When people switch from the maker path (working as an individual contributor) to the manager path, I often see them struggle to redevelop their internal barometer of success, to know what it takes to feel productive at the end of a day.
- Focused solely on the human growth and resiliency aspect of management, not on strategy, delivery, or advanced management topics like managing managers. Each chapter contains practical exercises and reflection questions to help managers apply the concepts and build resilient teams.
- First three chapters start loosely based on Tuckman’s stages of group development:
- Forming – learning about your team
- Storming & Norming – helping them grow through mentoring, coaching, sponsoring, and feedback
- Performing – setting clear expectations, vision and priorities, and collaborative process
- Followed by two chapters on effective communication and a focus on building resiliency, both vital towards handling growth and change within the team as well as the organization.
- Overall, “Resilient Management” covers a range of concepts, emphasizing the importance of building resilience, effective communication, trust, and culture. And how these can best be achieved with empathy, vulnerability, transparency, and self-reflection.
Building a Foundation of Trust
- Building trust is essential for effective leadership, and Hogan discusses strategies for building trust with team members, peers, and stakeholders. These include being transparent, demonstrating vulnerability, and following through on commitments.
- Understanding the core needs of the members of your team (using the BICEPS acronym defined below) will help build insights into how you can tailor your methods to ensure core needs are being met.
- Creating a healthy culture is important for building resilience and supporting team members. Hogan discusses how to create a culture of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable taking risks and being themselves.
Helping Team Members Grow
- There are four distinct ways that you can help with course-correction and growth in the members of your team:
- Mentoring: lending advice and helping to problem solve based on your own experience.
- Coaching: asking open questions to help your teammate reflect and introspect, rather than sharing your own opinions or quickly problem solving.
- Sponsoring: finding opportunities for your teammate to level up, take on new leadership roles, and get promoted.
- Delivering feedback: observing behavior that is or isn’t aligned to what the team needs to be doing and sharing those observations, along with praise or suggestions.
- It’s common for managers to focus on one area over the others (usually mentoring), but a customized balance of all four based on the person’s needs, their stage of growth, and what they’re working on is crucial. This balance will change over time as they grow and their needs change.
Setting Expectations Around Responsibility, Priorities, and Practices
- Humans benefit from clarity around what’s expected of them in their job. Hogan details how a RACI matrix (defined below) and Responsibility Venn diagram can be helpful in providing this clarity.
- A RACI matrix is great at highlighting who on a team will be consulted or get a vote on a project.
- A Venn diagram helps to outline where there are overlaps and opportunities for collaboration.
- Taking time to define a VMSO statement (defined below) helps to provide clarity of purpose, ties team-level goals to overall company goals & mission, and acts as a north star to focus on what’s most important.
- Collaboratively documenting team practices like meetings, email and chat channels, and collaboration tools are important for quickly onboarding new team members and providing clarity over time as these dynamics change.
- Charter of Mindful Communication (from Etsy)
- Reflect on the dynamics in the room
- Elevate the conversation – by being constructive with feedback
- Assume best intentions
- Listen to learn – stay curious about others’ perspectives
Strategic and Clear Communication
- Leading and managing through change can be challenging, and Hogan provides guidance on how to create a roadmap for change, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and manage resistance.
- A communications plan (defined below) will help you avoid common pitfalls like being too opaque or convoluted, not having the answers to obvious questions, or forgetting to soothe folks’ core needs as you share sensitive information with your team.
- Sometimes decisions will be made that you don’t agree with but are tasked with communicating, these are times where you need to “disagree and commit.” Putting your own reservations aside to give things a try and trust in leadership’s decisions, speaking up about potential issues to other leaders, and then agreeing to support the decision despite your reservations.
Building Resiliency in Yourself and Your Team
- Managing times of crisis
- Before a crisis
- Understand company benefits in advance of when someone has an urgent need.
- Lead by example by taking time off for vacation, mental health, and doctor visits.
- Ask for input about team processes and what info the team needs to stay resilient.
- Keep setting expectations as you delegate work or share deadlines, give the gift of clarity.
- During a crisis
- As a manager, you may pick up on something being wrong. Reach out to ask if they need some support or time to chat. Make sure it’s easy and safe to decline.
- If they do share something difficult, partner with them to figure out next steps.
- Before a crisis
- Managing your energy, determining what “brain types” drain vs reenergize you:
- 1:1s with my direct reports (manager brain)
- group meetings with my team (dissemination-of-information brain)
- meetings with other leaders to set strategy and timelines (strategy/tactics brain)
- solo time to make headway on projects (focus, complex problem solving brain)
- Building a trusted support network to help you navigate difficult situations, push you out of your comfort zone, and help you practice saying no.
- BICEPS – An acronym for the six core needs humans have in the workplace, coined by coach and trainer Paloma Medina. Stands for Belonging, Improvement/Progress, Choice, Equality/Fairness, Predictability, Significance
- Communications plan – a step-by-step strategy for sharing new information throughout an organization. Julia Grace, senior director of engineering at Slack, created the following simple communications plan template
- Header: author, date, status (e.g. draft)
- the What (most important thing you want to communicate)
- the Why (why’s it changing)
- who knows
- who will be directly impacted
- what will be said in [IRL or channel] when
- Talking points
- RACI matrix – A responsibility assignment matrix, standing for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. These four terms are the most frequent roles for the people involved in a project or decision.
- Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development – the four stages a group goes through as it evolves from a bunch of strangers to a unified collective with common goals, released in 1965 by psychology researcher Bruce Tuckman.
- Forming is when the group comes together in its new state. Your team might have a name, and probably has some understanding of its goal, but it’s likely that other processes or patterns still need to be defined or updated.
- Storming is where you start to see some friction. It’s startling, because you just experienced the excitement of forming a team! But I promise: storming is a necessary part of these team dynamics. You’ve gotta feel some confusion and clashing to make it to the next stage.
- Norming is where things start to iron themselves out. Individuals begin to resolve their differences, and clarity is introduced. You start to find your groove.
- Performing is that coveted flow state. You’re effective, you’re communicating well, and you’re shipping.
- VMSO – Vision, Mission, Objectives, and Strategy statement written by Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. Each component of the statement turns your high-level vision into a more granular, more tangible, more easily recognizable game plan for your teammates.
The quote at the top of this summary struck a chord with me, as I was just getting started with leadership I struggled (and in many ways still do) with what it takes to feel productive after decades as an individual contributor.I love that this book covers a range of important concepts for managers, emphasizing the importance of building resilience, effective communication, trust, culture, and self-reflection. Definitely one I’m going to need to come back to periodically.