I’ve been a people manager at top tech companies and startups for some time and I’ve (hopefully) picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Ask me anything!
TOP 41 Comments
- Akamai Technologies eJsq54How do you make 1-1s effective. Sometimes people don’t want to talk much. How do you make sure you are able to connect to each team member.
- OK Akamai don’t freak out ... but I think you need to actually sit with folks you manage in 1-1s that last more than an hour. It’s not until the 30 min mark has passed that our talk gets real. Also, they should own the agenda. Make it clear this is their meeting for their benefit and to come with something to talk about. Be open. Worse comes to worse ask a lot of questions that cannot be answered by yes/no, like ... “tell me about something last week that make you really happy to be here and one thing that really frustrated you.” Then be silent until they answer. And once they start talking, listen. Pay attention to your body language. Be open. To me, a really successful 1-1 is about establishing an emotional connection and a safe space to unload, explore, vent, man up, whatever the day calls for. If your direct manager isn’t on your side, who is?May 15, 20186
- Talend / OtherrapiermoreProtect your team. That means visibly running interference to keep them from being pulled away from their primary responsibilities.
Don't blame a team member or let somebody else do it for you. It can mean taking the responsibility for a problem on you instead.
Go to bat for your team. If you tell somebody you will do something for them - push for promotion, bonus, get in a specific project, etc. - follow through and be transparent about why if you cannot make it happen.
If your team sees you doing that, and it is a consistent behavior, they will trust you.May 16, 20184
- 1. How do you communicate strategy and help your team to see the big picture?
2. How do you build trust with domain experts who see things that you don't (and it may not occur to you to ask right kind of questions)?
- 1. Strategy: only works if you repeat it endlessly. Strategy is the WHY. It should be a part of every conversation large or small. If a direct report ever comes to you and says...why are we doing this? It’s your fault. You, as a manager, are responsible for connecting these very dots. Now if you need more help connecting these dots (as we all do sometimes), insist your manager direct your group directly and candidly on this topic.
2) the biggest way to build trust with domain experts is a.) to cede projects and ownership to areas where their expertise makes a strategic difference and b.) create opportunities for them to learn more. Remember, the way they got to be a domain expert is their appetite for knowledge. Feed that and have a loyal teammate for life.May 15, 20182
- Great question WSWO10. I think if a manager truly believe they can’t recognize expertise, they shouldn’t be a manager. If they need help positioning experts, get some management coaching. FB must have a ton of resources around this. Now, if you are talking about your manager lacking ability to see your expertise :-) you have two choices: do great work anyway and seek out mentorship from great managers with whom your team collaborates or leave/switch teams. Life is too short otherwise.
- Ohhhh so many mistakes were made as a first-time manager. The biggest bit of advice is that you need to be able to manage your personal emotions well to be a great manager but conversely be very open and authentic. I spent years trying too hard to be some imagined idea of what a manager should do and it stressed me out. In turn, that led to me managing to emotionally. Second, I learned way to much by making mistakes vs. how I’ve learned on the technical end, which is by acquiring knowledge quickly and efficiently from people and sources who know what they are doing. It’s crazy how most people are made managers without any training and support! We’d never do that in any other role. Imagine: “Here’s your new data analyst, they majored in English and can’t use Excel. Good luck!”May 16, 20182
- Amazon May15How do you respond to team mates backstabbing each other?
How do you deal with conflicts where a senior engineer is trying to throw junior engineer under the bus?
- On behalf of Amazonians 😉
- 1) Same team? Not to be too dramatic, but you may have to eventually let the toxic instigator go. Would not stand for this for too long. If you think someone isn’t pulling their weight? Here’s how we deal with it. Conflict of personality? Here are the tools to make it manageable. Still want to shit talk? Peace out. The standard to hold is simple adult civility and a can-do attitude between the hours of 9-6. If you can’t meet this bar, I have very little patience.
1.a) If you are not the manager and you are an innocent party (and I don’t care the work culture) then I’d say make eliminating toxic energy your manager’s job. That’s why they get paid more.
2.) This may or may or may not be a harder question (or maybe the same question as above?!) but I think ultimately if the senior person sees themselves as someone who was once junior and very bewildered themselves they should be open to feedback that throwing anyone under the bus is a fairly shitty way to navigate conflict. But ultimately if altruism and coaching won’t help senior person get to a better place separate them and be very candid with the more senior person why and how you think they missed out on a chance to share their expertise.
- What are some of the things you do on a day to day basis? What are some of the recurring meetings you have besides 1 on 1s? Are your meetings useful, or are a drain?
- I track our KPIs intensely so I can understand how we are performing to goal and have data to back up my team’s success and be the expert if something seems off before it gets too big to fix quickly. Also, delegate the stuff you know really well because you’ll be in a better position to know if it’s being done right by someone else with very little oversight. I also try to keep my tasks as high-leverage as possible, ie if I can unblock the work of 3 people that’s way more important than finishing some deck or doc.
- MediaMath vvvhhaaTurning tables, how can one make lives better for their people managers?
- Google / EngGanjamylyfYou must have been in situations when your managers put lot of pressure on you regarding deliverables and deadlines.
You may want to save your team from that pressure, at the same time convey them about deliverables and deadlines.
How to effectively and efficiently do that?
- Great question. I think it is a mistake to save your team from that pressure. They are adults. Let them know the stakes and that you see your job as someone who is here to push back against wildly unrealistic deadlines when necessary and give them the tools to meet even the most aggressive deliverables when you know they can do it. If someone on your team doesn’t work well with pressure at all, my suggestion is to be transparent about the pressures on you but then work together to focus on their intrinsic motivators. There is something in every project that can be chunked off for everyone. Gretchen Rubin has something out I think about how people are motivated.
- What separates a good team from a great team? What are some books you recommend on leadership? What are some failures you experienced as a leader and how did you learn from it?
- Amazon / EngxgIO00What are the most important actions that you do to help your team to grow and your company to achieve it's goals?
- Make hiring amazing people your #1 priority. Not the recruiting team, but yours. Then, once you have these great people, train and motivate them. Remember why people start to perform poorly: they either aren’t sufficiently trained to do the tasks you are asking of them, or they aren’t motivated enough to achieve them. You should be worrying about these two things every day.