When I considered this, I thought, Maybe I can write this book, because it's more relevant for a certain group of people now: new managers thrown into the deep end, overwhelmed managers wondering how to best help their reports, managers dealing with fast-growing teams, or those simply curious about management. I was one of them not so long ago.
Running a team is hard because it ultimately boils down to people, and all of us are multifaceted and complex beings. Just like how there is no one way to go about being a person, there is no one way to go about managing a group of people.
And yet, working together in teams is how the world moves forward. We can create things far grander and more ambitious than anything we could have done alone. This is how battles are won, how innovation moves forward, how organizations succeed. This is how any remarkable achievement happens.
I believe this as deeply as I believe anything: Great managers are made, not born. It doesn't matter who you are. If you care enough to be reading this, then you care enough to be a great manager.
Dear reader, I hope that this book gives you useful tips for your day-to-day. But more importantly, I hope this book helps you understand the whys of management, because only when you've bought into the whys can you truly be effective in the hows. Why do managers even exist? Why should you have one-on-one meetings with your reports? Why should you hire Candidate A over Candidate B? Why do so many managers make the same mistakes?
Some of the stories and perspectives I describe may be unique to the environment I work in, which is a tech start-up that became a Fortune 500 company. Maybe you will only need to hire someone new once in a blue moon. Maybe meetings won't be a big part of your day. Still, much of the daily work of managers—giving feedback, creating a healthy culture, planning for the future—is universal.
Finally, I hope that this book can be a resource on your shelf, the kind of thing you can read in any order, flip back to at any time, and reread when you suddenly see a part of your role in a new light.
Though I'm a designer, this is not a book about how to build products. You won't find deep reflections on what makes for great design or what I think of social media. I won't sit here and tell you the story of Facebook.
This is a book about how someone with no formal training learned to become a confident manager. This is the book I wish I had in my first few years, with all my fears and doubts and am-I-crazies.
This is the book that's here to tell you that your fears and doubts are normal, and, like me, you're going to figure it out.
Ready? Let's get started.
WHAT IS MANAGEMENT?
In May of 2006, when I first started my job, I didn't know what I didn't know.
On the one hand, given that Facebook was a social network for college and high school students at the time, I thought that in some ways I was the perfect candidate. I mean, who knew Facebook's audience better than a recent grad like myself? I was hungry to make my mark on the world, and there was nothing to weigh me down. I had no institutionalized doctrines, no tragic failures to speak of. And after four years of cramming for exams, writing countless papers, and pulling all-nighter coding marathons, hard work and I got along just fine.
But I faced some major disadvantages as well, the biggest being that I had very little experience under my belt. Like in most start-ups, our team was focused primarily on getting things done, not on organizational hierarchy. I didn't have a formal manager until about a year in, when one of the senior designers on our team, Rebekah, took on that role. Before that, we were operating as a loose collective, everyone just helping out where they were needed. Two years later, suddenly 'I' was a manager.
I had a lot to learn. But when I look back now, what surprises me the most is how little I understood of what management was all about.
Oh, we're all familiar with good and bad managers, from James Bond's M to A Christmas Carol's Ebenezer Scrooge, from Katharine Graham in The Post to Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. It's not as if managers are some sort of rare, exotic species. Most people have one. At the dinner table growing up, I remember my parents—an IT specialist and a stockbroker—talking about what their bosses did or said that day. I had managers who'd shown me the ropes during my high school and college teaching jobs.
***** TABLE OF CONTENTS *****
INTRODUCTION: Great Managers Are Made, Not Born
1. What Is Management?
2. Your First Three Months
3. Leading a Small Team
4. The Art of Feedback
5. Managing Yourself
6. Amazing Meetings
7. Hiring Well
8. Making Things Happen
9. Leading a Growing Team
10. Nurturing Culture
Epilogue: The Journey Is 1% Finished