I've been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to have someone who makes other people important on a team. I've seen a lot of pseudo-teams where everyone is trying to slay their own dragons.
It's hard to be the guide, though. Some people don't think they need help. Selfishness can be the norm, so people don't learn to accept help. Fake sincerity makes it hard to make genuine connections.
The most difficult part of trying to focus on others, for me, is that people still heap things onto my plate. No one makes time for being a guide or a leader for ICs. Managers seem to be too busy in meetings to focus on people.
Is it feasible to find jobs where this sort of attitude is taken seriously?
We would have small team meetings every morning ~5 people, but a whole department meeting every two weeks to go over quad charts. It was the standard milestones, last two weeks and next two weeks. The difference was there was a very strong culture of thanking and complementing the work of everyone who helped on a task. People really went out of their way to help everyone, there was a lot of cross pollination, and productivity was incredibly high because everyone was so happy to be working together.
There were other factors too of course, but it was really magical. Danette Allen ran a tight and happy ship which I'm now trying to recreate at the company I co-founded.
I have not bothered to check his/her profile to see what startup they founded so it's not exactly a hard sell.
I can't tell you how feasible it is to find companies that actually value working together and helping each other out. I can tell you that there exist some companies where at least parts of the company do actually value this. I happen to value this and my manager does and some of his other reports and their teams do. I doubt the company overall actually does value it.
But like you say, even if you find such a company, every new hire is a challenge because everyone is just so trained to think that everyone just cares for themselves and that everything must be a ruse. It's hard to break through this. From both sides. I know it was for me. I couldn't believe it and it's hard to let your guard down and just work with others like you're actually friends.
I wonder, what were some events that affected how you were thinking
The fact that there were no individual metrics to hit for each team member I think also contributed to this. Nobody is going to loose their raise because they spent time helping you onboard or debug with you instead of just making sure they hit their own metrics. Monthly birthday celebrations w/ cake and nobody blinked an eye that everyone was chatting and eating for an hour or two. A perpetually filled fridge and fresh fruit - I never had to bring lunch. Catered breakfast regularly (tho not every day). And the part that I couldn't believe was that this wasn't actually to make you stay at the office for 14 hours or something. Everyone still left at the regular times. This is the part I couldn't believe.
All of this will probably become harder here too as we grow more and more. And some of these perks are gone since Covid but I don't mind getting full remote working. I'll take that over free breakfast and lunch any day ;)
What you wrote gives/reinforces nice ideas about how to build an ok workplace, thanks :-)
- Take credit for your work (use pronouns I and Me when talking about your work, not We) and do not allow others to take credit for your work
- If it's a teamwork situation with other people on your level, don't do most of the work, because the credit will end up being split 50/50 in the eyes of the bosses even if you did most of it
Questions about what you're doing and how to have the effect you'd like are really better directed to a mentor than a web forum. Even if you don't have any "official" mentors, you probably have unofficial ones - people you know who advise you. If you're not sure if you have those, seek someone out, ask them, and get an explicit mentor.
Lest I be accused of objecting to the mere frame of this blog post, I'll say that this post is little more than a regurgitation of numerous corporate training grafts I've been subjected to. By all means, encourage and aid your co-workers to become a bit-driving John Henry. Let their hearts die out in confusion over self-actualization and ROI. What are they but wielders of less-clumsy-and-random axes and buckets, after all?
Better by far than playing Yoda, would be to find solidarity with your fellow less-clumsy-and-random axe and bucket wielders. Consider clearly what you are doing, why, and cui bono.
Cause these guys, despite having their own fanbase of introverts don’t get half the recognition they deserve.
Helping others is a fine narrative, just make sure you’re the hero in that story, otherwise you won’t get the credit for your achievements…
I've always thought there is a strong case to be made that Sam is the hero in LOR. He's really the only one that has a fully-developed character arc and who grows as a person (well, as a hobbit).
Of all the characters, Sam's journey most closely follows what Campbell outlined as the classic Hero's Journey.
Heroism is an ongoing personal journey, for those who choose it. Heroism supports community by definition. There is no choice you must make between “being a hero” and helping others.
Most screeds against heroism are, I suspect, really about the author wanting to justify his own passivity.
When I read your comment I think of the classic Campbell hero, a presumed universal archetype also familiar, if slightly different from the ancient Greek or Mahabarata heroes. Luke Skywalker was consciously modeled on this definition.
I think the author, despite referring to Yoda, is referring to the American archetype of hero: the lone white gunman on the frontier. The argument against this is that teams are more effective for large projects and teams done work with such a “hero” (NBA teams are great examples of this).
My comment is not about the coherency, or lack thereof, of the post.
Star Wars is a 1977 movie. It actually consciously uses the codes (and copies some scenes!) of WWII war movies. What are the heroes doing in it? They are helping a big organization (the rebellion) fight a formidable enemy. Just managing to flee from such an enemy is a heroic endeavor.
Compare it to today. In most, if not all, blockbuster movies, organizations that the heroes belong to are either incompetent, corrupt, are a hindrance when they are not the main antagonist. There is a total loss of the idea that belonging to an organization can make sense and can help a personal journey.
Sheriffs, policemen, journalists, they used to be the heroes of various fictions. Now we seem to refuse to believe that these can be heroes. We refuse to believe that collaboration with a team can be effective. Actually, now it is a trope that if the hero has a trustworthy associate, treason will happen some time in the storyline.
And somehow I understand what it is about: people are disgruntled with their work. They realize the company they are working in is not helping their personal hero's journey and hindering it. But really, the reaction that "therefore I shall do it all alone" is really bad.
For example, roads have enforced speed limits. Those are typically set in a technocratic way: traffic engineers look at surrounding conditions, design constraints of the road itself etc and set a number. That process is subject to oversight (which can be wrong or right) that provides some democratic accountability. Building codes are another good example.
It’s generally better to go along with such rules as a form of delegated decision making and expertise. And when you are freed from having to make a decision on every little thing (do I believe the label of the provenance of these eggs?) you can go forward to, you know, live your life.
My view of hero is the more interesting one. One that helps us make sense of our lives and to live better. But it’s not just different, it still does everything that the people who use the dopey definition need it to do.
Why even bother to analyze or discuss the human experience if we are just going to reduce it to flat cartoon psychology? That’s why I advocate for a better definition of hero. It allows me to heroically (in all senses of the word) navigate my social world.
Others rather take the long road, live to fight another day if at all, so they just put up with the hurdles and when that wall is approaching the locomotive, they move on to happier pastures.
Naturally there is some example missing there for those in the middle.
Stopped reading there. Reads like an article from a magazine. It started that way too but I decided to give it a chance.
This sort of thing should have its own genre called "Random profound junk for dummies", though I am not married to the name. I am sure there is a single word that means the exact same thing
Much of management is creating environments where this happens: commit code on your first day, instant feedback for your commits, supporting people to create success themselves rather than rely on you to save the day, etc.
Putting content in a Why, How, What? (Simon S. framework) ex post facto - like this one does with the three layer problem will write mba textbooks for ages...
No, there are heroes... they just don't wear VP capes.
Great products are all of these things innately, not through manufacture. The base is emotional relief that your customer isn't alone in experiencing a problem - it is finally solved - and they evangelize to others that they are now 'healed.'