Who do you want to be? Three principles for shaping a career

A small percentage of people have a clear idea of what they want to do in their careers. You know the type: they’ve wanted to be a surgeon since they were five, and surgeon they are. The rest of us grapple with the question and its derivates, such as: How

WTF is Ops?

BizOps. CustomerOps. SalesOps. ProductOps. PeopleOps. It seems “Ops” is in everything these days. If you haven’t seen what Ops actually does in a few startups, it can be challenging to understand what Ops is and how it can help. Technical founders in seed and series-A stage especially are grappling with

How to identify and have a Crucial Conversation

This is the first-ever guest post on Barely Managing. I couldn’t be more excited that it’s by one of my favorite people, David Klemenz. David and I worked together at Segment. He was my HR business partner and my executive coach. We were partners in crime on two big topics I’ve

Career ladder for executives: a clarifying expectations document

Newsflash for CEOs and CXOs everywhere: executives are people too. They need to understand what you expect from them as much as individual contributors and managers do. If members of your executive team don’t know what’s expected from them and spend attention cycles guessing, how effectively will they lead their

Career ladder for managers: one is enough for the whole company

Managers are people too. They need to understand what their leadership / the company expect from them as much as individual contributors do. I’d argue this is even more important than similar clarity for individual contributors. If your management layer doesn’t know what’s expected from them and spend attention cycles

How I learned about growth mindset, the hard way

The most challenging moment in my career happened when my manager told me I didn’t have my role anymore. I wasn’t fired, exactly. I felt exactly like I’d been fired. I had the generous option to find a different role at the company. I asked to go on a three-month

The three workhorse skills from management consulting I still rely on

I started at Boston Consulting Group out of business school. I was more clueless than pretty much everyone in my class: they’d typically had 2-5 years of work experience prior to MBA, and I’d managed to squeak by with six months in a highly suspect 6-person outfit between college and

How I burned out and how a spreadsheet helped me recover

A year into my last job, I burned out. I became irritable and sad. The weekend wasn’t enough rest; I felt perpetually tired. My brain was on constant overdrive. I was emotionally unavailable at home. I was seriously considering rage-quitting. Maybe worst of all, I didn’t know how to even

Coaching: why you should learn how to do it and why you need a coach too

We’ve all seen this advice: don’t tell your people what to do; instead, set the context for them, define goals with them that they’ll find challenging and exciting, and help unblock things along the way. And yet, when my reports would ask me how they should solve a particular challenge,

Managing remote teams and overcoming hiring challenges

Takeaways from a private dinner with a group of experienced startup executives Last month, I helped Basis Set Ventures organize a private dinner for women executives in technology, in partnership with First Republic Bank. As we surveyed our group’s roles and shared experience we centered on a guiding topic for

Operating cadence: support your people across time and space

It can be a little daunting: you vaguely know there are multiple ways to engage with your reports, and you’re doing some of them. But what’s the whole list? And which ones should you use for what? Here I’ll share the cadence that’s worked well for me with my teams.

Welcome to people management; you’re f&*$%ed

I think when most individual contributors daydream about being promoted to manager, they imagine how much more impact they’ll have, how finally they’ll get help with all the work that’s crushing them, how satisfying it will be to update their LinkedIn profile, and how proud their family will be when

Project management: best practices from the trenches

Projects are everywhere in work life, and everything is a project. Yet very few people have had training in project management that would help them be effective. Almost everyone needs to figure things out on their own. This lack of training leads to situations like all-nighters before a big meeting

Career Conversations: be the best manager your people have ever had

Let’s say you have 8 direct reports, and while 2 of them don’t seem to be worried about their career development plan or even when their next promotion will happen, the other 6 are on your case about it in every single 1:1. You’re likely ill-equipped to help them with

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