At this point in my post business school career, I’ve managed people for a little over 20 months at Google. Two learnings cemented for me recently that I wanted to share: the importance of career development and feedback. Basically, good managers adopt Oxygen attribute #6: support career development and discuss performance.
Helping people think through what they want in their careers, negotiate next steps and determine ways to network into a role, come naturally to me and I love to teach those skills, both inside and outside of work (in fact, much of this blog focuses on that topic). In feedback surveys, my team at work solidified the importance of career development. As they stated, it impacts their well being and drive to perform.
The harder part of Oxygen attribute #6 for me to develop was to discuss performance, both good and bad, often.
I value transparency, yet until recently giving negative feedback felt difficult. I do not like that it forces me to risk “likability”. Perhaps, as a woman the fear of not being liked is larger than my peer male managers, although, of course, I do not know that for sure. Yet, my team consistently wrote in my manager reviews that they appreciate that I grew in my management style to provide “detailed and honest” feedback. Note: they did not say positive, just honest.
Since I struggled to give negative feedback effectively at the beginning, I wanted to share a few resources here that helped me develop that important skill.
- Read Radical Candor. After reading Kim Scott’s book, I adopted “real time” feedback. This enables me to give feedback right when a situation occurs, which ensures all parties remember the situation in more of the same way. It also lessens fear of an impending formal review and enables quicker turn around times in progress.
- Manage a low performer. While not fun, managing someone who struggles with work quickly forces development. Here, I learned how to provide extremely specific SMART goals. SMART goals force everyone to clearly know what each party expects.
- (Obvious) Watch other managers. Another, more senior member of my organization, told me “You’re their manager, not their friend”. He wasn’t saying to act mean or cruel. It helped me remeber that in our lives we play different roles for different people. I do care about my team, but he was 100% right. They need me to act as manager who can give feedback, both good and bad, to help make them better sales people and Google employees, not to act as a friend. As my survey results showed, they value my coaching, not my “likability”.
My team often asks me what I want “to do next”. I think they wonder how I find managing an Inside Sales team fulfilling or hard enough. I tell them that I still find managing well a challenge.