Radical Candor
Radical Candor

Episode 75 · 2 months ago

Radical Candor S4, Ep. 16: What Do Managers of Managers Do? (The Crank Call From Kim)


Does anyone actually want to be a manager of managers? And if so, what do these people actually do? On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast Kim, Jason and Amy discuss strategies for being an effective manager of managers. If you're managing people who manage other people, then you're managing managers. Whereas if you're managing individual contributors, you're managing a team. 

The most significant difference when you become a manager of managers is that now you have to become a thought partner, not just on the functional expertise and the business that they're running or the product that they're building, but you also have to be a thought partner to them on how they're managing their team.

Radical Candor Podcast Episode At a Glance

When you are a manager of managers, it’s your job to make sure not only that the authority you have doesn’t go to your head, but that authority doesn’t go to the heads of the people who work for you. In other words, you want to make sure that nobody on your team, including you, has unilateral decision-making power over who gets hired, who gets promoted, and who gets fired. You want to make these decisions as a team.

As you switch from direct management of individual contributors to managing managers, you’re going to face new challenges. When you become a manager, you can’t be in the details of every decision; when you become a manager of managers you don’t even know all the decisions that are being made.

When you become a manager you can’t solve every problem, when you become a manager of managers you may not even know about the problems that are getting solved and you have to let go of control.

You can’t have a personal relationship with every person your direct reports manage — and at some point, you won’t even be able to know everyone’s name. And, people may start to see you differently — perhaps as the big intimidating boss they have to perform for versus the nice person they used to say hi to in the coffee line.

Listen to the full episode to hear the team share their experiences of navigating these changing dynamics, including how Kim used to "crank call" members of her team.

Radical Candor Podcast Checklist

  1. For managers of managers, here are the conditions that you need to create so those good relationships can happen on your team. You need to make explicit to the people who you're managing, that management is part of their job. You need to make sure that none of your managers have unilateral decision-making power over who gets promoted, who gets hired, and who gets fired.
  2. As a manager of managers, you want to create a culture of guidance. In fact, all managers do, but specifically, as a manager, managers, remember, it's not enough to just solicit feedback. You also have to make yourself open to public criticism. You also want to design systems that are going to enable people to speak truth to power. If you want more information on how to set those up, check out season 4, episode 14.
  3. Managers of managers need to build effective teams. That starts with hiring the right people and making sure that when you're hiring people, it is clear to them what management skills are going to be required. And don't forget to not only put that in the job description but to make that part of the interview process as well as the reference check process. The best tip that we can give you is to call people who have reported to that person in the past and find out what they really think of them as a manager.
  4. As a manager of managers, you need to make sure that everybody's on the same page about what the goals are. And the best way to do that is with what we call a bottoms-up OKR process or a bottoms-up goal-setting process.
  5. Remember, you are not the Hotel California of management — people can (and will) leave if you're not managing effectively.  

Radical Candor Podcast Resources

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Radical Candor Podcast. I am Kim Scott, co founder of Radical Candor and author of the books Radical Candor and Just Work, not to mention three unpublished novels. I'm Jason rosof CEO and co founder of Radical Candor. I'm Amy Sandler, your host for the Radical Candor Podcast. And Kim, I think you did mention the author of three Spirit of Clarity. Yes. On the last episode we talked about the responsibilities of managers of small teams. Today we're going to talk about what managers of managers do at work. And we did touch on this a couple episodes ago. Will put that in the show notes when we spoke about quiet quitting, But today it's all about the role of manager of managers. And so, first of all, let's talk about what are we actually talking about here. When we say a manager of managers, we are defining the transition when someone goes from managing that small team to a large team. Is this manager of managers? Kim, what is the difference here? Difference is that if you're managing people who manage other people, than you're managing managers, Whereas if you're managing individual contributors. Then you're managing a team. And so I think the big difference when you become a manager of managers is that now you have to become a thought partner not only on the task at hand. So if you're a manager of engineers, you're a thought partner for the engineering project, or if you're a manager of salespeople, you're a thought partner for their uh there, their sales efforts. But if you're a manager of someone who manages engineers or a manager of someone who manages salespeople, now you have to be a thought partner to them, not just on the functional expertise in the business that they're running, or the or the product that they're building, but you also have to be a thought thought partner to them on how they're managing their team. And this is important and complicated because you've got to when you're a manager of managers, you need to set up some processes that both empower those managers you're managing. Sorry, there's a lot of management in this this exclamation, but you've also got to make sure that those folks don't have too much power, that the managers you are managing aren't acting like jerks you're protecting the people who work for the people who work for you. And one of the other things that makes it kind of complicated is that people love to hate middle managers, but when you are managing managers, it is your job to love them, uh and to maximize the chances that others do too, that they don't become these people who ruin your culture. Well, we're really teeing up quite an episode where we're learning how to love the people that people love to hate and trying not to use the word managers too many times in one episode. We'll keep track, Jason. One of the things that we were talking about as we're setting up this this episode was about this distinction between small team and large team, and Kim is saying, from her perspective, it's really about being the thought partner for the manager of managers. Can you reflect on what you heard Kim say and your perspective on small versus large teams? Yeah, I was arguing in that conversation that we had off air that team start to feel large when you introduce the idea of a manager of managers, and usually teams start to feel large right before you introduce a manager of managers because that role gets introduced when you realize that you are managing twelve or fifteen or maybe even twenty gasp, twenty people yourself, and you're you're realizing it's I need help. I can't I can't directly manage all of these folks by myself. So you start the process of thinking what do I do next? And the next logical step is to introduce another manager to take on at least part of the team. And one of the ways amy that teams can get big is exactly as Jason said, I mean, at one point at Google, for example, they were so loath to have managers of managers that there were several people at the company who had sixty five direct reports, which meant that there was no management. There was no management. And it turned out actually that people really longed to have a good man. Nobody longs to have a bad boss, but people wanted someone to do the things that managers do, and so they had to introduce this layer without introducing the kind of power dynamics will create...

