These are few of the highly upvoted comments on a recent Blind thread on what secrets only a manager knows. I don’t agree with every point mentioned here. I am just dumping them here so that I can think about them later.

Disclaimer: Like most Blind comments, these are a bit dark. Compare these to say replies from a Twitter thread where everyone is virtue signalling and writing about the virtue of hard work and the world being non zero sum. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

  • Good relationship and the directs ability to get along with others is also a critical decision making point. You might be one of the most technical and talented directs I have but if you’re an ass or don’t try to get along with others I will pass you up. Main reason for this is I need a guarantee that you’re able to lead others and get along with your supervisors. Most other stuff can be taught with the right attitude.

  • Storytelling is an art. And you can get better at it if you know how to version the story differently to different set of audience to make everyone happy.

  • What I have learned working as a manager at Amazon vs before Amazon: Leaders in most companies care about the broad strokes of the story. If the story sounds compelling and you’ve done a good job collaborating with other leaders and selling a slightly different version of the same story to each of them, tailored to their wants and desires, you’ll grow and get promoted to have bigger scope. This does not scale at Amazon because a six-pager does not allow a story to be modified for a different set of people and any attempt in doing so allows people to smell bullshit from a mile away. No amount of narrative can hide bullshit, especially when leaders have been trained to smell bullshit.

  • Trust is everything. As a manager I want to give you more responsibility. Doing so let’s me focus on other challenges but I’ll only give that to you when I’m confident that A) I won’t have to spend more time cleaning up your work than if I did it myself and B) I’m confident that your outputs won’t make me look bad with my manager.

  • Good managers strategically plan how to grow your career, reposition you in the org, eliminate you, and they’ll include your goals in these plans if you proactively engage with them.

  • As has been mentioned by others, communication is everything. Moreover, different types of people have different context, skill levels, focus. Learn to change your communication style based on your audience, be they technical, jr, senior, exec, etc

  • You have surprisingly little power. Until you are a senior director / VP, your function is close to being a pass-through from your own manager. Your job is to translate the objectives you get from above into work to be done by your own reports. As such, there isn’t too much room for creativity or accommodation. This goes for everything from project planning to career planning to compensation.

  • The measure of a good manager is how much they can make this rigid structure not an issue for their reports. But remember the next time you are frustrated that your manager makes a decision you don’t agree with, it may be because they have no choice.

  • When you become a manager, managing perception is what amplifies delivering results.

  • You need to be able to manage how your results are perceived. Good managers will take great wins and figure out how to make everyone in the room feel like it fits within their objectives / KPIs and therefore a win for them. Bad managers will just say “look what we did”, while great managers create reality distortion fields inside / outside their teams. Also, I really don’t give a shit about what you do on the clock as long as your standard work is flawless, your business partners like you, and when I need you the most you answer my chime and take action immediately.

  • If you can make your boss look good and solve their problems, you’re on the right track. if you can solve problems for your boss’ boss, you’ll go far (provided they know it’s you that’s taking the initiative).

  • Be a problem solver for your manager rather than become a problem.

  • If your manager isn’t talking about you to her/his lead and his/her skip your chances of 100% rewards go way down. Ask your manager for feedback about you from their boss. If there isn’t any, ask for a project that can give you visibility at skip level.

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