Not just another README

Stephen Bartlett

On May 2, Brennan McEachran, CEO of Soapbox wrote a Hackernoon blog about this thing called a Manager README. It went slightly viral and as it turns out quite a few senior managers in the Silicon Valley tech space have written one. Soapbox (obviously keen to maximise the content marketing benefits of this blog) followed up with an encore post: 49 Manager ReadMes from Slack, Netflix, Google and more.

It seems more README’s are being created and shared by the day. So is it just a fad or should all managers write one of these? To quote <blog post above> a README is ‘a user manual written by managers on their management style, philosophies, expectations, communication preferences, and more. Think of it like a “how to” guide for getting to know and working for your boss.’

Most README’s seem to cover the following categories: What is this for, How I see my role, Feedback, 1–1s, What I value, How I can help you, Things you should know about me.

One of our principal consultants Stephen Bartlett is on board and thinks that if it is a fad then it’s at least a useful one.

At DiUS we have a somewhat flat management structure but our most senior or experienced tech, design and delivery people are given the title of principal consultant. These people are recognised for their deep expertise in a given area or discipline as well as their vast consulting ability and experience Importantly they play a role in supporting the strategic direction of the business. They show leadership across teams: supporting our projects, influencing technical needs and capabilities, backing cultural initiatives and growing others — all while modelling DiUS values.

We decided to share Stephen’s README in the spirit of getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into work/life at DiUS for one of our more senior people. Maybe it will also inspire you to write your own.

Stephen Bartlett — README

What is this for?

This document is still a work in progress. It may help you to get to know me better and help us work together. Writing this document has helped me identify and refine my thoughts and values.

How I see my role:

To me, being a Principal Consultant is about promoting our company values and doing great work for our customers. More specifically my role includes:

  • Mentoring and helping grow others.
  • Setting up new project teams and helping those teams be successful.
  • Contributing to the team. Especially in code. Lots of code.
  • I’m also here to help make sure we are working on the right things, which is not necessarily everything we’re asked to do.
  • Helping to find good work. I do this by helping with pre-sales conversations and being on hand for our account managers.
  • Helping recruit the best people which includes resume scanning, code reviews, and interviews.

Feedback

Being able to give and receive feedback is the only way to get better at what we are doing. It is the most useful tool to enable personal growth, but also to establish trust in a team. I am a strong believer of Radical Candor; I want to ensure that you are receiving honest and actionable feedback on a consistent basis.

Feedback should go both ways. I am relying on you to let me know how I am doing. I prefer feedback one to one in person, rather than in a group. I’m trying to be better at receiving positive feedback and not being embarrassed. I do like written feedback especially if it’s constructive or critical feedback so that I can properly reflect on it and refer to it.

1–1s

1–1s are relatively new to me. Working in a flat organisation has presented its challenges for me because not being a manager I felt 1–1s weren’t part of my role. However, more recently I have realised 1–1s are a way for me to provide mentorship and guidance to other members of the team. I am happy to meet with you at an interval that suits — weekly, fortnightly or monthly. I’m flexible. We can talk about anything you want. I can also help with feedback on career growth, progression towards goals, and areas for improvement.

What I value

Experimentation. I like it when the team will continually try new ideas and experiment in the way we work.

A growth mindset. It is simply not an option to stop learning in our industry. I value people that are constantly improving themselves; researching, reading, exploring new ideas and different perspectives.

A can-do, positive attitude. I value resilient people who, when faced with adversity and challenge, show grit and find options.

How I can help you

I can provide context to what is going on with your project / customer as well as in the broader business at DiUS such as upcoming projects and other initiatives.

I can help make recommendations on upcoming projects that are aligned with your goals.

I can help you focus on the things that you are good at and support you in the things you are not so good at.

Things you should know about me

I have personality quirks. We all do. Here are some things that I am both aware of, and that may impact how you work with me:

  • My favourite environment is sitting with my team, where we can discuss and share what we’re doing, solving problems and achieving things together.
  • I do enjoy a good workshop, especially if it has post it notes and sharpies, but I’m less of a fan of traditional meetings.
  • I enjoy working in fast paced environments, I’m best when I’m busy and getting things done.
  • I don’t enjoy the anxiety that comes from public speaking.
  • Overly optimistic. This sometimes will get me in trouble. I can see things as being simpler than they actually are. I will sometimes underestimate the complexities of a piece of work just because I am excited by it.
  • I like to be surrounded by people who challenge me and I recognise that everyone is my superior at something.
  • I enjoy experiencing the elements, such as cycling home after work in the rain or in 40 degree heat. It’s a great contrast to being in the office.

To join the share my README movement you can start here.

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