...weenies of the middle managers. For lack of a more technical term, Kim, it's interesting you bring in this this longing for good managers. I want to explore the longing from the other side, which is does anyone long to be a manager of managers? Of course they do, but usually for the wrong reasons. But sometimes people think that if there you know, a boss of bosses, then then they won't have to do any work. There was one guy who I knew a person from my personal life will just leave it at that, who called me up and said he wanted me to help him get a CEO role. And there was a role I knew that was open, and it was a CEOO role. And I said to him, how about this role? He said, oh, no, I have to be the CEO. I said, why do you have to be the CEO? And he said, because if I'm the CEO, then people have to deal with my neuroses, and if I'm not the CEO, that I have to deal with their neurosis. And I'm like, how about we try to deal with our own neuroses, you know. Um. So I think very often people think that they're going to get power when they become a manager of managers, and that is the wrong reason. So in my experience, the people who I promoted to become managers and also the people who I promoted to become managers of managers. Sorry, uh about this? If this is becoming a drinking game, there were there's a lot of shots being had. They were the reluctant managers. They were the people who didn't really want the to to be whatever that, but they cared about that. They cared about people, and they cared about the product, and they realized that in order to help the folks they were working with achieved something, they had to take on those responsibilities. I think the reason why I a reluctant manager is more likely to not sort of let the power go to their head is because there they see value in what they are currently doing as an individual contributor. If it's a promotion to management, so they see what they're doing as as valuable, they care about it, and so that transistion from individual contributor to manager. You're actually trying to convince them that there's this other set of skills that you could put that that I think you have an aptitude for, that you could apply that actually could have a leveraged effect, meaning your effort could have a bigger impact if you as a as a manager, you could help that thing that you care about in a different way and maybe even have have a bigger impact as a result. And the same thing is true in the transition from manager to manager of managers, like the skill set people tend to in that position, tend to see the ski will set or the job that they currently do as valuable. And I think when you see the inherent value in the person in the work that the people that you will eventually manage are doing, it makes you much more likely not to let the power go to your head and to care that those individuals are successful. If I hear you, it's really the reluctance is maybe about some of the perceptions of managing managers around power and being sort of the boss's boss versus appealing to someone's desire to have a better work product, to have more leverage and getting a better outcome. Is that what you're saying, Jason, I think that's part of it. I guess what I'm saying is like the reluctance that I have experienced in this moment of like considering someone changing roles into management often boils down to I really like being an engineer. I care about engineering work, I care about my colleagues, and I like the relationships I have with my colleagues. That is often the source of the reluctance. And all of that our quality ties that you want in a manager, right, are people cares about their colleagues, that cares about the quality of the work that is being done, that values the craft of whatever it is that the people on their team are doing. So all of those things that fuel reluctance are also qualities of good managers. I think also, one should be a little leery when when one is given some authority. One should be a little wary of that authority and and not wanting it to corrupt you. And I think that's all for the good if you're too eager for the job, I think that. I mean, so, I'm sure there are some people who really care deeply about management, and they're more interested in management than they are in being an engineer. And and maybe that's all fine, but so so, nothing I'm saying is an absolute. But I think that the reluctance and the skepticism of the role is well placed.

