Support Driven Expo Folks!

Welcome to the SD Expo “How to Manage without the Micro” supplemental page!

As a reminder, this page is all about how to build or rebuild trust (in BOTH directions) within your team.

Below, you’re going to find a few main topics. It’s going to still be fairly broad, due in part to time constraints and in part to how many different ways there are to fix these issues . . . I don’t want anyone to think that what is laid out here are the only ways!

There are a wild number of folks out there who are going to be able to give you advice on this subject. Some of it is great and some . . . not so much. I’ve included a resources section which is an echo of what I spoke about in my talk.

I hope some of this helps!

Cheers and best of luck,


I have to remind you that each of the below could definitely be at least a chapter in a book, and potentially even a book in and of itself.

I know because I keep saying “I should write a book on this” and then getting overwhelmed by just how much content there would be to put in it.

The sections that I’ve included here are NOT exhaustive and shouldn’t be considered as such. If you have questions, hit me up in the Support Driven slack (@ash), somewhere in the conference, or via the form at the bottom (I am not including my email address because: bots).

First, some definitions:

Expectations in this case are meant to include items like "We as a company/team expect you to come to work from Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm". They're the things you communicate so an employee doesn't get fired right off the bat.

Norms are things like "We as a group expect you to let your team mates know when you're going to lunch and when you expect to be back and if you're going to be late to work" so that an employee doesn't get stabbed by their coworkers.

And Metrics are the level of work that is expected from each person both in quantity and in quality. "We expect you to do X number of interactions within Y time and to maintain a score of at least a Z in QA."

No matter whether your expectations, norms, and metrics are well thought out and generally “Good” or not, they need to be one specific thing:

Written down.

They absolutely MUST be in written format someplace that is public for your team to be able to see and review at any time. To me, this place should also be timestamped automatically any time a publication or change is made with a revision history. That's just to keep everyone honest (including you).

If they are not public, then your employees have a very real argument that they don't know what is expected of them. You can claim that they were told when they were onboarded or when the expectations/norms were rolled out, but were they gone that day? Was it lost in the flow of information? Did YOU forget to provide it?

The last thing that you ever want to do is work so hard with a rep to get them to a place wherein they can succeed, finding that they're not a good fit, and then moving to terminate them and then have them make a claim (real or otherwise) that they were never told what their expectations were.

Make sure that everyone is on the same page at all times and the odds of a more-harmonious existence will be increased many-fold.

This is one of the most perennial questions and is a very VERY contentious topic. Additionally, every single department's situation is going to have different requirements. As such, an in-depth-yet-generic-enough-advice-for-everyone is just not going to be possible here.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS IN REGARDS TO YOUR OWN SPECIFIC SITUATION, I would be willing to, but this is something that might cross into the realms of "actual consulting", so keep that one in mind. 😉

With that said, I am very strongly of the opinion that metrics should be divided up into employee-level metrics and department-level metrics. For the purposes of this section, I’m mostly talking with employee metrics in mind, but the messages translate across to both.

In both cases, folks should only be measured on goals which they can actually impact, roughly following the SMART protocol. If you have not yet been exposed to SMART goals, it stands for goals which are:

Specific - Goals which state exactly what will be done
Measurable - Goals which can be evaluated using data
Actionable - Goals which are within your control
Realistic/Relevant - Goals which CAN be achieved, are within your job function, and improve the department/company in some way
Timely - Goals that are bound within a timeframe

As we are not specifically talking about goals here (though if you become responsible for OKRs, SMART becomes even more important), you will not need to keep quite as close to each item, but your metrics should still be:

Specific in clearly stating what you are measuring and why.
Measurable by data (duh)
Actionable, which is HUGE. Asking reps to be responsible for Customer Sentiment (such as CSAT or NPS) or Time to Close is unfair as they cannot control these numbers.
Relevant to their role. Are you asking support representatives to sell or upsell? If so, why?
Timely . . . isn't really appropriate here. So I guess this is SMAR. 😜

"Safe" and fairly typical metrics to track include:
- Time to First Response: Responding to a customer immediately (not just an autoresponse, but an actual real response) let's them know that you're there and working on the issue.
- Time Between Responses/Time Idle: This is common in chat but also in some ticketing scenarios. Asking the customer to wait a long period between hearing from the employee with an update is not a good customer experience and should be avoided.
- Number of Interactions: This can be a very difficult metric to implement well as it is prone to manipulation (ie; cherry picking to get larger response numbers or sending responses to the customer when unnecessary). Put this in place with care and if possible, ensure that there are blocks against this practice in place.
- Quality: This is one of, if not THE, most important metrics in my opinion. This is, again, a metric and stance with some contention, but QA allows you to assign metrics to a lot of the aspects to an interaction which does not have a number assigned to it automatically.

