Tag: automattic

Remote Leadership: Figuring Out Feedback

Remote Leadership: Figuring Out Feedback

Working in a fully remote environment creates some unique challenges. One piece, that I’ve written about before, is the need to intentionally make visible one’s work.

This intentionality comes from the nature of the remote environment: we don’t have the natural day-to-day contact, the sort of diffusion of knowledge that one can gain from being in the same physical space.

Similarly, the need for feedback, for eyes on your work and your working style, is a very real need, and one that can be hard to figure out in a fully remote enviroment. I’m outlining here the way my team and I currently approach it – this approach has developed somewhat organically, out of company-wide surveys and smaller team discussions, and it’s working pretty well as far as I can tell. Like anything and everything we do, when it stops working, or when a better way to do it comes around, we’ll change!

Our current feedback structure has three types of feedback, each of which is quarterly, on a rolling basis. This means we end up engaging in one type of feedback every month. The three types:

  • Peer Reviews – where each member of the team reviews one random other member (including me!) on ticket and live chat transcripts.
  • 3-2-1-Oh Roadmapping – where I meet with each member of the team, and we chat about what they’re good at, what they’d like to be good at, and how I can support their journey.
  • Leadback Surveys – where the team anonymously provides me feedback on how I’m doing as their team lead. Yes, there are Likert scales involved!

In this way we’re able to provide feedback to one another, I’m able to understand how folks are feeling and how they see their personal professional journey, and my team is able to help me understand how best to serve them.

Communicating with a Remote Team: One on Ones

Communicating with a Remote Team: One on Ones

Leading a team at WordPress.com is a great opportunity – I wrote about my approach this a little bit before – we’re a fully distributed company, and we’re always able to switch things up, iterate on our work as well as our meta-work, the labor that enables us to work at our best.

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Developing Leadership at Automattic


The company I work for, Automattic, is bleeding edge in a lot of ways – I’ve spoken about this before (here, here and here). Recently I moved into a Team Lead role, working with a team of Happiness Engineers. This new team, Athens, is also doing some really cool stuff – but this Post is about the Lead role.

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Two Years at Automattic

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My first day as a full time employee at Automattic was July 29, 2013.

I would have missed it, except I was working on a spreadsheet that contained start dates, and calculated peoples’ number-of-years with the company, out to six decimal places or something. Naturally, the one whole number stood out, and sure enough, it was me. It felt like I forgot my own birthday.

Working at Automattic has brought me to many things I would not have found otherwise. I found a real appreciation for in-person brainstorming, with post-it notes and everything. I had the opportunity to run a multi day brainstorming session with some of our Happiness Engineers in Barcelona.

I’ve gone to two Grand Meetups, one in Santa Cruz, and one in Park City Utah. I’ve been a team lead and a team member. I’ve worked on hospitality teams, I’ve worked on a product team. I have been consistently impressed by the ingenuity and generosity of my coworkers.

I’ve had times I wanted to quit. I’ve looked at job listings and sighed wistfully out the window. I’ve gotten unsolicited job offers. What has kept me on board the Automattic train has been the realization that my frustrations with the job were not coming from Automattic as an organization, but from my own approach, from my own assumptions about how the job should be, rather than finding positive and productive ways to navigate the sometimes bizarre and fluid world of remote tech work that is Automattic.

That, and the knowledge that even though it can be insane, it’s insane like me. It’s my preferred flavor of madness. Being able to set my own course, both in terms of where I’m working and what I’m working on, has been so valuable  to my personal growth and my ability to be impactful within the company.

Here’s to two more. At the very least!

(Yes we’re hiring. Yes I’ll talk to you about the job.)