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Good resources for new managers
I’m currently single parenting as my wife travels, and I didn’t have the bandwidth to edit a new interview for this week. Instead, I’m taking inspiration from a recent question someone sent about good resources for someone becoming a manager for the first time, and going to highlight some previous interviews that were great on this subject.
First, this interview with Kyle Jaster was phenomenal:
Since doing that interview, I think I’ve shared his key mindset shift at least a dozen times. It’s helpful for me, and I think it’s been helpful for everyone I’ve shared it with:
There's an emotional experience that I've seen. I saw it in myself and I've seen it in a lot of people and I especially see it in new managers. I'll describe what happened to me and what made me have this realization.
When I was working at Noodle, I was having these massive mood swings in the course of a day. I was like, "oh my gosh, I've got everything figured out, I'm the best." And then I was like, "I know nothing and I'm useless and I suck."
And there was a period where it was happening in one week and then it just got to the point and you see it where it's like every day, every hour, I don't know what the hell is going on. And I was thinking about this a lot. Like it was like really fucking me. And I was thinking about my life on the x-axis and how my emotional experience was shooting up and then dropping down and shooting up and dropping down and shooting up and dropping down. It's like this crazy sine wave.
And at some point, I was thinking about it and I realized that the problem was the way I was looking at this was that I was looking at it from outside of the experience, and saying just measuring the emotional experience, and not what I was looking at that gave me the emotional experience.
And so suddenly I realized that actually what was happening was I'm climbing a mountain of knowledge. I'm learning all of these things, and when I feel like I'm at the bottom of something, it's because I'm looking up at the mountain of knowledge I have to climb to get to the next thing I want to get to. And when I feel awesome, it's because I'm looking down at the mountain of knowledge I've just acquired to get to somewhere.
And so the thing that I talk about with a lot of people on my team is like, when you're having that emotional change, it's like, "Are we looking up the mountain or are we looking down the mountain right now?"
Nothing has changed within the day that should make you either amazing or terrible. It's just which direction are you looking. For me it helped me become like, "oh, when I feel bad, it's because I actually just learned what I need to do next." And that's the next piece that I need to climb. And that became very motivating for me, whereas before I was just feeling really kind of lost at the same time.
Second, I loved this interview with Miriam Connor:
Miriam’s mental model for what being a manager is has also been incredibly helpful for me:
As a manager, there's a way to think, "my goal and everyone's goal is to climb the nodes in the hierarchy and extract the maximum income from those nodes", and there's a management style that will do that. There's a management style where you just do that by yourself, there's a management style where you try to bring those people up with you and maybe that helps push you up even further.
But I think that ignores the human element that we're going to work every day, we have to talk to these people every day, it's a huge part part of our lives and it's actually just like a lot less crappy if those are good positive relationships and you are treating people kindly.
And so as I'm talking this through, I think the one way I think about this as my role is "I have been granted a certain amount of power. How in the context of having that power and being in this particular structure and hierarchy, do I treat people kindly?"
And that is to me by giving them the maximum opportunity and making work as positive as I reasonably can, while still contributing to the goal that everybody in this hierarchy or in this organization has decided to move towards. I will say that's a lot easier is you and everyone in the organization think that's a good goal and think that's something worth doing in the world. But in any case, "how can I organize the people I'm responsible for to make progress in service of this goal?"
Part of the goal is "make money." How can I make money and do whatever the hopefully good thing is I'm trying to do in the world? And set these people under me up for success, both while they're working for me and in a way that once I'm not there and we're all in a different hierarchy and a different structure, they have the skills to both operate successfully in that structure and be kind.
I think that that's just one way of thinking about management. I think most people think about management in some sense of mentorship, although not probably 100% of managers. But mentorship can mean a lot of different things depending on what you're trying to mentor somebody to do. And I think for me it's how can I make it possible for these people to succeed and also be kind in a way that that makes the organization a more positive organization.
Some other resources that have come up in different situations and may also be useful are:
Hope you enjoy these, and I should be back next week with a fresh interview!
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