JZ's User Guide

My user guide is something I’ve been sharing with my teams over the years, with my reports and peers giving me feedback to make sure it’s accurate and up to date.
If you’ve worked with me and want to add to my user guide, !
Management Style
Collaborative: I'm very collaborative, which means I like to discuss options and workshop things together. I like to share early and often with my direct team and cross-functional partners, because I am a strong believer that bringing others earlier in the process — especially those with diversity of thought — will result in a better final solution. I'm highly visual and so diagrams and tables are especially powerful when communicating with me (I would typically say that a whiteboard session is the best way to work through something with me that’s not quite polished, but understand the limitations when so many of us are remote). Sometimes, I'm not the best documenter — especially if I'm the one talking more during the session — and so I'm always very appreciative when someone captures the discussion and action items.
Hands-off: I strongly believe that the way I can best help each team is by hiring great people and empowering them to do great work. As a result, I'm not a micromanager and I won't sweat your details. I do, however, have a strong desire to be helpful, which sometimes translates into me asking questions to better understand what you're working on. Don't take this as me not trusting your work, but instead as a way for me to understand how I can support you. Tell me when you think I'm getting too in the weeds or if you've got it under control. I'm also a strong believer in good processes empowering teams and enabling managers/leadership to be more hands-off. I will be spending time auditing the ways we work and pushing for processes that may take some upfront investment, but will then accelerate our work. To make sure these processes are good, I will be asking for your feedback.
Asking for Help: One of the biggest things I look for — and a big expectation of mine for my team — is knowing when to ask for help. I would prefer that you flag things earlier and alert me that there’s a chance you may need help. Doing this well means that you have a deep understanding of what's going well vs. what's at risk. Accurately assessing the situation to know what needs attention is one of the biggest ways to build trust with me. On the flip side, asking for help thoughtlessly or not being able to diagnose a situation accurately are some of the fastest ways to erode trust. My expectation is that once you ask for help and learn what it takes to get unblocked, you will navigate the situation better and more autonomously next time.
Accountable: I take action items seriously, and I expect the same from you. Please ask me whenever you aren't sure what your action items are or when you think they need to land. If you think a deadline is going to slip, please be proactive about flagging it not just to me, but to your teammates and stakeholders. I also love celebrating successes, so please cc or forward me all of the good news too! (Since we’re a heavy Slack culture, I’d really appreciate the extra direct Slack ping alerting me of good news.)
Start with Why: Knowing the problem you're trying to solve and whether it's a worthwhile problem is critical to delivering impact (how we should all be measuring our work). One of the most typical ways for teams to get off track or fail to deliver impact is when they anchor on solutions first, instead of problems. I expect you to fully understand the why behind what you're doing and to effectively communicate that to all of your stakeholders, including me. I'm also very data-driven. When I think there is an opportunity to make a more informed decision, I will ask for data, usually focusing on qualitative and quantitative insights into what users need and find value in. Finally, I will challenge your assumptions and I'm always open to you challenging mine.
Communication Style
Group meetings: I find that 1x1s often lead to siloed information and a game of telephone. I prefer organized group meetings with all of the right stakeholders and thoughtful pre-work from the meeting organizer. I know this isn't always possible, so my second preference is creating a Slack group with the right folks first, adding a Coda/Google/Paper doc for us to jam together, and then scheduling a meeting afterwards.
Office Hours: I want to meet with the whole team, especially with those who have feedback they want to share. I’ll have office hours on my calendar so that anyone can book time with me.
Slack: I'm generally pretty responsive over Slack, unless I'm in a meeting; I try to not get distracted by email or Slack during meetings, and so on the days where I have back to back meetings all day, I will be slower to respond. Feel free to reach out to me over Slack anytime. If it’s a weekend ping, let me know if it’s urgent (although in those cases, texting me is better). Since many of us are in different time-zones, there may be times where I am sending a ping that’s later in the evening for you. In these situations, I will mark those with “no response needed” if it’s not time-sensitive.
Email: I typically prefer Slack. If you send me a longer email, please Slack me to remind me to read it.
What I value
Starting with why: always tying what we want to do back to value to our users and our business
Big picture thinking, coupled with sweating your details
Coming to the table with potential solutions, in addition to a deep understanding of the problem
Accountability to deadlines and your team
Effectively asking for help
Empathy for others
Transparency and honest communication
What I don’t have patience for
A lack of depth in understanding the problem we’re solving for
Not thoroughly assessing options / potential solutions
Getting stuck debating details that don’t matter
Poorly run meetings, especially if the opportunity cost of time is high
I am a strong believer in having a growth mindset, and consistent feedback is the best way to help all of us grow. I'll try to be timely when I observe or hear something that warrants feedback for you, and I hope you do the same with me. I will also work with anyone who gives me feedback about you to get you that feedback directly.
How I prefer to receive feedback:
With context: situation, behavior, impact
With empathy
Areas I need your help with:
If I’m moving too fast and need to slow down to make sure there’s greater alignment, please remind me and propose what we can do to make sure changes land most effectively
If I’m not taking enough time to explain how pieces of everything we’re working on fits together, please ask me
Diverse perspectives
Potentially some time before Zoom meetings so that I can use the bathroom, get some water, and/or eat my lunch :)
About this Doc
Last updated:
Through my various blog posts and interviews, I hope to give people a sense of what it’s like to work with me. I’ve noted a trend towards others doing the same (e.g. Luc Levesque calls this a ”, First Round calls this a “”). I hope to update this frequently to give you an idea of what I value at work.

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