Guest

09

"Coaching is all about asking open questions to help prompt that introspection, those lightbulb moments in the person you're talking about. It's not leading them to the answer. That's still mentoring. With coaching, you're a vessel of questions to help the other person connect their own dots."

In this episode

In episode #9, Lara Hogan shares best practices to understand your team’s core needs and create predictability in times of uncertainty.

We also discuss the difference between mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship – and how you can become a better sponsor and coach for your team.

Lara is a coach for leaders in tech and the author of Resilient Management, Designing for Performance, and Demystifying Public Speaking.

Prior to founding Wherewithall, she spent a decade leading teams as the VP of Engineering at Kickstarter and an Engineering Director at Etsy. 

Tune in to hear all about Lara’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!

. . .

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


03:00

Lara’s first time managing a team and her early lessons/mistakes.

05:42

The importance of understanding how each person likes to be recognized.

06:36

How to ask your teammates how they like to get recognized and receive feedback (even if you’ve been their manager for a while).

08:16

Changing the “barometer of success” in management.

11:36

How to figure out if someone is a good leader.

14:45

The fight or flight response and best practices to understand when your amygdala is acting up.

18:00

Using the BICEPS model to understand your team’s core needs.

20:30

What can leaders do to create predictability in times of crisis or rapid change?

22:50

The difference between mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship – and how you can become a better coach and sponsor for your team.

29:35

When is it ok to get involved in solving team conflict (instead of coaching people to give each other feedback)? 

32:40

Wherewithall’s New Manager Care Packages.

34:55

Lara’s parting advice for managers and leaders.


Resources


Episode Transcript

Aydin Mirzaee  

Lara, welcome to the show.

Lara Hogan   

Thank you so much for having me!

Aydin Mirzaee  

I feel like this is gonna be fun. You’re in Portland today.

Lara Hogan   

Yes, I sure am. Yeah. gloomy, desolate Portland. Yeah, it’s nice to be here.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Awesome. But the good news is that I think we’re gonna have an awesome conversation, so we are going to make up for any gloomy weather. So really nice to have you on, we’ve been a fan for a long time and you’re kind of I would say, an important figure in the management championing space. So I feel like we’re kindred spirits, in that sense. 

There’s a lot that I wanted to talk to you about today. But, just to kick things off, you’ve been at a bunch of great companies: Etsy, and Kickstarter. And you’ve obviously been coaching lots of leaders in tech but also in other industries as well. I just want to basically rewind and maybe go back a little bit to the beginning and ask you, When was the first time that you started to manage or lead a team?

Lara Hogan   

I started when I was at a DNS company. So it’s like a tinier company. And it was one of those situations where there were no managers to be found in my particular area of engineering. And I was like “I can do this”, “I want to make the world a better place. Let me see if I can.” “Yeah, try this. I’m sure it’s gonna be great.”- And as you can imagine, that’s not exactly a recipe for success. Definitely, like so many of us had to learn the hard way about what being a good manager is like.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Yeah, and I have to ask you more then.. What are some early mistakes or things that you did that you obviously wouldn’t do today or what were some early lessons?

Lara Hogan  

Totally. It’s funny because I feel like to get to where you are, you have to make those mistakes. The biggest one for me was assuming that everybody was like me. I assumed that everybody was motivated by the same things as I was, or cared about the same things that I did, or just like optimize their work environment the same way that I was thinking about it. Obviously, we’re all different humans with unique personalities and ideas and needs. And a hard lesson learned was not just to apply what I would want on to other people. 

I remember a series of situations where there was one engineer on the team, who was just not having anything at the company -not just me, specifically- but just like was not having it. And he was giving me and others the silent treatment. And I was like ‘What is this serving?’ What is this doing if it’s not going to help make a situation better?. And I just had the hardest time figuring out what to do to make the situation different, just because it couldn’t empathize. It couldn’t Figure out what was motivating this behavior. So, yeah, it took a lot of like listening and learning and like being constantly reminded that everybody’s different. Everybody is going to respond and behave in super surprising, different ways. Until finally, I started to feel like I got the hang of management.

