There’s a growing trend in software management to create a “README” file. Like any readme it’s a quick way to understand something. In this case, it’s understanding me, and how we’ll work together.
Think of this document as an eternal Beta. It will change from time to time when I realise something about myself or the way we work together. If you find a bug, feel free to send me a pull request or file a change request.
How I see my role
While I’m a “manager”, I prefer to think that I work for you. I asked some friends what they want out of a manager and I think I got some good feedback: Get out of my way and help me do my job. That’s it. If you need something — from a coffee to a conference room, to training or even a philosophical chat — ask me. I want to help you do your job: that’s my job.
One important aspect to my role is my job as an interpreter. I exist to help you understand the rest of the company, and to help the rest of the company understand you.
I like humour. I use it as a means to help people feel relaxed and comfortable in group situations. It’s often self deprecating. It often makes me more approachable on an individual basis, but if you have issues with this approach I trust you will let me know. (Regarding humour, please read the section on Safety below: it’s important)
Openness and Honesty
I value, above all else, openness and honesty. If we can be open and honest with each other then we’ll go a long way together. Most of us in tech struggle to give bad news (I’ve seen people champion all sorts of odd processes for avoiding bad news — including not talking about expectations just in case they’re not met!). But let’s try. Let’s be as open and honest with each other as we can. If I don’t have all the information I can’t do my job as an interpreter. If you don’t have all the information, you can’t do your job.
This doesn’t mean I wont be disappointed by bad news or that I won’t let you know I’m disappointed. But I will not condemn you for it!
Safety and Diversity
The more diverse we are, the more we learn from each other and the more we achieve together. I will always be working to make us more diverse and to uncover and celebrate how diverse we already are.
To this end a safe environment is mandatory. And by that I mean proactively making sure we make each other comfortable. I have zero tolerance for comments and jokes that are in any way related to gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, sexual violence or anything else that might make someone feel uncomfortable. We can never know enough about each other’s backgrounds to know each others’ comfort levels. So we will find another way to express ourselves.
Agile is people
The Agile Manifesto was first written in 2001. The first tenet is “Individuals over processes”. This is the most important part of how we work. We’ll adopt, extend and refine processes as an important part of how we work, but they’re descriptive of the best way we work together as humans.
I’ve used Waterfall, and I’ve used Scrum. I’ve seen Scrum being “Waterfall lite” and I’ve seen it be a powerful lubricant to keeping a team together. Whether we use Scrum, Kanban, XP or make up our own way of working, we’ll first work as people.
One on Ones
I’m big on these meetings. They’re not my meetings, but yours. You set the agenda. What would you like to talk about? What’s going well for you? What isn’t? These aren’t necessarily about work updates unless you really want to talk about work. While we get to know each other these will happen every week. After that, we’ll work out, between us, the best cycle. You should be prepared with what you’d like to talk about.
While there are many other things I could address in this document, I’d like to cover meetings. They’re often denigrated in tech circles — and understandably so. So how can I say I’ll “get out of your way” but also say that meetings are important, and you should go to as many as you can?
Meetings are about relationships. They’re a great way to interact and create rapport with a large number of people all at once. They’re the place where decisions are made and information is transferred. They’re an incredibly powerful tool. So if there’s an opportunity for you to go to a meeting, go along, participate and be effective. Provide your input and learn from what other people have to say.
- Do not bring your laptop, and put your phone in airplane mode. If you need a device at the meeting then that’s where your concentration will be and you should not be there. If you’re bringing your device because you have something important you need to work on, then you do not belong in that meeting.
- Always bring paper and pen to meetings. Even a quick meeting between the two of us. You never know when you’ll need to remind yourself of something and it helps you keep engaged.
Things to know about me
I’m different. And so are you. Here’s a few things that I’m aware of that may impact how we work together.
I’m an introvert. While I’ll stand in front of a group of hundreds, while I might jump around and be crazy, my energy comes from time by myself. Most people see this and decide I’m extroverted. Which means that if I’m being quiet, it can look like I’m upset about something or don’t want to talk. But I’m always happy to talk and will make time for you if you ask.
I’m a people pleaser. I have a lot of capability and capacity and it can be seen as an inability to say ‘no’. But in the end, I just like to help everyone. I try hard not to let this get in the way of my job or let it impact the team. If you see me getting in your way, please call me out. For the most part this is no longer the issue it used to be, but it can slip through at times.