Creating a solid QA rubric is definitely outside the scope of this section, however not only is this something which I can discuss but there is also a QA track to this very conference. I suggest you reach out to one of those amazing folks!

OK, so you've decided what metrics to track.

Well done!

Hopefully you or one of your stakeholders are able to set up your CRM to be able to pull these metrics, not just on a one-off basis but also in an ongoing fashion. In an ideal world, as mentioned ad nauseam later, you will be able to set up a dashboard that will allow you to refer to them easily and share individual representative's numbers with them AS NEEDED and ONLY with them.

Pro-Tip: Not every rep is motivated by competition with others. It's very important to remember that some folks are actually demotivated by seeing how other members of their teams are doing. Throwing all of the metrics for the entire team on a single dashboard that everyone has access to may have a detrimental effect! Avoid it if at all possible.

So, what SHOULD you do with your team's numbers?

Well, you should aggregate them so that you have average rep numbers. You should grab your department-wide numbers. And you should study them. Learn to recognize why the numbers are doing what they are doing. Understand the stories that they are telling, and then translate them to others.

Then, once you have both the numbers and the stories, you should share them.



It's so important that you do not operate a black box of a team or department. That people understand what it is that you as a team are doing, what your numbers are doing, why they're going the directions they are, and what you're doing to improve them (if they need it).

Most companies today are explicitly (and frequently exclusively) numbers driven.

But most CX folks are story driven.

It can be very difficult for us to bring those two together, but it becomes your job to marry those two and to tell the stories that are behind the numbers.

With the stories and numbers, you will have equipped yourself and will be able to go into your 1on1s with your direct supervisor and let them know where the team is and about any wins and losses that you've experienced.

As an aside, ALWAYS REMEMBER: It is a good leader's job to take responsibility for any mistakes but to share the victories with the entire team.

When you have shared those numbers, ask what questions that your boss might have. Sometimes they might have quite a few (especially when you’re first starting out). Sometimes they won’t have any. If you don't know the answer to anything, it's OK to say that you don't know, but that you'll find out. It’s far FAR better than trying to make something up. The only trick there is that you DO have to find out and report back ASAP.

As will be discussed in the final section, these numbers should also be shared as a small part of your cross-departmental syncs as well, but only a small part. They should be something that you're constantly aware of and can quote, but do not let them make all of your decisions for you . . . merely guide them at most.

As has become the tradition, a moment to clarify a definition or two:

A 1on1 is a meeting on a regular basis (whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.), and is ideally held as often as possible. I default to weekly for newer relationships and then move to twice-monthly. It is a chat either in-person or via video chat between a supervisor and their direct report.

A skiplevel is effectively a 1on1 between a supervisor and an employee who is one or more levels below them. This meeting is skipping levels of management, thus "skiplevel". It is good for all parties involved as it allows reps to know their boss' boss, it allows leadership to truly know their ICs (Individual Contributors), and keeps culture and communication flowing. If you, as a leader, have employees one or more levels removed from you, you should be conducting skiplevels on an ongoing basis and to stay ahead of them, I suggest spreading them out so that you just do a few a week.

Cross-team syncs (also, confusingly, sometimes called 1on1s) with coworkers or peers can happen with any level of person: directors with ICs, directors with directors, ICs with ICs, etc. These can happen at any time on ad-hoc bases or as regularly scheduled meetings. Again, this is helpful for regular culture and communication as well as for issue sharing.

In each of these cases I am limiting the scope and speaking only about the sorts of meetings or discussions in which one person is meeting with one other person (as opposed to standups or some other variation).

Now . . . There are so very many books, articles, thought pieces, videos, seminars, and so on that abound about the various ways in which you can or should have a 1on1 with your employees.

All of which is to say that there is no definitive right or wrong way to have one.

Actually, that's not correct. There IS a definitively wrong way to have a 1on1, that is if you don't have one at all.