Aydin Mirzaee   

That makes a lot of sense. And I feel it is related to so many other things. I almost liken it to this concept of just going back to beginner’s mind. Only because again, like you said, If you assume that certain things are true, and you might want to reward someone in a certain way. Of course, they would want that, why wouldn’t they. I don’t know how else to say it, but you almost have to act like dumb and pretend you don’t know anything and really just go back to those basic questions.

Lara Hogan   

Totally. And it’s hard to recognize the kinds of questions you should be asking. Like what you just said, wouldn’t we all want to be recognized in the same way? I’m like the kind of person that if I get promoted, I want to shout it from the rooftops. I would want everybody to know. 

And I remember one person I managed early on, hated any kind of spotlight. And thank goodness, I’d had enough experience working on different kinds of people to recognize “this person is going to hate being shouted out at this company meeting, what are some different ways I can recognize this person or what’s going to be this person’s favorite way to be recognized where they actually still feel acknowledged, and like their core needs are nourished but I’m not making them super-duper uncomfortable?”. It’s hard to have that stuff questioned. It’s hard and it’s hard to know what kinds of questions you should be asking too.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Lara, one of the things for me is that this is all really good stuff, that all leaders should do. No matter what kind of organization they work in. One of the questions that we often get from the audience is: okay, this is fine and dandy when I just started leading a team or it’s a new transition, and I’m figuring this out  from scratch. But let’s say I’ve been in the same role for a long time, and I haven’t done any of this stuff, and I feel like it’s really weird for me to randomly show up and start asking questions like: How do you like to be recognized?

What do those people do?

Lara Hogan   

Yeah, it’s funny. There’s two different tips I give here. 

One is just blame it on me. Be like “I read this in a book. I heard this in a podcast, I was inspired. I took this workshop”. Whatever, blame it totally on me, like this person told me that I should try to do this thing. So I’m going to try it’s going to be an experiment. I will totally take the blame for it, feel free to use my name. 

The other is just to say “I’m going to ask you some really cheesy questions”. Play that up, be like “This might be weird, I promise an alien hasn’t abducted me. I’m still your manager. I just want to experiment with this new thing and see what it does for us and you can tell me if you hate it, or if you like it after.” Just, again, be like “Alright, ready? What makes you feel recognized? Do you prefer/like to be recognized in public or shouted out in private? How do you like to receive feedback? What are your goals for this year? What do you need to lean on your manager for?”  You’re gonna use any questions and really play up the cheese factor. 

Aydin Mirzaee   

I like that. And I like that you volunteered yourself as a scapegoat. That’s really good. 

Just one of the things that’s actually interesting for me and you referenced this in your most recent book. This concept of changing, I guess, the barometer of success. This is a really interesting concept for me because I can personally relate to this of being a founder of a company and like several companies now in my career. 

But this concept of: now you’re in a different role, and you’re hiring people to do a lot of the things. All of a sudden, for me, it’s like “Whoa, how can I have all this extra time?” I have to figure out what to do in this new time because it’s a shift. But it’s also when you end up spending time with a lot of people, you struggle with I don’t feel I did get enough things done and I don’t feel successful or productive as a result. It sounds like a lot of people have this sort of shift.

Lara Hogan   

It is such an important thing to start talking about. Because I think a lot of people when they shift into the role of management, all of a sudden, it’s like “wait, I knew how to feel successful at the end of the day when I was an individual contributor. And now I don’t have any of those metrics anymore.” There’s no launch party for a reorg, you know what I mean? The things that you’re doing, it’s so hard to feel that sense of progress and improvement and also, sometimes as a manager you do a thing or say a thing, and then there’s a really long lead time between when you’re going to ever find out if it had any impact whatsoever. 

And one thing that I’ve learned since I wrote Resilient Management– that I wish I learned before I wrote it, so that I could actually squeeze it in there is that our brains are wired to need socially visible progress, in order to feel any sense of success. And that phrase, socially visible, is the important part. I could write an amazing review for somebody but it’s not going to be socially visible to anybody but me meaning other people can’t see it. So much of management work is behind closed doors. Importantly, either something’s confidential, you’re respecting someone’s experiences and context. You’re making hard decisions that you can’t really talk about that much. So it’s really hard to get that sense of socially visible progress again, there’s like no launch party, right? So a lot of my work these days is to try to help folks figure out How can I take the work that I’m doing and make it slightly more socially visible, in a safe way?

