On Management #39, P.S.

Written while working at a different speed

I’m grateful you’re here. If you’re a new reader, welcome! And many thanks to people who support my newsletter financially.

Each issue of On Management orbits a theme. Each short P.S. edition (like this one) offers a few (more) good things I’ve found to read, watch, or hear about my last issue’s theme.

On Management #39 was Are norms really normal?

Thank you for inviting me to your in-box.

Dateline: Now

If you like my newsletter, I’d love for you to use this new Substack button!

Share Anne Libby On Management

Big thanks to readers who shared On Management in your Slacks, FB groups and other online spaces where people talk about the workplace.


I got a note from a reader who had been let go. While I won’t go into their specifics, I want to share some general thoughts about being let go.

Whether laid off, fired, RIF’d: it may be emotionally tough, and hard to find your ground.

One norm to try to maintain: when asked to sign an anything, first have it reviewed by an employment attorney.

Of course you don’t have an employment attorney.

Your best source: someone in your circle who has been laid off. Or, your own attorney, if you have one.

If you don’t have a direct connection:

  • Reach out (quietly) in your alumni network.

  • If you’re part of a community of faith, check in with a leader there.

  • If your library has rich career offerings, a reference librarian may be able to help you figure out how to connect with local resources.

If you’ve experienced discrimination, or been sexually harassed, the Times Up Legal Defense Fund may be a good resource.

People in my circle have FREAKED OUT ON ME when I have suggested talking with a lawyer: “But I don’t want to sue!”

No, you probably don’t.

Working with an attorney does not mean that you need bring a lawsuit. An experienced attorney knows the norms — what’s legal and what’s considered fair — and can help you to navigate unfamiliar territory.

The norms are sometimes, to be clear, not great. This is my opinion, not legal advice, I’m not a lawyer, and so forth.

When you have questions, please do send me a note! I always answer my emails.

Thank you so much for reading,

Anne Libby


Subscribe to the free newsletter

P.P.S. Briefings

Following on the heels of my live-via-Zoom briefing, Manager as Coach, I scheduled “Performance Review Basics.”

It turns out that Monday of US Thanksgiving week was a terrible day for a briefing.

I’ll come back to this 2020. Hit me up if you’d like to be notified about my 2020 briefings. They cost $8, and supporting members join for free.

Get notification of future briefings

Thanks to those who signed up, and please let me know if you have questions or concerns.

Ever curious, I watched Three Amigos.

Are norms really normal? On Management #39

"If your boss does that, what are you gonna say?" - Rebecca Traister

Welcome to your extra hour of sleep. Or reading!

We talk about innovating, disrupting and culture. Yet, it’s apparently, um, normal for workplaces to be dominated by white guys named John. Or Jim. wth.

On this month’s audio, CV Harquail, author of Feminism: A Key Idea for Business and Society, talks with me about norms that limit our vision about what work can be.

Also, good things to read, watch, and listen to.

Thank you for inviting me to your inbox.

If my emails have been useful, I’d love for you to share On Management in online spaces where you talk with people about the workplace!

Subscribe for free

Also, to join me this month in discussion about the workplace, scroll on down for a couple of options.

Healthy norms

If you’ve been reading for a while, you might remember Jason Li’s drawing of my hierarchy of needs at work.

Don’t your team members deserve to be able to make these statements?

(Spoiler alert: everyone does.)

Leaders can set habits and actions — norms — to make these statements into truths.

A limited set of examples:

  • There’s a bounded workday, people take their PTO; we are not always on.

  • Team members and managers work together to articulate reasonable individual and team goals.

  • Because unspoken rules exclude, we aim to clearly state what it means to belong.

  • We share credit.

  • We help people grow — even when growth means that people may move on.

  • We give leaders time to grow and develop junior staff members.

What habits, processes, actions can you set into motion that meet the needs of your team members, and contribute to flourishing?

Let’s go to the dictionary

Thanks, Merriam-Webster.

Feminism has a branding problem

CV Harquail and I talk about the workplace: popular culture, media, and reality. And our aspirations for a better future: how can we create teams and workplaces where people flourish?

CV’s new book Feminism: A Key Idea for Business and Society (Indiebound) (library), is meant to inspire good questions and conversation about persistent workplace norms, and to expand our vision of what’s possible.

Relevant to our conversation:

CV Harquail has taught leadership and organizational change at the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, and entrepreneurship and lean startup methods at Stevens Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in Leadership and Organizations from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. You can find her on Twitter @cvharquail.

If you’re Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or otherwise need a transcript, send me a note and I’ll be sure you get one.

Disclosures: our conversation was edited for clarity and length. CV is a friend, and supporting member of On Management.

A useful idea: articulate your norms

Now streaming on NYC subway kiosks, The MTA Rules of the Ride. When 5.4 million people cross your threshold every weekday, a code of conduct can’t hurt.

Most would work for any office. (Unless graffiti fits the aesthetic.)

To be clear, and maybe a little bit pedantic, “be respectful” is more value than norm.

