People would often benefit from more “line management”, and could often get it just by setting up weekly meetings with someone else who’s in a similar boat
A chunk of the interview is devoted to these points. From memory, some points made were:
It can be weirdly useful to have ~weekly meetings to just discuss what one did last week, what went well and poorly, what one’s goals are, and what one plans to do next week
The reason the usefulness is weird/surprising is that a lot of the benefit seems to come from just having these meetings at all and being asked obvious questions like “Would that task really be the best thing to do to achieve your goals?”
And in theory, one could just simulate these conversations by oneself
But at least for many people, it seems to be more effective to have an actual conversation with another person
This can help with both productivity (including getting the right tasks done) and mood (e.g., reducing self-doubt or a sense of listlessness)
Some people don’t have someone to provide that “line management” role
E.g., people in PhD programs might not get frequent enough meetings with their advisor, or it might be clear that their advisor doesn’t care about or is terrible at management
Those people might benefit from just arranging to have weekly meetings with a friend, colleague, fellow student, or similar who’s in a similar boat
Having weekly meetings with the same person allows them to have more context on one’s full situation, goals, skills, etc., which seems helpful for this
PhD students could arrange this themselves, and it might help combat PhD programs often seeming to be unusually crushing experiences (due to a lack of guidance, feedback, etc.)
(Something I’m not sure they explicitly said, but which seems true: This could probably be useful even for people who do have meetings with a line manager, if the person would benefit from meeting more, or if the manager sucks.)
That first point resonated with me very much. I received basically no line management at the school I taught at, and that sucked, and I only realised how much it sucked once I moved into roles where I did have weekly line management style meetings and discovered how helpful they were (both for my productivity and for my mood).
And that third point seemed like an obvious but great idea. I intend to apply it myself if I find myself in a future situation where it’s relevant. And I intend to keep it in mind as something to maybe suggest to people, when it seems relevant.
People who try this approach out might also find it useful to read this post: Group debugging guidelines & thoughts. (It’s basically on tips for coaching, which I’d guess also apply to this sort of line management to some extent.)