Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

Lessons in Leaving: Tell Me More

Note: As I’m leaving my role as VP of Merchant Product at Klarna, I wanted to jot down some lessons from my time at Klarna that are coming to me as I contemplate my 2+ years here. Enjoy!

Tell me more

What’s going on?

What’s keeping you up at night?

Talk more about that

Holding 1-on-1s with my team members is important to me. I try hard to keep a pretty open door and leave time in my calendar for last minute chats. For me this means being open to both regularly scheduled meeting with my direct reports but also the engineering leads on my teams.  Additionally, while building the office in Berlin it has been important that I do this not only for those who work in my teams but for anyone who just wants to talk about what’s going on.

When I started at Klarna there was a trend to cancel 1-on-1s in favor of team reviews (aka MBRs for the Amazonians out there). But I consider this a calendar cop out. While my calendar is complicated and overly full, there is very little on it that is more important than time with my teams.

Humans have a need to feel seen and heard. This has a direct impact on our value. Feeling seen and heard in our work…and as people with lives outside of work…helps us to have better connections with our teams AND with our customers.

These moments of asking “What’s on your mind?” are critical to building loyalty, improve productivity, and drive our culture better than any sign you can hang on the wall or slap on a t-shirt. One of Klarna’s leadership principles is “Hires and Develops the Best Talent” but we tend to get lost after the “hires” part of the sentence. Development of our teams happens in every chat near the coffee pot, every team review, over every late afternoon beer (this is Berlin afterall), every hallway conversation…and in every 1-on-1.

My tiny piece of advice for leaders…prioritize these conversations. That doesn’t just mean putting it on your calendar. It also means to prioritize the person during the time. Put your work aside, turn off your worries, and listen…really listen. The impact is huge and the ask of you is little more than showing up curious and paying attention.

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