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This Issue at a Glance:
Last week I promised to share my bite-sized definition of management. So here goes.
Management is how we organize people and things to solve problems for other people.
Why it Matters: It’s hard to fix something if we can’t describe it. I’m convinced that the key to a brighter and wealthier future—one, too, where people reap the benefits of production—will come from a wider understanding of the decisions and tradeoffs that result in stolen-red-stapler-burn-the-building-down management versus eighty-world-class-people-playing-instruments-and-making-people-cry management.
The Backstory: Management governs our lives. It impacts the stock market, our moods when we come home (or sign off Zoom) at the end of the day, our salaries, and more. And despite the progress of three industrial revolutions, management still gets a shit grade on its report card.
The Bottom Line: Before we can improve management’s failing grade, we have to learn how to talk about what it is, what it’s supposed to do, and where it’s busted.
Managers get themselves in trouble when they set expectations they don’t live up to when it comes to juggling their concerns for people and production.
Why it Matters: The Managerial Grid from Issue 6 is a useful tool for charting where you think your management style lands, getting feedback from your team on where they think it lands, and then charting where you’d like it to be.
How to Use it: First, plot where you think your management style falls on the grid. Then, ask your team where they thinkyour management style lies. You’ll have to decide what you agree with and don’t, but your self-estimation is likely a bit off (if not, good on you!). You should now have a clear idea of the reality of how you manage. Next, ask yourself if you’d like to shift that at all. If you do, plot a goal, and communicate to your team that you’d like to spend the next few months working on shifting your style and would like to receive feedback along the way.
Here’s a fictional example:
The Bottom Line (and People): Self-awareness is the first step toward setting accurate expectations and goals for your behavior change (and behavior change in other managers on your team) that can lead to an improved experience for the people at your company and your bottom line.
If you’ve ever struggled with a voice in your head who tells you that your writing sucks, usually after you type half of a sentence or paragraph, then boy, is this piece going to be a treat for you. I honestly believe this piece has singlehandedly unblocked me from more writing difficulties than anything else. Hat tip to Rachel Jepsen for introducing me to this one years ago.
Sam Hinkie is the founder of 87capital and the former GM of the Philadelphia 76ers, “who executed a radical plan, pissed off a lot people, quit his high-profile gig in the midst of a palace coup orchestrated by internal and external forces, dropped an infamous 13-page manifesto that was one of the biggest, most singular exit statements in recent memory, and then lit out for the California coast,” (thanks John Gonzalez). For as controversial as Hinkie is in the world of sports, I found the interview to be a thoughtful conversation about how to build meaningful relationships.
The author of Thinking in Bets, Annie Duke, released her new book, Quit, about a week and a half ago. A CEO friend of mine texted me the prior week while he was at a retreat Annie spoke at, and I think his text speaks for why you should pick up a copy of Quit: “Man, I’ll tell ya what—I’ve heard a ton of phenomenal speakers, and I feel like I took more actionable stuff away from listening to her speak about this book for 45 min than I did from most everyone else I’ve heard speak combined.”
Performance reviews are controversial. Most great managers have now adopted a style of continuous feedback instead of feedback delivered in bi-annual payloads. But a new startup, Confirm, is bringing a fresh take to measuring performance that accounts for how “the network around an employee often has a different opinion than their manager.”
That’s all for this week. I’m looking forward to what’s next!