đź“š The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You – Julie Zhuo

Highlights from Kindle

  • Good design at its core is about understanding people and their needs in order to create the best possible tools for them.
  • Great managers are made, not born.
  • The crux of management: It is the belief that a team of people can achieve more than a single person going it alone.
  • Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.
  • Evaluate a job of manager: The first criterion looks at our team’s present outcomes; the second criterion asks whether we’re set up for great outcomes in the future.
  • Through thick or thin, in spite of the hundreds of things calling for your attention every day, never forget what you’re ultimately here to do: help your team achieve great outcomes.
  • Hackman’s research describes five conditions that increase a team’s odds of success: having a real team (one with clear boundaries and stable membership), a compelling direction, an enabling structure, a supportive organizational context, and expert coaching.

  • The purpose is the outcome your team is trying to accomplish, otherwise known as the why.
  • Everyone on the team should have a similar picture of why does our work matter? If this purpose is missing or unclear, then you may experience conflicts or mismatched expectations.
  • The first big part of your job as a manager is to ensure that your team knows what success looks like and cares about achieving it.
  • The next important bucket that managers think about is people, otherwise known as the who. Are the members of your team set up to succeed? Do they have the right skills? Are they motivated to do great work?
  • To manage people well, you must develop trusting relationships with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses (as well as your own), make good decisions about who should do what (including hiring and firing when necessary), and coach individuals to do their best.
  • Finally, the last bucket is process, which describes how your team works together.
  • You might have a superbly talented team with a very clear understanding of what the end goal is, but if it’s not apparent how everyone’s supposed to work together or what the team’s values are, then even simple tasks can get enormously complicated.
  • Purpose, people, process. The why, the who, and the how.
  • Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.

  • If you are wondering whether you can be a great manager, ask yourself these three questions:
  • Do I Find It More Motivating to Achieve a Particular Outcome or to Play a Specific Role?: What they have in common is that their number one priority is making their team successful, and they are willing to adapt to become the leaders that their organizations need
  • Do I Like Talking with People?: A major part of your responsibility is ensuring that the individuals you support are able to thrive.
  • Can I Provide Stability for an Emotionally Challenging Situation?: the best outcomes come from inspiring people to action, not telling them what to do.
  • Leadership, on the other hand, is the particular skill of being able to guide and influence other people.
  • To be a great manager, one must certainly be a leader.
  • Leadership is a quality rather than a job.
  • Leadership is not something that can be bestowed. It must be earned. People must want to follow you.
  • What gets in the way of good work? There are only two possibilities. The first is that people don’t know how to do good work. The second is that they know how, but they aren’t motivated.
  • People’s dissatisfaction will fester beneath the surface until one day they surprise you with their resignation. And most of the time when that happens, they’re not just quitting your company, they are also quitting you.
  • “The job of a manager … is to turn one person’s particular talent into performance.”
  • Good CEOs know that they should double down on the projects that are working and put more people, resources, and attention on those rather than get every single project to the point of “not failing.”

  • What I later realized is that the team actually becomes better off when brilliant assholes leave.
  • Collaboration becomes more honest and productive, so the work of the team as a whole improves.
  • The main reasons why someone might not be doing great work: they aren’t aware of what “great” looks like, their aspirations aren’t a fit with what the role needs, they don’t feel appreciated, they lack the skills, or they bring others down.
  • “Perhaps it’s you who shouldn’t be his manager, not the other way around.” Perhaps you made the call to hire him when his skills weren’t what the team needed. Or perhaps you put him on projects that weren’t a good match. Caring about people means owning that your relationship is a two-way street.

  • Set Clear Expectations at the Beginning
  • Give Task-Specific Feedback as Frequently as You Can
  • As the name “task-specific” implies, you provide this kind of feedback about something that someone did after the fact.
  • Share Behavioral Feedback Thoughtfully and Regularly
  • Behavioral feedback is useful because it provides a level of personalization and depth that is missing from task-specific feedback.
  • Behavioral feedback helps people understand the reality of how others see them, which may be different than how they see themselves.
  • Collect 360-Degree Feedback for Maximum Objectivity
  • How do you ensure that your feedback can be acted upon?
  • 1. Make your feedback as specific as possible.
  • 2. Clarify what success looks and feels like.
  • 3. Suggest next steps.
  • Be clear about whether you’re setting an expectation or merely offering a suggestion.
  • The best advice for prevention? Don’t engage when you are upset. We regret the things we say in anger, and while bridges take months or years to build, they can be burned in an instant.
  • The best way to give critical feedback is to deliver it directly and dispassionately.
  • Plainly say what you perceive the issue to be, what made you feel that way, and how you’d like to work together to resolve the concern.