You know, most people have had more bad bosses than good bosses, and most people don't want to become that bad boss. And so I think that that's also part of what I like about that reluctance. Yeah, I think it's really well put. Whether it's around the power of the authority, Jason, what you were saying around I'm kind of having to give up the very things that most resonate and I care both about the people and the work product. You know. One of the things that also comes up as a manager of managers this idea of indirect management that you know, maybe you're managing five people and now you're responsible for a team of several hundred that you're not in direct contact with. And Jason again this conversation, before the conversation, we were talking about this idea where there's a world where you're not in a command and control structure, and in that world you're actually always indirectly managing. So, whether you are managing a team of to the story that you might share around twelve people, it's not even about having a team of four hundred. It can start much smaller. So, Jason, can you flesh that out a little bit for us about this idea of indirect management. Yeah, I think there's a temptation to believe that somehow the tasks of management become much different as the size of a team grows, and I think that's because when a team is small, you have the illusion of control, not because control exists, but because the illusion of control exists. And so my perspective is that great managers at any team size are aware that the only sense of control is an illusion, and they work with that feeling. They they recognize the importance of that. And in a world where you're doing creative work of any kind, it doesn't have to be engineering, could be marketing, could be sales. All this is creative work. You're dependent on people operate like using good judgment and operating independently making decisions without you in order for the team to be successful. By definition, that is indirect management. You're not controlling that person's behavior or not. You're not dictating the words that come out of their mouth. And so good management is founded on a discipline of indirect management. And so I just thought that this idea that somehow, this need for indirect management appears as a team grows, like, is maybe missing the point of what management should be about. Yes, agree, wow, all right, we agree? We are not my goodness, we are a minking it is looking for we agree? No, Well, I'm sure, we'll get we'll get to that later. What I think, at least if I am in this position, I am like anyone wanting to get into. How can I actually succeed as a manager of managers? I mean, certainly one of the mistakes that I'm made. When I was managed, I was managing five people, so I was you know, those were my direct reports, but they were each managing five ten people who were in turn managing five, so the team was was a couple of hundred, and I really thought I needed to talk to all hundred hundred some odd people on the team, and so I set up all these like fifteen minute one on ones every day with you know, when people were global, so they were calls often, and I would the folks who weren't watching the video. I do think your head spun three hundred sixty degrees when you said global. Yeah, it sounds like fifteen minute one on ones with people is no big deal. It kind of was making my head spin, and I felt guilty about not doing it. And you know, i'd sit down with these people. I would say, this year, time to tell me what's anything that's on your mind? Anything is fair game from furniture to strategy, and I think that people thought it was a little weird. I think they felt that they were putting they were being put on the spot. This was their fifteen and it's not like this fifteen minute conversation I really got to know them. So that's an example of how I had to sort of let go of this illusion that I could get to know that many people I couldn't even remember their name, and I had to be okay with that. And I think that is hard that I mean, at least it was hard for me him if I'm not mistaken, and correct me if I'm wrong. I feel like you had a different view on these fifteen minute meetings with a larger team where you had talked about Obviously you have your direct reports, you have that smaller sphere of influence, but on the larger team having conversations as a way to understand what was on people's minds and to build even if you couldn't build a complete one on one relationship, it's how you heard about the off site that people did or didn't want to have or And so I'm just curious, like it seemed like there had been some value in having connections with your team when when I mean, I'm not saying never talk... anyone, but when a team is When a team is like forty people, you can have these fifteen minute one on ones. When a team is a thousand people, you can't write. At some point it breaks down. Uh. And so I did a bunch of things to try to scale this, because when you're a manager of managers, the hardest thing about that is managing your time actually, and everybody kind of wants a piece of you, and you want to give everyone a piece of yourself, and pretty soon you feel like you're getting gobbled up if you're not careful. So one of the things that I did to try to scale that was just walking around and occasionally randomly talking to people that and booking and you know, an hour a week in the calendar to walk around is very different from trying to book a thousand fifteen minute one on one with you know, it works better and uh, And you just have to be conscious of who you're talking with when you're walking around, that you're not always going up to people you do know, you're going to people you have never spoken with before. Pause on that one. I'm curious if you have any tips or Jason, how we apply that in a hybrid environment where we're you know, there's not we may not be walking around in person, but just to have some of those touchpoints. Is it just as simple as putting like a coffee hour on a Google calendar. How do you think about that. One of the things that Kim you're alluding to that I think is really important is that you have to become comfortable with not having direct knowledge of all the things that are happening or even even who the people are, right, and that that is really hard for a lot of people, especially if you were around from the beginning of something. If you were there when it was five people and now it's a hundred and fifty people, it feels very different. Even though a lot of the mechanics are actually the same, like how to be good as a leader in that in that environment, mechanics stay very similar. You have to be comfortable relinquishing sort of knowledge and control. And so the idea of a tea time, a lot of people would say, well, you know, is that sufficient? Like who's going to come to that? We have a standing meeting every two weeks with our coaches, and people come to that meeting sometimes and they don't come other times. But what's really interesting about having that cadence meetings available is that it allows for serendipity, allows for someone to have had something happen recently where they feel like, hey, I really want to talk about this, and now there's an outlet. There's a place that they can go on a time that they can go. And so at a minimum, I think things like a coffee hour or like a standing sort of semi social gathering where people can bring an idea or a concern or success that they they've had. Those kinds of things really matter. But then as you grow bigger, process starts to matter even more so, like creating actual moments where you're giving people opportunities to share input in ideas explicitly that in ways that scale, like staff meetings or all hands meetings and things like that becomes even more important. And I think that for something like tea time or office hours or just a standing zoom time. The problem that I had, again as teams really grew to be quite you know, several hundred people, was that the same three people would show up and most people wouldn't show up. And so one of the things I mean, I tried a lot of different things. Some of them worked, some of them didn't work. Maybe some of them could could work but didn't work the way one thing I tried to do, I thought this was really funny. Other people didn't think it was so funny. I just basically it was like the crank call from Kim and I would just randomly call people. I'm starting to sweat already at the prospect of seeing your number. Why is my boss's bosses, bosses, bosses boss calling me? You know some people found that funny, and other people but like, so don't answer the phone, and you know, I'll try the next person on the line. Yea. The and another thing that we that we tried doing was setting up sort of like it was a global team. So we set up and always on camera in in a in a brake area, so if you wanted to go see who was who wanted to talk, you could go do it. I think that could be made to work. I could not figure out how to make it work, So maybe somebody smarter than I can run with that idea. The other thing I have been thinking about lately is one of the ideas, like I'm kind of introverted and One of the things that I want from community is the freedom not to come to the meeting. Right. I was joking with my kids. I'm trying to get them to set up the introverts club in schools. There's all this pressure, like you gotta lead this and lead that and show up and be at school all the time. I'm like, how about you set up an introverts club where you can go home if... want to and have a snack and watch a TV show and not talk to people. And so I think that making room for both the extroverts and the introverts, giving the quiet ones voice is something to think about. One of the ways that I think we've talked before about the Ideas the Ideas team. Another thing that I've seen work is manager fix it weeks. I'll never forget this and stop me if I've already told this story. Basically, we took an instance of the bug tracking software that we had and instead of using it for tracking software bugs and the product, we used it to track management bugs, like stuff that was broken and the way that we worked and that we wanted to get fixed. So people put in problems and then you get up boat problems and they were like P zero manager, and so one of the P zero P zero for those of you who are not software engineers, means this is the top priority thing to fix. So like an emergency, what someone put in described what he had to do to take a bathroom break. He was on a on a customer support team, and I was like, it took him twenty minutes to get permission to go pee, and I'm like, gosh, by that time, I would be in real trouble. And it's like, yeah, that was P twenty bug. And I remember there was this sort of meeting where he was describing this and he was, you know, he had just been hired straight out of high school. And I remember my boss looking at him and saying, I am so sorry. I can't believe that. I'm like running an organization that makes you do this too. And I think that's also something important, Like when you're leading a big organization and a manager managers things bizarro. Things start to happen that you could never imagine happening, and you've got to be open to hearing about them and to fixing them without creating undo blame. Like another example of that happening was there was a team that was in charge of of policy enforcement, and the team was had been set up in another country, and you know, the management chain had gotten diffuse, shall we say. And I talked to the person who was leading that team about some problematic ads for Beast Reality that we're showing up on some parenting websites like so you can imagine like there was a and I said, you know, we have a policy that we're not going to approve these porn ads. And this person looked at me and said, well, Beast Reality is not porn, and I'm like, oh my gosh, I can't. This is not the conversation I thought I was going to be having today. Me neither. No, you are all looking at me like we've already heard this. This is so boring. I'm looking at you like I so, but this is what happens when you you're a manager. Managers like things start to happen that you can't believe are happening on your watch, and you've got to be open to the fact that these things are happening on your watch. It's so it was so it would have been so easy for my boss to say that would never happen, you know, on my watch. That I can't, you know, I don't believe, to refuse to believe that there was a process that made someone, you know, spend twenty minutes taking a bathroom. Right, So I'm really curious to drill down into like what do you do next when you so, first of all, you're trying not to go right to judgment I can't believe this happened, or disbelief of you know, what the person is saying. But but then what do you do how do you actually get to the root of what's happening. So in the in the case of the pea break, my manager said, will anyone agree to own this problem and chase it down and understand why this happened, to do kind of a post mortem. And someone raised his hand and agreed that he would chase this down. And he spent a lot of time. It took a lot of his time to fix it, but it got fixed, you know. So so part of it is sort of not blaming, but asking someone to say, can someone figure out how to fix this, rather than you know what, idiots set up this system, because it's easy to understand how those things happen. In the case of beast, reality is not porn. What we did was we said, well, we, you know, let's take a look at the policies and the exceptions and make sure that we're constantly revising, you know, how we define these things. It just hadn't occurred to someone to make an explicit policy about beast reality, and so since it wasn't in the book, you know. And then the other thing that we did there is we asked the question, how can we allow people to apply common sense instead of just having to go by...

