Don’t Manage Projects or Tasks, Manage People

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

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One of the biggest misconceptions of management is about what really drives people. In a survey of hundreds of managers by Amabile and Kramer, 95% failed to correctly identify the best motivator at work. This has huge consequences.

The most powerful motivator isn’t monetary incentives or even beneficial management techniques such as providing recognition or interpersonal support. The best motivator is simply making progress on meaningful work.

As a manager, understanding that you can have a large impact on people’s sense of progress can transform and clarify your focus on how your team gets stuff done. Your job isn’t so much to manage the tasks themselves or be “inspiring” or dictate turn-by-turn directions on what to do. Your job is to manage people and facilitate their progress by providing support, tools, resources, and feedback.

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How to Go Beyond Trust Falls to Strengthen Your Team’s Camaraderie

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

buffer team trust

For the amount of our lives that we spend working, you’d think it would be more common to spend time tending to our coworker relationships. Yet, the default is to treat the social aspects of work as a given instead of managing them in any significant way.

Team-building goes way beyond trust falls. Successful people recognize the importance of establishing and cultivating meaningful connections.

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3 Practical Mindsets to Empower Introverts to Succeed at Networking

I’ve never been good at networking. I’m usually standing in the corner talking with a friend at parties, if I’m at a party at all. I get worn out from being around people and need my alone time to recharge.

There’s a certain efficiency in the glad-handing ways of a freshly-minted MBA because knowing the right people is in large part a numbers game. But to an introvert relating to people in that way isn’t just uncomfortable, it seems morally repugnant. The introvert aspires to treat people as ends themselves and not as a means to feed the ego or further our careers.

The problem is that not networking, bluntly, means stunting your career and financial prospects. Not networking may sound noble to you, but all that it amounts to is a litany of missed opportunities.

introvert networking mindset

Not to worry, networking doesn’t mean changing who you are, 95% of it is in your mindset and approach to it. Here are 3 practical mindsets that’ll empower you not just to network, but to make you successful at it.

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Google Snippets

Title image for The Definitive Guide to Google Snippets

The Definitive Guide to Google Snippets

I knew nothing about Google Snippets before I moved to Silicon Valley. But when I was out there, I kept hearing that successful company after company — like Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Buzzfeed and more — used the snippets system to power a flat and decentralized management structure, enabling autonomy, transparency, and happiness in the company.

This guide tells everything you need to know about Google snippets, from its inception at Google to how it’s used at top tech companies today. You’ll learn why snippets is so useful and how to get snippets going in your own company.

If you’re interested in using iDoneThis for snippets, just go to idonethis.com. We’d love to hear what you think about snippets and our guide at @idonethis.

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Why You Should Hire People Who’ve Rebounded from Failure, Not Those Handcuffed by Success

Fish Jumping Out of Bowl Hire Innovators

When it came time for Jeff Bezos to install a team to lead Amazon’s new subsidiary, the grocery delivery service AmazonFresh, he made a startling move. Instead of selecting experts from the supermarket or delivery industries or snapping up executives from his competitors, he chose people who had failed exactly where he wanted to succeed.

This maneuver would have never happened in the early days of Amazon. In the first few years of the company, Bezos was incredibly demanding about who he would hire. He only wanted the best — which were people who had “been successful in everything they had done.”

Bezos’s thinking on hiring did an about-face as he continued to build Amazon. To hire innovators, you must move beyond conventional ideas of success, and that’s why Bezos ultimately hired failures to run AmazonFresh.

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How 3 Entrepreneurs End Their Day Even When They Have More Work To Do

For the most productive people, the work is never done. The problem is that when there’s always more work to do, how can you possibly end your day and go home without feeling stressed out and guilty?

You might think that this is just a personal problem, but it turns out that this is a struggle that even the most successful entrepreneurs have had to grapple with.

Here is the system that three highly effective and seasoned tech executives use to manage their own psychology. It’s not sexy, but it’s incredibly powerful, and it’s a simple process you can start today — tracking and reflecting on your day’s accomplishments.

David Heinemeier Hansson (37signals) quote on daily reflection

“One pattern to help yourself fight the mad dash for the mirage of being done is to think of a good day’s work. Look at the progress of the day towards the end and ask yourself: ‘Have I done a good day’s work?’”