  • No matter what obstacles you face, you first need to get deep with knowing you—your strengths, your values, your comfort zones, your blind spots, and your biases. When you fully understand yourself, you’ll know where your true north lies.
  • The first part in understanding how you lead is to know your strengths—the things you’re talented at and love to do.
  • This is crucial because great management typically comes from playing to your strengths rather than from fixing your weaknesses.
  • The second part of getting to an honest reckoning with yourself is knowing your weaknesses and triggers.
  • the next part is calibration, which is making sure that the view we have of ourselves matches reality.
  • (There’s even a term to describe the cognitive bias where people who aren’t actually very skilled have a tendency to think they’re better than they are: the Dunning-Kruger effect.)
  • To develop our self-awareness and to calibrate our strengths and weaknesses, we must confront the truth of what we’re really like by asking others for their unvarnished opinions.
  • Ask for task-specific feedback to calibrate yourself on specific skills.
  • The perspective you have changes everything. With a fixed mindset, your actions are governed by fear—fear of failure, fear of judgment, fear of being found out as an imposter. With a growth mindset, you’re motivated to seek out the truth and ask for feedback because you know it’s the fastest path to get you where you want to go.
  • Beyond strengths and weaknesses, the next part of understanding yourself is knowing which environments help you to do your best work and which situations trigger a negative reaction. This helps you design your day-to-day to respond to your needs.
  • What separates triggers from normal negative reactions is that they have an outsize effect on you specifically.
  • Triggers occupy the space between your growth area and somebody else’s—you could work on controlling your reactions, but the other person could also benefit from hearing your feedback.
  • That’s what a mentor is—someone who shares her expertise to help you improve.

  • Set Aside Time to Reflect and Set Goals
  • good meetings are simple and straightforward.
  • being crystal clear about the outcome you’re shooting for is the first step to running great meetings.\
  • Making a Decision In a decision meeting, you’re framing the different options on the table and asking a decision-maker to make a call.
  • Success here is both getting to a clear decision and everyone leaving with a sense of trust in the process.
  • Providing Feedback Often known as a “review,” the purpose of a feedback meeting is for stakeholders to understand and give input on work in progress.
  • Generating Ideas You might hear this referred to as a “brainstorming meeting” or a “working session” where a group of people get together to come up with proposed solutions to a problem.
  • The best idea generation comes from understanding that we need both time to think alone (because our brains are most creative when we’re by ourselves) and time to engage with others (because hearing different perspectives creates sparks that lead to even better ideas).
  • Because the presenters knew their material forward and back, they experienced what social psychologists call “the curse of knowledge”—the cognitive bias that makes it difficult for them to remember what it’s like to be a beginner seeing the content for the first time.

  • The most important thing to remember about hiring is this: hiring is not a problem to be solved but an opportunity to build the future of your organization.
  • The solution to both a healthier diet and a better team is to plan ahead.
  • you are the person who ultimately owns the team you build.
  • Successful hiring managers form close partnerships with the recruiting team to identify, interview, and close the best people.
  • Describe Your Ideal Candidate as Precisely as You Can
  • Write the job description yourself and be specific about the skills or experiences you are looking for.
  • Deliver an Amazing Interview Experience
  • Show Candidates How Much You Want Them
  • The best—though still imperfect—predictor for how someone will do in the future is to understand how they’ve done in the past on similar projects in similar environments.
  • Whenever we open up a new role, the first thing I do is make sure my entire team knows we’re hiring.
  • When evaluating references, keep in mind two things. The first is that people typically improve their skills over time, so discount negative feedback that isn’t recent.
  • The second thing is that you might not get a diverse pool of candidates if you’re only sourcing within your existing network, so go back to your definition of the ideal person for the role and make sure you’re casting the net wide enough.
  • The best interviews happen when you show up with a clear sense of what you want to learn about the person.
  • Prioritizing diversity isn’t just a poster or a slogan. It’s the belief that diversity in all aspects—from gender to race to work history to life experiences—leads to better ideas and better results.
  • Hire People Who Are Capable of More
  • As a manager, one of the smartest ways to multiply your team’s impact is to hire the best people and empower them to do more and more until you stretch the limits of their capabilities.
  • Having a great bench is one of the strongest signs of stellar leadership because it means the team you’ve built can steer the ship and thrive, even if you are not at the helm.

