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A better title would be "How Management Works in 2018."

Half of being a manager is managing other's behaviors to produce a great product. The other half is managing your own behaviors -- i.e. being consistent with your communications and consistent in your behaviors.

Both of those topics have been left out of this piece.

Spot on. I usually summarize it with clients as "you have to show people you can lead yourself before you can lead others" and that usually gets the idea across. If you wouldn't follow yourself as a leader, then you have some personal work to do.

To your second point, one definition of leadership is "getting people to want to do what you want them to do." That's also a pretty reasonable definition, and the way to do that is by providing context.

I always ask 3 questions in my discussions:

What is the company's mission?

How is your team contributing to the mission?

How does the work you're doing today contribute to the mission?

If a leader, and everyone on their team, knows the answers to all three of those questions, at all times, then they will probably be very effective.


I tend to agree. This piece reads more like, how to be a director or VP. Setting the culture is not a front line manager's job any moreso than individual contributors. A manager just needs to keep his folks productive in a way that's aligned with the company goals.

Thanks for the feedback -- definitely a fair point. I think the piece can be beneficial in different ways for different people. In the first section I noted that CEOs/Founders might use it as a template for their management structure, while department heads (i.e. Directors and VPs) may not care as much about the culture aspects, but the Objectives and Process sections may be most relevant for them.


ICs don't pay so much attention to the CEO of the company. An IC is CEO of themself. A manager is CEO of the team.

> needs to keep his folks productive in a way that's aligned with the company goals

How is that different from "Setting the culture" ?

Because you don't set the values of the company, you just align your team to the goals of your larger organization / company.

Yes and no.

My current company favors consensus over correctness. They don't realize they do this, but they do, largely because most of the decision makers deal with subjective things, where you can spend hours bikeshedding. When they then hear disagreement on objective things, technical things, they want agreement, and view arguments over technical things as being disagreeable.

As a manager I could take that value, consensus > correctness...but I choose not to. Instead, I create an environment where my team instead chooses correctness > consensus, hashing it out internally, hidden from the rest of the company (thereby specifically eschewing 'transparency' as a value, even though it is both one we value internally, and one the business claims is a corporate value), reaching out for more information as needed but not venturing or asking an opinion until we come up with the 'one true decision' that we will pitch to them, saying it has everyone on the team's backing. At that point, the pressure to achieve consensus usually leads to all the stakeholders agreeing, too.

This is, obviously, not ideal (to where I'm looking for a job elsewhere), but it's the best I could come up with given the realities of the values the business has taken hold of. But my team's values, both their declaration and their interpretation, are not the company's values.

Stated values are usually bullshit. If you want to understand a culture's real values, see which behaviours and traits are rewarded and which are punished. (Also applies to individuals.)

Real values are often unconscious, generated by the unconscious goals of the leaders.

This is not always a bad thing. Someone who has their shit together as a person can be a very effective and inspiring leader, and can even minimise the effects of dysfunction elsewhere in an org.

But any suggestion that you can have a "My/Our values are..." meeting or brainstorming session, and make it happen just by stating it and/or writing it down, is wildly naive and unrealistic.

Real values are often unconscious. Agreed. Good or bad.

Consciously deciding on values gives you something to point to, however. You say it's wildly naive and unrealistic, and if you mean the act of writing them down is sufficient I agree; the point being made is that defining a team's goals is -necessary- (but not in and of itself sufficient).

Without making it a point to say "This is what we want to achieve", you arm yourself, your team, etc, with nothing to actually bring about the values you want to see upheld. Sure, you can just try to do them yourselves, but is the team in alignment? Do they agree with them? When you deviate, will they call you out on it? When they deviate, will you have the rest of the team's backing to bring things back into line?

The answer is no, if you haven't stated them explicitly and gotten buy in. The answer is possibly yes if you have. It still takes effort, mindfulness, etc, but it moves from the impossible to the possible by taking the time to define them with your team.

Sure, it's possible you hire so well, so perfectly, based on unstated values, that everyone is in alignment, all the time, 100%. My experience hasn't been that. I doubt most people's has.

To break into heavy metaphor, it's important to define your 'guiding star', as it were, so you can reorient the ship when someone points out you're adrift. Because without it, you not only can't tell you're adrift, you also have no idea what to reorient yourself to.

I think you realize fighting your company culture may be short term effective but usually not sustainable.

Side note, correctness is generally a virtue, but consensus can be too. Fast and wrong decisions can be better than slow and right ones, if they can be corrected.

Oh, definitely. I alluded to that in my post; when dealing with subjective things, better to quickly reach consensus than spend time worrying about correctness. I.e., bikeshedding; better to just say "Yellow", and have everyone else agree, than to spend a lot of time on it. Sure, there -may- even be a 'right' answer to what color the bike shed should be, but it probably doesn't matter that much. Consensus is more valuable in that case than correctness.

