We started The Bent because we know how alone new managers can feel.
We also know how bad they can be at their jobs — and that neither of those things gets solved very quickly without a lot of help.
Emma: I found it really challenging to be a better boss when I was just starting out. I wanted to be taught: Here’s what you do to be a good manager.
But it’s hard to abandon the belief that you’re a failure for asking for help. Or a burden. I was under the impression that if I had been tasked with being the boss, I should know how to be the boss. So I was always masking my questions with a sort of timid nonchalance: “Any advice for how to deal with a direct report who keeps lying to your face, ha ha, no biggy, what did you have for lunch?”
Nonchalant advice was never enough. I wanted very literal step-by-step instructions on how to handle whatever nightmare situation, as well as any potential mid- to long-term consequences of those actions. I wanted daily check-ins and pep talks and post-mortem discussions.
Andy: And flow charts!
Emma: Yes! I wanted someone to lash themselves to my body like a skydiving instructor for the duration of the ordeal. Andy was the first boss I had who didn’t make me feel ridiculous for craving that level of support.
Andy: Of course I would share literally anything I knew! Why would I push you out of the plane alone? I’d just been in that lonely place doing something hard and high-stakes without asking for help.
Getting better at my job changed my brain. It’s a lab where I found my voice and asked and answered questions about who I was. How do I want to sound in this email? What do I do when things get hard? Who am I, really? Work is one of the places I’ve grown up, and grown into myself.
Emma: Becoming a better boss is like therapy, or exercise, or getting a full night’s sleep: If you commit to it for awhile, you’re going to see benefits all over your life. It rewires you. I mean, my brain today literally feels different sitting inside of my skull than it did a few years ago. And it’s more like the brain that I want to have: critical, confident, patient, prepared.
Andy: The Bent is every secret code we figured out, every practical and tactical thing we have: our email templates, our spreadsheets.
Emma: It’s our advice about what we would do in a situation, and what we did do in that situation, and the consequences both good and bad, why they are important, and what we learned along the way. It’s our skydiving manual.
Andy: We’re both managers of writers and editors, so a lot of what we talk about is managing and being a better boss. But it all applies to any hard thing you’re doing.
Emma: The Bent comes out every Tuesday. We hope you’ll subscribe.