The 10 best Quartz at Work stories about managing people

Manage it.
Manage it.
Image: Gosia Herba
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Managing others is one of the most rewarding tasks you can take on at work, but also one of the toughest. Suddenly, people you may not know very well, or whom you perhaps know too well already, are relying on you for leadership. Their success depends on you, and vice versa. It’s an arrangement screaming for close, carefully constructed working relationships. And yet so often the interactions between managers and employees are fraught, with real consequences for people’s moods, engagement levels, or decisions to look for work elsewhere.

Navigating a management role isn’t easy. But done right, it can yield a fulfilling mix of inspiring, teaching, and supporting others, with opportunities along the way to develop your own emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills. That’s why Quartz at Work is obsessed with finding and sharing new ways to think about, and practice, good management. To celebrate the anniversary of our October 2017 launch, we’ve compiled 10 of our favorite management stories from our first year.

1. To give better feedback, you must fully understand the agony of receiving it

Whether you habitually come off brusque or are still working up the nerve to offer someone a constructive critique, it helps to have a sense of what the person on the other end of the feedback conversation is feeling when the first sting of criticism hits. Our recommendation: Read Leah Fessler’s in-depth interview with Sheila Heen, a co-leader of Harvard’s Negotiation Project and co-author of two New York Times bestsellers, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (2000), and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It’s Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (2014). You’ll find some surprising insights about who really has control of feedback conversations, how we process critiques, and what you can do when your feedback gets “switchtracked.”

2. How to lead during times of change

Quartz at Work contributor Banks Benitez, CEO of the social-ventures accelerator Uncharted, reflects on what he learned about communication, culture, and decision-making during an unusually challenging time at his company. Getting through it required tactics and perspective that would be useful to anyone managing through a transition. (Additional reading: For more on helping your team react productively to change, also see Quartz at Work contributor Cy Wakeman’s advice on “negative brainstorm” sessions—and should things get really dire, consider oncologist Andrew Neuschatz’s advice to our readers on how to deliver bad news.)

3. Managers could learn a lot from Larry David—seriously

Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David is the king of the micro moment, fixating on small things we do, or don’t do, that most people would never begin to question. Good management isn’t just about macro concerns like strategies and mission statements. Often it comes down to the micro decisions—who gets invited to a meeting, for instance, or what judgments we’ve just made about the people around us. Want to be a better manager? Develop your inner Larry David.

4. Is holacracy the future of work or a management cult?

In the annals of radical management ideas, holocracy stands out for its high-profile (and ultimately unsuccessful) implementation at household-name companies including Zappos and Medium. Quartz contributor Aimee Groth investigates holocracy’s origins and the promise it potentially still holds for workplaces that are brave enough to try it.

5. What happened when a startup based on transparency got transparent with its own employees

Transparency is a key concept in management these days. But how far should you go? Sweeten, an online service that matches home and business owners with general contractors and then monitors the agreed-upon projects, went full tilt, sharing company financials and even individual salaries with staff. Sweeten CEO Jean Brownhill spoke with us about what she learned first-hand about the value, and limits, of openness at the office.

6. The story behind the health-conscious startup accused of being a “fit supremacist”

After his company was pilloried on social media for a questionably crafted job ad, Health IQ co-founder and CEO Munjal Shah talked to Quartz at Work reporter Lila MacLellan about the startup’s mission, the mistakes it made in its job posting, and the fine line between building a culture and promoting a cult.

7. How to manage remote employees

Your workforce may not yet be fully dispersed. But remote work is becoming more common. If your direct reports are no longer in your direct line of sight, consult our guide to managing remote employees, written (remotely) by Quartz at Work senior writer Corinne Purtill.

8. The difference between a snafu, a shitshow, and a clusterfuck

The definitive guide every manager needs.

9. In honor of all those “crushing it” in Silicon Valley, here are the mistakes I’ve made as a CEO

When CircleUp CEO Ryan Caldbeck started tweeting about where he’d gone wrong before getting things right, Quartz at Work deputy editor Sarah Kessler knew it was a story with sharing. She helped Caldbeck transform his tweetstorm into a riveting article enumerating his many screw-ups with venture capitalists, hiring, culture, product, and his own mental health. Go on, read it. Caldbeck genuinely wants you to learn from his mistakes.

10. We built a “career map” to help non-managers find ways to advance

Face it, this managing thing isn’t for everyone. Nor is a career track in management the only way for tenured employees to exert influence and feel valued. Mary Vales is an organizational development manager at Hyland, a software company that built a “career map” to help non-managers find ways to advance. In a piece for Quartz at Work, she describes the process and shows how it can legitimize career choices for people who hope to make a big impact at work without ever becoming a manager.

Thanks for reading Quartz at Work. Like any good manager, we’re open to your feedback. Find us on Twitter or email us at (subject line: Quartz at Work).