Few roles at Basecamp are as critical as the Director of Operations. This person is responsible for keeping the lights on and the sites fast while managing seven people split across two teams. All of this while building strategic plans, managing project work and taking the occasional on-call shift. We set an incredibly high bar in our job posting for this position and still received 441 undaunted applicants.
From this group of very qualified people, Basecamp is proud to announce that Troy Toman has joined the team as our new Director of Operations. Troy has a long history in the tech industry with stints at IBM, Sun and Rackspace. For the past five years, Troy has been working for Planet Labs, which has been providing satellite imaging of the whole world.
Troy brings with him a ton of experience in diverse roles such as management, data center operations, software engineering and cloud infrastructure. We’re all excited to have him on board as we shape a vision for the future of Basecamp infrastructure and operations together.
You’re giving feedback because you want your team to improve. Here’s how to give feedback that precisely helps nudge your team in the right direction.
The reason you’re giving feedback is because you want something to be different, in the first place. You want a direct report to make sure he’s not rubbing the rest of the team the wrong way. You want a new hire to improve how she interacts with clients.
It can be easy to lose sight of this amidst the hoopla of management material that screams “feedback is important” and the day-to-day grind of managing your team and executing on your top priorities. But that’s the point at the end of the day (and in many ways, the most important part of your role as a manager): To encourage your team, constructively.
The tricky part is giving feedback in a way where this becomes true – where your team does feel encouraged to change their behavior. After all, there are so many ways it can go wrong. They can misinterpret your feedback as being aloof and off-the-mark and ignore what you have to say. They can be offended by your feedback and over-compensate in certain areas. They can feel blindsided by your feedback and become demotivated in their work.
Figuring out, “Is there a right time? Is there a right way?” to giving feedback is key.
The Rework podcast is back from summer break! It’s time to get back to work, but it’s important not to overdo it. In this episode, Ty Fujimura, president of web design firm Cantilever, talks about how he escaped the Cult of Overwork; why it’s important to rethink the relationship between hours “worked” and actual productivity; and how establishing healthier patterns in the workplace has helped diversify his staff.
Ty talks more about his experiences in this essay. And remember to subscribe to Rework if you haven’t already! We release new episodes every Tuesday.
When we launched Shape Up, we consciously didn’t want that book trapped behind a sleazy quid pro quo requirement for an email address. And now we’ve gone back to fix the mistake that was asking for one with Getting Real, our free ebook from 2006 about how to build a successful web application.
If you have a mailing list that’s worth signing up for, you don’t need to trick, cajole, or bribe people in other to get them on board. You only need to do that when you know that most people wouldn’t voluntarily join. That’s a pretty weirdly coercive play.
But that’s true of a lot of the industry BEST PRACTICES. There’s a whole cottage industry of bullshit around how CONTENT MARKETING is supposed to work. Ugh. Even just that word: CONTENT MARKETING. I can’t say without a slight gag.
If you have something to say, say it. If you have something to share, share it. Don’t invent things to say or to share just such that you can package up that pink slime as a golden nugget of truth to trade for someone’s contact information.
That’s the same insincere, manipulative logic behind influencer marketing. It’s all about disguising the sale with a thin, flimsy layer of purchased credibility. No wonder we’re all so skeptical and cynical these days. Because we have a million good A/B-optimized reasons to be.
Not everything needs to be tracked. Not everything needs to pay off. It’s perfectly fine to do things because it’s fun, feels good, is interesting, tickles your brain, or just helps someone out.
Enjoy Getting Real! Keep your email address in your pocket.
It wasn’t like we were doing anything as nefarious as those nasty Superhuman trackers, but still, we used the default settings in our mailing list software, which aggregates open rates, and had our own diagnostics tracker, to provide debugging insight for support.
But neither of those two use cases felt compelling enough to justify tracking everyone’s emails all the time. Reading an email shouldn’t leave a long data trail, regardless of whether that trail is used in fairly innocuous ways, like an aggregate open-rate calculation, or in its most devious, like spying on whether a personal email has been seen and from where.
So we killed the diagnostics tracking and turned off the mailing list tracking too. Now the only “tracking” that emails from Basecamp will do is to mark the message you’re seeing in your email as read within the application (and only if you’re a registered user). A feature in service of the recipient, not the sender, not us.
The tech industry has been so used to capturing whatever data it could for so long that it has almost forgotten to ask whether it should. But that question is finally being asked. And the answer is obvious: This gluttonous collection of data must stop.
So we keep taking the steps at Basecamp to examine our use of data, stop collecting it unless its strictly necessary in service of customers, and cut down all the ways we may be sharing it with others (dumping Google Analytics from our marketing pages is next!).
Privacy isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also better business. Discerning customers are already demanding it, and everyone else will too soon enough.
The internet is hurting. It’s been colonized and exploited by a small cabal of tech companies. It’s taken most of us a while catch up to the gravity of the situation, but grave it is.
Yet we all sit with the power to ease the pain, even if we can’t cure it in an instant. You don’t have to go cold turkey on everything Big Tech. That’s almost impossible at the moment. Such is the stronghold. But every little bit helps.
So does the perspective that an alternative doesn’t have to give you 100% of what you were getting to be worth the switch. Yeah, so DuckDuckGo might not match Google on every search, but it’s more than good enough to be good enough most of the time.
The world is full of alternatives to the Big Tech offerings that give you 95% of the utility for 0% of the regret. But if you can’t even be bothered to give up 5% to help an alternative along, you also can’t be surprised when the alternatives are so few and far between.
You can heal the internet. One choice – one search! – at the time.
It seems everyone’s after actionable advice. The advice that tells you exactly what to do. Read this, do exactly that, and here’s the outcome you can expect.
Most actionable advice isn’t advice at all, it’s opinion. Sure, you can give someone advice by giving them your opinion, but when you stitch actionable to the front of advice, it masquerades as fact. But it ain’t.
Why don’t we give actionable advice in REWORK and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work? Because we don’t know how you should act. The action required in any specific situation is highly contextual. If we guessed we’d probably be wrong most of the time.
We can’t tell you what to do. We don’t know what you should do. We barely know what we should do! And most of the time we don’t.
What we can tell you, however, is what we’ve done. In our own unique situation, our own context. From there you can form your own opinion about how it applies to your situation. It’s an input, not the input. Maybe it’s a perfect fit, maybe it’s a partial fit. Maybe it’s not a fit at all. The important part of the equation is you bringing your own mind – and your own situation – to bear. Apply that heavily, not actionable advice lightly.
Seek out unactionable advice. You’ll figure more out.
Virtual team building is tough. Here are 7 ways you can build social connection in a remote team, even from afar.
I’ll be shocked if you’re shocked: Building social connection in a remote team is the hardest part of managing a remote team. According to a survey we ran this past fall with 297 remote managers and employees, “fostering a sense of connection without a shared location” was seen as the #1 most difficult part of being a remote manager – and the #1 most difficult part of working remotely, in general.
It’s predictable. When you work in a co-located office, you walk by someone’s desk and give them a friendly hello, catching up about their weekend. You notice a coworker’s body language appears a little “down” so you ask if they want to grab coffee later. You share a joke over lunch with another colleague when you realize you both oddly adore the same brand of obscure New Zealand mints.
Those serendipitous moments of social connection don’t happen with the same frequency or fidelity when you’re working remotely. As a result, the sentiments of “Ah, we’re in this together” or “You’ve got my back” can be absent in a remote team, unless you deliberately foster them.