the making of a manager book summary

The Making of A Manager Book Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: In The Making of a Manager, Zhuo shares her journey to a managerial position as the VP of Facebook design. She offers real-time examples and advice from her career to transition from being a significant individual to becoming an impressive manager of others.

About the Author: Julie Zhuo is the author of The Making of a Manager and one of the top product design executives in Silicon Valley. Aside from her career as VP of design at Facebook, she writes about leadership, technology, and design in The New York Times and on her popular blog the year of the looking glass.

The Book in Three Sentences

  1. The role of a manager can be awarded or taken away from someone. Leadership must be earned. People must desire to follow you.
  2. Even though a managerial job involves organizing meetings, exchanging feedback, and creating processes, according to Julie Zhuo, they don’t necessarily define a manager’s main task.
  3. To manage well, you must build trusting relationships with people, coach them to perfect their expertise, and understand their strengths and weaknesses.

The Five Big Ideas

  1. Your work as a manager is to unearth great outcomes from a group of people working together. This is done by instilling a sense of purpose into your team for them to know what success looks like and care about achieving it.
  2. As a manager, your work is to ask questions, listen, and learn in your first month.
  3. Trust is the key ingredient in developing a strong manager-report relationship.
  4. Constructive feedback is one of the most powerful tools to use to ensure the growth of your team. Besides, it’s also important to ask your employees about their views on your one-on-one meetings and what you can do to improve them.
  5. Make hiring great individuals your top priority and design your team deliberately.

The Making of a Manager Book Summary

When I was halfway through this book, I was sure to be giving this an unprofessional five-star review. Then, I got to the second half.

The making of a manager has two different halves. The first half is helpful and excellent for almost anyone, while-

the second half is for anyone working at Facebook or any other company much alike.

From the basics of management to hiring, Zhuo offers advice and examples from her career. This book is a must-read for people transitioning into management.

What is Management?

The main job of a manager is to create a team that works together, support his employees in attaining their career goals, and create processes for work to be done efficiently and smoothly.

The root of management: a team of people can achieve more than a single person. You don’t have to know how to do everything or even do everything by yourself.

Your main role as a manager is to get the most out of your team. According to Zhuo, these are the key areas a manager should focus on for a higher collective outcome from his team.

  • Purpose: Ensure your team understands success and are willing to achieve it.
  • People: For proper management, develop trust relationships with your employees, coach them to perfect their work, and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Process: Master the important processes for management. They include planning for tomorrow, running effective meetings, and promoting a healthy culture.

The best results come from motivating people to action, not instructing them on what to do.

Leading a Small Team

Leading a small team is about creating a supportive environment and developing a healthy and strong manager-report relationship. If your reports don’t tell how your employees feel, you can’t assist them further, hence creating a trusting relationship with them.

However, how can you be sure you’ve accomplished this? You can simply tell if any of these statements are true:

  • Reports work with you.
  • Reports bring forward their greatest challenges to your attention.
  • Feedback between you and your reports isn’t taken personally.

One of the best ways to improve a manager-report relationship is through scheduling regular one-on-one meetings. These meetings aim to ask your employees about their motivations, long-term aspirations, challenges, and feedback.


Best feedback results to change of behavior and results in perfecting your life. It’s one of the most powerful tools that can help you grow your team. Give much professional feedback as you can, especially right after an action is performed.

Ask your employees if they find your meetings productive and anything you can do to improve them. In her book, Julie talks of an employee who informed her how her stand-up meetings could be well replaced with email updates. As his manager, she took it positively and appreciated the honesty.

According to Zhuo, here are common ways to encourage behavioral change:

  • Set expectations: Address your team on the constituents of a great job as well as a mediocre job.
  • Give constructive feedback often: This can well be done through an app, chat, or email.
  • Share feedback regularly and thoughtfully: collect feedback and take time to connect the dots. Figure out emerging themes and ensure thoughtful consideration of your words, if possible, supported with examples. Share behavioral feedback in person for a back–and–forth conversation between you and the receiver.

Self Management

Understand yourself well to know your strengths as this leads to great management, rather than considering your weaknesses

Here are some questions Zhuo suggests helping you recognize your strengths and weaknesses:

  • What are the topmost qualities that I possess and am proud of?
  • How do the people who like and know me to describe me best?
  • What are the topmost feedbacks I’ve received from either my peers or manager?

To be a successful manager, understand yourself at both your worst and best. This means understanding what feedback to ask from your direct reports and manager, what skills you should work on, and what types of environments make you productive. Knowing yourself will enable you to empower your team effectively.

Hiring Well

Even in a growing organization, hiring shouldn’t be about filling gaps. If you approach it in such a manner, you’ll be hiring people to fill a position rather than their ability to make a positive impact on your company.

Plan on the roles to hire earlier, as this will help you build a proficient team. In comparison to this, Zhuo illustrates planning meals ahead of time by visiting the grocery store on Sunday if one aims to achieve a healthy diet.

Ask candidates to show you the articles they’ve written, the applications they’ve developed, the pitches they’ve given, etc., for you to assess the level of their output. Most managers underestimate this reference check and, in turn, overvalue the resume.

As a manager, the best way to develop your team’s impact is by hiring the best people and empowering them to do more until you unleash their full potential.

The Making of a Manager Review

Julie Zhuo offers practical advice for assessing culture, setting a vision, giving feedback, setting priorities, delegating problems, aligning expectations, hiring cleverly, establishing a network of allies, among other responsibilities of a successful team leader. She shares her learning and experiences with regard to her transformation to the top position.

She also offers a useful distinction between management and leadership. According to Julie, leadership is the skill of being able to influence and guide other people. On the other hand, management is a specific role with principles outlining the key roles of a manager and how his success is measured.

Who I Recommend the Making of a Manager Book To

I’ve seen many people rush to managerial positions in companies with little knowledge and guidance. I’d suggest they read this book to help them get respect and results in their early managerial roles.

If you’re thinking of becoming a manager this is a great book for you. On page 28, Zhuo asks you questions about what you like and who you are. She illustrates how your answers can help you decide if management is for you.

I would also recommend this book to new managers. As a new manager, it usually takes some time to settle on your job. Zhuo describes a manager’s roles, and from this, you may be able to see yourself. Her analysis includes ideas on what you can and should do.

In other words, this book encloses insight and wisdom gained from real-time managerial experience and learning. Its practical wisdom is important for the newly minted managers as well as the old ones.