21: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Ash Rhodes

21: Moving from Doing to Leading the Work with Ash Rhodes

Ash Rhodes has seen the benefits of staying in the queue, and getting other folks in your organisation involved, too.


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Charlotte Ward  0:13  

Hello and welcome back to the customer support leaders podcast. This is Episode 21. I’m Charlotte Ward. This week we’re talking about moving from doing the work to leading the work so stay tuned for five leaders talking about that very topic. Today I’d like to welcome back Ash Rhodes. Now, this session is quite short because we started talking about this and then the conversation became very interesting and I decided to move the second part that to a whole other week. So look out for that later in the run. But for now, let’s get straight into this. Please welcome back Ash. What’s your strategy for getting out of the queue you know from we all talk about this moving from doing the work to leading the work. Do you think it ever truly happens? And should it happen? If so, when should it happen?

Ash Rhodes  1:04  

I don’t think it should ever fully happen. Like, I am a big believer in at least a little bit, keeping yourself in the queue forever. And in fact, I think you should increase other people’s participation in the queue as much as possible.

Charlotte Ward  1:22  

By other, sorry, by other people, you mean other departments, other…

Ash Rhodes  1:29  

Yeah, as many people, as many people in your org as possible. In Support Driven, there’s a lot of Automatticians, people from Automattic and there is particularly a fellow named Andrew Spittle, who was my boss over at Automattic. One of the things that he was good about was maintaining a practice that Automattic has had since time immemorial, which is Support Week. Support Week was that every person that first came on, but then throughout the year, every person through their career had to spend each year had to spend a week doing customer support. It is by far the best, like every person who did that, would have such greater empathy for customer support, absolutely, but also for the customer in general for the customer plight. Weirdly, developers, all of a sudden went from being like, whatever the customer can do what we say to being like, yeah, the customer totally needs this. We definitely need to change this flow, or what have you. Because when you are not dealing directly with the customer, answering their questions, seeing things from their point of view, you forget, you forget why we do these things. And so that’s why I think we should always be doing queue work and why we think other people should, why I think other people should be doing it as much as you can. Getting everybody in is a pipe dream. But yeah, that’s my thing.

Charlotte Ward  3:16  

So they got the guys that Automattic, you said refresh that every year. Everyone in the company steps in for another week every year in their tenure at Automattic rate. I think other companies do this kind of thing as well on various cadences, right? They attempt, all hands support one way or another. 

Ash Rhodes  3:33  


Charlotte Ward  3:34  

Far from every company, but I think it’s something we hear and more we hear more and more about. My question, therefore, is you said before that you would see developers move from a very engineering-centric viewpoint to a very customer-centric viewpoint, after that experience. Do you think that that refreshing every year is needed? Or do you think that they do you think there is a tendency for other parts of the business to slip back to known ways and that that refresher is necessary? Yeah,

Ash Rhodes  4:09  

Absolutely. I do think that it is very much a…, I think it’s human nature you fall back into your own tried and true… Not even tried and true, I think you just with distance, you tend to forget.

Charlotte Ward  4:29  

That’s where we leave Ash for today. Come back later in the run to see where this conversation went next as we start talking about looking beyond the numbers. In the meantime, I’d just like to thank you for staying on this journey with me and with the rest of the leaders who have given so generously of their time. If you have any particular questions or comments you’d like to share with us then please do get in touch. You can email me directly, at charlotte@customersupportleaders.com or go to customersupportleaders.com where you’ll find all sorts of options to share and support. If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to cover in future episodes, that’s the place to drop me a line. I’d really love to hear from you. So please get in touch. That’s it for today. Go to customer support leaders.com forward slash 21. That’s where you’ll find the show notes. Talk to you next time.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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