How to build—and manage—a self-improving team

My latest in Quartz… A lot of things in management become clearer when you realize it’s much easier to measure a team’s progress than its state. A team produces 30 units of “x” in a week. Is this good? Well, we could start by asking what the value of each unit is, or by looking […]

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Be Less Afraid of Giving Feedback

  My friend Camille told me once that women get too much feedback, and men too little. I think about this whenever I think about feedback because it captures some of the baggage we bring to giving feedback. If you’ve got a lot of (low value) feedback you might think a lot about whether the […]

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Book: Thanks for the Feedback

The premise of Thanks for the Feedback (Amazon) is that we should get better at receiving feedback. I started feeling a little resentful of that because I think most feedback is bad (and quickly turns into advice). But I quickly got over it because the book is really helpful, and yes, it gave me some better […]

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Learn to Take Positive Feedback Well

One of the things I found most surprising when I started my current job, is that I would ask for feedback and people would tell me concrete things that they thought I had done well, and tell me why they appreciated it, or what they thought the impact was. For comparison, a manager at the […]

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Running a Manager Feedback Cycle

    I just ran a thorough feedback cycle for the managers (leads) in my team. This is what it looked like. Motivation: It’s hard to get feedback as a manager, the hope was that people would be more candid if they 1) submitted feedback anonymously 2) to someone else. Because we tend to amplify negative […]

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Things to Figure Out as a New Manager: Part 4, Feedback

danbo hiding in a shoe

There are two things we should talk about before talking about feedback. First is the idea that feedback is just when you tell someone they screwed up in some way or need to do better. This makes us dread giving feedback (well, for those of us who aren’t sociopaths who enjoy tearing people down), and it […]

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Book: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

what got you here won't get you there book cover

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Amazon) initially irked me because it fell under a class of book that I call “Advice for White Men” (my blog post on this topic). It’s about how you can be oblivious to certain characteristics, and never receive feedback on them – and of course all but […]

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School is Not Life

Math Cards Icon

The biggest difference I see between the education system here and in the UK is grading, and that creates some interesting differences in perspective. In Canada, marks in the 90’s are commonplace. I actually got a 99 on one of my assignments – I was dying to know what caused the loss of a point, […]

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Extreme Blue

Morpho peleides (blue morpho butterfly)

One of my closest friends works at another large tech company, and all summer we’ve been having conversations that go like this: ME: I’ve had such an awesome day! I found out about this awesome thing and made some progress on my awesome project. I love my job! How was yours? HIM: Good! I finally […]

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When Excellent is Adequate, Nothing is Ever Good Enough

I have the dubious distinction of being the intern, who on my self evaluation, had the biggest (positive) different between how my team rated me, and how I rated myself. I gave myself all average marks, bar one (initiative, +1). My 3 teammates evaluated me, and I only had one average mark, total, so I […]

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