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June 21, 2022
This week, a familiar face on the Review is back to cut through the confusion when it comes to management advice.

Stop Overcomplicating It: The Simple Guidebook to Upping Your Management Game

When it comes to operating at a startup, with shoestring budgets and small headcount, folks frequently lean on the KISS principle. From your MVP to your GTM motion, keeping it simple often wins the day.

But when we turn our attention to management, advice tends to get much more complicated. From hosting 1:1s and team meetings, delivering performance reviews, or setting OKRs, there are dozens of balls in the air for managers to keep a close eye on. And sometimes, juggling all these balls isn’t even enough. There’s pressure to bring a unique flair and pizzazz, making it all look easy with your own management style.

In the first line of his new book, titled “When They Win, You Win,” Russ Laraway puts the problem much more succinctly: “Managers are failing everywhere, and no one is helping.”

When he sat down to write his new book, he gave himself quite the uphill battle to climb — wading through the cacophony of opinions, frameworks and advice out there and cutting through the noise to what actually works. “Instead of just more opinions, we need a simpler leadership approach that measurably and predictably delivers more engaged employees and better business results,” he says.

In the spirit of simplicity, Laraway removes the fluff and gets to the nuts and bolts of sharp management with what he calls the “Big 3”:

  • Direction: Good managers ensure that every member of their team understands exactly what is expected and when it is expected.
  • Coaching: Good managers coach their people toward both short- and long-term success, helping them understand what they should continue to do and how they can improve.
  • Career: Good managers invest in their people’s careers in a way that considers their long-term goals and aspirations, beyond the four walls of the current company.

Read on for his research-backed tips and clear systems for implementing each of the Big 3 into your own management repertoire, charting a smoother path to management success.

If you’d prefer to listen to Laraway’s lessons, head over to our podcast In Depth and pop in your headphones.

Thanks, as always for reading (or listening!) and sharing.

-The Review team

Take me to The Review

Recommended resources:

This thread from April Dunford on the most common positioning problem for startups.

- A summarized list of “the greatest life hacks in the world” from the NYT.

- First Round’s co-founder & Partner Josh Kopelman on Harlem Capital’s More Equity podcast.

- A simple bit of career advice: Make the table bigger.

- Why you should focus on CAC Payback in today’s market environment.

Trending this week — Review Reads:

A Manager’s Guide to Helping Teams Face Down Uncertainty, Burnout and Perfectionism
Uncertainty, burnout and perfectionism are holding teams back — Liz Fosslien is here to share tactical advice (and her signature witty illustrations) on how managers can help.
35 Impactful Questions Managers Should Ask Themselves Regularly
We asked top startup leaders to share the questions they ask themselves to become better managers — and assembled their answers into a can't-miss checklist.
23 Tactical Company Building Lessons, Learned From Scaling Stripe & Notion
From Stripe to Notion, Cristina Cordova has worked on some of the biggest products in tech. Now a Partner at First Round, she shares tactical tidbits on what she’s learned about about scaling companies and shaping your career.
The Art of Becoming a Better Listener — Tactical Advice for the Startup Setting
User research leader and author Ximena Vengoechea makes the case for why you should put more intention and effort into sharpening your listening skills, offering advice tailored to different roles across a startup.

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