- If your team does great work, go all-in when expressing your excitement and praise. Don’t just golf clap when someone hits a home run.
- Shunryu Suzuki, from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” It’s not your job to be the expert anymore. Plant possibility in your team and watch them grow.
- To manage others is to face down your shadow self. All your insecurities and anxieties—you’re going to bring them to interactions with your direct reports. It’s not fair to project your shit onto your team. Pick a path toward greater self-awareness and start walking.
- If you’re having a shitty day at work, it’s your responsibility to tell your team. Don’t leave them guessing. This should be obvious, but owning your mood in front of your team is courage, not weakness, and models the right behavior. Most importantly, it lets them off the hook for your emotional state.
- When you first become a manager, you may feel some pressure to act “normal.” And there may be some rough edges of your personality that do in fact need some sanding. But also, stay weird. Don’t hide yourself. Hiding parts of your personality from your team is draining, and it also deprives them of having a real, whole, human being as their manager.
- As a manager, you have less control over whether each day is a “good” or “bad” day. With more responsibility comes more awareness of just how much you can’t control. But you are responsible for redefining what a “good day” at work looks like.
- Do right by your team, but also do right by the business. One of the hardest parts of management is helping your direct reports navigate situations where their work or goals aren’t aligned with the business.
- “I’m still learning” or “I don’t know, and that’s OK” can be helpful mantras, doubly so when you’re new to people management. Say them to yourself. Say them out loud to your team, and to your own manager. It will magically reduce your stress. Your team will respect you more, and your manager can’t coach you if you always act like you’ve got it figured out. If a direct report brings a hard problem to you, enlist them in helping you figure out possible solutions.
- As a manager, you cannot make your direct reports happy. But you can make them miserable. This can seem like a raw deal, and maybe you didn’t realize it’s what you signed up for. But with a certain perspective, it can be freeing: you are not personally responsible for the happiness of everyone on your team; you are instead responsible for creating conditions that make it possible for your team to be happy at work. One of my mentors said it well: “Try to create an environment that fosters motivation and try not to do anything that de-motivates.”
Notes: 2021 Listening
Albums I loved in 2021
Notes: 2021 Reading
Books I read in 2021
Notes: 2020 Listening
Albums and live shows I loved in 2020
Notes: 2020 Reading
My list of recommended reads for 2020
Notes: On Hiring Designers
Some lessons I learned and wrote down while building product design teams
Helping Non-Designers Give Great Design Feedback
Use these four tactics to feel more confident when giving design feedback