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Manager & Team Practices

Manager Charter

[RFC] Manager Charter
Summary: Document the core expectations of every people manager at HashiCorp. Status: WIP | In-Review | Approved | Obsolete
Created: Dec. 5, 2019 Owner: Margaret Gillette
Current Version: 1.0 Contributors: Exec Staff, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley
  Approvers: Jeff Harper, Dave McJannet

Background

As of this writing, HashiCorp has ~145 people managers with anywhere from 1 direct report to over 20. Many are first-time managers transferred from individual contributor roles into people management positions without clear expectations outlined for what is expected of them in their new jobs. Others come from the outside with management experience at companies that vary widely in size, industry, and stage. They bring the expectations of managers at those companies to HashiCorp and execute upon them, whether or not they best match the needs of HashiCorp, at our size, in our industry and in our present phase.

Given our expected growth and average span-of-control (approximately 1:5.5), we can reasonably expect to hire another ~127 managers in FY21. A people management team of 272, primarily distributed, with widely varied understanding of what people managers are expected to focus on could have a significant impact on everything from culture to achievement of our company objectives. The dramatic growth in manager numbers and the lack of documented expectations for managers leads to three primary challenges — leadership development, team objective-setting, and performance management of managers. 

Presently, expectations of managers are communicated indirectly through our company principles and through job postings written by senior managers. The principles serve as useful guidelines for behaviors, but are not meant to convey job expectations. Job postings set expectations for individual positions prior to hire. Each manager job posting is unique, written for a very specific job opening applicable to one team. Additionally, they are rarely updated as context changes. This leaves a significant gap in terms of common standards around what people managers at HashiCorp do, what they are responsible for, and what hiring criteria we use to recruit and select them. This lack of common expectations for managers makes recruitment, leadership development, team objective-setting, and performance management challenging because there is no core framework upon which to build out these systems. 

In addition to the principles and job postings, we communicate expectations for individual contributors through our career matrices. Career matrices are meant to show how expectations change by level (ie. Apprentice Engineer up through Principal Engineer) and are unique to every group. We presently have matrices in place for Engineering, Product Marketing, Product Management, Education, Developer Advocacy and Accounting with the intent to complete these matrices for every job function with more than 20 constituents in FY21. We also intend to create these functional matrices for people managers in larger organizations, such as Marketing and Engineering. However these future functional management matrices are dependent upon a core framework that lays out the expectations of managers across all positions, levels and groups. See similar examples from Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Amazon. In the absence of such a general, company-wide framework for people management, we are unlikely to create shared expectations of managers between groups.

Proposal

We propose the creation and implementation of a Manager Charter - a simple framework outlining the core and most critical expectations and responsibilities of people managers at HashiCorp.  

Goals of the Manager Charter

The Manager Charter sets expectations around three primary areas of responsibility for managers at HashiCorp. Managers (1) set expectations for teams and team members,  (2) effectively manage against those expectations, and (3) hire, grow, and develop teams that can meet the objectives set, now and in the future. 

Manager Charter

1) HashiCorp managers set expectations.

  • Managers set team objectives that are aligned vertically and horizontally, supporting organizational objectives cross-functionally.

  • Managers set individual expectations with their team members that reflect priorities outlined by the team objectives.

  • Managers set behavioral expectations for their team members that reflect the HashiCorp principles.

  • Managers create objectives and expectations that inspire their team members in the short and long term.

2) HashiCorp managers manage to expectations.

  • Managers report progress against their team objectives to their managers, their teams, and to the organization on a consistent cycle.

  • Managers respond to changes in objectives or business conditions readily and lead their teams to do likewise.

  • Managers set and reset the expectations their managers and the organization have for their teams, keeping all those who need to know informed as change unfolds.

  • Managers provide feedback (appreciation and course-correction) to coach team members in-the-moment when it can make a positive impact on the work itself.

  • Managers clear roadblocks, obstacles, and distractions for team members so they can perform against expectations.

3) HashiCorp managers plan for the future.

  • Managers role-model the principles, use them to guide their management practices, and recognize team members who exemplify them.

  • Managers make decisions based on the best outcomes for the business and communicate decisions broadly so that everyone can know and understand why and how decisions were made.

  • Managers assess their teams’ current skills against future requirements and develop team members to fill the gaps, hiring when development is not sufficient. 

  • Managers make recruitment  a top priority, accepting that they can only achieve tomorrow's objectives with filled headcount, diverse teams and adequately skilled team members.

Implementation

The manager charter will be communicated to all people managers with a summary of the  management development program that will support them in delivering against the charter.

Management and Leadership Development

The Manager Charter, a foundational framework for expectations of our managers, will become the basis for our management and leadership development offering now and throughout our current phase. 

  • Roll out Manager Charter in the end of Q4 FY20

  • Setting team objectives and individual expectations in Q1

  • Managing against expectations in Q2

  • Developing team members in Q3

  • Developing teams in Q4 (programs that support managers in developing individual team members will launch throughout the year)

Appendix

Development of the Charter

The charter was developed based upon the input of a subset of our HashiCorp executive team (Rob Abbott, Navam Welihinda, Ash Nangia, Kevin Fishner, Preeti Somal, Marc Holmes, and James Bayer). Other contributors have included Jeff Harper, Joe Fowler, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, Kate Caulfield, Pat Davis, and Amy Jones. Contributors were asked two primary questions (1) What do the most successful people managers at HashiCorp do? and (2) What are HashiCorp people managers not doing, or not doing enough of, that will become critical as we move through our current phase?  These interviews were recorded and the transcripts analyzed. There was a general agreement reflected among all of the contributors that managers at HashiCorp must (1) set expectations for teams and team members,  (2) effectively manage against those expectations, and (3) hire, grow, and develop teams that can meet the objectives set. There was also significant agreement on basic methods for executing against these three areas of responsibility, as outlined above.