Matthew Rechs, who works in product design at a tech company, first became a manager roughly 25 years ago.
He’ll be the first to admit that he wasn’t the best leader back in those days. In fact, by his own account, he was “a terrible manager” back then.
These days, Rechs says he’s considerably better at leading – and a tweet thread he posted earlier this month that went viral seems to vouch for that.
In the thread, titled 11 Promises From a Manager, Rechs, who’s also a career and business coach, outlined the kind of relationship he tries to forge with employees who report to him directly. As he sees it, the manager-employee relationship should emphasize clarity and trust while also prioritising the individual worker’s needs.
“I’ve managed about 100 people since I first started,” Rechs told HuffPost in an email. “At some point I discovered the idea of servant leadership, which for me means that leaders should center the needs of their people rather than themselves.”
Rechs’ promises as he wrote them are as follows:
We’ll have a weekly 1:1. I’ll never cancel this meeting, but you can cancel it whenever you like. It’s your time.
Our 1:1 agenda will be in the meeting invite so we remember important topics. But you’re always free to use the time for whatever’s on your mind.
When I schedule a meeting with you, I’ll always say *when I schedule it* what it’s meant to be about. I will not schedule meetings without an agenda.
When I drop into your DM’s, I’ll always say “hi and why.” No suspense, no small talk while you are wondering what I want.
News or announcements that significantly impact you, your work, or your team will come from me directly in a 1:1, not revealed in a big meeting.
You’ll get feedback from me when it’s fresh. There will be no feedback in your performance review that you’re hearing for the first time.
I trust you to manage your own time. You don’t need to clear with me in advance your time AFK or OOO.
Your work gets done your way. My focus is on outcomes, not output. Once we’re clear on where we need to go, how to get there is up to you. If I ever find it necessary to suggest a specific approach, I will supply an example.
A team is strongest when it’s working together, looking after one another, and taking care of each other. Please look to your left and to your right for opportunities to help your colleagues. Please ask for help when you need it. Nobody works alone.
I trust you to skip level and talk to my manager or other senior management about anything you feel is relevant. You don’t need to clear it with me, and I’m not going to get weird about it when you do.
I will attribute credit appropriately to you and your team. I will never exaggerate my own role or minimize your contribution. I’ll be especially certain to nail down attribution when senior management are hearing of our accomplishments.
At the end of the Twitter thread, Rechs shared the one thing he asks in return from his direct reports.
“If this sounds good to you, please reciprocate by giving me in return what I need most: The truth. Give me your feedback, say when I’m wrong, and tell me your ideas for how we can do better,” he wrote. “If we trust each other, we can learn and grow together. That’s how I want to work with you.”
The initial tweet in the thread has racked up 7,124 retweets and 57,300 “likes” since Rechs posted it on April 18.
“This is what good leadership looks like,” one man said in a quote-retweet.
Another joked, “This is one of the most valuable threads I’ve run across and I’m bookmarking it as Best Practices For Not Freaking Out People With Anxiety. (hi. it’s me.).”
Melody Wilding, an executive coach and author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work, isn’t surprised the thread went viral.
With returns to offices happening in a hybrid form for many workers and with so many traditional workplace structures being reexamined, employees want to hold on to the autonomy they gained during the coronavirus pandemic, Wilding said.
“This thread encapsulates what employees want most right now: clarity, empathy, and transparency and trust,” she said.
“Bosses need to show their teams they trust them,” she added. “It doesn’t matter how something gets done as long as the final work product meets expectations. It’s far more important that your team feels ownership and autonomy.”
Workplace expert Lynn Taylor was a fan of the thread, too, but she had one minor criticism: When it comes to promise number 10 on the list – the one in which Rechs tells his direct reports it’s fine to skip levels and talk to his manager and other senior management if they need to – Taylor doesn’t think most bosses will be quite as open-minded about that.
“That’s a highly motivational approach,” said Taylor, the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. “It may be a lofty goal in real life with some managers.”
The best approach may be to test the waters first; maybe you even reference the viral tweets. “Ask your manager how they feel about the idea,” Taylor said.
“These ‘promises’ seem to be founded on service to team members, and far too few leaders see their jobs as serving,” he told HuffPost. “One-on-one meetings, for instance, are one of the most powerful ways leaders can serve, develop, coach and validate their team members.”
Most leaders “are trained to focus on results, not respect,” Edmonds added. “They have leadership role models that drive performance above all else.”
Ultimately, though, there’s room for growth with any manager, even bad ones. Rechs himself is proof of that.
“I don’t believe in bad managers anymore,” he told us. “No manager of mine was as bad, probably, as I have been myself. There really is no growth without failure.”