Thoughts on Teams

People have different value systems. Someone may value very expensive headphones, or cameras and you may value sneakers. Someone may value working really hard, and you may value having time to live and travel. It’s best to not push your value system onto others, because it can harm relationships. It’s okay and good that people value different things.

Related to value systems — how does one’s value system affect how they weigh tradeoffs? Is this refactor more or less important than shipping? Internationalization? Accessibility? Polish? What stage is your company at? What’s the right thing to do? How does one’s value system help define “right”? Can you think of a way to acknowledge a peer’s values and leverage strengths in a way that helps your team succeed and makes them happy?

Value systems also affect motivations, which vary from person to person. Some people are motivated by public praise, or maybe the rush of shipping something new and exciting, knowing they built something really well, realizing a lot of people will use their work, just helping others, money, or most likely a combination of these things and others. It’s hard to change people’s motivations, but understanding them can help you improve your team’s performance as you work to fulfill them on an individual level. (The team’s needs should come first most of the time, of course.)

Working hard at your job will sometimes net you rewards, but working hard alone isn’t enough. You have to work on the right things — generally the right things end up being whatever is important to the people making decisions. In my experience it’s easier to burn out working hard on the wrong things, but it can also be really gratifying serving unfulfilled needs. The lesson here is to think about your goals before working hard and choose the right things to work on based on those goals and what you value.

Be kind, but also direct with others in business to avoid misunderstandings. Sort of related — don’t be a jerk or you’ll harm relationships and people won’t want to work with you.

Try to be “on” at work. Make a todo list (however you like), and do either the most important thing or the thing you have time to do right now. Mark it off. Remove things that stay on the list for too long without progress and aren’t actually critical.

Let people know where you’re at regularly and set expectations on when you can get back to them with what they need. This is a lot of what it takes to succeed. Once you’re good at your core responsibilities, look for problems that get in the way of your team’s success. Set out to fix those issues, and get help from your peers. Share credit with and publicly thank the people who help. You’ll build trust and get recognition. Take a broader view of “team” over time and repeat this process to drive bigger change.

Is this similar to your experience? Lemme know on Twitter.


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