Aydin Mirzaee   

Yeah, I love the socially visible aspect. Progress makes sense, but I never thought about it in that way. The thing about it and I think this is somewhat of an apt name for it but just to label it, which is managers can sometimes be like these unsung heroes and part of it is like “Well, nobody quit on my team.” And that’s actually making sure there’s no destruction, is also a good thing, but it’s not going to be socially visible progress. 

Lara Hogan   

Right, and the challenge there is like nobody quitting my team can also be a really bad sign. There’s a healthy amount of retention. And if people aren’t learning and growing enough so that they actually move forward with their careers. Or if you have a really toxic environment, and everybody loves it, like there’s all toxic people, they’re feeding off of it and they don’t quit. That’s also a problem. There’s so few actual objective metrics that we can use to actually say like “I’m a good manager”.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Well, that’s my question for you then. So if you’re in a leadership position in a company, What are the things that you would use as a way to figure out if someone is a good manager or not? What are the symptoms or like these things tend to happen?

Lara Hogan   

Like, what am I looking for? 

Aydin Mirzaee  

It’s really funny. I’m also very much into kind of just like investing. And one of the things with investing is you can get lucky for a long period of time. So, I guess it also applies to management, which is like How long do you need to observe someone to figure out if they’re actually a really good leader or not?

Lara Hogan   

Yeah. So a lot of the things I look for are bad, like that change over time, the delta over time. So as an example, using the ‘nobody quit the team” trick. I want to look for overtime, are people getting promoted at a rate that’s average to the rest of the organization? Are people switching teams away from them or they’re hiring people? For example, at the same rate as the rest of the organization? I’m also looking to figure out How much do other teams want to work with this team? Are they isolated? Are they totally siloed? Because that’s a signal of something. I want to know why and if that’s true.

I also want to know how much each of those different people on the team are presenting their work internally to the organization? How much is the manager owning all of the optics of the work his team is doing versus how much are they supporting and lifting up people who report to them?. And then the last thing I’m looking for is delegation. How much is this manager giving stretch projects, sponsoring people on their team for visible stretch assignments so that they’re learning and growing in their work?

Aydin Mirzaee    

Got it. So I guess that is it and I can see healthy retention being important because sometimes that’s actually important for someone junior to actually grow. Get this stretch of time assignment, move to another project. But if  managers are super protective, they don’t let anyone let go, I can see how that can go the opposite direction for sure.

Lara Hogan   

Yeah. But it’s all nuanced, right?  Unfortunately, there’s no objective metric that you can look at a manager and be like “you’re a good one”. Because there’s so much of this is wrapped up in power dynamics, too. It’s really, really tricky to kind of get to get a holistic picture over time.

Aydin Mirzaee    

Yeah, that makes sense. Another thing that you talk about a lot, and it’s just the human brain function. And when it comes to the amygdala and the fight or flight response, and , it’s kind of like an emotion or it’s basically a part of our brain that reacts anytime we feel threatened. And oftentimes, this is something that can be activated, say when you’re getting constructive feedback.

So, have you over the course of time, and there’s more ways than that for something like that to be activated, but have you over the course of time developed practices or things that you recommend to people to actively understand when their amygdala is acting up?  And How to suppress it? 

Lara Hogan   

Totally. Well, it’s funny because you can’t suppress it really. I mean, if folks want to Google ‘emotional regulation’ that will give them a lot of tips on how to kind of bring their prefrontal cortex back online. That’s the rational and logical part of your brain, your amygdala has been hijacked. But it’s pretty little you can do to kind of control your amygdala because again, its whole job is to keep you safe. We want your amygdala to be on. We want you to basically be checking for your surroundings and making sure that there’s no threats. 

So really, the number one thing I coach people through is figuring out when to sense that your amygdala is awake and is maybe online on fire. Everybody’s physiological response is different. For me, I start sweating and I go beat read. Other people get a tingling sensation in their fingers, other people get restless. We all have a completely different physiological response to it. And because it’s different, it’s so important to pay attention to it, that way you can start to recognize it in yourself quickly. Once you start recognizing it, then you can figure out how to have an escape route. Like what’s the one sentence- what’s the back pocket script you can have? It’s an eject button to get yourself out of threatening situations, you can return to it later, when your rational logical part of your brain is back online. 

