When Ryan Singer did a workshop for us at FOWD, he and I got chatting about how they run things at 37signals. He gave me an amazing idea that we now use at CS, and I’d like to share it with you all.
Any of you who are managers will know that you need to keep up on how your team is doing and what they’re doing. At the same time, it’s never helpful to micro-manage and constantly bug your team.
Answer: A company chat room!
We use Campfire for this, and it’s perfect as it’s cheap and simple. We have a room called ‘The Howdy Room!’ (for no other reason than I think the word ‘Howdy’ is rad).
Here’s how it works: When you get in the office, you log into the room (I have it set as my home page) and I post a message starting with ‘[IN]’ and I then list what I’m up to that day. Here’s an example:
Then right before we go home for the day, everyone enters a check-out message, starting with ‘[OUT]’, like this:
In addition to daily check-ins everyone does a weekly check-in. It starts with ‘[THIS WEEK]’ on a Monday morning, and ends with a ‘[DID THIS WEEK]’ at the end of the week.
We have weekly Tuesday meetings (for the Bath office) at a coffee shop and by doing this weekly check-in on Mondays, we already have a good idea of what everyone’s up to for the week, when we start that meeting.
In addition to helping Gill and I know what everyone is up to, doing a daily and weekly check-in also helps everyone else know what they’re up to. It keeps everyone informed without having long meetings and lengthy unnecessary conversations.
We also use this room as a place to chat about interesting things. As you all know, when someone starts talking about something so everyone in the office can hear, it can be quite a distraction. You have to ‘come out’ of whatever you’re doing, listen, and then respond. After that, it takes a good 3-5 minutes to get back into what you were previously doing.
By saying things like ‘Hey, has anyone seen the site www.xyz.com?’ in the chat room, only the people who have time to answer will choose to jump into the conversation. If someone is super busy, they’ll just ignore the ‘Beep’ from the chat room. It’s great!
If you have any tips for keeping your team running smoothly, please share!