One of the key aspects of Timyo is how much it can improve communication within a company. To get the manager’s-eye-view on how Timyo changes things, I sat down the other day with our very own manager, Timyo’s founder, Fabrice Dumans, and asked him a few questions about working with Timyo within his own team.
Chris: Fabrice, I know you came up with the idea that would become Timyo based on your own experiences as a manager. Can you talk a little bit more about Timyo’s genesis?
Fabrice: Sure! As an executive at tech company, I was managing hundreds of people, and receiving thousands of emails. Like so many people, I felt like I was suffering from email overload—drowning under the weight of so many emails. It wasn’t just an annoyance—as a manager, I was always worried that I might miss something really important amongst so many emails.
I realized that the problem wasn’t just too many emails (which is certainly part of it) but that they all arrive in one big, undifferentiated lump in your inbox, and you often have no way of knowing how important something is or in what timeframe you need to act on it, without opening every single email and sorting them manually. I thought of how wonderful it would be if emails came presorted by time, so that you could tell at a glance when and how you needed to deal with something. And that was the birth of Timyo!
Chris: Can you share a real-world experience of managing with Timyo?
Fabrice: Only one?! [Laughs] Well, one that is absolutely key for me is the ability that Timyo gives me to share through email my vision, our priorities and milestones with the team. As a manager, I am often looking at the bigger picture, rather than setting a day-to-day agenda for everyone. Instead, my job is to guide us forward, to highlight the “why” of doing things and point the way toward what’s next.
Email is a great tool for that as you can elaborate upon your thoughts…you have the time and the room to get into complexities that you don’t really have with many other communications tools. And using Timyo, I’m able to send an email and let my team know that I’m not expecting them to reply (thus saving me from a lot of extra emails in my inbox!) and that I’d like them to read it by, say, the following week… This means that it is something important I would like them to take time to read, but not that they should drop everything and get to it immediately—I don’t want them to interrupt their work just because I’m the boss; I want them to keep doing their jobs!
Chris: It’s been three years now that I’ve worked with you on Timyo. I find that you have a different understanding of time than a lot of managers.
Fabrice: For me, it’s very important to realize that people may work faster under pressure, but that doesn’t mean they work any better, and often it makes their work worse. It’s vital that managers set appropriate expectations of time for their team, and also that they relay this to any higher-ups, shareholders or other superiors. As a manager, if you think a deadline is unrealistic, it’s better to manage up—explaining to your bosses why your team needs more time—than to manage down, and rush your team to complete a project before it’s really ready.
Chris: Does that mean that with Timyo, you never set the expectation to “ASAP”?
Fabrice: Not at all. It just means that I only use it when I really do need a response right away. That saves me from getting a lot of rushed responses simply because I’m the boss, and it saves my team from distractions, since receiving an email from me doesn’t just automatically mean “drop everything!”
When I do send out an email with “ASAP” my team knows I really mean it. I would always prefer a better reply to a faster reply, and it’s pretty rare that I need both. Those rare moments are what “ASAP” is for.
Chris: I know that “respect” has always been a critical focus for you. Why is that?
Fabrice: I think that respect is the cornerstone to excellent teamwork. The success of a company draws from the skill sets and hard work across every department—accounting, projects, marketing, HR, sales…
When employees respect the jobs of others by sending clear expectations and enough time to answer their emails, it means that they value one another’s time. And that means that they consider each other of equal importance, which is the starting point of a sustainable team. As the boss, I set the tone! By being respectful with my team, and by using Timyo within the team, I show that I respect everyone and I encourage everyone to be respectful of their colleagues.
Chris: You told me once before that Timyo has really changed how you worked on weekends…
Fabrice: Right! I used to avoid sending email over the weekend, because I didn’t want to stress out my team, to make them feel that they had to be on call 7 days a week. But personally, I love dealing with emails on the weekend…for me, it’s a great time to not be interrupted by day-to-day stuff and to provide clear insight to help my team keep track of what really matters.
With Timyo, it’s perfect: I can write an email over the weekend, and then set expectation for a reply by the following Monday or Tuesday, or the week after…That way, I’m not putting unnecessary pressure on the team. I’m respectful of their life-balance, while I’m managing my own timeline the way that works best for me.
Chris: Does the fact that the whole team is using Timyo help you to be a better manager as well?
Fabrice: Well, since we are Timyo, they’d all better be using it! [Laughs] But yes, absolutely, the fact that my team is using Timyo to communicate with me is also a magical aspect. I still receive plenty of emails, but at a glance, I can see that all of them are with a green tag, meaning I can deal with them later. I can stay focused on the current meeting I’m in, be respectful with my customers, partners or other employees that I’m with. And if I receive a yellow tag for “Today”, I know that I should handle it right after this meeting and be responsive with the people that require my attention.
Chris: Thanks a lot for taking the time, Fabrice. Any parting thoughts you’d want managers to know about using Timyo?
Fabrice: One thing that’s been very interesting to see is how, on the one hand, Timyo is a small change in your pattern and a very easy step to add in with your email client. But, in making that one small change, you will see how it deeply it changes the way you work as a team. As a manager, it lets you convey your respect and your preferred company culture to team members not only in words but in actions as well. It’s a very transformative tool.