Most such values are a sliding scale of which you prioritize, and different priorities are better in different situations. People's feelings vs transparency, for instance. Both are important, but where exactly you fall depends on a number of factors.

Emphasis on keeping folks productive. A director or C level shouldn't need to worry about an individual's progress completing tasks on a regular basis. But it's a core duty for most managers.

Half of being a manager is managing other's behaviors to produce a great product.

No! you are doing it wrong. Research shows that it's hard to change others behavior.

The other half is managing your own behaviors -- i.e. being consistent with your communications and consistent in your behaviors.

While this is in your hand but you are subject to the same limitation as your team members.

Furthermore, managing people is not about making them agree with you but to use a framework of short-term incentives to align long-term goals.

> Research shows that it's hard to change others behavior.

I said, "managing behaviors", not "changing behaviors".

> Furthermore, managing people is not about making them agree with you but to use a framework of short-term incentives to align long-term goals.

Isn't that a part of managing behaviors? E.g. I pay my employees money, I tell them what to do, and then they do it. That seems to me I'm managing their behaviors.

I guess I don't understand why you're arguing with me on this, since you seem to agree with that point.

> Half of being a manager is managing other's behaviors to produce a great product

This part has not been left out. All of the content about establishing culture, vision, expectations, responsibilities, and so on, is a direct part of managing others' behaviors to produce a great product. What am I missing?

> The other half is managing your own behaviors -- i.e. being consistent with your communications and consistent in your behaviors.

The article talks about this too, especially the importance of communication, consistency, discipline, and process:

> [Communication] Communication may be the most important word in this guide. It is the key to making your team operate effectively. Failure to communicate is the #1 cause of people problems (...)

> [Consistency] If you are using metrics properly, you’ll be analyzing performance on a daily or weekly basis by consistently reviewing your metrics and measuring if objectives are being achieved. This typically happens in your weekly meetings and written updates. To help facilitate your planning, there are a couple of formal analysis activities to do:

> Quarterly Summary. Reflection is a healthy and beneficial process. At the end of every quarter, each functional leader should compile a summary of the objectives achieved. The summary should include metrics and descriptive analysis on where the team succeeded vs. struggled.

If it was really as simple as the author has posited, then anyone can be a manager, but this just isn't the case. Many companies have this framework in place, yet the management and the culture is terrible. (Amazon, HP, Microsoft to name a few)

In a number of companies I worked at the number one reason people left was a conflict with their supervisor.

I think a much better introduction to management is the manager tools podcast. And after listening to about 10 or 20 episodes, you'll see how hard management really is, especially if you want to do it right.


This is really great advice, thank you.

I think it really crystalized the issues I had reading the article; you can do (or try to do...) all the ‘right things’ and still have a terrible result.

If it was easy to get right, things would be great... but its not. Its hard. ...and a slide deck of protips doesn’t cut it as a solution.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great resource, but it's not "How to be a manager."

Just an example of this, culture is hard to get right. You can't hire yourself to culture. It's something that has to be practiced by all your employees every day.

If you have 1000 managers in your corporation, you have 1000 micro-cultures. If a chunk of those managers figure out they can berate their directs on a daily basis without punishment, then those employees experience of your company will be terrible.

That's why Amazon employee reports vary wildly from great to horrible. That's because while some managers are truly great, some are truly horrid. The culture isn't enforced equally across the company.

Jeff Bezos might treat his corporate execs great on a day to day basis say, but the average employee is usually levels of management removed from this to be inspired. Instead they see coworkers sobbing at their desk because they were fired, or forced to resign. Other's might actually deeply enjoy their time at Amazon, but it's because they got lucky in the micro-culture lottery.

This is quite a fair comment, but I can’t tell if you’re agreeing, disagreeing or just making an unrelated point.

The point I was making is: this article isn’t practically useful, its just ‘how it would be nice if things were’ not ‘how to get there’.

Its got some good ideas, sure... but as you say, reality and ideals aren’t easily matched; so as a step by step guide, its somewhat trivialising what is actually a very hard, entirely unsolved set of problems.

having been at a small company that swore about manager tools all day long and actively recommended its staff to look into it to grasp some of the concepts and their approaches to things, it is equally as dreadful as any other resource out there. there are more than one way to do things and there are more than one different type of people that you'll have to manage. the reality is that it is a tough job that requires a lot of self awareness and a deep understanding of the risk of management drawing power hunger to really start to grasp how to leverage those tools to be effective.

It would be easier to learn from the comics at dilbert.com to avoid bad management.

I feel like it's pretty easy for proto-Pointy-Haired-Bosses to learn entirely wrong lessons from Dilbert strips, even if they get the joke.

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