A workplace example, one clean desk norm from Aesop. (Others are here.)

The beauty of boldly stated norms: expectations aren’t secret — they’re not code that’s obvious only to the chosen. People have a better shot at knowing where they stand.

A truly inclusive workplace requires workplace norms that are safely accessible to all.

A question

What’s your approach to discussing organizational norms with colleagues and team members?

November 10: #livetweet9to5 with a fun group

One pathway in my conversation with CV Harquail led to the idea of what “flourishing” might look like at the office.

In my mind, an example: the transformed workplace at the end of the 1980 film 9 to 5, which included on-site childcare, accessible workstations, job sharing, and schedules and part-time work shaped around people’s family obligations…

Basically, imo, a workplace aligned with the feminist business practices CV describes.

40 years later, this workplace is vexingly elusive. In fact, “9 to 5” is no longer a norm for many of us when emails arrive around the clock. The gender wage gap is persistent.

If you’ve never seen the revenge fantasy-slash-comedy 9 to 5, it’s a treat.

On November 10, join me, and some of my favorite people on Twitter (and IRL) to watch — or re-watch — this eerily still relevant film:

“Take a beat and circle back”

This Samantha Jayne piece evokes both 9 to 5 and Anna Weiner’s upcoming Uncanny Valley. (I loved Uncanny Valley, and will review it later.)

h/t for the video: The Browser.

Silence as a workplace norm

The toxic power of silence as a norm is illuminated in two new books, both by journalists about their experiences reporting on #MeToo stories:

  • Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s She said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement (Indiebound) (library)

  • Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Indiebound) (library)

Both describe how institutions — workplaces — and professional networks worked together to silence women’s allegations of workplace sexual harassment, assault, rape, and more.

Farrow’s personal story about his experience at work adds another layer of heartbreak to his tale. He worked, wanting to believe that his managers at NBC supported him.

Instead, he alleges, they were working against him to silence his reporting.

Three good pieces:

NB: Farrow read his own audiobook, which I loved. (Twitter wasn’t sure about Ronan’s reading.)


And, a few things by my colleagues and/or On Management readers:


Thank you so much for reading!

Supporting members, thanks so much for contributing your moral support — and financial support — to my newsletter. Coming soon: an update, the audio transcript, and a reminder about November 14 Office Hours.


Anne Libby

P.S. Join me for Performance Review Basics, a briefing

Team leaders, if you’re not comfortable leading performance reviews, you might feel like we’re moving into the least wonderful time of the year.

I’ve got some ideas that will help.

Next up: Performance Review Basics, in early 2020. If you want me to notify you when it goes live, let me know here.

We’ll talk about what you can do now to prepare, and ways you can leverage your existing management routines to stay on track year round.

My last briefing was Manager as Coach. Briefings offer basic, essential information about a topic, basics on key skills, and space to ask your own questions, live.

It’s 20-25 minutes of live, slide-decky stuff, followed by Q&A. Supporting members receive a free ticket to use or give to a friend.

Photo by Christina Morillo

Take a beat and circle back…”

On Management #38, P.S.

There's a typo in here, I just can't find it until after the newsletter goes out

Happy fall! And welcome to new readers, long-time readers and supporters.

I’ve been sending these experimental PS issues for a few months. They feature a few (more) good things I’ve found to read, watch, or hear about the last issue’s theme.

Maybe it’s no longer an experiment.

Issue 38 focused on interventions.

This time, artist Jason Li has been busy, so read on for one of my signature (lol) memes.

Finally, scroll down to learn about an online briefing, Managers as Coaches.

Thank you for inviting me to your in-box.

Dateline: Now

Subscribe to the free newsletter


Harassment is not simply perpetrated by Bad Apples.

“Managing out” happens when people aren’t being heard internally.

Managing out is messy, risky, and not always a solid strategy. Sometimes it’s well-intentioned, and wrong.

Leaders in healthy organizations foster constructive disagreement. More on that down the road!

When you have questions, please do send me a note! I always answer my emails, and sometimes I spring into action (see below.)

Thank you so much for reading,

Anne Libby


P.P.S. Back to School: Managers as Coaches

After reading Always Be Coaching: On Management #36, reader Peter Imai asked me a question. I started to think more about how managers can become better coaches to their team members.

A few weeks ago, I saw someone in a Twitter thread recommending coach training as a vehicle for becoming a better manager.

Hard downvote.

Coach training is expensive. Time consuming. Highly variable in quality.

And, it’s “coach training,” not “manager training.” It’s the wrong intervention!

On October 7, I’m hosting a live-via-Zoom briefing, Manager as Coach. I’ll introduce:

  • 3 types of coaching conversations

  • Tactics and competencies that support meaningful discussions

  • Live Q&A about how to be a better coach to your team members

It costs $8, and you can register here.

Supporting members can get a free ticket: click here and scroll to SWAG.

Join me online on October 7

All hail Rita Moreno. West Side Story? idk

Loading more posts…