#57 How We Do Internal Communication At Drift | Seeking Wisdom Podcast

#57 How We Do Internal Communication At Drift | Seeking Wisdom Podcast


(hip-hop music) – Okay, we’re in the mix. – Right, we’re recording? – Yeah, we’re on. – Don’t pull a mic on me. – You’re recording. Sorry, you might hear a
little bit of background. You heard I got an F last week, it’s cause we didn’t set up
video like we should have. So this week we came back strong, we have audio, we have video, and we’re right now on Facebook Live. – What? – Yeah, DC’s got the whole phone rigged up just in case you can’t get enough. Alright, so I got a bunch of notes. There’s one question that
we’ve gotten from listeners more than any other question, and they want to know –
do you have any guesses? – Absolutely not. As you’ll note, now that
you can see on video and Facebook Live, Dave has
a laptop full of questions and my desk is empty,
there’s nothing here. – Good, that’s what the people come for. They don’t want to see you prepared. – Oh, right. – That’s not the point. The number one question
that people ask us, I think the most popular topics were when we talk about work and how we do things at
Drift, right, just tactically. The number one question that we get is “How do we handle internal communication?” – Really? – Yeah. – Wow, I would have never guessed. – At least five people have written in to specifically ask about that. – Let’s talk about that. – Alright, so I have a
whole outline of things I want to go through, we’ll
talk about how we do it here, but I want to ask you this question, why do you think so many people ask that? Does that say something
about internal communication, that so many people
want to hear that topic? – I don’t know, when you
said that I was thinking, is it because I’m always railing against process and consensus? – Maybe, that might be it.
(laughing) Yeah, you’re like, “No meetings,
no dates, no roadmaps.” How the hell do they get anything done? – They’re just like, “How
the hell does this work? “What is this guy talking about?” – I don’t know, I just feel like it’s because so many people have, they… We talk about this in the
interview process too. I said to somebody recently, all the questions they
were pushing back on us during the interview process, I said, “Somebody has obviously
scarred you before.” (laughing) – It was all just like,
how do you manage this? And it was all internal
politics-type stuff. – Yep, don’t have that, that’s how. – Alright, so let’s do this. So before we go on to
tactics, if somebody asked you “How do we handle internal
communication at Drift?” What would you talk
about our guardrails are, kinda like what’s our process? Or what’s the process you
want us to have as a company? – Sure, so I’d say the guardrails are push as much communication
to be one on one as possible, so ideally face to face if you can. Right, that’s the best. You can’t always do that, and so, yes, you can do that
without having meetings, and we do that by sitting
closely to each other in terms of functional areas, so have as much of that as possible. We can get into tactics
of when do we use email, and when do we use chat, and when do we use whatever
tool there is out there but we try to have as much communication to happen in one on one,
and the reason for that is we wanna reduce the chance
of misinterpretation and when you use chat, you
use something like Slack, we use email, or you use something else that’s hard to figure out someone’s tone, it’s hard to figure out
what they actually mean, and so we have the advantage of actually being in an office together, so let’s move as much
of that to be in person. – And this is something
you’ve mentioned a bunch, a couple times on this
podcast and to me personally, a lot of the problems you’ve
seen at companies in the past have simply come because somebody
needed to go talk to Amy, what’s up Amy, and they didn’t actually roll their chair over to
go talk to Amy, right, they said “Oh, I wrote a wiki post,” or “I just wrote this thing,
and I mentioned Amy in it.” It always seems to come down to did you actually go over there and cut through all the BS
and have this conversation. – Yeah, I think people are scared to have one-on-one conversations. I’m not sure why, but they’re scared and they think, either
they use the excuse of that it doesn’t scale, so
it’s not a scalable process, or they just err towards
writing something, sending an email, never following up. So there’s no follow-up, we
just send these things out there and hope that someone
else is on the other end picking them up. – OK, so given that, and
before we get into the tactics, how would you give us a grade, honestly. – Internally? Communication?
– Internal communication. (sucking teeth) – C. – C?
– Yeah. – Have you ran a company before this, or done other things where
it’s been higher than a C? – No, I think we’re average down to C because there’s always
room for improvement and so we’re constantly,
it’s peaks and valley, we’ll hit As at some
point, and we go back to Cs and we need to get to the next phase. So I’d say we’re a C. Have I seen communication better? In certain times and
places, but not overall. It’s always a C.
