The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhoe

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (Spoilers Abound):

I’ve definitely been on a leadership kick, with my most recent read The Making of a Manager catching my attention after seeing this title show up on several must read lists. Zhoe’s internship and first job out of college was at Facebook when it had just a handful of employees. She grew into a management role, with this book being a summary of her experiences, mistakes, and successes along the way. I’ve raved about Coyle’s Culture Code, but The Making of a Manager feels more a technical read that includes hands on, specific suggestions. As Zhoe has only worked in the relatively intense and cut throat environment of startups to world changing, massive companies, my experience in the government isn’t super applicable during her sections talking about hiring, firing, or promotions. That said, Zhoe has a lot of great advice talking about everything from running meetings to giving/receiving valuable feedback. 

With regard to meetings, Zhoe emphasizes how meetings have to continually adapt and change based on the needs. Interestingly she made several similar comparisons as Coyle about creating a safe environment for feedback and debate in meetings. Specifically, as you run the meetings, it is crucial that the other members know that you value transparency and hard questions. 

I found Zhoe’s advice on 360-Degree Feedback to be fascinating, though likely impossible to implement working in government. This is where annually you get feedback from a handful of an employee’s fellow coworkers. This also works to obtain feedback about yourself as a manager. Based on the feedback, it is important to calibrate yourself based on how others view you. I can see this being difficult in practice but important to aid in the accuracy of your own self-reflection.

I liked Zhoe’s recommendation to keep notes of daily accomplishments, as well as recording your weekly, monthly, and biannual goals to review and update as needed. This practice allows you to capture progress that can be lost in the ever forward shifting goal of progress. 

Overall, The Making of a Manager is a detailed and specific look at how to successfully build and cultivate the right productive team for your projects, while also keeping yourself sane and organized.

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