2019 Management Tips from HBR

Hien Luu
3 min readJan 2, 2020


An awesome post from HBR website provides many great management tips. Below is a summary of the tips that are resonated with me. Along the way, I inject a few suggestions of my own.

Timebox your to-do list

We all have a to-do list and it gets longer and longer. Here is one simple tip to keep your to-do list under control:

  • Pick a few high priority to-do items and timeboxing them by having a plan on when they need to be done by and block time on your calendar to tackle them
  • Revisit the to-do list every morning at the beginning of your day

Improve your critical thinking

One difference between the great and good leaders is the ability to think critically at a critical time, like making a big decision, as well as having discussions at meetings. Below are a few tips to improve in this area:

  • Don’t just accept the first solution that is available to you
  • Question your assumptions, help w/ removing bias
  • Poke at the logic, examine it to ensure evidence builds on itself
  • Use first principle reasoning
  • Leverage data to validate the logic
  • Leverage your network for fresh perspectives to gain more insights

Giving a persuasive presentation

This is another important management and communication skill to master. Consider the following tips:

  • Ethos: Gain trust by demonstrating your caring for others
  • Logos: Leverage data, evidence, and facts to back up your idea/pitch
  • Pathos: Come up with a story of your idea to elicit an emotional reaction
  • Metaphor: Help others understand your idea easier by comparing it with something your audience is familiar with
  • Brevity: Use as few words as possible. Start with sharing the strongest points

Know when to stop talking and start listening

Follow the leaders eat last principle by Simon Sinek by including team members in conversations to demonstrate how much you value their ideas and opinions:

  • Be self-aware to not dominate the conversations
  • Listen as much as your talk
  • Invite others to weigh in when someone asks a question
  • During 1:1s, encourage team members to be open and share their ideas and opinions during team discussions

Before a tough conversation, prepare thoroughly

Tough conversations are challenging, might go in surprising directions and unexpected topics might come up.

  • It is critical to identify and understand your motives and goals to help the conversation on track if emotions arise
  • Do your homework: gather facts, data, and testimonies to support your position
  • Don’t be afraid to take a break to cool off when progress is not being made due to emotions

Get the basics right to run a good meeting

Meetings are an important activity of management. Make the best of it by:

  • Have a specific goal and agenda
  • Start with “this meeting will be a success if ….”
  • Audience: key decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders
  • Ask inputs from others that can’t attend or need to be in the loop
  • Reflect at the end to learn what went well and didn’t. Don’t forget to ask others for their reflection
  • Identify key takeaways to improve next time (this is always the next time)

Positive feedback is just as important

We tend to remember negative feedbacks and try our best to learn and improve from them, however, positive feedbacks are just as valuable.

  • Recognize positive feedback is a good way to learn about one’s strengths and growth areas
  • Identify the pattern or theme from the positive feedbacks
  • See how you can play to your strength in new situations

Your team wants to feel the purpose in their work

We all are more motivated and engaged when we can feel the purpose of our work. A few tips for instilling purpose:

  • Think of ways to show team members the impact of their job/work. For example, ask your team’s customers to share a testimonial in person, or bring your to the field to experience the client’s needs for themselves
  • Be authentic and consistent to show your team you are serious