Accelerating Accountability: Understanding Your Audience
Every leader has a baseline. Without one, we won’t be able to demonstrate growth or progress. Let me demonstrate with one of my first performance reviews as a people manager:
“Jason needs to do a better job at maintaining composure during less-than-ideal times. He has to realize that the people under him look to him on how to react in certain situations and will mirror his reactions. If he overreacts, they will too. If he stays calm, so will they.”
Cringy, but as I mentioned earlier — baselines are important.
Thanks to that radically candid feedback, I was able to figure out how to develop into an effective communicator and leader. Here’s what I looked like five years later:
“Everything the team does and interacts with is perfectly organized and positioned to scale. Most importantly, [Jason] has created an extremely positive, engaging, and collaborative environment.”
So, what changed?
Being a manager for hyper growth companies is an intense incubation process. Everyone is encouraged to build quickly and break things. Which makes sense when you’re pushing innovation, but when you’re responsible for supporting everyone, it’s rough — especially when you’re working to keep things structured and orderly.
When I first started, I was reactionary. I believed that great communication meant exhibiting a sense of urgency where everything had to be delivered real-time.
The first lesson I learned in how to accelerate accountability was to establish who my audience was and what I was really trying to establish with them.
I lacked a clear way to reach my audience. I was relying on a plethora of channels and private group messages, which led to consistent problems:
- I didn’t realize that I was constantly forgetting people, I just assumed they were in the same space that I was.
- There was so much noise in all these spaces that information was simply not seen. Everyone would @here, @channel, or pin, which would only cause more information to be drowned out.
- As our technology stack continued growing, so did these problems because of issues with access or information being siloed.
I created a one-way black hole, not a space for a dialogue. I wasn’t encouraging engagement when I was communicating with my teams because I wanted to move things quick.
I was happy if I didn’t get any follow-up questions. As long as I saw a few emojis acknowledging what I shared, I thought we were good to go because I took silence as an act of being ready.
I emphasized speed over comprehension. Instead of supporting them, I was literally making them feel rushed and overwhelmed by micromanaging them.
I never asked how much time they’d need to feel confident about changes — I was too focused on being able to report that everyone was notified and ready.
When we designed Relay, we wanted to make sure that our community was able to engage with their audiences with confidence. Our pilots taught us that teams are only 30–40% engaged with the content that’s being shared.
Relays have audiences that accommodate fluctuation. We encourage users to create user groups that fit their needs and allow both groups and individuals to be included in Relays.
With our integrations with Okta and G suites, we also wanted to make it easier to help with access and group management.
Relays encourage audiences to take action. We allow individuals to know what the clear call to action is by presenting priorities, due dates, and actions (acknowledge, provide an example, or take an assessment/survey) across any SaaS products they use.
We also encourage individuals to flag their Relays if they have questions or concerns — especially if they believe that there’s incorrect or duplicate information.
Relay provides an actual baseline for accountability. By tracking engagement, Relay finally allows teams to answer the critical question of “How long does it take for our teams to take new tasks/information and be ready?”
By being able to have a clear way to engage and track audiences, we allow our communities to figure out the next step — how to improve.