We try to keep Summersault LLC as "flat" as possible, with minimal hierarchy and focus on authority relationships, opting instead for collaborative roles and even aspirations of a tribal staffing model. But in my role as "Principal," I still end up taking on what would traditionally be called a "management" relationship with other staff.
Recently, as a part of getting ready for some staff training, I tried to write down 10 things that might be helpful for a new member of the team to know about how I approach this role. For better or worse, I now present them to you. I don’t necessarily expect you to think that they’re good practices; I offer them as self-reflection, not advice.
- I prefer to interact with you as a co-worker collaborating on shared goals, not as a boss telling you what to do or think; please try to do the same for me.
- By default, I will have very high standards for your performance here. I expect that you will always be open to finding ways to challenge yourself and grow.
- I prefer to confront difficult or challenging situations head on and as early as possible. If there’s a conflict, I want to work to resolve it, even if it’s hard or uncomfortable. If there’s a problem, I want to analyze it until we understand it the best we can and know how to keep it from happening again.
- I place a lot of value on practicing good communication and intentional framing – being articulate, concise, prepared, engaged, and knowledgeable. If I see you being “lazy” about these things, I will try to call you out on it, and hope you’ll do the same for me.
- I expect you to take the initiative in solving problems, answering questions, and being more effective/efficient as a staff member. I want us to rise above the standard of “do my part and then wait for everyone else to do theirs” – we all have unique gifts to contribute, and we all share equal responsibility for finding ways, unprompted, to be successful.
- There will likely be few times when I seem totally “available” for unscheduled conversations. It’s still your responsibility to make sure you get what you need from me to do your job. Unless I’ve explicitly indicated that I’m not to be disturbed, don’t be afraid to interrupt me - I will tell you if I need to defer a conversation until another time.
- I will take it for granted that you are always acting in good faith, with honesty and integrity that serves the best interests of the company, its clients, and staff.
- Sometimes I have very particular ways that I want things done, and sometimes it will feel like I’m micro managing. I hope that eventually you’ll come to trust that I only do this when it’s important to the big picture, but you’re still welcome to challenge it.
- I want and need your feedback. If you think of ways I could improve and be more effective, or if you think I’ve done a good job with something, I hope you’ll tell me. Even if your remarks are critical or uncomfortable, I’d rather talk that through than not have you share it at all.
- I expect that we’ll engage each other as complex beings with more to us than just our lives at the office. I’m happy to hear about things going on in your life outside of Summersault, and especially so if they’re affecting your life at Summersault.
That's ten things about how I approach management at my business, and I think they're serving me well so far.
What works for you?