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Working with me — Updated 2024

Working with me — Updated 2024

11/01/24

When a new team member joins the UC team, whether in the design function, my peer group across the organization, or someone with whom I will be working closely, such as my EA, I share a document with them. I first created this document in 2018 and shared it with a select group of colleagues. Since then, I have continuously improved and tweaked it to suit the needs of different teams and to incorporate what works best for the current group of colleagues.

This is what it's like working with me.

Changes over the last one year marked in highlights.

1. Communication

  • I follow a hierarchy of communication, starting with the most urgent: call, Telegram, Slack, and email (only if an existing thread needs my attention). If we discuss something important over undocumented channels, such as during a call, ensure that it is documented in a relevant location, so we don't miss it later on.

  • I prefer fast turnaround and acknowledgement on written communications. A quick 'got it' or 'on it' type acknowledgment lets me know that things we're discussing are moving forward. This is important so I don't have to keep a mental note to remind everyone later.

  • I am always available if you need me. I consider my time with all of you to be the most important part of the week.

  • NEW: If you suggest a meeting or discussion, please try to block my calendar with a list of things you want to discuss. Agenda is important so I have some time to think about them.

  • My calendar will mostly be updated, and only under certain last-minute changes will I ask you to reschedule. If I suggest a discussion, I will initiate finding the time. Don't say 'let's discuss' without a follow-up of when we'll discuss.

  • I don't expect you to respond to everything in real-time, but I do expect you to close the loop on everything we open. If it's on my plate, I will do the same, but I will try to take things that are in your function off my plate. I don't like asking about something twice.

  • Be proactive.

2. Logistics

  • I appreciate having clear personal space boundaries, and I will respect yours.

  • I enjoy having longer, open-ended discussions over dinner or drinks after work at least once a month.

  • I make an effort to take weekends off to recharge and spend time with family, but will be available if you need to discuss anything during the weekends. Essentially if anything's urgent, ping me anytime.

  • When you go on vacation, please let me know how I can help or what could go wrong in your absence. I'd appreciate being brought up to speed so that I can be ready to step in if necessary.

  • Please keep your calendar up to date and mark your responses accurately (for example, decline meetings you can't attend and mark "maybe" if you're not sure). This will help ensure that we can all make the best use of our time.

  • NEW: Set your own ritual and come to office on time. Typically, discuss all blockers, helps at the beginning of the day so you can go about working as uninterrupted as possible through the rest of the day.

3. Reporting updates

  • New: Share your plan for the week every Monday before noon. Simply, reply in the automated-bot thread on channel.

  • When sharing your progress, please be as specific as possible. Instead of saying "WIP in Project XYZ," provide details such as "10% circulated with the team; setting up a meeting tomorrow to discuss next steps." This level of specificity will avoid the need for follow-up questions.

  • New: Progress updates should fall into one of 10/50/99% statuses. Call out alerts, problems, blockers, or expected challenges. It's even better if you can give a short context summary for me as well.

4. Micromanagement

  • I am hands-on until I trust you. Once I trust you, I’ll be hands-off and we’ll collaborate as you need me, or when I bring you ideas for us to work through together. It could be at a project level or certain specifics of a project.

  • If I become more involved in your work again, it's usually because I'm losing trust in you or don't feel like we're making adequate progress on a given topic. This might be due to a lack of communication or reporting, or because you're not following the guidelines outlined in Section 6.

  • I enjoy working through problems together, but I expect you to come prepared with a few ideas and to have done your homework. Be clear about the specific area in which you need my help. This way, the conversation is not one-sided.

5. 1:1s

  • It is expected that you maintain a running document for our 1:1 meetings.

  • New: There is only format of the this 1:1 document shared on design channel. Follow that.

  • New: Get yourself rated once every month. Your yearly rating is simply the average of monthly ratings. This is also required for coaching program, if you choose to take one.

  • During 1:1s, we will primarily focus on your agenda.