– People are always people. – Yeah, it’s always a C, so we’re always fighting inertia, and even if we get to an A, and then something happens and then we kinda go back to old patterns, and we need to fight our way back. – Alright, so let’s go through each one, and I just made a list of a bunch of different things that we do. As far as meetings, we have a culture of
we don’t have meetings. – Yep. – No meetings. – But there are meetings. – But there are meetings. And so don’t take this
complete opposite way and say we don’t have meetings. We actually bookend, so one
of the things that we do is we bookend the week with meetings. – What meetings? – They’re very short. So Monday, 11:00 a.m., the
whole team gathers around and we do a ten-minute metrics meeting. – Yep. – Where Will takes us through the key metrics of our
business, we ask questions, and also each team shares what their big focus is for the week, and I think that’s been
a great meeting for us just to get everybody on the same page. – And Will is a guy on our
team who runs ops for us and owns all the metrics and makes this place stick together. – Yeah, and so having him
run that meeting is great because he can go to each
team Monday morning and say, you know, he’ll come to
Marketing and he’ll say, “Hey, what’s your team’s
three things for the week? “This product team, what’s your
three things for the week?” And he arranges that. But also I think, goes back
to what we’re saying earlier, it also brings everybody together and puts everything on the
agenda for the week, right, it’s not meant to be a line-by-line
tactical list of stuff, but it’s like here’s what
we’re working on this week, and then this is the chance
where if that doesn’t align with some other team or this isn’t right you have to speak up. Versus letting that go. So we do that on Mondays, and then Friday, we do end-of-the-week thing, we bookend it with show and tell. – We do that at 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. – 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. – And we bring the team together, and it’s called show and tell. And it’s pretty popular,
right, we sit back, people have beer, have whatever, and each person goes
around and kind of shows what they actually did that week. Especially impactful for,
of course, creative people like Amy and our other
designers and our engineers. – Yeah. Where did this start, is this
something you did before? – Yeah, we did show and tell. We did it on a monthly basis at HubSpot, and so we did that as a
product team each month, invited the whole company,
and the product team did that. Very different method, we’re running at a much faster cadence and so we do it for everyone in the team and we do it weekly. – Did you have rules around that? – Yeah, we have lots of rules. – Like what? – Very different. – Today we don’t have a ton of rules. – We don’t have a ton of rules. – Just show what you’re working on. – Yeah, as we grew, and remember
we always talk about stages and so we were at a very different stage and we cared about like, because
we were communicating with people outside of the product team, we had to be sure to have rules that said, hey, we’re only gonna show things that are actually being used by customers, even if it’s a small subset of customers. – Because you didn’t want a sales rep. – Running off and…
– Another person’s company, hiding in the back and being
like, “I’m gonna go sell that.” – Gonna go sell that. Not that sales ever over sells
or over promises anything. – Oh, not that they wouldn’t go find the engineer who built it
after the meeting and be like, “Yo, tell me more about that.” – Exactly, hook me up, drug deal. And so we had rules like that, we had rules for how long
someone could be up there, we did it by team, we did rotations, we had lots and lots and
lots of different rules to make it a well-produced event and very different than
our Friday show and tell, which is more laid back and
everyone just goes around kind of round robin. – Yeah, but I think they
serve different purposes, different companies. – Totally. – You know the HubSpot example,
that’s more like an event. And it was an event.
– It was an event. – And that was the right word.
