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4.0 BELIEF

Show that you are paying attention

By not paying attention to teams' updates we are intentionally or unintentionally communicating what matters to us, and quite frankly, what does not. How might we be more deliberate with our digital attention?

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4.0 RITUAL – Show that you are paying attention

Acknowledge weekly updates

Stop waiting for the next meeting. Actually, scratch that, what if you just cancel your status meetings altogether? Is anyone even listening these days? Don’t get us wrong we are BIG FANS of quick and regular feedback. It’s critical to move work forward. But why wait to share updates and give feedback until calendar tetris allows you to schedule a meeting?

We find the best feedback loops are fast, efficient and frequent. So Atlassian teams have been favoring written updates and feedback over meetings for the past 5 years. The benefits are plentiful:

  • Conversations and decisions are well-documented for future reference
  • Feedback givers can have time to process and write more meaningful responses
  • When no feedback is needed, time is not wasted. Stakeholders react in one-click and get back to their flow

Think of this concept of regular feedback as similar to core concepts in agile. Agile teams are often more successful because they are lean, consistent, collaborative and iterative. Apply those same agile principles to the way you react to status updates; give a like, reflect and respond and don’t wait for a meeting to respond.

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Before and after diagram of unengaged dialogue to engaged
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PRACTICE with your team
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4.1 technique – show that you are paying attention
Climbing steps with caption: progress > perfection
Climbing steps with caption: progress > perfection

Level your feedback in line with phase/fidelity

Feedback is a powerful way to motivate (or de-motivate!) a team. Make sure you’re on the same page about the phase of the project to ensure your feedback fuels the team instead of frustrates them.

How to set up the technique

Step 0

To best set this play up for success, we recommend starting by running the Agree on “what is a project” and phases from Common Vocab over Common Tooling belief. Once you are clear on the phases of projects and have a mechanism to connect the project phase with the updates, use this play to build a habit of giving appropriate feedback.

Step 1

Pick a block of time in your week to read and respond to project updates. We recommend Monday morning.

Step 2

Within a calendar invite (to block your time) or your personal to-do list tool, create a list of quick-links that will direct you instantly to each team’s update (even if they are recorded in different tools).

Step 3

As you are consuming each team’s update consider the following prompts to help guide your feedback:

  • Does the team have questions or issues that you can resolve? Answer them or raise a follow-up action.
  • Do you have a question about the project? Ask it and mention the relevant point of contact.
  • Do you have a question about the project? Ask it and mention the relevant point of contact.
  • Is there any feedback you want to provide about the project or the update itself? Leave your feedback and mention the relevant point of contact.
  • Is there something you want to recognize the team for? Celebrate their achievement and/or leave a positive reaction!
Step 4

Share feedback wherever the team works, ideally in context of their work (i.e. in-line comments in a Figma file). Avoid giving feedback 1:1 to project owners or contributors.

Step 5 (optional)

Occasionally reach out to owners of projects you follow to ask how/if your feedback is helpful and how you might improve communicating your feedback.

Anti-patterns

Defaulting to the 👍 reaction just for the sake of leaving a reaction

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4.2 technique – show that you are paying attention
Typing on keyboard with caption: Is anyone reading this? Yes!
Typing on keyboard with caption: Is anyone reading this? Yes!

Create a read receipts mechanism

Read receipts work because the help close the loop on conversation. For some updates that don’t need explicit feedback, showing that people have seen the update helps project owners understand its value.

How to set up the technique

Step 1

Identify a tool that has built-in analytics for content.

Step 2

Partner with the project owners to identify the target audience for their projects. Ensure that these stakeholders are “subscribed” or receiving the project updates.

Step 3

Set a % of stakeholder goal for weekly updates. Encourage project owners to track their % of total stakeholders who read their updates on a week to week basis.

Step 4

Analyze the highest performing updates. Assess the qualities (and/or environmental circumstances) that are common across the highest and lowest read updates.

Step 5

Record the best practices (best performing) and anti-patterns (worst performing) for project updates. Apply your learnings to future updates and share your lessons with your broader team.

variations

If you don’t have access to collaborative tools like Confluence, Team Central or Outlook simply ask readers to check a box or sign their name once they’ve read a page.

4.3 technique – show that you are paying attention
High five with caption: sounds like an excuse for free food
High five with caption: sounds like an excuse for free food

Follow relevant projects & celebrate wins together

No work happens in isolation. Stay in tune with related work so that you understand how other teams may impact your work and reciprocate the excitement for their achievements.

How to set up the technique

Step 1

Setup a brainstorming space (digital or in-person) for your project team to record ideas.

Step 2

Ask for input from all team members on projects, programs (or even just ideas) they are aware of that relate to your team’s work.

Step 3

Group all brainstormed related work. Groupings can be by theme (customer love, operational infrastructure, etc.), function, time horizon, or whatever will help you make sense of the groups (and ideally serve other teams too!)

Step 4

Create a memorable label for each grouping. Assign a team member to each group to stay in tune with existing, completed and new work in that space.

Step 5

Each team member should reach out to project owners to identify the best way to “follow” their projects (get added to their mailing list, join their slack channel, ask to join their standups/meetings, follow their Team Central project, etc.)

Step 6

As related projects share updates, read and engage with their updates with questions, feedback or appreciation by leaving comments or reactions.

Step 7

Create an agenda item in an existing meeting to share top level updates from each group of projects monthly (or as needed). Alternatively, setup a way to asynchronously share updates within your team’s intranet, chat or reporting tools/rituals.

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If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

6th President of the United States

Explore all the Loop techniques


1.0 Open up your work in progress


1.1   Create reference-able handles


1.2   Open up comments & questions (avoid 1:1 messages)


1.3   Distribute updates in channels where teams live


2.0 Curate, don't automate


2.1   Character constrain your updates


2.2   Update async, spar in real time


2.3   Balance qualitative + quantitative


3.0 Common vocabulary over common tooling


3.1   Define your project’s what, why & how


3.2   Agree on “what is a project” and phases


3.3   Define your status markers (On Track (green), At Risk (yellow), Off Track (red))


4.0 Show that you are paying attention


4.1   Level your feedback in line with phase/fidelity


4.2   Create a read receipts mechanism


4.3   Follow relevant projects & celebrate wins together