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August 29, 2023

Management is Repetition

Management is Repetition

As a manager, repetition is critical. It’s all too easy to assume your key messages have sunk in after communicating them once. Unfortunately, you will have to regularly reinforce priorities and goals to maintain your team’s focus.

Here’s why you need to repeat yourself, the right ways to do it and how to make repetition a more natural part of your team’s management.

Why You Need to Repeat Yourself

Repeating key messages may seem tedious, but it’s essential to maintain focus and make progress. Here’s the main reasons why managers need to repeat themselves:

Building Consensus — When making the company’s upcoming plans, solicit feedback and suggestions from the team to improve motivation and alignment. Of course, that will mean you’ll have to repeat your proposals often.

Regular Reminders — In a startup’s busy work environment, it’s easy for team members to forget the company’s core priorities. Remind your team of those priorities often, via all the channels you have available: voice, email, chat, etc.

Competing Priorities — Team members constantly juggle short and long term responsibilities. Reiterating the company’s most important priorities will help maintain their focus.

When to Repeat Things

Repeating key points at the right time will maximize their effectiveness. Here’s when you should revisit the company’s priorities.

All Hands Meetings — I recommend doing a weekly all-hands meeting for as long as it’s logistically possible at your company. In that meeting, review the company’s top priorities to keep everyone on the same page.

Goal Planning — When planning weekly, monthly and quarterly goals, you should regularly reinforce the company’s top priorities and mission. It’s all too easy to prioritize time consuming tasks that don’t fit with your long term goals.

1-on-1s — In 1-on-1s with direct reports, tailor your answers around the goals that were agreed upon during planning. This will result in better outcomes for all concerned.

Moments of Conflict — Every startup has conflict and sometimes resetting the conversation can help by repeating the company’s mission and near term goals, then making a plan from there. Hopefully, this is common ground all sides can agree on.

Cultural Norms

You can’t be everywhere, all the time, so over time you and your co-founders will need to instill a culture of repetition across the company.

Metrics — Create and track core metrics to measure your company’s progress. Each month you can use those same metrics as the foundation of your upcoming goals, e.g. Daily Active Users is our core metric, we want to hit 100 DAUs this month.

Coaching Middle Managers — Encourage your direct reports and middle managers to repeat their team’s priorities and link them to the wider company goals. This reinforces the priorities without your direct intervention.

Celebrate Wins — Celebrate when you hit an often-repeated goal. Recognize any individuals who went above and beyond, while acknowledging all those involved. This further emphasizes the goal’s importance and builds a positive feedback loop.

Effective management requires repetition. Priorities get lost, focus drifts, and reminders are often required. As a manager, expect to repeat yourself and take the opportunity to do it right; it’s an essential part of leadership.

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Ash Rust

Ash Rust

Managing Partner, Sterling Road

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