👋 I lead design at Automattic. I enjoy being outside in and around Seattle. This site is a bit of a playground and changes quite often. Take a look around and say hi.

Don’t do anything

Soon after I started managing managers, I promoted a few designers to a Design Director role, meaning they went from designing to managing designers. I had a few conversations with some who were very eager to get started and “make their mark”. One particular high achiever wanted to “do” something in their first few weeks as a manager and asked for my advice. I thought for a moment and said:

“I wouldn’t _do_ anything.”

Focus on being a human first. Build real relationships. Listen. Look for patterns. Be yourself instead of an exact replica your boss or someone you think is super awesome. After all, you were promoted because of your unique qualities. (And if you don’t know why you were promoted, ask!) If you focus first on forming a genuine working relationship with each of your direct reports, trust will form. Then your real work can begin.