  • I would like to use this time to check in on how you're doing, what you need from me, any broad strategy questions you'd like to discuss, and any professional development items you would like to address.

6. My feedback for you

  • I'll give you direct feedback, whether it's good or bad.

  • Good or bad you'll be first to know it from me. If you're doing a good job; I'll point and let you know that you're on track. If you're doing a great job, I'll express my gratitude both privately and publicly!

  • However, there are a few reasons why my feedback for you might come out negative:

    • You work didn't meet my expectations - it was poorly constructed, incomplete, or inadequate.

    • You're giving up too soon and are not showing enough grit. You're not exploring enough ideas that may demonstrate your creativity.

    • You are not working 'deep' enough to integrate evidences, information from wide range of sources, examples to make a solid, smart decision or case - your first idea (without much research) is your final handoff.

    • You are not engaged enough in your own learning and teaching. A common thread tying us together, I believe is innate curiosity about our industry, business, users, function, and life long learning.

    • You're not growing in your skill-set. If you're not getting better with your questions, you're not growing. If you're not getting better at design skills, you're not growing. If you're unable to optimise your own workflows and decision making, you're not growing.

  • If you feel I'm not listening to you - your ways of working, capabilities, projects of interest, I apologise. Message me on Slack immediately and we'll discuss this.

7. Your feedback for me

  • Commit to providing me direct feedback (don't wait for 1:1s for this) when I’m blocking you or your success probability in any given project.

  • I'll admit I'm not great with processes but I try to be. My working style has been called 'militant' in nature by few (or most, I don't know). I am also strict when it needs to be. All in all, I have flaws — you'll learn about those more as you keep working with me. However, I will try to fix them if they're affecting our team, culture, or work. So, feel free to be as transparent and open about it with me. Call it out to me if I fuck up.

  • I respond well to feedback. Our relationship will only get better if you do this well.

8. Contributing to the big picture

  • If you want to contribute to the company strategy, the easiest way to do that is by observing user behaviour and developing a solid understanding of the product.

  • Build presentations, summaries of interviews, few different ways to solve problems, or even show me what ideas you came up with.

  • If I see you putting the hard work, I'll roll you up to rooms where you can contribute more.

9. Managing the team

  • Collaborate with me closely for defining responsibility. Set clear ways of working, alignment and practices to follow.

  • If you want to hire a new person, you should be capable enough to hire them by yourself. Source candidates, prepare interview rounds and get to closure. I, along with your oversights, will keep publishing content and guidelines to help you achieve your hiring goals.

  • Performance of your direct reports is a reflection on your management. If one is not performing up to the mark, take responsibility and act for next steps: either a performance improvement plan or termination.

  • If I call you out for some update and if the answer is the name of your report, you're not on top of your shit.

  • If someone is doing a great job, call it out; ensure that recognition is shared publicly.

10. Professional development

  • NEW: I have created a coaching program which will allow you to interact specifically for professional development.

  • New: Take responsibility for your learning; no class, course, or mentor can make you a master.

11. Few more things

  • Leadership ≠ manager. I don't believe that one has to be a manager (or, a "title") to show or exercise leadership. It can come from any of you; in some aspects, more than your managers (including me).

  • New: I also don't like folks who are just managers. If you're not creating something tangible regularly, you will fade away.

  • Bias towards action. I'll prefer progress reviews over process of progress meetings.

  • Bias towards sharing work early. I like to get involved in (and involve in case it's something I'm working on) as early and frequently as possible. I don't like bottled up feedback towards the end of a working sprint.

  • Honesty. 10+ years of work experience teaches you to see through bullshit. Be honest in every conversation we have if we want to have a long lasting relationship.

  • I can be hyperbolic. I'm mostly excited about a lot of topics, projects at work - always. I might also dump them on you and not follow-up. Flag it out, when that happens. I'm working on it.

© Copyright 2023, I guess.

© Copyright 2024, I guess.