...this like we need ninety four million versions of if not an yeah, yeah, we needed actually a little bit more flexibility for people to apply their common sense. And as they as they went through the policies, that is so hopeful. Jason, I'm curious, like do you have I'm sure you have some perspectives on how to synthesis thinking how contradictory it seems that, like you can't believe that this thing is happening on your watch. And the answer is to increase the amount of flexibility that people have. Yes, you gotta let control, you gotta let out of control, because the more you try to correct everything that could go wrong with some kind of bureaucracy, then you're then you're really duck. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I think there's a sort of belief that if I, the met, the manager of managers know about the problem, then it will be solved correctly. Is a belief, But there's a side effect, which is that if everybody else believes that in order for a problem to be solved, you must know about it, now you're a bottomneck, yes, And so what's happening is like, only the absolutely most critical problems like that are literally stopping things like work from happening, are ever going to get solved, And all these other problems that are slowing everybody down and making people miserable, they don't actually rise to that level because you are the funnel through which all problems, all problems must must be resolved. So yes, there's an Ian McEwan novel. I forgot the name of it, but it has a hot air balloon on the cover, and it there's a character and there there's this accident that happens, and one of the characters said, everyone believed if only I were an absolute control of the situation, none of this terrible stuff would have happened. And I think that that that is such it's such a human belief. We all kind of think if if I were in control of everything, then there would be sweetness and light. There would be no injustice, but there would be like, all these problems that exist in the world would still happen even if you were in charge of the whole world, even if any of us wonderful human beings that we are, were in charge of the whole world. That was really my big aha. Actually when I started Juice Software, I started it because I thought, if I were the CEO, if I were the manager of managers, if I were the fact, you know, the co founder and the CEO, that everything would be fair and that that all the kind of nonsense that I had experienced in my career, I would get rid of it all. And I didn't. It was very humbling, actually, and I realized when when I stopped being the CEO and I went to Google and I had to sort of be part of a larger system that one of one of the things that I admired about Google was that was that shown a Brown who who built a lot of the systems at Google, had systematically stripped away control from managers, the traditional sources of power from managers, and we've I know we've talked about this before, but that was really important part of making sure that it was an environment where the managers of managers didn't start to get to power hungry, and also the managers themselves didn't get to power hungry, where innovation could flourish because freedom could flourish. That brings us very neatly to like the second big contradiction, which is that you are accountable even though you do not have control. Yes, as we talked about last time, this is why it's so sad the discipline of management, like building effective relationships, learning to influence as opposed to control, get sort of tossed aside as a soft skill, as a soft skill. Evenfore it's like the way that accomplished and and the foundation for successful business results or any other organizational results. Yeah, and I think just to steer us a little bit, you know what managers of managers can do in terms of results. You know, one of the things that we've identified as four areas, so first of all, transparent goals, that would be number one. To Jason, you were just talking about this, how can we build better relationships through one on one meetings, which obviously we talk a lot about at radical candor three what are the required management skills? You need to know the required management skills and competencies. And then four to actually hire managers with perspectives that are different both from you as well as from each other. So I thought we would start double clicking on the first one,...

