Today's Reading

In part two, Managing a Team, we'll look at two primary areas:

* Hiring and Firing: how to hire, recruit, onboard, and exit team members. Think: Holy moly, I have to fire someone, and I have no idea how.

* Team Dynamics: how to help your team build a great culture, make effective decisions, and operate as a group. Think: My team makes crazy decisions. Why?

And in the final section, Managing Yourself, we'll discuss:

* Your Approach as a Manager: how you build and maintain the emotional fortitude to be a great manager, and how you think about your own career. Think: What do I do when everyone hates me because I'm their boss?

* Your Relationship to Your Boss: how to effectively manage your manager. Think: How do I work with a boss that drives me bananas?

We won't go over every single area you will need to understand in order to be a great manager, but we'll cover the most important ones. This book will give you a strong foundation for great management.

Now you know that management involves many different components that we will explore in this book. But there is another reason why learning how to manage is hard, and that's the challenge of time. At this point in your career, you are probably great at learning things. You've learned how to do your job well, and you've possibly been promoted a number of times. But learning how to manage people is not like learning how to code or learning how to build a marketing segmentation or learning how to write a great legal brief.

That's because you are likely facing a tension. Your organization is growing quickly, and you might be struggling to keep up with that growth. And learning how to manage takes time and just lots of practice. But often in fast-growing organizations, you don't have the luxury of time or repetitions. This book is structured to help you become aware of and practice these management skills as quickly as possible.

In each chapter, we'll talk about a management behavior that is critical to great management. For example, in chapter 1, we'll learn that setting clear expectations is a fundamental behavior all managers must do. We'll discuss why this behavior is important and why it might be hard to do. Often, we have subconscious biases or irrational tendencies that make it challenging for us to act in the most effective way possible. And often management behaviors feel counterintuitive to what we think is the right behavior. For example, more money may demotivate your team members instead of motivating them, a behavior that, on the surface, feels really wacky. Lastly—and here's the important part—we'll talk about how you can immediately start incorporating each management behavior into your day-to-day work.

Here's the crux: Managing is a muscle that needs to be built up, trained, and flexed. Therefore, there are small actions you can immediately start taking to practice the management behavior, as well as templates that help you train that behavior until it becomes muscle memory. If you were an engineer, no one would expect you to memorize all of the product specifications on your first day of work. Similarly, it's impossible to memorize the right script for a performance improvement conversation on day one of being a manager, yet we are expected to have those conversations anyway. That's why there are sample guides and other tools throughout the book and in the appendix to help you try out these new skills immediately and keep working on them. What's scary about managing is also what makes it rewarding: When you put these new behaviors into practice, you'll immediately see results. For example, your team members may become more motivated, or your team may let you know that a communication you shared fell totally flat.

Basketball star (and former Georgetown Hoya) Allen Iverson once said, "We talking about practice, man." But in management, your practice is also your game. So let's lace up the sneaks, get on the court, and start playing.



I remember the first hard conversation about performance I had when I became a new manager. One of my team members, Michael, was struggling to keep up with the pace of our work and with the rest of the team, and it fell on me to communicate that to him. I practiced the conversation in my head a whole bunch, and when I finally talked to Michael, I stumbled, I blabbed, and I quickly proved that my all-natural deodorant could not withstand a stress-inducing situation. I did a terrible job of telling Michael that he wasn't performing up to standard and that he may not have been right for his role.

In hindsight, I realized that as a new manager, I hadn't set clear expectations for him, given him constructive feedback, or supported his development. By the time I sat down with him to talk about his performance, there weren't very many options left. I ultimately had to let Michael go, and no doubt about it, my poor management of his performance was a main cause of his failure. Don't worry: Michael's story ends well. After he left our little consulting firm, he went to Harvard Law School and became a clerk for a Supreme Court judge (yes, the Supreme Court). The firm, on the other hand, went bankrupt. Clearly, Michael came out on top.

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