Good Manager | Bad Manager
Lumikha Curriculum: Manager Learning for Managers
In his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz discusses his training document for Product Managers called, appropriately enough, Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager. To me, this kind of learning is the best: it’s succinct, specific, and very actionable.
The best thing about this approach is Horowitz’s contra examples. In my humble version, the contra examples are things I do all the time. Enumerating bad habits is a great way to help myself be vigilant.
For this exercise, performed in a series of one-on-one meetings with all the Atelier Lumikha managers, I identified four focus areas that every manager should consider.
- Organizational Alignment – Is the manager down with our corporate mission? Do they strive to collaborate, develop themselves, and develop their team through consistent performance evaluation and hands-on coaching?
- Operational Excellence – Our vision for offering kick-ass execution on a range of business services at offshore rates with a small, highly effective team.
- Personal Development – Does the manager allocate time and energy to reflection and self-improvement. Self-awareness is a key character trait of top performers.
- Team Development – The highest ROI activity for organizational excellence. “Nuff said.”
Align to Lumikha’s Vision of Excellence
- are strategically aligned and passionate about the work.
- understand and embrace our mission.
- fully commit to excellent work product and often ask themselves if the work produced by themselves and their team is the best that it can be.
- seek input, help, and suggestions from their colleagues, team, and management.
- know that the hive-mind leverages the most important asset at their disposal: the team.
- view their work as just another job.
- prioritize their needs over their team, the company, or the clients.
- assume if no one is complaining everything is okay. And believe “okay” is acceptable.
- don’t seek input or help from their team or colleagues. They go it alone.
Panache & Excellence Make an Operation Great
- rigorously structure the day with routines that are consistent and provide the framework for execution and process improvement.
- organize priorities and people to accomplish tasks efficiently and well.
- don’t flinch at objective evaluations of themselves and their team because they understand “what gets measured gets done.” For them, tracking key performance indicators (KPI’s) provide intel for effect continuous improvement.
- use immediate, thorough, and objective feedback to make the team more effective.
- empowers the team and supports thier decisions especially when they are wrong.
- haphazardly organize daily activity so that external events dictate their work tempo.
- assume their staff will “just figure it out.”
- resist measurement or offer excuses for poor performance.
- hoard decision-making authority to herself because “I’m the boss.”
Improve Yourself to Set the Example
- lead by example so the team sees the correct execution in action.
- use constant self-examination to seek areas for improvement.
- attain greater professional competence through research and independent learning.
- is a ninja when it comes to his tools. His proficiency inspires excellence through contagious enthusiasm.
- focus on external matters without asking questions or reflecting on their actions.
- assume they are too high on the food chain to be concerned with self-improvement.
- believe it’s not her job to dig in and develop a complete understanding of he job.
- lacks proficiency with her job tools and delegates their operation to the team.
Always Be Developing Your Team
- know the context of his work and makes time to help his team explaining why what they are doing is important.
- learn first, then teach.
- establish, document and train clear process and governance so employees know exactly what to do.
- identify issues, create and deliver learning to address shortcomings or opportunities. Great Managers train all the time.
- try to do all the work themselves because training the team is too time-consuming or (worse) she doesn’t believe her team has the potential to be effective.
- do not understand the rationale for their activities.
- do not have time to explain the “why’s and wherefore’s” to their team because they are too busy.