I love developing these. My go to right now, because most of the people that I work with understand what amygdalas are, I’ll be like “Hey, listen, I’m so sorry, my amygdala’s on fire right now. Can we check back in it too?” and they’ll almost always like “Oh, yeah, got it”. And we’ll circle back when actually I can process it and talk again.

Aydin Mirzaee   

I love that. And actually that’s really interesting because it’s not just about interacting with others, but you might not be in a good decision-making mode.

Lara Hogan   

Totally, totally. My number one thing is if I’m packing a suitcase, which obviously isn’t happening much right now with the pandemic, but if I’m trying to pack my suitcase, my brain is entirely focused on this 3D Tetris, which I cannot do anything else. I’m not even an amygdala hijack. I’m just like in hyper focus mode. And knowing that, if my partner comes up to me, and it’s like “Hey, can we talk about this thing?” And I’m in suitcase mode, my amygdala is gonna be like “absolutely not get out of here”. It’s gonna be like an instant hijack. So how do you totally employ your “Oh, no, I can tell my physiological senses kicking in. I need to pause this conversation till later.”

Aydin Mirzaee   

It’s such an interesting thing and to be able to recognize it and, and definitely, I’m going to take your advice on searching for emotional regulation. You called it…?

Lara Hogan   

Yeah,exactly.

Aydin Mirzaee   

And we’ll include that in the show notes. But obviously, as part of recognizing some of this stuff in yourself you also have to try and recognize it in your team and you talk about this model the ‘bicep model’ in the book a lot. Who is this originally developed by?

Lara Hogan   

Paloma Medina. She’s incredible, she’s done a ton of research on everything surrounding productivity and how humans are at work. And there’s a model, this is built off of hers as a creative commons virgin that also incorporates some specific research around how humans need a sense of improvement and progress. A lot of the other models out there for some reason don’t acknowledge that. I don’t know about you, but when I’m working people I know we crave a sense of improvement and progress in our work, in our career and every time we feel stagnant, or we’re not growing fast enough, that can feel threatened. 

So yeah, Paloma Medina. If you look up “Palomal Medina and biceps’ we can of course include in the show notes- you’ll see these six corners that humans have at work in really quickly run through them. The B stands for belonging, we need to understand how you relate to a group. The I is what I just mentioned. We need to feel some progress forward.  The C is for choice, we want to have some autonomy over our work life. E for Equality and fairness. We want to believe that everybody’s being treated as they should be the world is fair. P for Predictability, we want to know what’s happening to us in the future, and S for significance or statuS, like where do I sit in the hierarchy here? So anytime any of these six core needs or multiple are threatened, our amygdala is going to be like, ‘Sup? I need to keep you safe right now’, which could be really not conducive to productive work relationships.

Aydin Mirzaee   

That  makes a lot of sense. Do you feel that people are equally sensitive to all of these over the years as you’ve coached people?, or do you think that there’s one, say like in North America, that people tend to get sensitive about the most?

Lara Hogan  

No, everybody is so different. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that each of these are not equally important to everybody. And also changes. So, historically, I would have always said that  my number one is significance. Like for me, if I’m feeling threatened by something, it’s that sense of status in the group. But these days with COVID, its predictability. I’ve never had this much need for predictability in my life, but because everything was thrown out the window, all my plans for the year were messed up. I run a small business, you can imagine how awful it’s been in terms of predictability and stability. So all of a sudden, that’s my number one corney that I need to pay attention to, and try to get that nourished as much as possible.

Aydin Mirzaee   

And so for leaders out there, I guess, there is a lot of unpredictability today. What can leaders do to -I mean you’re not gonna be able to solve it- but what can you do to kind of mitigate and help people overcome that sensitivity to predictability? Especially now. 

Lara Hogan  

Again, this is a perfect example with Covid, and quarantine, and isolation. For me, it’s predictability that this has brought up, but it could be any of the six core needs. I know folks that their sense of belonging is threatened, they don’t have a group anymore. They’re so isolated, their sense of choice is threatened. Do you see all of this stuff with face masks? Right, their sense of fairness is threatened. You can see how much Covid is actually affected non white populations over all the others, like any other six core areas can be threatened with any single stimulus. So the number one pitfall I see managers and leaders make is assuming it’s any one of them. 