...this idea of transparent goals that managers and managers need to make sure that the goals line up in an okay our process can do this and Kim, before we get into all these acronyms KPI and okay are, can you share from your perspective what managers of managers first all, what okay rs and KPIs are and what is the role of managers and managers with regard to okay rs? Yes, I think actually can we start with Jason like building relationships? I think that's actually first. I mean, in my mind, here's what managers of managers are responsible for doing. They are responsible for creating the conditions for good relationships between their direct reports and the people who work for them, right, so that so the relationships is foundational to everything. Then they need to create this culture of guy ins as we talked about. Then they need to talk about the team they need to you know, hire the team, and then the four things they need to get stuff done. And part of getting stuff done is the okay our process. And I think that very often when people think about management, they think about goals first, but the goals are don't come first. I think the first thing is relationships. So so Jason, why don't you talk a little bit about relationships and then I'll talk and then we can talk about guidance, team and and sort of get stuff done and okay ours. I feel like in this particular context, thinking about you know, multiple layers of management, I think this is this is much more popular now than it was even five or ten years ago. But the idea of evaluating the quality of relationships that people have with their managers as being essential to setting up a team for success, this is not something that everybody agrees is important. It is not something that every company evaluates. And so we talk about our podcast and so we can assert that this is the most important thing, right. And the reason I was mentioning it is is because I think that sometimes I say these things and I'm like taking for granted a lot of a lot of agreement, and I get sort of like reaction every once in a while and just sort of like I hear you. But I was having a conversation with a client recently and they shared with me that they had a goal, and their goal was to sort of get people excited about sort of the job of management, specifically about feedback that's sort of like ongoing feedback. And they said, you know, right now, people don't necessarily see this as part of their job. And I was like, but is it part of their job? Like is it in the is it in their job decrip? Like have you have Have you told them that it's part of their job? And they're like, well, no, this is like part of what we're doing now. Is is sort of like introducing this idea. And I think that that happens not infrequently when I dig in to talk and I talk to people who come to our workshop, to managers come to our shop, and I say, is relationship building? Is the sort of like this fundamental aspect of management? Is this part of your job? Is this part of how you're evaluated, how your success is evaluated? And often the answer is no, yeah, like this is this is not one of my success metrics. And so from my perspective, as a manager of managers, if you want to build a strong foundation based on relationships, the absolute minimum standard is that it has to be part of the job description, like quality relationships with your direct reports has to be part of the job description. And then you need a way to actually measure that. And I think to your point, Kim, like you can have the best goals in the world, and if everybody has a terrible relationship with their manager, you're not going to get very many. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other thing, especially when you're a manager of managers, creating the conditions for good relationships is earlier. I said this briefly, but I want to double click on it a little bit. Is you've you've got to make sure none of the managers who work for you have unilateral decision making power over who gets hired, who gets fired, and and and who gets promoted and how much gets paid. I think that that goes under the conditions for good relationships, not team because the thing about that is, and we've said this so many times before, but I think it's worth repeating, there are a few things that are worse for a good relationship than a power imbalance. And so one of your jobs as a manager of manager is to set systems up so that people, even when... person is reporting to another, they can build a relationship on a more or less equal footing. So, in other words, you want to make sure that if someone who's working for someone who works for you is unhappy, that they can come to you. They don't have to only go to that person who's making them unhappy. Right, big, if you have a big enough team, you can allow people to switch managers, you know, more easily. That's not always possible, that that requires some scale, but that was one of the things. For example, a Google that I really liked if although I was the you know, it hurt me as well because people didn't like me and they left me, but without talking to me. But if you didn't like your boss, you could switch teams without talking to your boss. Uh And and I think that sort of being aware of how power can corrupt relationships is part of your job as a manager of manager, Kim, can I just ask on the personal front, like how does that land when people on your team leave and go to other teams? Well, you know, I felt a little sad, I felt a little stressed. I went to the beach like I watched the waves. But look, this is another thing about relationships that's worth remembering. Sometimes there are bad relationships and you need to get out of them. And I am very I can really frustrate the hell not everybody likes to work with me, like I change as you all saw I would. I will change everything every five minutes if including this podcast, including the script, yeah, just for for listeners. This team asked me to get more involved in the script, and I think they might ask me not to next time. Like I kept changing it, but you all all have a smile, like it doesn't doesn't seem to bother you that much, but other people like it frustrates the hell out of them, and they want to work with me. And this is something that is really important for the way that I work, for being creative and innovating and and so I'm probably not I'm not going to change it, and I don't want to. I don't want to force someone into my way of being. So so I think part of being a good manager of managers are just a good managers to realize that you are not the Hotel California. You know, people can check in, they cannot like it, and they can leave you, and that's okay. I think the thing that is different about being a manager of managers and setting up a culture of guidance is that it's not enough to just solicit feedback from your direct reports. You have to make yourself open to public criticism when you are a manager of managers, because not everybody can get on your calendar when when that's the case, and so if someone has some criticism of you, you want them to stay at it publicly so that you have the scales better. You have the opportunity to share with everyone on your team your perspective on this, or to apologize or to fix the problem like it does several things. When you make yourself the exception to the rule of criticize and private and encourage people to criticize you publicly, you are more likely to hear about problems, and you're more likely to be able to fix the problems publicly, So you're you're setting a good example for how to respond well to criticism. And if you disagree with the feedback, it gives you an opportunity to explain why wants and not not over and over. So I think that's one of the things that's different and the last thing. We talked about this on the last podcast, But in order to create a culture of guidance, you need to make sure that people who work for the people who work for you can speak truth to power, and so you want to set up these speak truth to power meetings that we talked about last time. So I think those are some things that managers of managers have to do that managers of individual contributors don't have to do. That's so helpful that Framing and Jason, when we think about team whether it's the required management skills, about what this role means, This idea of hiring managers with perspectives that are different from you and each other. What's what's your take when you would be looking to hire managers of managers that may be different from managers of individual contributors. Very often when I look up manager job descriptions, they look like senior individual contributor job descriptions. So if you're going to hire, you want to know what skills are really important to you. And so, as we suggest, your company has an expectation that managers have regular one on one conversations with people, that managers are responsible for understanding the career goals of people on their t sam and providing...

