Why you should make your management principles transparent

I’ve always regarded myself as a personable leader who demonstrates through my actions that I will invest time on my team. Yet, as my career has progressed, I have discovered limitations in time (there are only so many hours a day you can have one on ones) and space (time zone differences are a challenge for distributed teams). Critically, I found myself on occasion, misunderstood. How does your team understand how you make decisions if you’re not able to meet with them regularly? Or, if you lead hundreds of people — at all?

The second challenge I observed was the need to create a repeatable culture of success. The book What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture, Horowitz explains that what I do is a reflection of who I am and the teams I lead. If my actions as a leader contributed to my organization’s success, how could I ensure that the principles behind my decisions would endure when I’m no longer around? Conversely, how does my team hold me personally accountable for my values if I never state them?

The solution to both of these problems revealed itself when I read Ray Dalio’s: Principles: Life and Work. In his book, Dalio described the value of publishing his management principles.

In this article, I want to share with you three things I’ve learned having experimented with publishing my management principles at work:

1. Your colleagues understand your ‘why.’

While individuals may disagree with your decisions, I discovered that by publishing my management principles, people begin to understand how you operate. As a leader of software engineers, this has been especially useful since engineers naturally want to understand their leader’s “operating system.” Questions like: why are we doing this, why did this person get promoted, why did this person get fired — all of a sudden had a hypothesis.

2. Your colleagues see you as a human and not a boss.

Being a manager is a role that carries significant responsibility. Among other things, the ability to hire, fire, and mentor your direct reports and teams can be life-altering for you and them. Yet, despite this responsibility, the underlying decision-maker is still a human with their quirks and proclivities. By exposing my management principles, and occasionally failing to live by the values I strive to uphold, I discovered that I was held accountable. For me, this gave me a clear path to transform my values into virtues.

3. Your organization becomes principle-driven rather than personality-driven.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that by publishing my management principles, I was able to slowly shift the team from one that is personality-driven, to one that is principles driven. Rather than something that “Han” said to do, the reasons behind decisions were principles.

If I’ve inspired you to share your management principles, then I would like to share with you my management principles as a living document here.

Never tell me the odds! Han runs Post-PC Labs, LLC with a band of freelancers. If you enjoyed this article you can subscribe to his regular musings here: https://h6y3.substack.com

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

My name is Han Yuan, I’ve been in the software industry for over 20 years, and I’m here to write about the ride now that I’ve logged a few miles.

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