Aydin Mirzaee   

I just made that mistake right now. 

Lara Hogan   

Totally, which is normal, right? Like we’re all gonna try to solve people’s problems in the fastest way possible. And the way that we do this is by trying to make an assumption about it. The number one thing to do for leaders out there should be asking some questions. I include a bunch of questions you can ask on my blog, which we can link, to know how to get a sense of which of your teammate’s core needs might be particularly threatened right now.

Aydin Mirzaee   

I got that. With managers and leaders asking a lot of questions, one of the things that you talk often about is just the difference between mentorship, coaching and sponsorship. What’s interesting is I really like the way that you define how to be a coach in your work, and part of it is that it’s starting to become more accepted in management culture out there, that managers should be coaches. It hasn’t traditionally always been like that. History, if you go far back enough the more dictatorial managers were. And then, as time has progressed, we’ve matured and become more like coaches. But you actually have a really good playbook on how to be a coach. And what kind of questions to ask and how to formulate questions. I’d love for you to just dig into that a little bit and how they can change their style to be more of a coach?

Lara Hogan   

Totally. So, I give this workshop on mentoring, coaching and sponsoring. And when I do intros, I ask everybody to share what’s one thing that a manager has done for you that has skyrocketed your growth. And we go around to everybody’s shares, and it’s usually things like ‘they gave me the stretch assignment, they gave me hard to hear feedback. They trusted me for some reason they believed in me, I don’t understand why’- it’s all that stuff and no one ever says mentorship. 

Mentorship is advice. Giving mentorship is teaching, mentorship is sharing your perspective, sharing what you’ve seen work or not work, suggesting if there is something that they could try. As knowledge workers, we’ve been taught that mentorship is the biggest thing that we can give to somebody, it is our biggest value. You know all these things, go and teach them to other people. Weirdly, that doesn’t help people grow at all, it helps people get unblocked, and it helps people get onboarded. Like those are the two biggest reasons why you would use mentoring. 

Everything else should be coaching and sponsoring. So sponsoring is the delegating big projects. It’s giving them stretch assignments, putting your reputation on the line for them, but coaching is the one that I’m so excited to talk with you about. So coaching is all about giving, creating the space and the environment for this other person to connect their own dots, helping them figure out what they should do, because I don’t know about you, but I believe that humans already have the answers inside themselves, they already know mostly what they need to do to move forward to achieve something. But we never get that space and time to introspect and reflect and triple check that our problem statement is actually the problem statement. 

So coaching is all about asking open questions to help prompt that introspection, those lightbulb moments in the person you’re talking about. It’s not leading them to the answer. That’s still mentoring. Coaching is like, you don’t know anything. You’re just here. You’re a vessel of questions to help the other person connect their own dots.

Aydin Mirzaee  

And one thing that you also talked about is just avoiding “why” questions or “how” questions. And I feel this is, just going back to myself, I’ve fallen into this trap a lot. Why are we doing this the way that we are? My default response to jump into that. But you say that that’s not what you should do. What should I be doing?

Lara Hogan 

Right, because with “why”, even when you said that right now, I was like “Huh, I would feel so judged”. I was like “Oh, no, what am I doing wrong?”. Which is not conducive to doing good work or learning right? And “how” questions get really into problem-solving mode. And we’re going to solve the wrong problems unless we start doing some real deep introspection first. So “what” questions are the best questions? So what’s important about this? What’s hard about this? What does success look like? What’s going on? If you could wave a magic wand, what one thing could you change? I’m just using the word “what” over and over and over again, to help the person I’m talking to be like “Hmm, what would I change about this?” 

My new favorite one that I’ve been using is, What do you need permission to do right now? Because usually people are like Oh, I asked someone to tell me it’s okay, or I don’t need permission, you are right. I can just go and do the thing. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for that, like that light bulb moment where someone’s like “Oh, I’m, I’m unblocked. I know what to do next.”

Aydin Mirzaee  

So let’s say that if  as a leader of a team, you kind of noticed this trend or this pattern and certain numbers are just going in the wrong directions. And you kind of know the reason why  that’s happening? What do you do?

