Stride’s Code of Conduct

At Stride, we take pride in being choosy.

When we take on new clients and projects, we make sure they’re a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for them. Similarly, before we hire a new consultant, we make sure we have thoroughly evaluated them and they have evaluated us.

One measure of good fit is if the prospective hire or client works in a similar or complementary way to how we, collectively, like to work. A bunch of us got together to write this all down, and we came up with the Stride Code of Conduct. Today, we’d like to share the Code with you!

(Note: some points are heavily inspired by Recurse School’s Social Rules.)

Encourage Learning

We are experts not because of what we know, but because of how we learn. Not knowing is always the beginning. Don’t act surprised when someone admits ignorance; you are encouraging them to not interact with you. As consultants, human interaction is paramount. Encourage people to feel comfortable saying “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand.”

Keep Corrections Relevant

When someone says something that’s almost, but not entirely, correct, you might be tempted to say, “well, actually…” and then give a minor correction. That tends to show disrespect for that person’s knowledge and confidence. This is especially troublesome when the correction has no bearing on the actual conversation. Almost all well-actually’s, in our experience, are about grandstanding, not truth-seeking. Being precise is important, so “Yes, and…” is always better.

When you Offer to Help, Offer your Full Attention

Helping others, joining conversations, and offering advice are always encouraged. It becomes rude and disruptive, however, when you half participate. You will miss things others have said, and probably offer advice that duplicates what others have already said. If you feel your help or advice is valuable to a situation, participate fully in the conversation.

No Subtle (or Unsubtle) isms

No subtle or unsubtle racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, harassment and other kinds of bias. This one is different from the rest, because it covers a class of behaviors instead of one very specific pattern.

Subtle-isms are small things that make others feel uncomfortable, things that we all sometimes do by mistake. For example, saying “It’s so easy my grandmother could do it” is a subtle-ism. Or telling a joke about a class of people. Like the other social rules, this one is sometimes accidentally broken. If it happens by accident, apologize and move on.

If you see a subtle-ism at Stride, you can point it out to the relevant person, either publicly or privately, or you can ask your manager to talk to the person in question. If you are a third party, and you don’t see what could be biased about the comment that was made, feel free to talk to your manager. Please don’t say, “Comment X wasn’t homophobic!” Similarly, please don’t pile on to someone who made a mistake. The “subtle” in “subtle-isms” means that it may not be obvious what was wrong with the comment.

If you are repeatedly warned about subtle-isms and do not modify your behavior, then perhaps Stride is not the right environment for you. Stride will take action on a case-by-case basis to rectify the situation as necessary.

Assume Everyone was Doing their Best at the Time

If you’ve ever spent time on a project, or joined one when it was in a mature phase, you’ll often have the opportunity to refactor and clear away the technical debt. The technical debt could have been someone’s work a year or two ago, a junior’s first real effort, or someone trying to get something done on a deadline without enough time, research or knowledge. The code may seem naive, dumb, or foolish. But we’ve all been on the other side of that, trying our hardest. You should assume the best in people, and believe that they were doing their best work at the time.

Say it

If someone is doing a great job, tell them. If someone doesn’t know they’re doing something the wrong way, suggest a better approach. If you’re unhappy with something, let your manager know. Be upfront, forward, and communicative with the people around you.

Deep Listening

Really listen to the people you work with. Think about what they say before you respond. Show that you’ve understood by repeating what they’ve said, or what you think they’ve said. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask the same question several times, from a different angle. This can uncover deeper information about what clients and coworkers want.

We’re both Students and Teachers

A big part of consulting is sharing expertise with clients. That sharing can take many forms. Often, it can be directly given through code, pairing, code review, and the like. Other times, it can be presentations, lunch and learns or chats over coffee.

Take the opportunity to learn and listen to your client’s team. It will help you help them, and it can grow your technical and consulting skills.

Everyone is just another person with a whole life of their own

It may seem obvious, but we’re all just people, at work, trying to do something worthwhile. Sometimes we’ll disagree, have a bad day, come off the wrong way, make a wrong decision. Don’t let it grind on you.

It can help to try and connect with them in a different context. Having a coffee, drink, lunch, or game of ping pong can open people up socially, which can translate into a warmer working environment in the future.

Be Constantly Interruptible

We all like being in the zone. But maybe someone else is stuck, or could use some advice or input. Pause what you’re doing, as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, and help that person. Be constantly interruptible, and encourage people to approach you at any time. Headphones send the signal that you are not approachable or interruptible, so we discourage wearing headphones.

It takes Confidence to be Humble

You bring out the best in people by being humble and checking your ego.

Create a Safe Space for People to Discuss Issues, such as Retrospectives

If people don’t feel safe, they may feel they need to preserve themselves and it is harder to get to the root cause of issues. We must be agents of change and productivity.

Have Strong Opinions, Loosely Held

Part of learning is creating well-informed opinions. Teaching is about sharing and applying them. Over time, these opinions become convictions. Hold on to them and own them. Share them with conviction. That said, be prepared to change them if, when your preconceptions are challenged you realize it makes sense to change.

Want to learn more about Stride and our services? Contact us today.


Originally published at www.stridenyc.com on November 13, 2015.

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