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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Why a good boss likes it when people complain

My latest in Quartz… I know some managers say “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions,” but personally I don’t subscribe to it. I love when people complain to me. Of course, complaining is a national past time for the British, and we don’t just limit ourselves to complaining about the weather, or the poor […]

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As a leader, your job should change every six months even if you stay put

My latest in Quartz… Leadership roles evolve, especially through periods of transition. As a leader, I have found my own role changing as challenges on the team change—around every four months I realize everything is fundamentally different, and the way I need to spend my time changes, too. Recently the number of my direct reports more […]

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Does your team need to rebrand?

My latest in Quartz… Some leaders are fantastic at “team branding”—communicating about their group in ways that give the rest of the organization a good understanding of what the team is all about. Others are squarely focused on “team public relations”—telling a great story about a team that, if we looked more closely, we might […]

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The five types of communication problems that destroy company morale

My latest in Quartz… There’s a saying in software that all bugs are eventually user interface bugs, because someone has to see them to report them. In organizations, it often seems like all problems are eventually communication problems, because communication is the way we interface with each other—and the way most problems surface. There are […]

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How to begin the invisible work of change management

My latest in Quartz… Someone once said to me “you’re good at change management” and I was like, what? I sat with the idea for a couple of weeks and eventually realized: Oh! That is what I do! I take teams that are struggling and help them focus, align, and start delivering at their potential, […]

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Why you can’t manage humans like they’re software

My latest in Quartz… Early on at Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos famously issued a memo about how software was to be built at the company. Teams would share their data through service interfaces, or APIs, the same way that they would share it with an outside customer. That meant that a developer on one team […]

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The four layers of communication in a functional team

My latest in Quartz… Functional teams have four layers of communication: – A mission (also known as a vision)– Strategy (made up of proximate objectives)– Tactics and process– Execution This list might seem like it includes categories of action—it does. But it’s not just doing these things, but also communicating them that ties teams together. Communicating the items on this […]

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Answer these 10 questions to understand if you’re a good manager

My latest in Quartz… Something I struggled with as a new manager was finding a sense of accomplishment, and as I’ve moved on to manage managers, I’ve seen this become a challenge for them, too. It’s hard to find the right success metrics upon which to judge our work because our output is to make […]

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The first two questions to ask when your team is struggling

My second article in Quartz… I’ve never stepped into a leadership role without it quickly becoming clear why a new leader was needed. I think it’s normal for companies to hire new leaders when there are problems that need to be addressed. So I suspect that as the congratulations die down, it’s also normal to […]

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