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The Know Your Team Blog

Thoughts on how to become a better leader, and avoid being a bad boss.

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The 3 lessons on leadership I’ve learned from 1,000+ managers in the past few months

From our 1,000+ managers all over the world in our Watercooler community, here are the 3 most helpful lessons on leadership that I’ve personally learned recently. Lessons on leadership are typically learned the hard way. You make the mistake of hiring the wrong person, you wait too long to let someone go, or don’t give… Read the full article ...
One-on-one meetings with direct reports

The 5 mistakes you’re likely making in your one-on-one meetings with direct reports

Don’t waste your time. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your one-on-one meetings with your direct reports.  You’re feeling good: You’ve started to hold regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports. But have you paused to ask yourself, lately, “Am I making the most of them?” The question is worth asking. One-on-one meetings with… Read the full article ...
Self management skills

4 essential self-management skills to develop within your team

The best employees are the ones who manage themselves. How do you optimize for this? Here are the 4 self-management skills to hire for and develop internally within your team. The best team members you’ve ever worked with likely had one thing in common:  Strong self-management skills. As a manager, you don’t want to be… Read the full article ...
Skip level meeting

Skip-level meetings: What they are, and exactly how to run them

If you manage other managers, holding skip-level one-on-one meetings with their direct reports is paramount. Here’s how to do ’em. If you’re a manager of managers, skip-level meetings are your lifeline. I don’t mean to sound bombastic, but if you’re a CEO, executive, or director who manages other managers — then skip-level meetings are an essential way… Read the full article ...
Watercooler leadership community

Top 7 Leadership Lessons from AMA with Natalie Gould, CFO of Balsamiq

As the CFO for Balsamiq, a remote software company whose product is used by 500,000+ companies, Natalie shared her expertise and leadership lessons in our leadership community, The Watercooler. Every few months, we invite one of the 1,000+ managers who are a part of our leadership community, The Watercooler, from all over the world to… Read the full article ...
Impress your new boss

How to impress your new boss in your first 30 days

When you start a new job, your goal is to make a good impression. Here are 8 ways to impress your new boss in the first 30 days. If you’re looking to impress your new boss, I may have a few good insights for you. Recently, I was hired at Know Your Team, and –… Read the full article ...
When to give feedback

When to give feedback to an employee?

A perfect time to give feedback doesn’t exist – but some times are better than others. In deciding when to give feedback to a direct report, consider these 4 things. “When is the right time to give feedback to an employee?” A manager asked me this last week during a workshop I gave at the… Read the full article ...
Employee motivation

How to motivate employees? Don’t.

Do this instead. Here are 6 ways to motivate your team that doesn’t undermine intrinsic employee motivation that they already have. “I need to figure out how to motivate my employees.” When was the last time thought that to yourself? It could’ve been the other week when you noticed one of your direct reports dragging… Read the full article ...
Giving feedback

7 ways of giving feedback that encourage change

You’re giving feedback because you want your team to improve. Here’s how to give feedback that precisely helps nudge your team in the right direction. The reason you’re giving feedback is that you want something to be different, in the first place. You want a direct report to make sure he’s not rubbing the rest… Read the full article ...
Collaborate in remote team

How to collaborate effectively in a remote team

Based on research from almost 400 people and insights from 1,000+ managers, here are the processes and tools to collaborate effectively in a remote team. “How do you collaborate effectively if your team is remote?” Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, a famed British technology pioneer answered this question at the Business of Software Conference in Cambridge,… Read the full article ...

How to manage up effectively

5 not-so-often-shared ways to manage up and have a better relationship with your boss. ...
Know Your Team team-building retreat

How to run a successful team retreat

The 4 essential elements to include in your team retreat – and the exact 3-day team retreat agenda we held for Know Your Team. This was a first for us: We held a team retreat for Know Your Team. Though we’ve been in business for the past five years, we’d never had an official team retreat.… Read the full article ...
Indie.vc + KYT

After 5 years of bootstrapping a profitable business with 15,000+ users, we raised $500,000 with Indie.vc. Here’s why.

We’ve been profitable since Month 1 and never raised any money – until a few months ago. Raising money for the first time in 5 years. We’ve been a two-person company, serving 15,000+ people in over 25 countries, for the past five years. Originally, we were a spin-off from Basecamp. Since then, we’ve been profitable… Read the full article ...
Best interview questions

The 9 best interview questions to ask according to 1,000+ managers

The question, “What are the best interview questions to ask?” was recently discussed in The Watercooler, our online community of 1,000+ managers in Know Your Team. Here were their answers. You only have one hour with this person, so you need to decide: What are the best interview questions to ask them? Hiring is one… Read the full article ...

How to build social connections on a remote team

Virtual team building is tough. Here are 7 ways you can build social connections on a remote team, even from afar. I’ll be shocked if you’re shocked: Building social connections on a remote team is the hardest part of managing a remote team. According to a survey we ran this past fall with 297 remote… Read the full article ...
OKR

OKR: Should you use them for setting goals?

