The FB Exec Practice That Changed the Way I Lead

“Trust is choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” — Charles Feltman

Two weeks ago, I decided to share my team building journey with you and examine my work through the following lens: 

  1. What kind of leader do I want to become?

  2. How can I cultivate collective courage for the team? 

  3. How can I share a vulnerable emotion every day? 

While these questions may seem daunting, I realized that I have the answer already: 

Since 2018, I have been writing the HPM weekly review to all my teams at Google. 

As I revisited the way I lead, I began to write a private newsletter for the LivingOS team. My goal with this letter is to share early ideas, key projects, and build trust with the team. I also asked my Chief of Staff to write a weekly HPM, focusing on the recognition and gratitude for people. (You will see a snippet of our letters below.)

Writing this letter helps me appreciate all the incredible work done by the team. It allows me to dive deeper into the problems we see and get insightful feedback early in the process. It also helps me build trust through the comfort of reading and writing. Coincidently, our team also got better and closer over the past three weeks. 

Today I want to share the HPM practice with you.

Sam Lessin, on the inspiration for this weekly review:

One thing that used to be pretty standard at FB were for people to write HPMs (Highlights, People, Me) reviews. It was just a good way to quickly distill and capture the week which was both helpful for a sense of history / being able to track progress, and over time to communicate with other team members / reports, managers, about how things are going.

When I interned at Fin, our co-CEO Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina, as well as every leader/top performer in the company, sent out HPM every week. Though I didn’t feel that my work was interesting enough to inform everyone, I enjoyed reading every single one from my colleague and got to see how the strategies and executions made or broke things in the early days. 

Here’s the format I follow:

# Highlights: If you could only remember one thing from this week, what would that be? 

# People: Who was kind enough to help, inspire, or collaborate with you this week? 

# Me: How are you feeling this week? As a leader, the way you show up gives people the permission to be themselves. 

What I learned from writing HPM in the early days:

When I interned at Google, I sent my HPM to everyone I came across with, including the execs who got way too many emails, week over week. I wrote about what I learned and struggled with, and I got many tips and thoughtful responses from the 80-person BCC list. I was building relationships before I knew the importance of trust. 

When I joined Google full time, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who took two hours to review my HPM every Friday afternoon. He taught me how to reframe challenges: 

Instead of saying, “We struggled to get constructive guidance from UX leads, so we decided to address the higher-level concerns in the Product Review and run UXR study,” say, “We are considering putting the format on pause given the feedback from Play Product & UX leads. Next steps: gather more feedback during the upcoming Product Review; run a UX Research study.” 

Instead of saying, “If you are a bit overwhelmed about the process, try reframing it into an enlightening career exercise!” say, “As [VP] shared earlier, we can view Perf as that time to calibrate on our careers and think about what things we’d like to work on in the future.”

Instead of saying, “Hopefully, we could address the blocking feedback and run experiments to test this model,” say, “We are discussing the blocking feedback and looking to schedule a follow-up meeting with Play leads. We are also exploring other alternatives in case the proposal falls through. 

I learned to tailor the content to my audience. I made sure that I had something to say every week. Interestingly, I would receive unexpected replies every week.1 Chris began to write HPM to his team, and they loved it too. 

Let me know if you have any questions on how/when to start an HPM:

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To the growing pain that makes us stronger together,

Charlene

~I might only have one match but I can make an explosion

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You may be surprised to learn who will read your HPM. I once got a reply from a Google exec who wrote, “I’ve been meaning to reply to one of these worried that you’re feeling like you’re screaming into the ocean without response -- just wanted to let you know that I love reading these. Thanks for doing it.”