Over a year and a half ago, I wrote up a post about the rights and responsibilities due any engineer at Honeycomb. At the time we were in the middle of a growth spurt, had just hired several new engineers, and I was in the process of turning over day-to-day engineering management over to Emily. Writing things down helped me codify what I actually cared about, and helped keep us true to our principles as we grew.
Tacked on to the end of the post was a list of manager responsibilities, almost as an afterthought. Many people protested, “don’t managers get any rights??” (and naturally I snapped “NO! hahahahahha”)
I always intended to circle back and write a followup post with the rights and responsibilities for managers. But it wasn’t til recently, as we are gearing up for another hiring spurt and have expanded our managerial ranks, that it really felt like its time had come.
The time has come, the time is now, as marvin k. mooney once said. Added the bill of rights, and updated and expanded the list of responsibilities. Thanks Emily Nakashima for co-writing it with me.
Manager’s Bill of Rights
- You shall receive honest, courageous, timely feedback about yourself and your team, from your reports, your peers, and your leaders. (No one is exempt from feeding the hungry hungry feedback hippo! NOO ONNEEEE!) 🦛🦛🦛🦛🦛🦛🦛
- Management will be treated with the same respect and importance as individual work.
- You have the final say over hiring, firing, and leveling decisions for your team. It is expected that you solicit feedback from your team and peers and drive consensus where possible. But in the end, the say is yours.
- Management can be draining, difficult work, even at places that do it well. You will get tactical, strategic, and emotional support from other managers.
- You cannot take care of others unless you first practice self-care. You damn well better take vacations. (Real ones.)
- You have the right to personal development, career progression, and professional support. We will retain a leadership coach for you.
- You do not have to be a manager if you do not want to. No one will ever pressure you.
- Recruit and hire and train your team. Foster a sense of solidarity and “teaminess” as well as real emotional safety.
- Cultivate an inclusive culture and redistribute opportunity. Fuck a pedigree. Resist monoculture.
- Care for the people on your team. Support them in their career trajectory, personal goals, work/life balance, and inter- and intra-team dynamics.
- Keep an eye out for people on other teams who aren’t getting the support they need, and work with your leadership and manager peers to fix the situation.
- Give feedback early and often. Receive feedback gracefully. Always say the hard things, but say them with love.
- Move us relentlessly forward, staying alert for rabbit-holing and work that doesn’t contribute to our goals. Ensure redundancy/coverage of critical areas.
- Own the planning process for your team, be accountable for the goals you set. Allocate resources by communicating priorities and requesting support. Add focus or urgency where needed.
- Own your time and attention. Be accessible. Actively manage your calendar. Try not to make your emotions everyone else’s problems (but do lean on your own manager and your peers for support).
- Make your own personal growth and self-care a priority. Model the values and traits we want employees to pattern themselves after.
- Stay vulnerable.
(Easier said than done, huh?)
7 thoughts on “A Manager’s Bill of Responsibilities (and Rights)”
I guess there’s a certain syndicalist element in my personality that refuses to let go of the dream of a management-free economy, but I wasn’t born in the 37th century so I must play the hand I’ve been dealth.
Props are certainly in order for affirming a right not to be a manager. The “up or out” ethos is how all the best teachers get turned into principals and thus taken out of the classroom.
agree. it is endemic in tech, and sucks.
hah. so much same. this is a dream i have gradually seen die a hard death over the course of my career. i even had high hopes for holacracy, sigh.
instead, i visualize every org chart flipped upside down. 😁
Basically the plot of Groundhog Day except the magic happens instead on Boxing Day.
Should being emotionally attuned to members of your team be an important responsibility?