How to work with me

The first time I read it here (Hat-tip @derblub) , I saved it in a text file for my reference and to internalize it. However for the sake of posterity and my own predisposition towards spring cleaning I’ve decided to save it here.

This is something I am going to send out to my minions and their minions to work with one another. Tee hee!

  • I prefer to work fast, minimize bullshit, get to the point.
  • You will sometimes have bad news for me. I want it immediately. I can usually show you how to fix it. And I never blame the messenger.
  • Bring pen and paper to every meeting with me. Pay attention to what I say; I’ll try to speak with care. If I frequently must repeat instructions, or remind you of something I’ve already told you, you will not work with me again.
  • If I’ve scheduled a weekly meeting with you, don’t assume that this meeting is the only time to raise issues with me; Interrupt me for time critical issues.
  • If you have a meeting with me at an assigned time, and I am in another meeting with my door closed, interrupt me. I stack meetings, and each meeting leads into the next.
  • I like “micro-meetings”. Get in quick, bring only the necessary parties to the table, make a decision, get out. Five minutes or less. Make these effective by knowing what decision needs to be made before you start, and presenting the decision criteria ahead of time to all participants.
  • Stand during micro-meetings.
  • I don’t like email, particularly for discussing complex topics. If a decision needs to be made, do a micro-meeting. If a problem needs to be discussed, ask the person with the most depth to prepare something, an agenda, have a whiteboard, and work through it quickly.
  • One exception to the above: I like “micro-updates”: Quick emails confirming time critical commitments and mutual understanding. These are especially useful after we hold a meeting and I give you a set of directives: I always like to hear our agreed-upon commitments echoed back to me. I may not respond, but I will read it. Keep these emails short: Spare me the greetings, thank yous, regards.
  • Be consistent in your communication. Use words consistently. Use email headers consistently. Strive to make your work immediately comprehensible.
  • If you disagree with me, voice your differences. I welcome and invite dissent. If this makes you uncomfortable, feel free to prepare your thoughts after the meeting and then later return to make your case.
  • Ego-driven debates annoy me. Check your ego at the door: I’m only interested in reaching the best, most elegant solution —I don’t care if it’s your idea or mine.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not clear. I have more patience for explaining and clarifying my position before you start than I do patience for fixing a wasteful, incorrect approach after the fact.
  • Don’t tell me something is in the process of being done without telling me when it will be done. I’m more interested in the time commitment than the fact that an effort exists.
  • Always give me options, informed by an economic analysis where possible (if there are dollars involved, an analysis is mandatory), and then make your recommendation. Don’t tell me there’s a problem without offering a solution. Don’t offer me multiple solutions without giving me your best and final recommendation.
  • If you must prepare reports for me, review spreadsheets I’ve created. Copy the style and format.
  • Don’t send me long documents. I like precision and concision. Say it on one page (or less).
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