...guidance to help them take a step in the direction of their dreams if they're responsible for performance reviews, etcetera. Like all of that needs to be in the job description, and I would say importantly it also needs to be a part of the interview process, because that's the other disconnect that I've seen with hiring managers is like it's in the job description, but then the interview process is all about like how deep are your technical skills in this particular in the domain in which your team is going to be operating, and how well have you delivered on business results and in the past for you know, similar teams. Those things making into the interview and the management skills get sort of kicked to the to the curve, they become last on the list. And then the last thing that I would say when I think about setting up a team is like, for when you're hiring a manager, you have to be absolutely ruthless about reference checks. If you are afraid of calling someone up and finding out what it is really like to work with somebody, you are not ready to hire another manager, Like yeah, and you need to call people who worked for that person absolutely called their boss, called their direct reports and ask the hard questions and sometimes, wow, will you learn some stuff when you do that? Sounds that we do need to follow up the episode on this. Yeah, it'll be a fun one. I think another thing about the team. I just want to double click on something Jason said because it's really important and because it triggered for me a memory of a time when again when I was at Google and Russ Laraway, who was on my team, came and he said to me, Kim, you know, you really value analytical skills and you don't value my skills like his skills. Not that Russ is not analytical, but he his his real skill is managing people. I mean, And at the time I denied it, but he was. Russ was right, he was. It was totally legit criticism. I think that part of the reason why I tended to value the analytical skills was that I was over indexing on hiring people who are different from me. I think Russ and I were more similar in that way. And so you need to make sure that when you're hiring managers that you are valuing management skills because that is such a part of success. There and an area where I am ashamed to say that I failed one of the many. I mean I didn't totally fail, because I did continue to work with Russ and start a company with him. So I learned from my failure. I'll put it that way. That's a more positives and we are all learning, we're learning from you. What I want to do before we close is make sure that we double click truly on this idea of KPIs okay rs around setting goals and I just want to bring in Will put this in the show notes. Some research from Microsoft Work Lab this idea of productivity paranoia, which has very nice alliteration. But it doesn't sound that last time, didn't we I love that idea, I know. I think it was at a blog post. I don't know if we've talked about it yet, but hopefully folks will let us know. It's a fear among leaders that remote and hybrid employees are being less productive than they would be in an office full time, even though people are working more than ever close quote and I think what's so interesting on this what I'm reading beneath the words here is going back to this accountability and control and trust, and it's one thing, if I can walk around your desk and see you at your desk. But now who knows what's happening in this vast cloud of working from home and hybrid And now my greatest concerns and fears are being realized. And so I'm just I'm so curious. First of all, Kim, how that lands for you? Productivity paranoia? And what do okay rs have to do with that? Yes, so productivity paranoia. I think this is like once again going back to control. You gotta let go of control. You know you do feel I mean, I think it's an illusion. But when when when you are physically with someone you feel like you have more control than when you're not physically with them, At least most people do. My husband reminded me this morning that I tend to speak in absolutes, and I don't really think in absolutes. I think you said you never speak in absolute I always am you always speak in absolutes. Anyway, So let's let's think about okay rs and how they can or goals. Let's just call them goals since, uh, since you want to define what okay are actually meant for people? Before we move objective and key objectives and key results. So objective is we want to rid the world of bad bosses, and the key results are we're gonna do five million radical candor talks in the next year, so or something like...

