The role of the CEO: managing your reports

There are a few key elements to managing your team of reports. A lot has been written about this topic already, so rather than write something for the sake of writing, here are some relevant links and brief suggestions.

1. You should hold regular 1:1s with your team. Ben Horowitz has great advice on how to hold 1:1 meetings in a pair of posts. 1

2. Once you are at about 30 people, you should hold a weekly staff meeting.

  • Schedule a regular weekly time.
  • Review key metrics.
  • Be ready with a set of key topics for discussion on broader company or product strategy or key issues a functional area faces. Different members of the staff can present on a specific key topics or issue each week. Note: this is not meant to be an opportunity for team members to give an in-depth update once a week—it is a forum for discussion of metrics and strategy.
  • Remember the purpose of the meeting may be more for your reports then for you. While you have context on what every executive is doing, the other executives will not otherwise have clarity into their peers’ organizations. The weekly staff meetings are meant to create a forum for knowledge sharing and issue raising, relationship building, collaboration, and strategy.

3. You should start to add skip-level meetings as one way to stay in touch with the broader organization. As companies scale, the CEO often starts to lose touch with what is happening in the company. Information starts to get filtered by middle managers or hires from big companies, who view their job in part as shielding the CEO from “unimportant” information. The problem is that they may wind up shielding you from ideas that you consider quite important to know.

In a skip-level meeting, you meet with employees who work for your reports or are further down in the organizational chart. Often extremely bright junior people may have their fingers on the pulse of the market, or may be alert to key new ideas or information. You’ll benefit from hearing from them, and these promising people will also benefit from learning how you think about your company, product, market, and culture.

Skip-level meetings help you:

  • Create open lines of communication.
  • Identify and nurture new talent.
  • Get new ideas from people at the front lines of the company.

One key is to hold skip-level meetings without your reports feeling threatened. If a person’s manager shows up to what is explicitly a skip-level meeting, there is likely something wrong with that manager or their management style. It is also up to you to clearly articulate to your report that you hold skip-level meetings with numerous people at the company so that they do not feel threatened or concerned.

  1. See links on [ and]