Management Lessons for a Lifetime

A few years ago I read Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? The book is a phenomenal read, and I took away a handful of lessons that have contributed to my thinking around career development and life. One insight that really hit me was his idea that being a manager was a noble profession. He said,

“Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.”

andy

Christensen put words to the feelings I had about the previous management experiences I had in my life. It also motivated me to continue to seek opportunities to be a manager because I loved the idea of being able to help others develop and grow. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to reap the rewards of being able to build and impact people in a positive manner.

To me, management is like public speaking — you need to get to a point where you are proficient in it to do your job well, but past that you can (and in my opinion, should) always improve your craft. As such, I try to learn and improve my management style by studying the topic and observing others, which leads me to my next great book — High Output Management, written by Andy Grove.

While I am too young to fully understand and grasp what he did for the technology industry, I’m mature enough to know that without him the industry would not be where it is today. While I don’t have an amazing personal tribute (you can read them though, here, here, and here) one of my favorite Chapters from High Output Management is Chapter 16 titled “Why Training is the Boss’s Job,” where Grove talks in detail about how a managers output is the output of an organization, and his or her role is to train their people as best they can in order to produce the highest possible output. Grove writes,

“A manager generally has two ways to raise the level of individual performance of his subordinates; by increasing motivation, the desire of each person to do his job well, and by increasing individual capability, which is where training comes in.”

Stated another way, employees either can’t do something (train them) or won’t do something (motivate them) and the role of the manager is to figure out how to use both in order to achieve maximum output. Ben Horowitz summarized it best:

“There are only two ways in which a manager can impact an employee’s output: motivation and training. If you are not training, then you are basically neglecting half the job.”

After reading more about Grove it makes sense as to why he believed so strongly in this concept. He was a teacher at heart, and from all accounts taught and trained many. His dedication to teaching, and the reason why management can be so rewarding can be summed up at the end of the chapter:

“You will find when the training process goes well, it is nothing short of exhilarating. And even this exhilarating is dwarfed by the warm feeling you’ll get when you see a subordinate practice something you have taught him.”

If that statement is true (I am sure that it is) Andy must have had a lifetime of warm feelings. Thanks Andy. Rest in Peace.

Weekly Roundup: Self-Awareness, spending time with industry titans, and why you should work 100+ hours a week

Each week, I come across a ton of great content that I find interesting and helpful to my personal and professional career. I’ve decided to start sharing some of the things I find along with a few quick thoughts on what I read. I hope you find it helpful.

Career

Effective Leaders know the Science behind their behavior – Daniel Goleman is one of the leading experts on the topic of emotional intelligence, something that I think is a key driver of success among leaders.  In his latest article on LinkedIn, Daniel talks about how effective leaders utilize self-awareness to understand behaviors that lead to successes and failures, and use that self-awareness to drive their own decision making. Good news – if you don’t think you are self-aware, the article outlines things you can do in order to increase your self-awareness.

Why I work 100 Hours a weekLiz Wessel, the Founder and CEO of Wayup, a job matching platform for college students writes about why she doesn’t have work-life balance and why it’s worth it for her not to. Given the glamour that startups get, it’s a nice reminder that it’s not all rainbows, butterflies and catered meals. It’s clear she’s found a job and company that she is willing to throw her life into and that is incredible. The key here is finding something for yourself that is just as worthwhile to you, provided that is the path you want to pursue.

Spend time with A+ people in other industries – Hunter Walk, one of my favorite bloggers I follow, wrote about how spending time with people who are interesting to you in other industries can be valuable for your learning and development. This is an approach I’ve used throughout my life and I 100% agree with his comments. If you’re not doing this I encourage you to do so.

Tech

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Technology and the Imperative of Citizenship – In preparation for President Obama’s appearance at SXSW, Jason Goldman, the CDO of the White House wrote a piece on why he believes technology and innovation is critical to transforming public service. As an optimist, it paints a lovely picture of how technology could make public service more user/citizen friendly, and it does a nice job outlining some of the ongoing work (and potential future projects) the government is undertaking to transform the way it serves citizens.

gusto

Joshua Reeves of Gusto: Directing without dictating – Gusto is one of the hottest startups out there. They also happen to have a CEO who by all accounts seems to be a very grounded leader. This NY Times interview gets into his leadership and management style. After reading this article, I’m not surprised to see them doing so well. It’s clear they have very strong leadership

Management

What Google learned from it’s quest to build the perfect team – Google has a world-class Human Resources team, and this article from the NY Times showcases some of their research on what makes successful teams. According to their research, physcological safety is the number one trait that is most critical to successful teaming at Google. This is a great read for any manager who is responsible for a team, or, for any person who is on a team at work.

