Even top-notch teammates can have cultural quirks and working styles that disqualify them from being their most productive selves. I've found that meshing work and communication styles is nearly as important as cultural alignment and value buy-in.
1️⃣ Work Style
No Drama: We're here to bring about a change in the world, and that is where our energy should be focused. I'm unwilling to spend energy on workplace gossip, political posturing, or drama.
Hours: You hired me to achieve deliverables. You didn't buy my time, so let's agree on our goals and let me take as much or as little time as it takes to get there, averaging out to 40 hours a week. I function best when I work intense 12-hour, brain-busting days and then have 3-day weekends. I'm not an endless putterer; I work in surges. I'm able to work 90-hour weeks if/when needed and will be compensated accordingly.
Work Ethic: As a business owner and executive, I understand that it is "hard to find good help," which is often caused by disengagement. I've pulled more than my share of all-nighters, slept on the office floor, and worked through the weekend to help clients launch projects, and I've spent holiday breaks writing strategic plans - all of the classic signs of toxic overworking.
I've also taken sabbaticals in the mountains of Mexico and been totally unreachable as I left my phone at the bottom of the mountain and didn't leave a forwarding number. I'm a workaholic in that I work hard and intensely for a period of time and then sleep deeply. I'm not a grazer in that I don't work endlessly. When I'm invested in the vision, I'm all in.
2️⃣ Group Dynamics
Unrequested Feedback: My first job as an employee at 16 was at a greenhouse. I followed up 27 times and dropped off my resume three times before I got the job. Four weeks into the job, I put a seven-page report of recommended improvements on the owner's desk. Needless to say, the two managers I passed over to get to the owner's desk weren't happy and dropped me from the schedule. But the owner found out and gave me nearly unlimited hours. Within six weeks, he and I implemented a solid percentage of that checklist. Expect that same energy a decade later.
Delegation: To be my most effective self, I have a team, even if that team is remote, part-time, and virtual. They manage meeting bookings and spell checking. I eliminate tasks when they don't add value, automate them if possible, delegate if I can, and when all else fails, prioritize and complete while mono-tasking during a deep work session.
You wouldn't ask a draft horse to win the Kentucky Derby, nor would you ask a racehorse to plow a field of turnips. Work should be delegated often to lower effective units to optimize forward movement towards the vision.
Collaboration: All in or all out. I’m enlivened by spending 90 minutes in a room throwing down sticky notes while brainstorming at high intensity. Or I’m going to lock myself in my home office and churn out the work. No interest in chit chat, puttering, or poking. Group projects where the worst in college when I was dragging the team along and enthralling when I’m the “dumb one in the room.”
Meetings: I find meetings to normally be a waste of time. They only work for real-time conversations and decision-making. Notes and an agenda are a must, as we start and end on time.
3️⃣ Communication Style
A Northern European sense of clear, often blunt communication high in candor. You'll always know what I think and where I stand, and I won't participate in collective fictions or groupthink. That leads me to being highly trustworthy and out of the drama weeds, driving to an actionable insight.
As I dwell with others, I've developed strong active listening skills which are only sometimes overshadowed by my need to be heard. There will be compassion and sympathy, but I believe empathy is overrated and often draining without bringing better results. See the work of Paul Bloom for further context.
When I teach and mentor, I've got a knack for converting dense, complex ideas into understandable, tasty, bite-sized pieces of information changed for specific audiences in a quirky way.
It takes intentional effort for me to mask my emotions and thoughts, so you'll always know where I stand for better or worse.
A Buddhist priest once called me "bombastic," so fully expect that I'll express myself fully and not hold back ideas. If I think there is a problem, you'll know about it, and I praise others publicly and often.
4️⃣ Stress Management
When the stakes are high and there's a dash of acute stress, I come alive. Short-term intense stress is a stimulant for me, and my brain engages in high gear, and we move quickly. When that version of Spencer comes online, I've been described as becoming a Man Of Steel in that I have some form of superpower, but I also become cold and affectless unless I intentionally counterbalance.
Chronic stress is not something I tolerate in my life. I've got strong coping mechanisms as a mindfulness instructor, yoga guy, and wellness nerd, but I expect that we will move towards a resolution.
5️⃣ Management Style
How I Expect to Be Managed
We're peers collaborating to build something great. You know more than me, and I aspire to be like you in many areas of life. I see you as a mentor, confidant, and guide because you're invested in seeing me thrive as a full human and aren't focused on extracting the most from me.
Challenge, pushing, and change are invited, and you're excited to hear the 27 new ideas I came up with this week.
You're in your position due to seniority and not skill. We have massively different values, and you expect me to align with your value structure. You're constantly trying to mold me into your image of what a good employee is, while I'm consistently trying not to pick up bad habits from you.
How I Manage
You're a power player, and I'm here to clear the road of obstacles, prevent distractions, and set the direction. I want to see you thrive as a full human and am dedicated to seeing you thrive, even if that means you want to leave the organization to become a gothic potter. While I'm intense and have high expectations, there's no question about my intentions and why I'm here.
I have some micromanaging tendencies when goals aren't being met, and I want to monkey around with your process.
While we collaborate, this is a bit of a dictatorship in that I set the milestones, and I expect you to comply with the system that we put in place. Please challenge me if you think something can be improved, but I expect the CRM to be updated by the end of the day.