Chapter 84. Three Ways to Be the Manager Your Report Needs

Duretti Hirpa

I’ve worked as a software developer my whole career—and I’ve worked everywhere from small mom-and-pop shops, to agencies, to companies going through hypergrowth. At one company, I had a new manager every quarter. Having a slew of managers in a short timeframe trained my eye: I can spot a s--- manager in fewer than three one-on-ones, and I know what the decent ones try to do. I’ve become obsessed with quickly and accurately unveiling a bad manager and identifying which traits separate the bad ones from the good ones. Let me tell you what I know.

Lesson One: One-on-Ones

As a manager, you’ve probably heard that the one-on-one (the weekly meeting where you spend between 30 minutes to an hour with your report) is sacrosanct. A good manager knows this; a great manager lives this. Bad managers leave you waiting in the agreed upon room, eventually messaging some flavor of, “oh, did you need the 1:1 this week?” If your report (like me) has been socialized to be agreeable and consents to skipping, you will have set a dangerous precedent. This is the first fracture.

It’s possible that you might not know why skipping a one-on-one is important, so let me tell it to you from one of your own. Marc Hedlund, former vice president of engineering at Etsy and Stripe, says, “Regular one-on-ones are like oil changes; if you ...

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