  • The job your team does shouldn’t be static—as the group becomes capable of more, your ambitions should also grow.
  • As a manager, it’s important to define and share a concrete vision for your team that describes what you’re collectively trying to achieve.
  • Create a Believable Game Plan
  • Let’s say you have a concrete vision and you know what success looks like. What then? Now you have to figure out a plan—also known as creating a strategy—to make those outcomes real.]
  • “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything,”
  • What makes for a good strategy? First, it must have a realistic shot at working.
  • A good strategy understands the crux of the problem it’s trying to solve. It focuses a team’s unique strengths, resources, and energy on what matters the most in achieving its goals.
  • Craft a Plan Based on Your Team’s Strengths
  • The plan that is smartest for your team is the one that acknowledges your relative strengths and weaknesses.

  • Focus on Doing a Few Things Well
  • 80/20 principle
  • The general idea is that the majority of the results come from a minority of the causes.
  • The key is identifying which things matter the most.
  • People who achieve the most are selective as well as determined.
  • When creating new products, builders must determine which features are essential and which are “nice to have.” When forming a new team, managers try to hire the leaders or “anchors” before the rest of the group.
  • Effort doesn’t count; results are what matter.
  • In the words of Apple visionary Steve Jobs, creator of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on.4 But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.
  • Define Who Is Responsible for What
  • Break Down a Big Goal into Smaller Pieces
  • Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
  • Treat big projects like a series of smaller projects.
  • Planning fallacy: our natural bias to predict that things will take less time and money than they actually do.
  • Ask people to set and publicly commit to their weekly goals—this creates accountability.
  • The best plans don’t matter if you can’t achieve them accurately or quickly enough to make a difference.
  • The most brilliant plans in the world won’t help you succeed if you can’t bring them to life.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had.8 If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow.”

  • Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes
  • what can you do to find the right balance?
  • Define a Long-Term Vision and Work Backward
  • Talk about How Everything Relates to the Vision
  • Resilient organization isn’t one that never makes mistakes but rather one whose mistakes make it stronger over time.
  • Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice,13 for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
  • When people don’t know you well and see that you’re in a position of authority, they’re less likely to tell you the ugly truth or challenge you when they think you’re wrong, even if you’d like them to.
  • At higher levels of management, the job starts to converge regardless of background. Success becomes more and more about mastering a few key skills: hiring exceptional leaders, building self-reliant teams, establishing a clear vision, and communicating well.
  • Delegate: “the art of knowing when to dive in yourself and when to step back and entrust others.”
  • One-on-ones aren’t for the manager’s benefit; they should be about what’s helpful for the other person.
  • People trump projects—a great team is a prerequisite for great work.
  • Beyond people, you and your report should be aligned on why you’re doing what you’re doing and what success looks like.
  • Constantly talking about the purpose with your reports makes it more vivid in everyone’s minds. When the vision is clear, the right actions tend to follow.
  • Part of delegating well is recognizing that your reports—like you—will make mistakes and doubt themselves, and that often the best thing you can do is to believe in them.
  • A manager’s job is to be a positive multiplier for her team.
  • The rule of thumb for delegation goes like this: spend your time and energy on the intersection of 1) what’s most important to the organization and 2) what you’re uniquely able to do better than anyone else.
  • Culture describes the norms and values that govern how things get done.
Also look at my notes form Julie's podcast: https://himanshuseth.home.blog/2019/05/09/🎙️-julie-zhuo-learning-to-manage-like-a-leader-design-better/(opens in a new tab)

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