The "Drinking Our Own Champagne" series shares how we are striving to win with talent here at Halogen Software. It won't be all rainbows and unicorns, because we're not perfect, but we think there's value in sharing our journey, just as we see value in sharing the journeys of our customers all around the globe.
In the first post, we spoke with Hawley Kane who, as Halogen's Champion, has taken on an integral role in ensuring that we are practicing the best of the best in talent management. In my interview with her, Hawley shared that her number one personal priority was to help create a stronger culture of feedback and she knew that Halogen 1:1 Exchange ™ could help play a big role. So she began an internal hunt for 1:1 champions by speaking with managers who were excelling in this area. And Mazin Abou-Seido, Halogen's Vice-President, Information Technology, was one of her most memorable.
In this post, we speak with Mazin to learn more.
As VP for IT at Halogen, Mazin creates and executes on the company's IT strategy and roadmap and ensures that results are delivered on time and on budget. His day-to-day responsibilities involve managing a great number of complex projects for senior stakeholders across Halogen. Somehow, he's always smiling.
How did you and Hawley connect on the topic of one-on-one meetings?
You might think that it was because she ran a report in TalentSpace to view who was meeting regularly with their employees or not. But actually, we were talking by the water cooler!
When she asked me about Halogen 1:1 Exchange and if I found it helpful for increasing transparency and communication within my team, I told her: "Are you kidding? It is by far the most helpful tool I've ever used. I would pay for it out of my own budget if I had to."
Can you share with us how you run your one-on-one meetings with your employees?
In the IT department, there are so many projects going on at any given time. And in my role, I need to have oversight on all of them, which can be challenging. So it's really important to me that our one-on-one meetings are highly efficient with the time we have available. This means that employees come prepared and I come prepared. It shows respect on both sides.
What this means is that employees need to update their milestones prior to the meeting using Halogen 1:1 Exchange by adding a note. Even a simple "no update," for the note is fine. But a note is required. Over time, I've found that I've gotten very good at reading between the lines on these notes. It gives me an idea of how the team is doing, who might be feeling over-burdened, and general state of team morale. For the employees, it's not cumbersome -- it's quick and easy.
Then, before the meeting, I review all update notes so that I know what the big picture is. I also review all of the second-level reports' updates too, so that I have that information as well. To be clear: everyone within the entire department knows that I do this, so we are all extremely transparent about the state of our projects and how people are feeling.
Because all basic status updates have already been shared with me before the meeting, we can use the time to really focus on items that need some deeper discussion. During the meeting, I keep Halogen 1:1 Exchange open and jot down notes so that everything is documented, out in the open, and easily retrievable at a later date.
And every single meeting includes the standing item agenda item of development. How is your development plan progressing ... are you on track ... do you need more time ... do you need more support ... did you hear about this conference coming up?
I'm sure some managers would say, ‘Well, my employees wouldn't do that preparation, so it won't work.'
Yes, sure. In my experience, it needs to start with the employees. If they don't think it's going to be worthwhile to do, then they aren't going to do it. Once employees see the value of regular, weekly meetings, then the word spreads out -- not only to other employees, but to other managers as well.
I need to ensure that I'm providing value - that I'm doing my preparation work and that I'm listening when I'm supposed to be listening. Employees want to be heard. They don't want "make work" tasks.
Do you need the Halogen 1:1 Exchange tool to run meetings like this?
No, it's not strictly necessary. I have rolled-out this type of process for meetings with employees for years. But it used to involve a very long - at least 40 pages per quarter -- Excel spreadsheet full of comments.
Now, though, I have this one tool to track and document it all. No memory work required. It's all there in the tool ... past 1:1 meetings, comments, project milestone updates, feedback from peers.
What would you say to a manager here at Halogen who is not currently using Halogen 1:1 Exchange?
How much time do you really want to spend asking questions on projects and tasks? There is just so much more to discuss with employees.
Stay tuned! We will continue to share our journey as we transform from our old performance model to one that is more progressive and agile in this "Drinking own Own Champagne" series.