It has roughly been one year since I took on my new role at Microsoft as a PM. This shows up quite a bit on the number of blog post added here.
During this year, I learned some fundamentals behaviors that help me do a better job.
- Clean inbox
Outlook is incredibly powerful to handle tons of emails, a few ‘best’ practices will help you to stay afloat on your emails. Top of minds practices:
- Put all emails from a distribution list in a folder, this can be done simply by adding a new rule. This will help reduce the number of emails you need to go through.
- Flag your email, when I read my emails, I flag the one I need to take action on (setting a day when it needs to be completed), this helps me prioritize what emails to answer to. When I send email and I am expecting an answer, I flag them too. The time depends on how long I can wait for an answer. I also add a category to it (“waiting for an answer”), so I know I don’t to actively do something for this email.
- Remove distraction – there are a few settings where you can remove any visual notification of incoming emails, this will help you avoid being distracted. Also, opening your email box at only a few given moments can help.
- Unread = 0, my goal is to get as close as possible to 0 unread email, this help me avoid any situation where I don’t reply to an email or that I miss an email.
- Flagged for today = 0, as much as possible you should try to have your flagged email for the day be close to 0. Otherwise it means that you are either not responding in a timely fashion or that you are incorrectly flagging your emails.
- Send note of each meeting
When you setup a meeting, you probably want to address some questions. During the meeting a lot of decisions can be taken, explicit or implicit. Call them out when sending the meeting note. It happened, more than one time, that a few months after a meeting had taken place people memories and understanding change. This force everybody to go back to the meeting room and discuss again about something already agreed upon in the past. It saves everybody time and stress when everything is well documented.
- Prepare for meeting in advanceWhen a meeting is coming your way, prepare for it, schedule some time ahead so that everything can go smoothly and that you have all the questions and answers ready. If you are calling the meeting, you need to make sure to have a plan (agenda) for the meeting, so that people time is used as efficiently as possible.
- Communicate clearly
When you communicate information with a broad range of people, the best is to give them all the information in order to avoid any assumption or confusion. Clear any doubt out of the way, even if this means repeating yourself. Set clear expectation if people needs to do something, make clear when they need to deliver something.
- Know your peopleYou will need to apply different strategy to convince different folks. Some will need to see data, some will need to feel like they take the decision, some will need to be pushed, and some will cooperate. Take the time to know them outside of work, go get a drink with them. Having trust and respect is, in my opinion one, of the best way to get where you want to be.