This is a classic. The author, Andy Grove, founded Intel and built it in one of the best companies in the world. Pretty much every manager in startupland has read it and for good reason.
He explains key concepts such as the business as a machine, managerial leverage, task-relevant maturity, purpose of meetings, the role of a manager, and the value of a planning process. In fact John Doerr learned OKRs at Intel and then took them to Google where they became popularized. But the topic I think Andy covers best is performance management.
Key insights I like:
- Individual performance potential increases as you move up Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Once someone hits self-actualization their drive to perform has no limit. But one can’t stay in self-actualization mode if they are always worried about failure.
- The goal of reviews is to improve someone’s performance. The review will influence people’s performance – positive or negatively – for a long time making it one of the most significant activities a manager does. Yet most managers are not trained on how to do it and put minimal effort into it.
- The decision to promote someone is the biggest signal of an organization’s values and should be considered with great care because you’re in effect creating role models. If it appears political employees will not trust the process, nor the organization, and lose the ability to reach the highest level of performance.
This is the first book I recommend to every new manager. It’s one I find myself reaching for every few months for a refresher on how to manage better and I bet you will too!