When I became a boss I never really thought about the fact that the way I’m put together and tend to be day-to-day could end up being a liability for me in some ways. I mean, the same is true of marriage (I’ve been married just over a year), but in a professional sense it feels different.
I have always considered myself a 10x professional. I get a lot done and pride myself on that. I can have 8–10 things in my head and on my mind at once, and I can pretty well hold all of them in tension and somehow get them all done. I don’t say this to brag; it’s simply a reality of who I am.
At Zillow we all go through the Insights training. Mine said that I “take on too much but somehow get it all done on time.” This nailed it.
Because of this, I tend to expect a lot from those who work for me. If someone doesn’t step up to get things done fast enough for me, I’ll do them instead just so that work gets shipped. I have very little patience for procrastination or overthinking as I closely ascribe in a lot of ways to Facebook’s “shipped is better than done.” In fact, Zillow has a core value of “Move Fast. Think big.” We believe in rapid action and trying many things to get to the right answer.
The problem with my approach and way of being is when someone or a certain role calls for being a bit more deliberate. I personally have very little patience for a 45 minute meeting that has no resolution. That’s a wasted 45 minutes for me. However, sometimes things call for being discussed for 45 minutes to get to the right solution.
So what does one do as a 10x boss who recognizes that they could be overdemanding?
I’ve developed a few strategies.
Abstain From Meetings
One of the hardest parts about being a manager is learning when you don’t need to be in a meeting. Meetings on your team can happen without you being present in the room once the people, or the person leading the meeting, has earned your trust.
Abstaining from meetings where I will get frustrated has been one of the most freeing things I’ve done in the last year. If I cannot avoid being in the meeting, I will give feedback to the person about how we can make the meeting work smoother. Either way, I’m biasing towards action instead of sitting in frustration frequently.
Hire People Smarter Than You
This one is simple. If you hire people who are smarter than you and work harder than you, then you won’t have to motivate them to move faster. A good hire for me is one who comes in, takes ownership of the situations I hired them to take care of, and gets things done so fast that I go “Wow.”
Smart people do this.
Bias The Team Towards Action
As I said at the beginning of this article, I bias towards action. I very much take Facebook’s old perspective of Move Fast and Break Things. I have become very comfortable with biasing towards action and shipping something that is not quite perfect because I know that I will learn something valuable and can then make it better. Maybe it’s because I’m an optimizer at heart, but I prefer to see opportunity than try to finesse something that I am not even sure will resonate.
I sent this email to my team today. I share it with you here in the spirit of openness:
Just F*cking Go from Ignite Oakland
Are you a highly productive person? What strategies have you found to motivate others to action while also allowing them to work at their pace?