My Manager README
I’m excited to work with you! Let’s use the following as a starting point for conversation!
I hired you because I saw in you skills that will help us, but as importantly I saw a person who will make us all better as a team. Our organization is full of smart, talented, hard working people. You are here because we’re confident you will grow and thrive here.
My job is to help you and our team maximize the positive impact we have on the company and product.
I do that through the following:
- Constructing a diverse, high talent, low ego team;
- Clarifying priorities, context, and strategy; and,
- Providing appropriate tools and removing barriers to productivity.
Your job is to contribute to what we build while you help make our organization better.
You can do that through the following:
- Asking tons of questions,
- Improving what we do and how we do it through defaulting to taking action, and,
- Always improving and helping others to do the same.
The 30,000ʹ view
Think of me as your API to the rest of the organization.
Need a contact on some distantly-related team? Not sure who to talk to about changing your dental plan? I’ll either know or will find out who the right person is and connect you to them.
More important than what you know now is that you are learning. I believe everyone is capable of improving, both as technicians and human beings. I ask that you open yourself to the possibility of getting better at what you do and who you are. Life is a journey. Let’s grow together!
I will never intentionally ask you to do anything unethical or illegal. If you are concerned that something I or the organization have asked of you falls in either of these categories, please raise it with me immediately.
It might sound cheesy, but believe me when I say: Together Everyone Achieves More.
On my team, I recognize and reward actions that build others up. These include (but are not limited to!) behaviors such as teaching, mentoring, and listening. I do not tolerate members of my team belittling, harassing, or insulting each other. If you are ever on the receiving end of something that feels like you’re being torn down, talk to me immediately.
In the wise words of Kate Heddleston, Engineering Manager at Samsara,
A 10x engineer isn’t someone who is 10x better than those around them, but someone who makes those around them 10x better.
To that end, I ask that you allow me to help you be a better teammate.
In general, I endeavor to keep meetings focused and relevant to the work at-hand. You’re a maker, so you benefit from blocks of uninterrupted time. Whenever possible, I will try to group meetings together so you can find those blocks.
If your calendar ever feels cluttered or splintered, let’s talk. Most meetings can be moved around. A tool I find useful for creating blocks of uninterrupted time is the Chrome extension Clockwise.
1 to 1s
We will likely talk most days, but I believe there is value in having a regularly scheduled time when you know you have my full attention.
So, please schedule a recurring 1 to 1 meeting with me of at least 30 minutes weekly or 1 hour semi-weekly, but longer and/or more often if that’s helpful.
The agenda for this meeting is yours to set. We can talk project status in these meetings if you want or you might find this time is more useful to you when we talk about your long term goals and priorities. Here are some examples of things we can talk about.
I will occasionally add agenda items to our meetings, including a recurring item called
#humblebrags where I ask you to share with me accomplishments and wins from the previous month. These feed your performance reviews, so don’t hold back!
You might make a face like Edvard Munch’s The Scream when you look at my calendar. Don’t let that dissuade you from “bothering” me. I’m a manager. I am interruptible. Also, unless I tell you otherwise, it’s OK to reschedule any meeting between the 2 of us to a time more convenient for you.
These are mine. Help me understand yours!
- Transparency. I will err on the side of providing more, rather than less context.
- Compassion. We are not our job titles. I want the best for you as a person as well as an employee. I will do my best to approach you with kindness, respecting your agency as a human being.
- Honesty. I believe it’s important to be truthful, even (especially!) when it’s difficult. I believe this is compatible with compassion because it is better to give uncomfortable feedback early rather than let you be blindsided later.
- Trust. I will trust you until you give me reason not to, rather than make you “earn” my trust.
- Diversity & Inclusion. Working with a heterogeneous team can be harder than working with one where everyone is the same, but the results are better, in part because it’s hard. I will do everything I can to model inclusive behavior and build a diverse team that helps us all achieve our best. If I fall short in any way, I want to know.
My leadership style
My most comfortable leaadership style is affiliative. This means that I value harmony and relationship building. A single leadership style isn’t perfect for all situations, so I am actively working to broaden my range to include aspects of more of the 6 leadership styles outlined by Daniel Goleman.