– Ice cream, and tacos, and all that kinda stuff. It was a big event. – Yeah, here I think it’s just
a way to keep the team close, even though we’ve grown
to almost 30 people now. – We’re over 30 people. – Yeah, we’re over 30 people. We just keep it tight
and we say, we used to, six months ago we could each go around and we could each talk for ten minutes and talk about the week, and now it’s like you gotta
pick your one or two things. But I think it’s cool, because
you don’t see everybody. You don’t always know what
everybody’s working on. Sit next to like T-Run,
one of our engineers, I used to sit next to him all the time, talk to him all the time, don’t talk to him as much
as we’ve continued to grow, but it’s cool because then on Friday I see, oh, he built this new
thing, here’s how it works. So it keeps everybody on the same page, which is awesome. – Exactly, so we bookend
with those two meetings. Then what other meetings do we have? – Well, in between we don’t
really have any formal meetings, but you recently, I’ve been noticing you’ve been on this little
charge to kill meetings. – Yes, because they crop up. – Yeah, I don’t mean
kill meetings as like, we’re never having meetings. This isn’t like no roadmap,
no dateline, but you- – Kill meetings that just pop up. – Yeah, you’ve been
noticing that as we grow, more people have a tendency to wanna meet, and your thing is like,
can you hash that out without having a meeting. And you also have given
the company a free pass, if you’re in a meeting,
actually you tell this. If you’re in a meeting
and it’s not, just leave. – Just leave. So if you’re in a meeting and you don’t need to be in that meeting, you should feel free to leave that meeting and go back to what you’re doing. There’s no need to feel guilted
into going into a meeting. The reason we’re doing this is we’re trying to fight inertia, we try to fight the
natural thing that happens which is that meetings
start to proliferate, just like my waistline proliferates, I need to fight it. – Come on man, the 32 goal is happening. – It’s happening, it’s happening. – You can’t have that attitude like that. – But I’m fighting it, I’m fighting it. – Yeah, you’re fighting it, it’s inertia. That’s why you eat all those plants. – That’s right, plant
based, hashtag plant based. – OK, so you’re trying to fight meetings. The other couple things that I wrote down, one tool that I love just
personally for our team and I think you’re a
fan of it too is 15Five. Maybe explain 15Five for
people that aren’t using it. – 15Five is… I actually heard the story
of how it came about, I’ve known the founder
David for a long time now. We used it for years now, that tool, but his co-founder was at a dinner with us in San Francisco. – Yeah, Shane, what’s up Shane. – What’s up Shane. And he said, the whole story is it’s a thing that came from
the founder of Patagonia, who we all admire a lot. I can’t say his name.
– That’s a soft spot. That’s a soft spot for you, too. – Exactly, I’ve read his
book a million times, but I don’t know if I
can pronounce his name, which is Yvon Chouinard, you
know I cannot pronounce it. But anyway, he had this thing
where he would disappear, he’s known for not
actually being at Patagonia and hiking and doing
all these crazy things, so he would have this thing called 15Five, so like five bullet
points, 15 minutes a week. It’d be like a summary that
they would come up with, what every team was working on, every department was working on, and that’s how he kept in track, in touch with the company. And so 15Five as a
company took that premise and built software around it. – Yeah, so everybody on a team, basically all the 15Fives
roll up to a manager, and then everybody on the team that week gets a reminder Friday morning say hey, fill out your 15Five. You go through it and you mark down how you’re feeling on a
scale of zero to five, you fill out-
– Just five questions. Fifteen minutes. – Things you accomplished that week, feedback for other people, and you can give other people
high fives and everything. – Why do you like it? – I like it because similar to the way that show and tell bookends the week, filling out my 15Five is
like a way to end the week, kinda just ceremoniously. The problem is I’m super type
A so I don’t even get to enjoy the satisfaction of filling it out, cause the second I fill it out I’m like, oh, now I gotta make
my list for next week, what are the things
I’m gonna do next week. But I like it, and it also
just, for the marketing team, for the people on my team, for example, I like it because we have our one on ones, which we’ll talk about in one second, but 15Five is just like, you can express a little more feedback or go in depth, you might
not always, you know, as much as you want people to share things with you
face to face in person, sometimes there’s just gonna be things that they’re just gonna write down and it’s gonna come in a different form, so one of the 15Five questions is like any things you’re struggling with, and that’s been a great opportunity for people to share feedback, and then we can be like, what happens all the time, like Amy’s sitting right here is like, Amy might say something,
hey I have this suggestion, and it always ends up
being like, okay, great, let’s talk about this in
our one on one on Monday. So it leads to that. Which leads to one on ones. So we don’t have a culture of meetings but you’re a big advocate
of one on one meetings. – Yeah, and so that
every member of the team has a one on one meeting, which ideally they’re
setting the agenda for, and that those happen
either weekly or biweekly for each person so that they
make sure that they’re in sync. – Yeah, and I think the big thing is that that meeting is for the person, it’s not the manager’s meeting. I think that is, this is
something that we try to push and we talked a lot about, it’s not the meeting
to show up and be like, so, what do you want to talk about? – Yep, that’s a fail. – If there’s nothing to talk
about, don’t have the meeting. Cancel the meeting, you don’t
have to have it every week. – Yep. – Okay, the last two tools
before we wrap this one up, Slack, obviously, which we use daily. I don’t think we need to
go into how we use Slack. It’s obvious. – You know, one funny thing, I was reading an article
this morning which was how to deal with Slack
overload, it’s funny. – I tweeted something this
weekend, I was in Vermont and I had bad internet and
so I was on the computer, and I got a ton of writing done
because I didn’t have Slack. – Exactly, so like email overload, the solution was supposed to be Slack. – We’re back.
