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Happiest of Wednesdays’ my fellow readers! We’ve got some super exciting news to share today! And we’re going to start off with a little story…

Once upon a time two years ago, we were hiring. It was right before Christmas and all through the house of Accounting Therapy, the bookkeepers were hard at work! Too hard at work! Our team was drowning, we had one team member out on maternity leave, and an intern to help pick up the slack, but we needed extra hands. The bookkeeping gods heard our cries and sent Katy Hayes to our rescue. I interviewed her and knew I had found “the one”! She was perfect. The only problem was, someone saw her star quality as well and she had another offer on the table that she was considering.

So, I did the only thing I could, I tried to woo her with our company culture, starting with our Core Values & our Mission, Vision, & Purpose (in case you missed it, I highlighted these earlier this month on the blog…check ‘em out here!) And guess what? It worked; she swiped right on us!

Katy came to work for us on January 11th, 2022, and it’s been only great things ever since. That said, it’s my absolute pleasure to be able to announce that as of the start of 2024, she is officially our new Bookkeeping Team Leader!

Now, in full transparency, Katy has been a foot & a half in this role for about 6 months prior to this official announcement as we worked to transition the role from me (Taylor) to her. So, we are already aware of what her leadership style looks like and let me just tell you, it’s that of legends.

She is direct, kind, compassionate, sincere, and most importantly, honest to a fault. She has no problem telling her team when they are doing something that may need improvement (with a heavy dose of kindness, of course) and she also has no problem telling them when they are doing something right! I know she has taken a lot of her style from the book Radical Candor and also found some great tidbits from a virtual class she took via Morning Brew’s continued education offerings!

I went ahead and asked Katy for her top takeaways from these two resources and here’s what she had to share:

1) You’re not ever doing anyone any favors by not telling them they have something in their teeth.
  • That’s what you need to think about when you’re having conversations with your team, or really with anyone. There’s a nice, tactical way to tell people about how they can improve when you’re giving feedback. And for the most part, people want to improve and do better and will be grateful in the long run that you’ve been direct, yet kind, when giving feedback.

2) Everyone already knows about compliment sandwiches, so I hate using those.
  • It’s something that’s been so overdone at this point, so I don’t like to use compliment sandwiches. News is news, just deliver the news and move on. No one needs extra hot air blown up their tush.
3) If you don’t establish relationships with people, it’s hard to deliver news in a caring way.
  • There’s a lot of trains of thought on this. A lot of people don’t think you should get close to the people you manage, or other people on your team, but I don’t agree with that. At the same time, it also doesn’t mean that you need to give them all the intimate details of your life, there can be a happy medium.

Dang. That’s some good stuff, thanks for sharing, Katy!

As a person that hates confrontation, some of these tactics, I’ll admit, are hard for me. So, what I’ve personally found is having a structured environment to deliver feedback is key for me to be able to deliver less than amazing feedback. Which brings me to the main topic for today: scheduled team check-ins.

About the time Katy started, we were in the midst of implementing EOS® (if you’re an avid Accounting Therapy blog reader, you’ll have heard me talk about this before!) And part of the EOS® world is a meeting they refer to as the Quarterly Conversation. High level, the quarterly conversation is exactly what it sounds like, a check-in that happens quarterly with individuals on your team. So, let’s dig in…

What is a Quarterly Conversation?

The quarterly conversation is an informal one-one-one meeting (check-in) with a person you manage/your manager. Each person prepares for this meeting in advance thinking through their last three months of work. Some questions we ask both the team member and the manager to think about when prepping is:

    • What went right?
    • What went wrong?
    • How could things be improved?
    • What resources are needed and not readily available?
    • Is the team member happy?
    • What education is required to achieve any goals?
    • What are their goals in the company?
    • How are they doing personally?
The meeting itself is fairly casual; it’s truly meant to be a conversation between the two team members. There’s no write-up that goes to HR and instead just a few notes taken just to reference the next time one of these conversations is scheduled.

When is a Quarterly Conversation?
This is personal preference, but at Accounting Therapy, we set it up in three-month increments based on when a team member is hired. For example, if a team member is onboarded in early January, their first quarterly conversation is scheduled for early April, next in early July, so on and so forth. We then use the scheduled quarterly conversation in January to be a hybrid annual review. And to make things really simple, as soon as a team member is hired, each quarterly conversation is automatically scheduled on their calendar as well as their managers on a three-month recurring basis… so the time is already blocked, and no one even has to think about it! (Want to know more about time blocking & boxing, check out this blog.)

How long is a Quarterly Conversation?
Typically, these are an hour. A few times they have gone over, and a few times they have been shorter. It just depends on what’s going on in your world. But I would definitely recommend blocking a full hour to start.

Where is a Quarterly Conversation?
In a perfect world, these would be outside of the workplace to truly disconnect from the pings of other team members and the undone work that’s calling your name, begging you to be distracted and not fully present. But the world isn’t perfect and since we’re a fully remote team, we just do ours via a Microsoft Teams video meeting. I will say whether it’s virtual or in person, make sure it’s face to face, so you can truly get a read on anything that may remain unspoken (albeit the goal is to speak your mind)!

What’s the benefit of a Quarterly Conversation?
To circle back to my earlier comment, re: my hatred of confrontation, this is where this meeting really shines for me, both as a manager and as a person who is managed. Having a pre-scheduled, structured environment to be able to ask questions and raise any concerns alleviates a lot of stress. As a manager, I know that I can address things that need to be improved without having to schedule another meeting to discuss it. As a team member, it gives me the ground and space to vocalize my own concerns or frustrations and come to the meeting with a mindset that’s ready to receive feedback.

And the Reality of a Quarterly Conversation…
To be honest, the quarterly conversation is amazing. For our team, they have created a space where they can be heard and get feedback outside of their annual review. And for our managers, it has allowed them time to do a professional and personal check-in with the people they manage.

And that’s where we’ll wrap it up for today! If you want more info on how EOS approaches the quarterly conversation, check out this link.

Thanks for reading along & cheers to you and your team!

1 Response

Jacob Bower

Jacob Bower

February 21, 2024

I’ve personally know Katy my whole life. She has always been a hard and dedicated worker and fun to work with!
She has a tendency to rise to leadership roles and anywhere she works would be lucky to have her. Katy has found a job she loves and respects her back. Thats great!

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