a surprising number of people will be offended that you choose to work hard—but not so hard that the rest of your life passes you by. Aim to be the best in the world at whatever you do professionally. Even if you miss, you’ll probably end up in a pretty good place. Figure out your own productivity system—don’t waste time being unorganized, working at suboptimal times, etc.