Lara Hogan 

I’m always gonna say “What if you don’t know the reason?” That’s always gonna be the default. It’s like you think you know the reason, but it’s gonna be so important to triple check that assumption. So if  I’m on a coaching call and someone comes to me and they’re like “Alright, my team isn’t shipping. We have all these tickets in the queue, no one picks up new tickets or triages anything I don’t know what to do”. I think it’s because everybody’s really burned out. I’m like “cool, great. What signals do you have? What are you watching for? What’s changed recently? What’s the number one most important thing that you want them to know about you? What’s the number one most important thing that the company as a whole needs to know about this team?”

Just lots of questions like that, that are random, making them up as I go along. Just to see if we could try to make some more depth and what they need to go do next because they already know, by and large, we all already know. Or the next step is to go gather some more information from the team like I would want to know, what does this team need? That they’re not that they don’t currently have? I would want to ask each individual person, what do you need right now that you don’t currently have?

Aydin Mirzaee   

Yeah. And so not to belabor the point, but doing something like “I’ve noticed this. And I think the problem is this.” What are your thoughts? Or should we not do that?

Lara Hogan   

What a leading question. And the reason why it’s especially a problem to do that is because of the power dynamic. We as managers, you as the CEO, you’re the founder. There’s a power dynamic. When we say those things, we’re telling people we think we already know what it is, and there’s no room for pushback. There’s no room for triple checking that assumption. You’re saying “this is the direction we’re going, let’s go”. Which, there’s obviously a time and place for that, but more often than not, that leads to solving the wrong problems.

Aydin Mirzaee   

I love that. That’s super valuable.

Lara Hogan  

Sorry, to everybody out there, who’s currently doing that. 

Aydin Mirzaee   

This is great. So, one of the other topics that I was going to ask you about, and it kind of relates to feedback. I think anyone who’s been a manager, or a leader has had a situation where someone will come into your office, close the door. And then well, I mean,

Lara Hogan   

remember offices? Hahaha.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Haha, but yeah they ‘ll say something like “so and so”. And then just go on complaining for whatever reason. And I think a lot of us have, over the course of time, matured and understand that it should be very much about “don’t complain to me” and coaching them to go give that feedback directly and all of that.  What I was going to ask you though, was How do you start to differentiate because, at some point it does become your responsibility. And it’s not so much that this person is delivering his work, it isn’t so much a conflict between these two folks, or it’s not something to be resolved. When do you need to get involved? And, in particular, if you are getting involved, that might mean that you need to voice the fact that you did hear this complaint from this individual?

Lara Hogan   

Totally, totally. So a lot of my personal metrics around this is what the impact of this behavior is? Let’s say someone is steamrolling meetings, and one person has come to me complaining about it. I’m thinking to myself: “okay, what’s the impact of this person’s steamrolling meetings?” Not just on the person that came to me to talk about it, but on the meeting, on the project, on the other people involved? 

My number one thing is always going to be to encourage this person to give the feedback directly,as you just said. Unless it’s unsafe for them to do. So there’s certainly a very small percentage of circumstances in which there’s a really toxic employee or harm might come to someone if they give us feedback. Those are really the only instances where I before doing anything else would go kind of try to step in and get this feedback directly. Otherwise, I would coach them through how to give us feedback in a way that might land. 

And when I say land, I mean might be heard by the other person, hopefully will amygdala hijack the other person and also motivate this other person to change their behavior and do something differently. And that’s like a lot to do with a piece of feedback, which is why I spend so much time trying to coach people through what that looks like.

Aydin Mirzaee  

And is there a situation where like you’ve done this for enough time and still no progress and you have coached  them and it just doesn’t work? I mean, when do you get involved? Is that the point where you get involved?

Lara Hogan 

Yeah, I mean, I have things in mind that are metrics that I’m watching for and when something goes over that line…like let’s say, the whole team can’t make progress on this project, or let’s say, our meetings have become so fraught, that everybody’s amygdalas are hijacked all the time. That’s huge, over the line. Absolutely. Or just there’s no psychological safety, that’s also over the line. So, I’m usually looking for different things in the impact of someone’s behavior, to see when it’s time for me to step in. I think we all are going to have different markers in the sand of when that time is, but for me, it’s like how many people are impacted? What’s the impact of this behavior?