I believe in giving feedback early and often. This may feel scary at first, but know that my intention is always to help you be more effective in your role.
Corollary: I want your feedback! If I’ve messed up, please tell me. If I did a great job on something, please tell my boss. 😉
When I give you feedback, I will strive to make it specific, dispassionate, and actionable. Listen for “My request of you is….” I ask you to do your best to take the same approach with me, but if you can’t muster all 3 of those attributes, let’s still talk!
Work/life balance or work/life integration, it’s your choice. I am more concerned about the impact you make than when you make it.
That said, you are working on a team, so I ask that you keep your collaborators informed of your availability and that you try to maintain at least a couple of hours per day of overlap with your teammates’ schedules for synchronous communication.
If time zones make synchronous overlap with your teammates impractical for you, it is your responsibility to share even more with your team in written form.
Speaking of communication…
We’re all on slightly different schedules. Additionally, some of us are integrators (that’s me) while others are separators. If you receive Slack messages or emails from me outside your customary work hours, please feel free to respond the next time you’re working. There may be times when I need an immediate response. If that is the case, I will make it clear.
I’m only human.
I have pet peeves, quirks, and things I’m working to improve, as I’m sure you do. In the spirit of transparency, the following are some of the ones I’m aware of (there are surely ones I am not aware of; everyone has blind spots!) that seem relevant to our working relationship (i.e. people not using their turn signals is probably not a relevant pet peeve in this context, though I’m open to being convinced otherwise…):
- I get annoyed when I’m repeatedly asked for information that has been communicated and documented. Information overload is real, but please make an effort to do at least a cursory search for things I’ve already communicated and ask me for them only if you come up empty.
- I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean I’m not social! What it means for me is the following:
- I tend to process internally before speaking,
- In group discussions, I am often content to let others bring out the points I want to make on a topic and may only speak up if my points aren’t covered, and,
- I recharge via alone/quiet time.
- I highly value harmony. This isn’t itself a bad thing, but I am working on balancing that with honoring my value of being honest even when it makes the conversation difficult.
Also, I’m human!
I have interests outside of work. Those include playing banjolele, traveling to places near and far, photography, camping with my family in the Eastern Oregon desert, and playing disc golf and table tennis. I’ve also recently taken up building crude furniture for my backyard. So fun!
I’d love to know more about your interests outside of work, if you care to share. And if you don’t care to share, that’s OK, too! 🙂
These are mine. What are yours?
- Servant Leadership. I don’t remember the specific book that introduced me to the concept, but I fully subscribe to the idea that I work for my team rather than the other way around.
- The Heart Aroused, by David Whyte. I listened to The Heart Aroused as a book-on-tape (yes, cassette tape…) for the first time in 1997 and have returned to it several times over the years. One of its central tenets is that we are more fulfilled when we can bring our whole selves to our work. I strive to do that myself and do my best to set up an environment where others can as well.
- Twitter. Yes, Twitter. A few years ago, I intentionally set out to follow a diverse set of people who could speak to some of the systemic issues of inequity in tech. Those people led me to follow other people—both within and outside of tech—who are actively trying to improve society by dismantling structures that unfairly put some groups at a disadvantage. I took the approach of just listening. Over time, I moved on to believing. Lately, I have graduated to more actively working to improve things, myself. I thought I was pretty progressive before, but this practice has vastly broadened my outlook and made me a much more ardent proponent of inclusion and diversity in tech and society.
Speaking of social media…
I can be found on social media here and here and my personal website is here.
You are free to follow/friend me.
Please feel precisely, exactly ZERO pressure to follow/friend me on any platform outside of work. To make it concrete, we need to be connected on Slack and GitHub, but it’s up to you whether we connect on Twitter and LinkedIn.
I will not follow/friend you unless you explicitly tell me it’s OK with you. You are free to add your social handles to your Slack bio if you are OK with your colleagues following you.
There’s more to know about me, but that’s probably plenty for now? 😅 Please know that I am super excited to get to know you and to do everything I can to support you as you embark on your journey at our organization!