Working with Me and Scaling People

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Tim Ferriss latest interview is with Clair Hughes Johnson. Claire is former Google and Stripe executive and someone I follow for her people and management insights. I highly recommend her book Scaling People and the recent podcast.

One item that she reviewed in the podcast was an item I spent time thinking about and even started one of my own though haven’t finished it. The idea of a “working with me” document. The original “Working with Claire” document she wrote went viral a few years ago.

The document is meant to accelerate and overcome the initial connections with a new manager or team member. Like what mode is best to contact you on? Text, WhatsApp, Teams, Slack, email, or call you? And what hours or days are acceptable to you? Do you like direct questions or would you like me to talk about what I need or want?

These and many more are items that I have had direct reports wonder about for weeks until experience proves out the answers. And sometimes even then it’s difficult to know for sure and the “am I bothering you” or “I don’t understand why you reacted with that decision” come up.

Teams are meant to be composed of different people. And people by and far are different. Personality tests are chock full of how different we are and how we all react to different stimuli and situations. Some people need to talk through every step and sometimes need to talk through it multiple times. While others are more comfortable reading the data with a short discussion and decision. Introvert, extrovert, people, task, sensing, judgmental; these are all components of how we interact and make us all unique and valuable.

I’ve also talked and written about what Ray Dalio terms a Meritocracy. Where everyone is entitled to present, and the best idea or solution should excel no matter who comes up with it. No one owns the right to the best decision. And having the mix of different people, personalities, and experience offering feedback is the best way to achieve the best results.

How does this relate to a “working with me” document? When people know how to communicate and what to expect in the way of a response, then the process works with much less friction. Reducing friction in teams, product development, and general operations has been my focus many times. Though I never made time to finish a “working with me” document. Today, I thought I should at least start to finish.

My Working With Me

Some of these questions are from forms or suggested items. I’ll improve the format as I get additional feedback.

The basics you should know about me are

I was born Mark Wesley Munger and am comfortable being addressed by any of those names, or simply as Mark. My pronouns are he/him, and Mr. or Sir is fine, but please don’t worry about formality. I aim to respect how others wish to be addressed in kind.

My best working patterns look like

I am flexible with my working hours and adapt based on the needs of the project or task. Rather than adhering to set start and end times, I tend to work early mornings and evenings as needed. I am an early riser by nature and have a task/priority list which lends itself well to starting my day productive. My priority is being available and responsive during core collaboration hours while also optimizing my focus time.

Best method to communicate with me

I’m flexible with communication methods. For quick messages, I prefer text, WhatsApp or direct messaging via Teams or Slack. For discussions involving documents or lengthy information, DM is great. Email works though can get congested. I’m often unavailable for impromptu calls when heads-down or in meetings. For longer discussions, it’s best to schedule a meeting with an agenda item or wait for our regular 1:1. I’m open to scheduling time as needed. The key is using the right medium for the message so I can respond promptly and effectively.

The best way to give me feedback is

The best way to give me feedback is directly and objectively, framed positively. I welcome corrections and suggestions for improvement. If you believe I’ve made a mistake but are unsure, ask thoughtful questions to understand my reasoning. I appreciate a Socratic approach to constructively examine my position and confidence in it. My goal is continued growth, so candid feedback is invaluable.

My absolute requirements to do great work are

I work well in any environment and am known to wear my headphones with a song on repeat. Having a defined objective with targeted results is preferred. I prefer higher pressure with timelines instead of ambiguous work at your own pace styles. The exception is playing around with new ideas or technology where the experience in the only objective.

When I’m dealing with stress,

When dealing with stress, I tend to become more focused on the task at hand. This intense focus can sometimes come across to others as being remote, unresponsive, or uncaring. I appreciate when people call me out on this behavior so I can recalibrate and be more present. I continue to work on balancing focus with awareness of how my stress responses impact those around me.

Management Styles

My management style values open, authentic communication. I want to hear important perspectives while having focused discussions on the task at hand. I recognize some people process information best by talking it through and make decisions to let that take the meeting time or make time for those conversations outside of meetings. I gather input and data before making decisions, unless an urgent choice is required. I establish clear objectives and key results with specific metrics and share these broadly so we stay aligned. My goal is to foster an environment of trust, transparency and accountability in working towards shared goals.

If you have a pet peave, what would it be?

Yes, I have one My pet peeve is when someone asks me a question but doesn’t give me a chance to respond before continuing to talk or starts providing their own answers. I prefer when someone asks a question, pauses for my reply, and then asks if I need any clarification or additional information. This approach shows consideration for my perspective.

Beyond work, I’m really passionate about

Outside of work, I’m passionate about reading, flying drones as an FAA-licensed remote pilot, learning and teaching new technologies and business concepts, spending time outdoors at the beach or in the mountains, traveling, and following NFL football and the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team.

I’m still working on the list and will add and change it as I receive feedback from business associates, friends, and family.

Should you have any suggestions from working with me, please forward for me to incorporate.

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