The Making of a Manager | Julie Zhuo

Summary of: The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You
By: Julie Zhuo


Welcome to our summary of The Making of a Manager, a valuable insight into the world of management by Julie Zhuo, who gained firsthand experience as she managed Facebook’s design team. In this book, Zhuo explores the important responsibilities of a manager – such as providing effective feedback, conducting productive meetings, and hiring the right people – and how they contribute to improved team outcomes. Get ready to gain key insights into the different paths to becoming a manager, discover strategies for tackling challenges during your first few months, and learn essential skills for managing both small and large teams effectively.

Achieving Improved Outcomes

When Julie Zhuo started as a manager, she assumed her job was to micromanage her team on a daily basis and focus on short-term goals. However, after gaining more experience, she realized that a manager’s job is to focus on wider issues, including ensuring team cohesion, helping team members achieve their career goals, and implementing efficient processes. Nonetheless, Zhuo eventually concluded that a manager’s primary responsibility is to achieve improved outcomes from their team. A manager should not be evaluated based on their likability, hard work, or presentation skills, but rather based on the consistent outcomes of their team. Therefore, great managers are those whose teams consistently produce excellent results, while mediocre managers’ teams produce average outcomes. It’s that simple – no extensive lists or box-ticking evaluations required.

Paths to Management

The author presents three routes to management – the Apprentice, Pioneer, and New Boss paths – and highlights the advantages and pitfalls of each. She emphasizes that understanding your route to management can help you overcome the unique challenges that come with the role and hit the ground running. The Apprentice path offers plenty of guidance but may make establishing authority difficult. The Pioneer path allows for building a team but may leave you without support. The New Boss path offers a grace period to learn but may tempt you to rush in without understanding the nuances of the position.

Mastering the Art of Providing Feedback

Providing feedback can be a challenging task, as many of us worry about hurting someone’s feelings or don’t know how to approach the conversation in a sensitive manner. However, giving effective feedback to team members is essential for a manager’s job. Specific feedback on a task that someone has just completed is the most straightforward and should be delivered as soon as possible. Providing written feedback is also effective unless the task is crucial. Making activity-specific feedback a regular habit can help team members improve. Conducting 360-degree feedback sessions and gathering multiple perspectives can also provide a well-rounded and objective view of a team member’s performance. By employing these techniques, managers can effectively provide feedback that helps team members grow and succeed.

Making Meetings Productive

Meetings in the modern workplace have earned a bad reputation for being dull and unproductive. To make meetings successful, authors suggest having a clear idea of the intended outcome of the meeting. If it is to make a decision, a successful meeting should include all those impacted by the decision, present all options objectively, and ensure all opinions are heard. Alternatively, if the outcome is simply to share information, the meeting should be engaging, with good pacing and facilitation. Simply having an agenda is not enough, and managers need to ensure that meetings are productive and meaningful for all attendees.

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