– We’re back. Slack overload. – It’s crazy, it’s crazy. I think it’s just is discipline. You don’t have to respond to everything. – Yep. – Email is interesting to me, though. I think email is having a comeback. I’m trying to push email back. – DG has an agenda, bring email back. I wrote in a wiki post, just
hashtag bring email back. Because I think there’s things that like, because everything is real time today, we want, hey David, here’s this thing, here’s my feedback, check it out. – Here’s this link, check out this link. – That works for a lot of things, here’s a link to this thing, you might find it
interesting, check it out. But if I need your feedback on something, I know you now are like, the way to get your feedback on that isn’t to send you a Slack
message in the middle of the day and be like, here’s this
thing, I need your feedback. I might send you a Slack message saying, hey, FYI, I just emailed you this thing. I put it in your inbox. – That’s how to tell me
to actually read my email. Since I don’t read my email. – There’s a lot of stuff
in there, I’ve seen it. – (laughing)
– I’ve seen it. – But yeah, just trying to
push people to rely on email more for things that aren’t real time. Not everything needs to be real time, and it’s harder to give longer, in-depth, thoughtful feedback on
something via Slack, one off in the middle of the day. – Totally, I think if it’s like an FYI, or if it’s something that
people need to sleep on or ponder on, those things
should be outside of Slack. Those things should be in email so that we can spend time on it and let’s declutter Slack. – Declutter Slack, that’s where we’re at. – Yeah, we’re overloaded. – Alright, so let’s leave
people with a couple takeaways. It’s not really the tactics,
but it’s basically like we are building a culture
around three pillars, and that’s no meetings,
transparency, and showing your work. We didn’t talk about showing your work. – I love that, three
pillars, the power of threes. – Talk about show your work for a sec before we wrap up though. – Sure, show your work
is one of our values. We try to push everyone from
day one and continuously to do exactly that, which
is show your work, right? Which means it’s kind of
our version of shipping, which is more applicable to everyone else. – Do you think that having
show your work as a value, though, doesn’t that impact from top down to internal communication? – Yeah, absolutely. So you need to show your work and so we try to err towards instead of perfecting
something off in a corner, show your work or show the progress as you’re going along in that work, because there you can
have things that happen, especially if you communicate
with people one on one, where you might have suggestions, people might have suggestions
for what you’re doing, have ways to improve it
or might even point out, like hey we did something just like that that you may have not seen,
and here it is, check it out and so there’s more
opportunity to collaborate and to work together as we show our work. – Alright, before you send us
off with the call to action, I gotta do fan love. – Alright. – Fan love of the week. This one is from C. Andre, he said, he, she, I don’t know why I said that. “Awesome chemistry, pragmatic topics “with a refreshing spin to them, “entertaining and easy
listen for management wisdom. “Gerhardt is a great interviewer
and conversationalist. “Cancel is a time-tested founder and CEO. “Together, they crush it.” That’s fan love for this week. – How many stars? – One, two, three, four, five stars. – Five stars, wow. – 210 five-star reviews now. – We only have 90 left. Come on, people. – 90 left, I thought
the goal was 600, 700? – Oh, I’m just talking
about short-term goals. (laughing) Yeah, short term, short term. – Alright, alright. – Trying to be, show progression. – Appreciate that. That means a lot. – Let’s get 90 more
five-star reviews only. Not four, not three, not two, not one. We only 210 five-star
reviews, leave your reviews, show your love, DG does not
get any love during the week, he needs some. – Please. This is the highlight.
– I definitely need some. – I get zero, I’m at
negative love right now. (laughing) – So hook me up with some five stars. – You only get hate these days. – I get hate, which is okay. If I can’t get love, I’ll get hate. But let’s get five-star reviews out there, help us blow up, and please
hit that subscribe button. Subscribe to Seeking Wisdom. See ya. (hip hop music)

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