I would argue that the second worst way to have a 1on1 is to make it only about the job that the representative is doing (or not doing). If you meet up with your employee and only go over their numbers, then the employee is not receiving any true benefit or coaching. This is the epitome of a meeting that could have been an email, or worse yet: a meeting that could have been a dashboard.

1on1s should be time for the EMPLOYEE. They are dedicated times for that person to spend with a member of leadership who they may not necessarily know well. To ask questions about the company, the department, their job, or even generally get advice about a tricky situation that they're facing.

It's important to remember that even though it may not feel like it sometimes, you are likely considered an expert in your field. If you are in charge of others, you have demonstrated that you have enough expertise to guide folks to success and it is very much your responsibility to do so.

So with those admonitions of what not to do, what SHOULD you do? Excellent question.

My way of doing 1on1s is actually extremely simple:

1) Set the expectations from the beginning with all direct reports/skiplevels that this is how it's going to be. If they know in advance then they'll be more likely to bring things to the table.

2) Bring any and all "concerning" issues to the person immediately throughout the day/week/month. DO NOT under any circumstances wait until that meeting. They should have confidence that their time is a "safe place" that they can look forward to without anxiety.

Pro-Tip: Ask them to do the same for you. If they have any problems, tell them to bring them to you and to not sit on them until their 1on1. It will help empower them, and you'll feel better knowing that everyone is explicitly welcome to bring problems to you any time.

3) If you do not have a dashboard for metrics already that they can proactively check themselves, review metrics with the rep in the first couple of minutes. Get it done quickly, spending no more than 30% of the meeting on it unless there has been a history of metrics-related issues, in which case your coaching should focus on the areas of concern.

4) Then turn it over to them. Whatever they want to talk about, it's their time. It can be anything work related. It can be personal (within reason). It can be in relation to their career path. Or they can vent about a customer interaction.

Pro-tip: If it DOES get too personal, let them know "Hey, I can tell this is important, but I think this is outside my wheelhouse (or outside of work appropriate or not something we should be talking about)." You can then redirect to something else OR you can ask if they'd like you to help them find someone else to talk to.

I do not personally do so, but I have worked with other leaders who ask their reps to submit a list of topics that they'd like to chat about before their 1on1 so that they can prepare as need. I can see the benefit, but I prefer to let the conversation flow.

5) The last stage is the only one that really sucks. You’ve gotta take notes. Every 1on1 and every skiplevel needs to have notes about what metrics were discussed, what topics were discussed, and how the employee responded to everything.

Pro-Tip: KEEP IT TO FACTS. This is bad: "John and I talked about the high queue. He is pissed that we haven't hired and I think he is looking for a new job." This is better: "John and I discussed the high queue. At multiple points he explicitly stated that he is upset that we have not yet hired additional representatives, and has implied that he may start looking for other employment."

"So," I hear you ask . . . "What about those syncs you were talking about?"

Good question, theoretical reader!

The thing about syncs is that they are largely similar, the only major difference being that you're not working with an employee. That difference is HUGE of course, but that's still just about it.

1) Communicate about how you like to run syncs.

2) Let them know that you'rll get in touch immediately if you have any concerns about their teams and ask them to do the same for you and your team.

3) Share your team's metrics proactively and make sure that THEY KNOW where to find them at all times. Again, if you don't have a dashboard, think about setting one up, but spend just the first few minutes discussing them on each side.

4) Spend the rest of the time discussing OTHER things. This is the opportunity for you to get an idea of what is going on throughout the company and ensure that you've got positive relationships throughout. It's how you're going to be able to get work done no matter how sideways things may go. This is politics, but it's the least part of it and sadly you're going to have to take part in it to some extent or another.

5) This one may be a bit controversial, but take some notes. Don't write ANYTHING down that you wouldn't want anyone else to read and don't keep it on official equipment/systems, but if you want to be able to keep things straight then you need to be able to remember things. However you need to record things, whether it's a system of text files in your phone or a personal notion account . . . whatever works for you. Keep track!


“But”, I hear you say, “I missed the talk. Do you have some materials for me?”

Excellent question. Here is the entire transcript that I didn’t follow in the slightest. In any way. At all. No, really. Along with it, you can find my delightfully awful slide deck in PPTX and in zipped JPEG formats. You can try and figure out WTF I was talking about from them.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour.