Toward the end of her book, “ The Making of a Manager,” Julie Zhuo shares her strategy for handling a particularly touchy topic: letting people go.
Zhuo is the vice president of product design at Facebook. The book distills the most meaningful lessons she’s learned over the past decade or so as a manager there.
Zhuo writes that a friend gave her helpful advice when she was struggling to decide whether to dismiss a manager on her team. The friend asked her: “Assume the role was open. Would you rather rehire your current leader or take a gamble on someone else?”
That question made Zhuo realize she needed to focus primarily on what was going to make the team more successful over the next few years. She let the manager go, and the person who replaced him was a much better fit.
The tip from Zhuo’s friend recalls advice from Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix. In her 2018 book, “ Powerful,” McCord writes that the team you have now may not be the team you’ll need moving forward.
McCord urges managers to regularly evaluate whether their current team members can help take the company to the next level. If not, the manager has some hard decisions to make.
A company’s allegiance, according to McCord, is to its clients — not to their employees, in the sense that the company needs to take care of people for life.
Zhuo realized much the same thing. She remembered the late Intel CEO Andy Grove writing that companies can’t afford to let employees make mistakes and learn from them because the employees’ “tuition” is paid by customers.
Zhuo writes: “The end goal of management is to get better outcomes. When someone isn’t a great fit for his role, there is a cost. Would you rather pay it by making a hard move or by passing it on to other team members and customers?”