The following post is a way to:
- Explain my role and describe what you can expect from me
- Lay out my values so you can hold me accountable to them
- Attempt to set expectations for your role
- Define our roadmap
- To attract, retain, and develop world-class engineers (that’s you!) who A) align with our company values and B) can self-organize and achieve the vision set by the company.
- To provide context to your work so you’ll know how your day-to-day tasks help us achieve our greater mission.
In short, if I leave for a month, everything should continue running smoothly.
We’ll have a 30 minute one-on-one (1:1) meeting every other week. I’ll occasionally use this time to ask you about workload and status, but this is mainly a time to have real talk. Tell me what’s on your mind. Ask difficult questions. I may also use this time to ask what feedback you have for me. If you don’t have any, don’t sweat it, but know that it’s perfectly safe (and encouraged) to share constructive feedback.
I take our communication pretty seriously. You can Slack me anytime during work or after-hours. I get a notification on my phone, so as long as my phone is nearby, I should be able to respond quickly. I also check email regularly throughout the day and semi-regularly in the evenings. If you send me an email and it needs immediate attention, Slack me to “check my email.”
I sometimes do a bit of work on the weekends. You are not expected to do this. In fact, you are discouraged from doing this unless you feel there’s a critical task that needs your attention. I may (rarely) Slack or email you over the weekend, but don’t feel the need check it until Monday.
I’ll sometimes ask you to tackle a task. If I’m not explaining it clearly, I’m not doing my job properly. Let me know if I’m confusing you.
Candor is important. As we work together, I expect you to be open with important feedback or information, e.g. feedback on my performance or where things are going wrong. I imagine you expect the same from me. What you also should know is there are times when I’m asked to withhold certain sensitive and confidential information passed down from upper management. However, I will never lie to you nor will the company expect me to. If you ask, I will provide as much information as I can reasonably give.
I’m here to serve you. I believe that you as an individual contributor are more important than me. While my title is “manager”, I believe that we work together rather than you work for me. You work for our company, so serve the company’s mission. I’m here to help you do this effectively. It’s also my goal to help you enjoy being here and steadily improve at your job over time. If you don’t feel good about your work or your career trajectory, let’s talk about it.
I believe in you and your desire to do the right thing. If you fail at something or make a mistake, my first assumption is that I failed to set expectations with you properly or you weren’t given the right information. I know you’re smart and well-meaning. It’s why we hired you.
There’s what’s important and there’s everything else. It’s not important to me that you to show up to every single one of our 1:1 meetings on time, but it is important that we build a good working relationship and take advantage of our 1:1 time. It’s not important to me that you have 100% attendance at work, but it is important to develop a reputation for “showing up” with your team. Basically, I don’t sweat the small stuff and I avoid micromanagement. Have fun and do the right thing.
I aim to be a “Pro”. Here’s how I define Pro:
- Show up when you’re supposed to show up
- Deliver what’s due when it’s due
- Always aim for your highest quality work.
Two-way feedback is essential. I will give you the feedback you need to do your job effectively. Know that getting constructive feedback is recoverable, and it’s never a representation of you as a person. When I provide this feedback, I do it with the intention of being on your team and your biggest fan who’s holding up warning signs to help you back on course. I also believe strongly in giving positive feedback quite often. Lastly, I’ll regularly ask you for feedback on my performance. Know that you’re encouraged to be honest. Positive feedback is fun, but critical feedback is highly regarded and respected.
I’m an introvert. But it’s not a big deal. Big groups tire me out a bit and I typically keep to myself in those settings, but I love chatting with all of you. It’s my favorite part of the job.
I take a Stoic approach. I value calmness and discipline. All of my worst snap decisions in life happened when I lost my cool. In my first job out of college doing IT Support, our servers crashed and we found we were locked out of the server room. My boss’s first words were, “Take a deep breath and relax.” That’s stuck with me ever since.
I have a weekly newsletter that I send to my direct reports. I use this to send important news and announcements. I’ll also shamelessly plug my favorite books, movies, video games, or music to keep things light and fun. To help keep your inbox clean, I’ll occasionally skip it sending for a week if there’s not much to share.
I love what I do. This role is the best job I’ve ever had. I enjoy working with each of you and I think you’re all a fantastic team.
In reading over this post, I encourage you to find areas where I’m not meeting these goals and principles and hold me accountable where necessary. This is a living document, so reach out to me if you have any specific feedback on its contents.