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- Want to be a better boss?
- Start by skirting the most common leadership pitfalls for new — and even seasoned — managers.
- For example, don’t just focus on your employees’ success and don’t be afraid to make necessary staff cuts.
Whether you’ve just ascended to a leadership role (congrats!) or you’ve been managing people for years, there’s always room for improvement.
Below, we collected some of the best management advice we’ve heard — from former HR execs at top tech companies like Amazon and Google, a Harvard Business School professor, and some of the most renowned executive coaches.
Each one shared a simple strategy to avoid a common management trap. Read on for quick fixes to any mistakes you’ve been guilty of.
Former Facebook and Amazon HR exec Bharath Jayaraman: Don’t take on a leadership role until you’ve had some management experience
Courtesy of Bharath Jayaraman
Jayaraman, now the HR director at JUUL Labs, said the transition from individual contributor to people manager doesn’t have to be jarring. In fact, the person making the transition should be pretty confident that they want to assume a leadership role.
One option is to give the person some informal management experience.
"Never make anyone a people manager without making them a mentor for a new hire on your team first," Jayaraman said.
Another option Jayaraman proposed is to organize groups of people who have expressed some desire to be managers and have them go through more formal training. Every few months, a new cohort of would-be managers might review and discuss case studies, or work with coaches and mentors.
And if the person goes through the training and realizes they don’t in fact want to be a boss? Jayaraman said, "That is a great outcome."
University of Texas at Austin psychologist Art Markman: Don’t preoccupy yourself with whether your employees like you
Courtesy of Art Markman
Markman said that many people transitioning into leadership roles are preoccupied with the decision to be liked or feared.
But "when you actually get into a leadership role," he said, "it really does become much more about what you’re trying to accomplish with respect to the organization."
There’s work to be done — and spending time worrying what people will think of how you’re doing it is generally ineffective.
Take a tip from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who laid off 9% of the Tesla workforce in 2018, and found that many former employees still believed in Musk and his vision.
Former Google HR exec Justin Angsuwat: Don’t try to impress the candidates you’re interviewing
Courtesy of Thumbtack
Angsuwat is now the vice president of people at Thumbtack. Over the course of his career, he’s observed too many interviewers trying to impress the candidate, or flaunt their smarts.
These types of interviewers typically say to themselves, "I can think of some really tough questions. I can trip them up," Angsuwat said. "That’s kind of dangerous because you end up with some unfair outcomes, potentially."
Specifically, you don’t get a sense of the candidate’s abilities so much as their willingness to be cowed by the interviewer smirking and tapping their foot.
Angsuwat said it’s near impossible to get a sense of the candidate’s potential from asking deliberately tricky questions. What’s more, he added, "It’s not a great candidate experience."
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