Does anyone actually want to be a manager of managers? And if so, what do these people actually do? On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast Kim, Jason and Amy discuss strategies for being an effective manager of managers. If you're managing people who manage other people, then you're managing managers. Whereas if you're managing individual contributors, you're managing a team.
The most significant difference when you become a manager of managers is that now you have to become a thought partner, not just on the functional expertise and the business that they're running or the product that they're building, but you also have to be a thought partner to them on how they're managing their team.
When you are a manager of managers, it’s your job to make sure not only that the authority you have doesn’t go to your head, but that authority doesn’t go to the heads of the people who work for you. In other words, you want to make sure that nobody on your team, including you, has unilateral decision-making power over who gets hired, who gets promoted, and who gets fired. You want to make these decisions as a team.
As you switch from direct management of individual contributors to managing managers, you’re going to face new challenges. When you become a manager, you can’t be in the details of every decision; when you become a manager of managers you don’t even know all the decisions that are being made.
When you become a manager you can’t solve every problem, when you become a manager of managers you may not even know about the problems that are getting solved and you have to let go of control.
You can’t have a personal relationship with every person your direct reports manage — and at some point, you won’t even be able to know everyone’s name. And, people may start to see you differently — perhaps as the big intimidating boss they have to perform for versus the nice person they used to say hi to in the coffee line.
Listen to the full episode to hear the team share their experiences of navigating these changing dynamics, including how Kim used to "crank call" members of her team.