Jezen Thomas

Jezen Thomas

I'm a programmer and entrepreneur. Occasionally I write about technology, and speak at conferences.

Why I Love Monday Mornings

We’re not big on meetings or ceremony at Riskbook. We are a team distributed not only geographically, but also across multiple different time zones. We don’t do daily stand-ups. We favour asynchronous, written communication.

However.

Sometimes some of us can feel pretty lonely. We are all social creatures, and we can’t spend all of our time in social isolation, crushing the problems in our business domain with facts and logic.

To manage this — and aside from ad-hoc, meaningful (i.e., not rote) face-to-face video meetings which we encourage — we schedule one team meeting at the top of every week.

In this weekly team meeting we talk about developments in the business, we consider which milestones we’ve achieved, and we also consider what we ought to focus on in the near future. Nothing revelatory here.

This isn’t why I love Monday mornings. No.

Before we talk about anything business, every person in the company takes a turn to directly and publicly (within the team) thank one other individual in the company for something that happened in the previous week.

The rules for this are simple.

  1. What you are thanking someone for can be anything, but it must be specific. Maybe it’s some code contribution. Maybe it’s a thoughtful review on a pull request. Maybe it’s because you love the adorable cat GIFs that a colleague compulsively shares around your digital water cooler. It can be anything. Whatever makes you happy. But it must be specific.
  2. It must be one specific person. You can’t say “This week I’d like to thank everyone for just being so cool.” If you’re thanking everyone, then you’re thanking nobody in particular. Giving all the kids a prize might work in the US, but most of rest of the world recognises that as bullshit.

Specific behaviour. Specific person.

Forcefully soliciting positive feedback from the whole team in this way has some surprising benefits. People feeling that the effort they’ve put into their work hasn’t gone unnoticed is a pretty strong motivator to continue to do the same. Likewise, explicitly and publicly thanking someone for some behaviour that you appreciated is a good way for that behaviour to not only continue to occur with the person you are thanking, but also to manifest itself among other people on the team. This is how good ideas spread. This is how a healthy working culture is cultivated.

Another surprising benefit of this process is that it effectively holds a mirror up to your purpose at this job. If you can’t think of a single thing each week that you genuinely — and it must be genuine; people know office politics when they see it — appreciate from a colleague, then why are you on the team?

Going through this process every Monday morning makes us constantly consider why we’re here, why we’re working on this, and why we’re working with these people. It strengthens our social bonds — an exercise which seems wildly undervalued in our industry — and I have found that not only is it a highlight of my week, but it’s a highlight of other people’s too.

That is why I love Monday mornings.

…and I’m not even selling a self-help book!