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1 It’s easy to think that being a manager is as simple as assigning work and keeping schedules, especially when you’re new to it. The sooner you can engage with the thoughtful work of real management, the more successful you and your team will be. Thread >>
2 Every report deserves consistent engagement from you, which starts with laying out clear accountabilities and expectations. Get into the habit of following up to “verbal” assignments with written notes too, for all your reports.
3 Whether your report is struggling or doing a great job, writing your notes down is a chance to make sure you are communicating clearly + aligned on goals. Misunderstandings about expectations are at the root of many people’s performance challenges.
4 I am regularly shocked to learn how many managers don’t have regular 1-1s with their reports. People want different things in their 1-1s, and the format often varies with the individual or the week.
5 But whatever the particular 1-1 topic may be, it is an opportunity to build trust, coach, give and hear feedback. Skipping this time means you have less opportunity to do all those things.
6 Every report deserves a prompt response when they ask for input on an issue or feedback on their work. Have a personal SLA for your reports. If a piece of work is too big to review quickly, tell them when you will be able to thoughtfully review it and commit to a timeline.
7 Nothing is more disheartening than pouring your heart and soul into a piece of work, or asking a manager a critical question for input, and then having your manager ghost you. Sure, you are busy. But prompt response is still your job.
8 In all these settings, you gain nothing from suppressing feedback that you need to give, even if it's hard. If you want people to learn and grow, and if you want them to deliver what you need, you need to provide them the food that is required.
9 When you give feedback, focus on the specifics. Grounding feedback in specifics makes it easier to learn.
10 “The structure of this document makes it easy for me to follow”

is better than

“Your writing is always clear”
11 “The missing detail in this part of the plan makes wonder if you’re still early in your thinking”

is better than

“You always present stuff that is half-baked”
12 “When you interrupted Person N in that meeting this morning, they stopped participating”

is better than

“You are constantly interrupting people”
13 But every so often (at least every month or two), it’s also useful to aggregate the important patterns that you’ve illustrated with examples along the way.
14 “In your last few documents, I’ve noticed that you’re starting to use a consistent structure for collecting feedback. That makes it easy for me to know how to help. Thanks for doing that.”
15 “We’ve talked about a few examples where your project notes leave gaps that have confused other squad members. Let’s review a few instances of this, so we can make a plan to more consistently fill in those gaps.”
16 “Over the last month, we’ve discussed several meetings where you have interrupted colleagues. That is having impact on their willingness to participate, and isn’t an acceptable way to show up in meetings. Unless we can address that, you won't be able to work on this team."
17 The key thing is, whether the feedback is positive, constructive, or corrective, it needs to be specific, clear, consistent, and prompt. It is not trivial work to do this thoughtfully, and doing this work is one of the central accountabilities of our jobs as managers.
18 Asking reports to summarize your feedback in person and/or in writing is important to make sure you are aligned, especially in cases where you find the same patterns showing up multiple times and the patterns are problematic.
19 Getting feedback on your own written feedback (from your own manager or another trusted partner, or appropriate software) can be helpful to make sure your messages are clear and respectful.
20 If you find that you’re giving the same feedback over and over again and not seeing improvement, and you’ve gotten additional input to make sure your feedback is clear, then it may be time to write a Performance Improvement Plan.
21 A PIP exists to help your report. If you think it is a tool for setting up your report to fail, you’re doing it wrong. The PIP drives alignment between manager and report on expectations and, used properly, gives the situation a real chance to succeed.
22 The whole point is to be clear enough that everyone involved agrees on the deliverables and whether they have been met. The more specific, the better. It is a written document including both clear expectations (deliverables, actions, behaviors) and a timeline for checking in.
23 If all of this sounds like a tremendous amount of work — regular 1-1s, sending written feedback, responding to requests promptly and thoughtfully — that’s because it is. Managing responsibly is a tremendous amount of work.
24 If you’re cutting corners on the thoughtfulness and commitment in your management work, the people who work for you are having a bad experience.

Don’t be that manager. You don’t need to do all the work perfectly, but you do need to do all the work.
25 No one wants their manager to be their friend. They want you to be clear, fair, compassionate, and a decent human. But they’d rather have you engage thoughtfully on their work and career than have you be their friend. They have other friends.
26 New managers often get this wrong because they’ve never had it themselves and don’t know what it looks like. And if they have had it, they probably didn’t recognize the hours of blood sweat & tears that went into providing it for them.
27 Manager titles aren’t just code for “boss a bunch of people around” or “have a cool status.” The manager title carries with it accountabilities and commitments that are legit work. If you sign up for the manager title, you have to do the work of management.
28 Every time in my management career that I have cut corners on any of this work, I have regretted it.

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