...that. That's that's how that works. Objective is like the objective is kind of lost lofty, and then the key results or should be measurable. And it's similar to the idea of a of a KPI, a key performance indicator. Now, the okay our process, and there's there's a book about this called Measure What Matters, Uh that is probably worth reading. But the idea of the okay our process as it was practiced anyway at Google. There's also a really good video about it, which will drop into the show notes. But the idea of an okay our process is that everyone should write down their own goals, like what, here's what I'm gonna try to achieve this quarter. These goals should not be imposed upon you from above, like your manager doesn't set your goals. You set your own goals and you make them transparent and then you kind of try to make them all line up, like and that kind of trying to make them all line up thing is where you know, you kind of have to squint sometimes, but it works surprisingly well. For example, one of the moments in my career when I had to let go of control as manager managers is when I first started leading the AdSense team. I would write the okay rs, and I would have this theme for the year and a theme for the quarter, and I would set the objectives and key results, and then and then people would set their own goals that lined up with this vision that I had laid out, which I felt was I thought I was doing a good job. And then Scott Scheffer, who was on my team, came to me and he said, Kim, it's time for you to stop writing the okay rs. That's not how it's supposed to be done. You gotta let the team come up with the okay rs. And I was very nervous about it, but I was willing to go with it. Scott is very persuasive, and when the team came to me with their proposed okay rs, it was way better than anything I could have come up with. And so the idea of okay ours is everybody is transparent, they share what their goals are, and there's kind of like a period of negotiation where where everybody sees everybody else's goals and you kind of have to negotiate this. You know, your goal here is in conflict with my goal there, and we gotta work together to to sort it out. But it is really effective if everyone knows what they're trying to accomplish and has tried at least to quantify whether they're winning or losing throughout the quarter, and then make it transparent. Nick Bloom, who's at Stanford, has a lot of research on okay rs and and why they are important and why they don't work if the boss sets them. So that's a lot to absorb in terms of what goals or okay rs are. I'm curious, Jason, how does that land for you about the boss not setting the goals. I tend to agree that a boss should never set a key result for somebody else, like a boss should ever be able to say, Kim, I'm making you responsible to sell x number of radical candor talks over the next twelve months. But I do think there are moments where it's actually quite important to communicate, especially through objective setting, like the direction that a company is going. And I think the squinting process is basically because like, if people don't know collectively what they're trying to accomplish, I think it could be very hard to write. I could you can feel sort of a drift in writing your own objectives and key results. And there are a couple of instances where I think there are some some key results that that matter that have to happen at the company level that may or may not get get written in the bottoms up process. So my my thing is like, always start bottoms up. As long as there's sort of a strategy that people are aware of and they generally agree on where things are going, I think you can start bottoms up. But if you get done with that and no one has mentioned that your startup needs to raise money in January, yes, that is like it becomes quite important that you write an objective or a key result, depending on what level you wind up breaking at that says like we successfully raise whatever x million dollars, that becomes a key result. And a lot of the time that can be a key result that the you know that the CEO or an executive is responsible for. And so it can sort of also naturally fall out of this process. I have seen things get missed. And I think that's why the editing process is so important, is because someone needs to square the the okay rs like with the overall strategy of the organization. Absolutely. And by the way, you as the...

