What to Expect if I'm Your Manager
This past January I started my new gig at Gladly, managing the product design team. Unlike at Optimizely, where I transitioned into managing people I already worked with, at Gladly I inherited a team who didn’t know me at all. Inspired by my new boss who did the same thing, I wrote a document to describe what my new team could expect from me as their manager. I decided to re-publish that document here. Enjoy.
This doc is an accelerator in building our relationship. It will take a little while for us to find our rhythm, but we can try to short-circuit the storming phase and get some things on the table from the get go. I look forward to learning similar things about you — at your time.
Some of these bullet points are aspirational. They are standards of behavior that I’m trying to hold myself accountable to. If you ever believe I’m falling short, please tell me.
- My goal is to provide an environment where you can do your best work.
- I will support and encourage you in doing your best work, not tell you what to do. I want each of you to be autonomous and to make your own decisions. This means you may occasionally make mistakes, which is perfectly fine. I’ll be there to help you pick up the pieces.
- In supporting you doing your best work, I will help remove roadblocks that are getting in your way.
- I like to listen and gather context, data, and understanding before making decisions or passing judgement. This means I may ask you a lot of questions to build my knowledge. It also means I will sometimes stay quiet and hold the space for you to keep speaking. It doesn’t mean I’m questioning you, your abilities, or your choices.
- I don’t like to waste my time, and I don’t want to waste yours. If you ever feel like a meeting, project, etc., isn’t a good use of your time, please tell me.
- I take a lot of notes, and write a lot of documents to codify conversations.
- I’m biased towards action and shipping over perfection and analysis paralysis. There’s no better test of a product or feature than getting it in the hands of real users, then iterating and refining.
- I will try to give you small, frequent feedback (positive and negative) in the moment, when it’s fresh, and in person. I don’t like batching up feedback for 1:1s or performance reviews, which turns those into dreadful affairs that no one enjoys, and leads to stale, ineffective feedback. If you have a preferred way of receiving feedback, please tell me.
- My goal is to give you more positive feedback than critical feedback. There’s always positive feedback to give. And positive feedback helps tell you what you’re doing well, and to keep doing it. If you feel like I haven’t given you positive feedback recently, please tell me.
- I like feedback to be a 2-way street, so if there’s anything I’m doing that you don’t like, annoys you, etc., please let me know. If there’s things that I’m doing well that you want me to keep doing, also let me know! Feel free to pull me aside, or tell me in our 1:1s.
- 1:1s are your meetings. You own the agenda. They can be as structured or unstructured as you want. I will occasionally have topics to discuss, but most of the time your items come first.
- You own your career growth. I am there to support and encourage you and to help you find opportunities for growth, but ultimately you’re in control of your career.
- I trust you to make good decisions, get your work done, and use your time wisely. I trust you to not abuse our unlimited vacation policy and to take time off when you need it. If you haven’t taken any time off in awhile, I’ll probably encourage you to take a vacation :) I’m not particularly worried about what hours you work, or where you work, as long as you’re getting your work done (and aren’t working too much).
- Finally, here’s a list of my beliefs about design.