Aydin Mirzaee  

Got it. So one, you’ve obviously and we recommend everybody out there to pick up your book Resilient Management, and you’ve written a lot of  great blog posts. But, you also have this thing called “manager care packages” which I think is really clever. Woukd you mind just explaining to everybody what manager care packages are.

Lara Hogan  

Thank you, I love talking about this! So the idea is that when you become a manager, you’re often left to your own devices. There’s not a lot of, I mean I know I just haven’t received official training or support. So for the managers out there that need a little extra love when they’re making that transition into management, or just going through a really tricky time as a manager, we made these care packages that are all put together by hand. It’s all curated by me with stuff to help support them and make them feel supported by whoever is ending it. It could be someone, it could be your manager, it might be sending this to you when you just got hired or just got this new role. 

But the idea is inside there’s really loving stuff, like cookies and like aromatherapy oils. But also tactical stuff, like there’s a bunch of tools in there to help you lead successful one-on-ones. There’s the book Resilient Management. There’s a whole worksheet to help you kind of brainstorm who else is in your network of support that can help you as you grow. And then we actually hand write your note to the recipient and a little letterpress card that goes out with every box so that you get that customized support from the person who sent this to you. I just love it, especially because we’re all distributed right now. It’s so important to stay connected.

Aydin Mirzaee   

Yeah. And even if we’re all distributed, like you said, life still moves on. People are getting promoted. People are transitioning to new roles. I think it’s a great way to surprise someone, especially if they’re not expecting it. And a great way to continue to build rapport and relationships with new managers.

Lara Hogan  

Beautifully said. 

Aydin Mirzaee 

I have to ask you, What are some resources or other parting advice that you would give to managers and leaders out there that are looking to uplevel their skills? 

Besides obviously following you on twitter and reading your books and ordering, many manager care packages. What else can people do? What else do you do to continue to improve your leadership?

Lara Hogan  

So for me, it’s coaching. It’s receiving coaching. In my management career, there are so many times when my manager just couldn’t give me the support that I needed to grow or to overcome challenges. And sometimes your support network is limited in how much they can help you out. So I would definitely recommend  talk to other leaders that you know, other managers that  you know about who’s coaching them. Because there’s a lot of amazing management and leadership coaches out there that can help give you the time that you need to introspect into figure out what you want to do with this role, what you want to accomplish and what this means to you and feel that sense of improvement and progress of your work. For me, it’s getting a coach for many years now. I’ve been with my coach for many, many years. It was a game changer for helping me figure out what I wanted to be as a leader and as a manager and provide for the rest of the community. 

Aydin Mirzaee  

And you’ve been with the same coach since the beginning? 

Lara Hogan 

Since probably 2014. So, five or six years. She knows me so well. And now she also remembers things about my history that I don’t like. I’ll bring her new challenges and she’d  be like “Lara, you’ve been here before, let’s remember that other time that we spent?”…she’s great. And she’s helped me identify so many of my own stumbling blocks and challenges and places I’ve wanted to grow. And so having that has been invaluable. I recommend everybody go out there and get, get a coach for yourself, see if your professional development budget can apply to it.

Aydin Mirzaee   

And what is the second best thing for those that aren’t able, or their company doesn’t support it? What’s the second best thing? 

Lara Hogan  

Absolutely, I feel this is not a second best but also should be happening in tandem anyway. Is to build out what I like to call the “manager crew”. Your manager Voltron of support. The idea here is that like no one person can be your everything. And so continuing to build out a diverse group of people who you lean on for different kinds of skills, someone who’s great at giving you feedback, someone who’s great you know, really politically savvy internally in your company, somebody who has more experience than you, someone who’s an active listener, who’s in a different discipline. Actually I have a little bingo card to help you brainstorm, which we can link to in the show notes, to figure out who’s already in your network. And where are some gaps, you can start to continue to build out that network of support for yourself.

Aydin Mirzaee   

But that’s amazing. And a really good way to, I guess bring the podcast to a close. Lara, if people want to get in touch with you. How can they do that?

Lara Hogan   

Yeah, @Lara_Hogan on Twitter is the way to do it.

Aydin Mirzaee  

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show this week. It was incredible.

Lara Hogan  

My pleasure!

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