Growing People–Lessons from Medic
This blog post is featured on themedicapp.com.
On the 29th of May, I arrived for Medic’s first day, full time, in the office. We were a team of seven, including myself and my partner Joshua (who hadn’t joined us full time yet). That day was buzzing with excitement. We were all motivated and part of something much bigger than just us, something we fully believed in.
Over the weekend, I was asked: what is the most difficult thing about being a founder? I found that a difficult question in itself, but I think it was managing people. It wasn’t my first time doing it (Joshua and I co-led the KCL Tech Society back when we were finishing our undergraduate degrees at King’s) but it didn’t make things any easier.
Twelve weeks later, I’m sitting here reflecting on some of the mistakes I’ve made and about the important things I wish I knew about managing a team. The interns left on Friday, and there was plenty I could have done to improve their experience and mine. I spent an hour at the whiteboard yesterday writing out what went well and what could have been done better. I think it’s worth sharing them with everyone.
Transparency is 🔑
Every three weeks, I had one-to-one progress reviews with each of my team members in which we had to be super honest with each other. We shared feedback with one another about what we thought the other person could be doing better.
I learned so much about myself from them. I learned that I was “too nice”, and that I “should wear the CEO pants”. I also learned that there’s a lot I could have been doing better. For example, I kept changing requirements mid-sprint (genuinely don’t know how I haven’t driven Joshua insane yet) and wasn’t very good at adding details to feature tickets when asking them to do something.
Everyone walked out of these meetings knowing what they could do better, myself included.
Team Spirit is a Real Thing
From those progress meetings, every time I asked what their favourite thing about working at Medic, their answers were always the same: they love how we were so close to each other and spent so much time together.
Encourage team lunches. Take the team and go bowling or to an escape room. Working for your company shouldn’t be a boring thing to do, because if it is, they’ll spend the whole time clock-watching and waiting for the minute they get to go home. Make them feel part of a family, and watch them take ownership. They’ll see your company as their own and that’s when you know you’ve struck gold, because nothing can buy passion. Passion comes from within.
They’re Here to Grow
My first real job was being an iOS developer for Unitu. I learned there that I wasn’t just working there for them to build them an app, but to grow and nourish my own skills. So, they gave us a small amount of money each month on top of our pay to spend on anything of our choice that would help us develop our skills, no matter what they were.
I’ve applied that same concept here. Every month, each person on the team gets a small amount to be able to purchase an online course (I usually recommend Udemy) or a book. We call it Personal Development Credit. Make them feel valued.
Manage Yourself (& Don’t Do it Alone)
That is the most difficult thing I had to hear: that whenever I was doing a bad job with my team, it was because I was doing a bad job with myself. If I had a pound for every time Joshua and I said the words “Don’t burn yourself out” to each other I’d have bought a Tesla. Yet, we still do a pretty bad job at taking care of ourselves.
Whenever I lost morale, so did the rest of the team. Productivity took a dive. It’s almost fascinating. I’m not saying always be happy: everyone has bad days. But always remember that everyone in your team looks up to you.
And no matter who you think you are, you cannot do it alone. When Joshua finally joined us full time, everything changed. We meet twice a week to discuss updates and share ideas and feedback, and we teach each other so much on a daily basis about what we could be doing better with ourselves and with the team.
In conclusion, we’re all human.
There’s a lot we can be doing better, but it’s always good to look back and reflect. It’s a simple cycle: we do, we reflect, we improve, and repeat. And never hesitate to ask others; whatever question you have, you’re probably not the first one to ask it.