The upsides, downsides, and everything in between, to consider around using OKRs to set goals as a manager. I remember the first time I heard the term, “OKR” about five or so years ago. My initial reaction was, “Er Okay, what?” Turns out “OKR” is an acronym for “Objectives and Key Results” — a framework for setting… Read the full article ...
Company vision

How to share your company vision as a leader

The #1 piece of information you should be focused on as a leader is sharing company vision. Here’s exactly how to do it. “Company vision” might be the fluffiest business term I know. Thrown around by every nearly business book and article, “vision” is often used vaguely, without nuance or thoughtfulness. Yet despite its watered-down… Read the full article ...

Should you do performance reviews?

Based on input from 1,000+ managers in our online leadership community in Know Your Team, here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about doing performance reviews. “Should I do performance reviews?” A manager recently wrote this to me. We’d arrived in the middle of the year (already?!), and he was curious if he should kick-off… Read the full article ...
Team meeting agenda

What to put on your team meeting agenda

Here’s the #1 thing your team meeting should be focused on – and exactly how you should structure your team meeting agenda. “What should I put on our team meeting agenda?” I asked myself this question recently because — for the first time in our small team’s history — we’re starting to hold monthly team meetings! Bear with me… Read the full article ...
New employee one on one meeting

What should you ask a new employee in a first one-on-one meeting?

You’ve got your first one-on-one meeting with a new employee scheduled. Here are the 15 questions you should put on the one-on-one meeting agenda. The other week, I held a one-on-one meeting with a new employee – the first I’ve conducted in a while. (We don’t hire that often at Know Your Team, so it… Read the full article ...
How to onboard a new hire

How to onboard a new hire remotely

Recently I hired someone new here at Know Your Team. Here’s exactly what I wrote on Day 1 and the 23 questions I asked as a part of our employee onboarding process as a remote company. Something new happened recently: We hired a new employee at Know Your Team — and it caused me to rethink our… Read the full article ...
Pruning leaves

What great managers do: Prune

Being a great manager and English gardening have more in common than you might imagine. If you want to improve your leadership skills, there no shortage of analogies that have been made about great managers. A great manager is a “coach,” a “captain of a ship,” or even a “human shield.” However, I heard a… Read the full article ...
Employee engagement survey questions

The 32 best employee engagement questions with the highest response rates

If you’re looking for the best employee engagement survey questions, these 32 questions have the highest response rates in Know Your Team – and share four distinct characteristics. “How engaged are my employees, really?” We ask ourselves this, as leaders — and then write our employee engagement surveys questions, determined to find an answer. Yet during this… Read the full article ...
Signs you're micromanaging your team

Am I micromanaging my team?

Here are the 5 most telling signs of micromanagement – and what you can do instead. I won’t tell anyone: You think you might be a micromanager. Argh. If there were scarlet letters for a bad manager to wear, “m-i-c-r-o-m-a-n-a-g-e-r” would be among them. But, how do you know if you’re a micromanager, for sure?… Read the full article ...
Managing managers

Managing managers: How’s it different?

Six things to consider when managing managers instead of individual contributors. “What’s the biggest difference between managing managers versus managing individual contributors?” I recently was asked this question at a conference I spoke at in the United Kingdom. Then a few days later, funnily enough, this same question was the central topic at a panel… Read the full article ...

The hardest leadership advice to follow: “Work on the business and not in the business”

We all know we’re supposed to “work on the business and not in the business” as a leader but what holds us back? And, how do you exactly put “stepping away” into practice? “Work on the business, not in the business. Pause. Step back. Take stock. Reflect. “ This is some of the most ubiquitous… Read the full article ...

A different kind of new manager checklist: The 4 essential questions to ask yourself as a leader

Instead of promising you quick ‘n easy answers, this new manager checklist probes deeper with 4 questions to help you become better as a leader. You want the answer. The silver bullet, the trick, the hack, the leadership best practice, the new manager checklist. There’s got to be some secret point of leverage that you… Read the full article ...

Daily stand-up meeting, weekly staff meeting – or no meeting?

Best practices from 1,000+ managers on how to share progress with your team as a leader. ...
Leadership weakness: Being too controlling

Your leadership weakness is being “too controlling.” What to do?

17 phrases and suggestions to avoid the common leadership weakness of coming across as too controlling as a manager. Recently, a manager told me how he’d received feedback from his team about his greatest leadership weakness. “I come across as too intense or controlling,” he admitted. Genuinely concerned, he then asked me, “What can I… Read the full article ...

The value of conflicting advice: How great leaders think

Here’s one way to create more mental wriggle room for yourself in tough situations as a leader. Before you figure out what to do, you must first figure out how to think like a leader.  But what if you’re not even sure what to think? A direct report who’s well-liked by the team is underperforming,… Read the full article ...