Thoughts on Gender and Radical Candor – I’ve previously written about the topic of radical candor and why i think its important. Kim Scott, the former Google/Apple leader did a Part 2 on radical candor and the implications of radical candor on men and women. For anyone interested in the diversity issue this is a relevant article into how everyday managers have to deal with managing a diverse workforce. Furthermore, there is also a fascinating story in the article about the challenge today that many professors/teachers in college face in teaching and educating students.

What Hubspot Learned from hiring (and not hiring) engineers – IMO, Hubspot has some of the best content marketing out there. It’s interesting and incredibly useful to a wide audience. If you’re someone who is in a role where you have to recruit and hire this is a must read.

Forget Training – Focus on Learning

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The corporate learning and development industry is enormous. According to HR Industry Analyst Josh Bersin, companies spend over $130B on corporate training worldwide. Furthermore, many job seekers and employees cite learning and training opportunities as characteristics they look for when choosing places of employment.

 

However, despite the enormous amount of money that companies spend on their employee training efforts, results do not always come easy. 80% of training is forgotten in less than 30 days. As organizations learn and refine ways to deliver training, employees need not stand idle – instead of training, employees should focus on learning.

 

What’s the difference? According to John Hall, a business gives training to its employees in exchange for something in return (usually tied to business results.) Learning, on the other hand, is something you invest in so that your employees and your team get better.

 

Or better said, according to LinkedIn Chief Learning Officer Kelly Palmer, it’s this:

 

“Training is transactional, learning is transformational.”

 

According to Kelly, when employees can learn, “they feel valued and know that they are not only gaining skills for their current job, but also for their future careers. Employees tend to want to stay at companies where they feel valued and where people care about their career.”

 

Creating a culture of learning certainly is an investment, but pays off when it comes to employee engagement and winning the war for top talent, which is why leaders of organizations who care about fostering a great workforce should invest in learning today. Furthermore, employees who care about personal growth and development should take action to increase their learning.

 

My hope is that more employers can see the value of creating a culture of learning, and they begin to take steps like LinkedIn has taken to instill this culture. However, employees shouldn’t hold their breath to wait for this to happen. Instead, those employees who care about their personal development and growth should focus on what they can do to learn. Why is learning important? I see three easy benefits:

 

  • It will help you do your job better every day.
  • It will help you become more engaged in what you do.
  • It will open you up to ideas and opportunities.

 

And perhaps most importantly, it will help you provide even more value to your company.

 

I like to say that for knowledge workers, the value you provide is equal to your own knowledge and experiences. The richer your knowledge and experiences, the more value you can provide.

 

Learning is important because it helps you capture new knowledge and increases the number and quality of experiences. The combination of those two increases the value you can provide to your colleagues and your company.

  • Read – Absorb as much knowledge as you can. Read about topics that are relevant to your profession and even ones that aren’t. I also include “watch” with read, so online courses and e-learnings can be included in this too. With resources like SlideShare, Lynda, and Coursera, social media sites like Twitter, and curation apps like Nuzzel, Pocket, and Flipboard, it is easy and virtually cost-free to find and save relevant content.
  • Meet – One great way to learn is from others, so go out and connect with other people to hear what they have to say. Their experiences and knowledge can be imparted to you and add insight and perspective you didn’t previously have. Again, social media sites (LinkedIn) are great for finding people relevant to your profession.
  • Teach – When you’ve mastered a topic, share it with others. Teaching something enables you to gain a much better understanding of a particular topic or issue, and helping others learn is something your colleagues will appreciate. Whether it’s through an informal presentation to your colleagues, or even writing and sharing your thoughts digitally on platforms liked LinkedIn, SlideShare, or Udemy, there are plenty of tools to share what you know and plenty of people to share it with.

 

It’d be great if all companies treated learning like LinkedIn does. Doing so will help companies build a winning culture, which will ultimately attract – and help them keep – the best and brightest people.

 

Until that happens, consider creating your own culture of learning, so, like LinkedIn employees, you can have transformational experiences and increase personal engagement in your work. Doing so will allow you to develop, grow, and open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences, all while increasing your ability to provide value to the people you work with and the organization you represent.