No manager is born trained to manage people well; all managers talk about it, and some make it sound as if this was an innate skill. Don’t believe the hype. Managing people (and organisations) is only learned through practice. Yes, high IQ is valuable, yes high EQ is critical and yes, integrity and ethics matter. But you only learn how much they matter by practicing it. Here are some quotes which are very helpful in the decisions one must make as a manager in a chaotic organisation like a tech startup.
Too many cooks spoil the broth — Metaphor, unknown author
Strong opinions, weakly held — Decision making framework by professor Paul Saffo
If you haven’t read about it, go do it. It biases your for action, and helps you collect fast feedback from the team / market / experts to change course quickly and make better and faster decisions.
Sins of omission vs sins of commission — from the Bible. More here.
There are people who just know what they don’t know, and there are people who don’t. Until someone shows the propensity to distinguish between those things you can’t let them run amok. — Keith Rabois, Koshla ventures
Omitting a responsibility and not complying with your responsibility makes the same damage to the organisation. We tend to treat ourselves and our teams very differently when these sins happen, and we should worry more about sins of omission than we generally do.
When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens. — Andy Rachleff, Wealthfront
When management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it’s the reputation of the business that remains intact. — Warren buffet
If you’re a great manager, your people will make you a leader. — Bill Campbell
Small people always belittle your ambitions. The great make you feel you too can be great .— Mark Twain
Seniority is the amount of uncertainty a person can handle .— Nicolas Overloop, Horizon365
Trust, but verify. — Ronald Reagan
A team confortable with being checked on will develop higher standards, automated QA and become natural builders. Newcomers will have permission to question standards.
Hindsight bias: also known as the knew-it-all-along phenomenon or creeping determinism, is the common tendency for people to perceive past events as having been more predictable than they actually were.
If you want to build an organisation which embraces decision making and encourages risk taking and learning from mistakes, watch out for those team members with strong hindsight bias. Non consensual decisions will lead to hindsight biased critiques, as opposed to lesson learning. Don’t your team weaponise other members’ mistakes.
Person with a hammer syndrome: To a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
This is very common to see when team members work outside their domain areas. Many times its very refreshening, but if the manager doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, it may be very harmful. See sins of omission.
A man is only as faithful as his options. — Chris Rock
It’s your job as a leader to play defence, not offence. — Eric Schmidt
Your job as an executive is to edit — not to write. Every time you do something, you should think through and ask yourself, ‘Am I writing or am I editing?’ And you should be able to tell the difference. — Keith Rabois, Koshla ventures
This is generally hard to do for managers who have previously been individual contributors for many years — which at the same time are usually the best.
In hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and they remain being unable to earn further promotions. — Peter principle (1969).
Some people simply love what they do and where they are, and are good at it. Find a way to make them happy and help them grow that way.
Too many people are making a living out of slicing the pie, rather than baking it .— Naval Ravikant
Most managers are incompetent and maintain their jobs via inertia and politics. — Antonio García Martínez