David Heinemeier Hansson, 37signals

Taking time for daily reflection on the question “Have I done a good day’s work” is “liberating” because if the answer is yes, “you can leave your desk feeling like you accomplished something important, if not entirely ‘done.’”

If the answer is no, you’re empowered to delve more deeply into why that happened and how you can fix it.

For the people who think they’re too busy to take time out for what sounds like just another task, here’s the twist — “it feels good to be productive,” and feeling productive requires that you take time out to recognize your accomplishments.

When you do, you’ll get on a roll and you’ll want to keep the momentum going. “And if you can keep the roll, everything else will probably take care of itself.”

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The Essential Investment that Companies Aren’t Making

continuing education at Apple

It’s a super secret Apple product — incredibly polished, meticulously planned, and the result of a massive investment on the part of the company.

No, it’s not the latest yet-to-be-announced iPhone.

It’s Apple University, Apple’s internal training program that runs year-round, features courses created and taught by full-time faculty, and boasts as its dean Joel Podolny, the former dean of the Yale School of Management. “Even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice,” one employee reported.

Apple University dwarfs what most companies offer their employees for internal training, and it shows in employee growth, retention, and fierce dedication to the company’s unique culture and vision. For Apple, it’s an essential investment in the people that make up the company and its future.

Unfortunately, this kind of people investment is all too rare today. According to ManpowerGroup, 36% of global employers report difficulty finding candidates with the higher-tech skills that the modern economy requires. Yet the blame, according to Professor Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, falls on employers for failing to training for employees on how to fill those higher-skilled roles — and that’s become a huge problem for companies and job-seekers alike.

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Don’t Preserve Startup Culture in Your Growing Company

startup culture like peter pan

Like seeing your kids off to college for the very first time, it’s always a bit jolting for startup founders who see their company grow beyond the plucky “move fast and break things” startup culture of its youth. It’s hard not to get a little nostalgic about that exciting age when everything was new.

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Phil Libin has seen his company Evernote shoot up from a small startup to a billion-dollar company in six short years. Growing the Evernote team from just tens of people to 400, Libin worried over what such fast growth would do to the young company culture.

When he talked to Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO, who’d seen his own company grow precipitously, he asked him how to preserve the company culture that had helped get Evernote to such a successful start. Costolo’s answer was completely unexpected.

Don’t, Costolo said.

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Bad Managers Talk, Good Managers Write

The exemplary manager is often shown as the outgoing guy that gives his team pep talks and high fives. In truth, though, that stereotype couldn’t be farther from the truth.

To three highly effective, seasoned, and successful executives, being a good talker isn’t just overvalued, it can actually be detrimental. Rather, there’s a subtle, often-overlooked ability that’s one of the most vital skills you can have as a managerthe ability to write.

why good managers write

“Written communication to engineering is superior [to verbal communication] because it is more consistent across an entire product team, it is more lasting, it raises accountability.” 

Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz

When managers write, you create work product — white papers, product requirement documents, FAQs, presentations — that lasts and is accessible to everyone in the organization. From marketing to sales to QA to engineering, everyone has a document off which they can work and consult.

The upshot is that the manager also takes public responsibility for what happens when the rest of the team executes on the point of view taken by the documents. That ratchets up accountability through the organization.

To Horowitz, the distinction between written and verbal communication is stark and, in fact, it’s what separates the wheat from the chaff. Good managers want to be held accountable and aren’t looking for ways to weasel out of responsibility. And so, good managers write, while “[b]ad product managers voice their opinion verbally and lament … the ‘powers that be’.”

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This One Word from Managers Helps Teams Work 48% Better

social context together

In many ways, work is getting increasingly solitary.

We’re rejecting meetings with colleagues as inefficient time-wasters where nothing gets done. Technology is mediating communication, replacing face-to-face interaction. Remote work means that we’re often physically alone even when we’re working on a team.

The upshot is that even when we’re working together with colleagues on a team, it can feel like we’re working alone. Yet social contexts can be powerful motivators at work. Without them, we can get disengaged and feel like our work doesn’t matter.

It turns out that, even in the absence of working physically together with a team, it’s possible to evoke the power of social context with one single word. Stanford psychologists discovered that saying this one word inspired individuals to work an incredible 48% harder by using social context to fuel intrinsic motivation.

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