Collecting talent, but not getting that talent to work together as a team may be a fatal flaw for a manager, according to woman who rose from intern to vice president at Facebook.
The company’s Vice President of Product Design Julie Zhuo spoke with the founder of Novato-based Professional Program Insurance Brokerage Susan Preston about management and creating buy-in from employees and driving them to succeed as a team.
The question and answer session focused on strategies from Zhuo’s book, “The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You” which she said is a manual for managing and contains the things no one had told her as Facebook’s first intern and later working as a manager there when the company was still a startup.
Preston picked Zhuo’s management brain during the annual Women Talk Biz confab on April 25 at the Graton Casino Ballroom in Rohnert Park, querying her on what steps she takes when building a working team. “It ultimately comes down to building really strong trusting relationships with the people on your team,” Zhou said. She added that buy-in to the purpose of a project is essential for success.
A business owner herself, Preston pressed Zhuo on how to create that mentality of caring for the business in employees.
Zhuo said the three main “levers” any manager has are their people, their process, and their purpose.
“Do you have people with the right talent and interest in doing the job you’ve laid out for them?” Zhuo asked.
She said talent could be wasted if a team does not “know how to work together…then you’re not going to get the best performance.”
“I find that what really motivates people is knowing that it means something, that all that is leading to the change that we want to see in the world.”
She added that “talking about that over and over helps people to see it’s more than just a series of tasks.”
Zhuo’s book and talk also put a fine point on giving and getting feedback to and from employees and Preston asked her what is the best way to handle the feedback process.
Zhuo said start with “setting clear expectations” which negates the need for a lot of feedback down the road. She also differentiated between “task specific” feedback, which was less personal and limited to a certain activity, versus behavioral feedback, which highlighted trends in how an employee handles issues and tended to be more personal.
She said performance reviews or “360 feedback” required talking to three to seven peers an employee works with closely and identifying long term patterns. “This has the strength of being extremely comprehensive,” Zhuo said. “It also is heavier to do.”
The morning session opened with an energetic speech from the bodybuilder and entrepreneur Kortney Olson who shared her story of success in business and over addiction culminating in the founding the GRRRL clothing brand, which focuses on teaching women tools of self-love.
Olson, who has her company’s logo tattooed on her forearm, led the group in reading aloud her pledge of positivity and empowerment included with each item of clothing she sells.
The morning then moved into small group roundtables, which covered topics ranging from social media best practices to creating high impact publicity to staying out of legal jeopardy when classifying workers as either employees or contractors, among others.