Top 4 Lessons from The Making of a Manager

35807 2020-02-10 20:50

Julie Zhuo is the vice president of product design at Facebook. In her book The Making of a Manager, Julie draws on her own experiences as a first-time manager and provides practical advice for those who want to become good managers.

Focus on improving the outcomes of a team instead of daily activities

When Julie Zhuo just became a manager of Facebook’s design team, she thought her job was to hold meetings with team members to follow up on their progress at work and provide feedback. It takes almost ten years for her to realize that a manager should strive for improved outcomes from the team and focus on broader issues such as how to help her team to work more effectively together instead of daily activities.

Andy Grove, in his book High Output Management, believes that a manager’s output = The output of his organization + The output of the neighboring organizations under his influence.

Be activity-specific and bring in multiple perspectives when giving feedback

Providing feedback to team members is indispensable to the job of a manager. But sometimes your criticism might hurt someone’s feelings. Julie suggests two solutions for this situation. One way is to keep your feedback activity-specific. You can provide feedback specific to a task just completed by email or face-to-face communication. This way guarantees the criticism is only for the work someone has done, not the person. The other way is to bring in multiple perspectives. Besides your own opinion, you can share with the team what others think.

Start meetings with purpose and end with outcomes

Meetings are usually considered as bureaucratic and a waste of time, especially when being held without a purpose. An agenda is not enough to make a productive meeting. In addition, the meeting organizer needs to have a clear idea of the outcome. The outcome could be to present and share information or to make a decision. In the latter situation, everyone who is going to be impacted directly by the decision should attend the meeting. The manager should ensure all the relevant information is presented objectively, and everyone’s voices are heard and equally respected.

Plan in advance before making recruitment decisions

Hiring should not be taken as finding someone to fill a vacancy as soon as possible regardless of the skills and experiences. It should be planned in advance. At the beginning of each calendar year, Julie creates a list of vacancies that needs to be recruited for. She suggests a few questions for managers to consider before tailoring their own recruit plans.

  • How many new recruits can you realistically hire based on your team’s priorities and budget?
  • What skills does your team need more? What skills does your team have in abundance?
  • How much experience should they have?
  • What personalities or attributes could strengthen your team’s diversity?


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