Being a leader for the first time is super weird. On the one hand, many opportunities open up, but on the other there are fears and insecurities that arise and we must resolve very quickly. How do you handle a team? Julio Zhuo gives many interesting tips in his new book The Making of a Manager.
Julie Zhuo, VP of Design at Facebook, was 25 when she became a manager. Now, years later, after countless rounds of feedback, meetings and experiences, Zhuo was able to lower his experience to this book. These are some highlights I’ve found:
#1 Avoid Sandwich Feedback
Being kind is a good thing, no doubt, but delivering negative feedback between two compliments won’t do anyone any good. “Throwing yourself on a few superficial words of praise to soften a criticism is not sincere,” says Zhuo. You have to be firm. Giving criticism means that you think the other person can do something better than what they are doing and that’s a compliment in itself.
Giving people big problems to solve is a sign of trust. Being a manager does not mean having to control absolutely everything. You have to show your team they can do their job. Give them space and confidence.
#3 If the meeting doesn’t have a clear objective, call it off
Each meeting needs a purpose, whether to make a decision, share information (which cannot be sent by mail), provide comments, generate ideas or strengthen relationships. Don’t make people waste time.
# 4 Treat your team like a stock portfolio
As a manager, your job is to keep things moving in the short term, while planning the long term. Zhuo defends the idea of managing a team as a stock portfolio: you must keep one-third working on projects that happen in a few weeks, another group working on medium-term projects and a third one executing the first steps of long-term ideas.
#5 Create a feedback flow
Make sure the message is received as delivered. Everyone feels vulnerable and protects themselves when it is time to receive feedback and this can lead to a defensive attitude and misinterpretations. Zhuo suggests that employees repeat what they heard at the end of the feedback rounds and always sends a follow up with a summary by mail.