...manager of managers, you're not exempt from this process. So you have to write your objectives and key results. And if everybody, if you say this is the week where everybody's going to publish their objectives and key results, like you should probably you should show yours first, and then the people who want to read yours and allow yours to impact their's will do that, and some will not do that, and then you know you're going to have to have this editing process at the end where where someone's off doing something that is either counterproductive or not helpful. But the only way that you know that this person is going to go off doing something that is counterproductive or or not helpful is if you let them publish their okay rs, like like, tell me what you're really going to do next quarter, And then you have an opportunity to persuade them, not to say because telling people what to do doesn't work, but to persuade them that if they do this other thing, you know it'll work out better for them and the team. So, before we get into the tips, if someone who's listening they don't have any system around okay rs or goal setting that corresponds to what you all were just talking about, is there like one next step, whether it's a book, Kim, you mentioned a book, but just what's one practical thing that this person could do after listening to this podcast. So the thing that I would recommend is that you if you, let's say you have a team of twenty people, you create a shared document you can use a Google doc or whatever shared document system you like, and you get everyone to write down what's their goal for the next quarter and what are the key results by which they will measure whether or not they've succeeded or failed in achieving that goal. That's awesome, I think just people at points, it just doesn't need to be that complicated. I think just trying to, you know, take it out of I feel like, oh my gosh, it's some huge, complex thing. Just boiling it down like you just did is fantastic. Let's wrap up with our Radical Candor checklist additional tips you can use and start putting radical candor into practice. Tip number one. For managers of managers, here are the conditions that you need to create so that good relationships can happen on your team. You need to make explicit for the people who you're managing that management is part of their job. You need to make sure that none of your managers have unilateral decision making power over who gets promoted, who gets hired, who gets fired. Tip number two. As a manager of managers, you want to create a culture of guidance. In fact, all managers do, but specifically as a manager of managers. Remember it's not enough to just solicit feedback. You also have to make yourself open to public criticism. You also want to design systems that are going to enable people to speak truth to power. If you want more information on how to set those up, check out episode fourteen. And Managers of managers need to build effective teams. That starts with hiring the right people and making sure that when you're hiring people, it is clear to them what skills, what management skills, are going to be required, and don't forget to not only put that in the job description, but to make that part of the interview process as well as the reference check process. The best tip that I can give you is to call people who have reported to that person in the past and find out what they really think of them. As a manager. And tip number four, as a manager of managers, you need to make sure that everybody's on the same page about what the goals are. And the best way to do that is what I call a bottoms up okay, our process or a bottoms up goal setting process. Bottoms up tip number five. If you've already read Radical Candor and you want to refresh her and by the way, this goes out to anyone who's listening to the podcast, or if you're having a hard time actually focusing on reading an actual book, don't worry. You're not alone. You can still learn to be a better boss by watching the new Radical Candor Lit. That's l I T Lit video book. It's an hour long adventure featuring interviews with folks who Kim mentions in the book. It's got cool animations, pictures of Kim from the way back machine, and tips for practicing Radical Candor Kim anything on those pictures that you want to just speak very quickly to to tease how exciting this this video is. I know I was excited you'll see a picture of me hating my job, sitting there drinking a beer at my dea, and you'll see a picture of... loving my work. But overall, the most important thing, the most meaningful thing, are the videos of people who I've worked with over over the years who are in the video. So thanks to everyone who played in making that video book awesome. And if you want to check that out, that's Radical candor dot com Slash video book, Radical Candor dot com slash v I D e O, b oh okay stream it now well. For more tips, go ahead Radical candor dot com slash resources. We've got learning guides for practicing Radical Candor. The show notes for this episode are at Radical candor dot com slash podcast. Go ahead. Feel free to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Kim, this is that time we love, this time when we got to buy and read my next book, just work how to root out bias prejudice in bowling to create a kick ass culture of inclusivity, available everywhere books are sold. We've still got that Radical Candor swag Radical Candor dot Com. Clicking the shop link will take you to your very own choice of coffee mug sweatshirts, stickers, and more. Bye for now, Thanks everybody, thanks for joining us. Our podcast features Radical Candor co founders Kim Scott and Jason rose Off. Is produced by our Director of Content, Brandy Neal and hosted by me Amy Sandler. Music is by Cliff Goldmocker. Go ahead and follow us on Twitter at candor and find us online at radical candor dot com.

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