The Future of the Office, Being More Strategic, and Intelligent Decisions

Manager TLDR - Issue 41

Manager TL;DR Newsletter 📩

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Hey fellow managers and leaders,

We had a lot of fun celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our podcast, Supermanagers this past week. Thanks to everyone who joined the live premiere… and a special shoutout to our guest, Harley Finkelstein 🎉 

The good news → You can still watch the recording here!

In today’s issue, we’re talking about the future of the office, ways to be more strategic, and a metaphor to address your coworkers that isn’t “family” or “team”…

🏢 Hybrid Work: How to Get Ready For the Future of the Office (7 min read) | Fellow Blog

TLDR: For some employees who didn’t feel productive working from home, returning to an office may sound like a dream come true. For others who enjoyed the flexibility of working remotely, this may sound less than ideal. A hybrid work model might be the best way to take everyone’s needs and work styles into consideration. Here are some tips to get started with hybrid work:

  1. Find out what your employees want: Create a survey where you ask employees if they prefer a remote-first, office-occasional, or office-first model.
  2. Set clear expectations: For example, which days of the week or how many days a week they’re expected to be in the office.
  3. Ensure remote employees are always included: Working remotely can feel lonely at times. Whether it’s a conversation surrounding a new opportunity or a decision that needs to be made by the team, managers need to go the extra mile to give all employees (remote or not) equal opportunities and attention.

“A hybrid workforce is uncharted territory for a lot of organizations. No matter the size of your business, or the industry it’s within, a hybrid model can work. It’s all about putting in the time and effort to find the right way to support your employees and their needs.”

👥 There’s a Better Metaphor for Work than “Family” or “Team” (6 min read) | Quartz at Work

TLDR: Earlier this month, Business Insider published an email that Tobi Lütke (CEO at Shopify) wrote for managers in his company. In the email, Lütke said that addressing coworkers with the term “family” can be problematic.

“You are born into a family. You never choose it, and they can’t un-family you….The dangers of family thinking are that it becomes incredibly hard to let poor performers go. Shopify is a team, not a family,” wrote Lütke.

One day later, Quartz at Work responded to the debate with a new perspective: “Village” might be the best way to describe what it’s like to work at a company. Here’s why:

  1. People may move into or out of the village. Its inhabitants may not be the best of friends. But they are, at the very least, members of the same community.
  2. Villagers have different roles, each of which make the town function. It’s a metaphor that conveys an understanding of the workplace as the sum of everyone’s contributions.
  3. The village metaphor is more egalitarian than the metaphor of the team (which centres management’s point of view in assembling a league of champions) and less emotionally manipulative than the metaphor of the family.

Being More Strategic: A Middle Manager’s Guide (10 min read) | Fellow Blog

TLDR“You need to be more strategic.” – Raise your hand if you’ve ever received this feedback or advice at some point in your career. (✋) Here are 3 out of the 5 strategic-thinking tips covered in this article:

  1. Educate yourself on your company: What is the company vision? What are the key projects and goals that different teams are working on? All of this information taken together paints a clear picture of how your company operates and it can be used to inform your planning, strategy and thinking. 
  2. Focus on impact rather than checkmarks: When you’re assigning tasks and projects think about how they connect to the company’s strategic goals and the impact they could have. Then use performance reviews to discuss impact rather than the number of tasks completed.
  3. Schedule time for strategic thinking: While there never seems to be enough time as a manager, consider blocking one hour a week for strategy work, and look back through planning documents at the start of each month.  

“Being strategic is hard work and it comes more naturally to some than to others. But as a middle manager climbing the ranks, it’s vital to put the work in – even if you have trouble navigating that roadmap at first. With a bit of time and a lot of dedication, eventually being strategic becomes easier, habitual, and a normal way of thinking that you can’t believe you ever lived without.”

🧠 Mental Models: The Best Way to Make Intelligent Decisions (34 min read) | Farnam Street

TLDR: A mental model is a representation of how something works. As humans, we cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks. It turns out that, building a toolbox with different mental models can help you improve your ability to make decisions. Here are 3 examples of mental models you’ll hear about (and hopefully, use) throughout your journey as a leader:

  1. Feedback loops: Feedback loops are created when reactions affect themselves and can be positive or negative. A key lesson of feedback loops is that things are connected – changing one variable in a system will affect other variables in that system and other systems. 
  2. First principles thinking: Reasoning from first principles allows us to step outside of history and conventional wisdom and see what is possible. When you really understand the principles at work, you can decide if the existing methods make sense. 
  3. Circle of competence: When you are honest about where your knowledge is lacking you know where you are vulnerable and where you can improve. Understanding your circle of competence helps you avoid problems, identify opportunities for improvement, and learn from others.

“Remember: Building your latticework is a lifelong project. Stick with it, and you’ll find that your ability to understand reality, make consistently good decisions, and help those you love will always be improving.”

🗓 Meeting Template of the Week

You don’t have to start from scratch. We’ve distilled everything you need to know about meetings into ready-to-use templates.

Fellow’s Engineering Team Meeting Template

Run weekly Engineering team meetings where everyone feels connected, engaged, and inspired to do great work.

🎙 New on the Supermanagers podcast

We interview leaders from all walks of life to tease out the habits, thought patterns, and experiences that help them be extraordinary at the fine craft of management.

Episode 49: Mark Horstman, Co-Founder of Manager Tools, emphasizes the importance of being trustworthy as a manager… and why every leader (even U.S. Presidents!) should have one-on-one meetings with their direct reports.

Episode 50: Harley Finkelstein, Shopify President, talks about early management mistakes, vulnerability, and delegation.

… and that’s a wrap!  We hope that the content we curated inspires you to continue growing as a leader!

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Thanks for being part of our community,

Manuela & the team

Your team will thank you.

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