I wrote this for a company that asked all managers to create a “User Manual” for their teams. This type of document it also known as a manager README. A README file in a code repository describes the project and how to use it. So, a manager README is meant to describe how to understand and interact with a manager.
Manager READMEs began circulating online a couple of years ago by prominent leaders at tech companies. However, they became controversial since some were self-serving shortcuts to get team members to behave in a certain way instead of doing the hard work of building trust. I understand that skepticism, and I have tried to write this in a way that avoids many of the pitfalls of manager READMEs.
While I’m a classic introvert, I care deeply about you, and I look forward to getting things done together!
The vast majority of my time as an Engineering Manager is spent interacting with other people. People are complicated, and human interaction means navigating a ton of complexity. This document is my attempt to remove some of the complexity from my side by making it easier for you to understand who I am as a person and what it’s like to work with me.
If successful, this document will answer your questions about how we can form an effective working relationship and collaborate together!
What This README Is
- A snapshot of who I am and what it’s like to work with me at this point in time
- Hopefully, a way for you and I to improve how we work together
What This README Is Not
- A permanent document of who I am and what its like to work with me (there will be regular patches and critical hot fixes deployed over time as I grow and change)
- An excuse for me not showing up every day and being the best person I can be despite my flaws and areas for improvement
- A replacement for individually interacting with you and learning how we can work together in real time
- A replacement for me working every day to earn the one thing necessary for a truly effective working relationship: your trust
My Personality Profile Matrix
While not sufficient to fully understand a person, I believe that personality tests (particularly MBTI and KTS) are great tools to bring a little science to understanding how people operate. I don’t think any one personality test can explain how someone works, but I think seeing the results of several personality tests can be useful. I’ve taken a number of personality tests over time, and here are my results from the major ones:
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): INTJ
- Keirsey Temperament Sorter (MTS): Rational Mastermind
- DISC Personality Model: Supporter
- Animal Temperament: Beaver
- Love Language: Words of Affirmation
- When it comes to energy, I’m a classic introvert. I gain energy by being alone and in solitude, and I’m drained by being with other people and in public.
- When it comes to learning something, I prefer to know the big picture before working through the details.
- When it comes to making decisions, I prefer to focus on facts instead of emotions.
- When it comes to work, I prefer a solid detailed plan over making things up as I go along.
I share this here because there’s ample information available online about how to work with my particular personality types (including strengths and weaknesses). I used a lot of that information to write this README, and you can also use it to learn more about areas not covered in this document.
Personalities don’t fit into neat little boxes, but most people do have tendencies and preferences based on their temperament. Knowing my personality types won’t let you perfectly predict my behavior, but I think this information will help you notice consistent patterns in how I approach work and life.
Values and Expectations
- What I value most: Empathy
- What you can expect from me: Unconditional Support
- What I expect from you: Your best (and a desire to make your best better)
How to Contact Me
Don’t fret over how to contact me if you need to tell me something. Just pick the communication channel that works best for you. However, the fastest way to get a response from me is usually in written form (email, text, Slack message, etc.). Of course, if we’re in the same physical location, you can always come up to me and talk! However, I usually work remotely these days, and it’s rare that I’m in the same space with my team.
While I prefer written communication, if you send me a “We need to talk” message without any context, I will probably assume the worst (i.e., something is coming to an end).
How I Like to Learn
As a contextual learner, I prefer to understand the big picture and then dig into the details. For example, when I need to learn something new, I like to understand how this information can be applied.
I also prefer to learn through creating something. If I’m learning a new programming language, I don’t want to spend a lot of time understanding syntax and structure. I’d rather try to create something to solve a problem and learn the language that way.
Some Things That Bother Me
- Mistreatment of any one person or group will not result in a positive response from me.
- Presenting a lot of details without explaining the big picture will probably make it very difficult for me to follow your line of thinking.
- Not having time to think before making a decision will reduce my confidence in the decision.
Some Things That Delight Me
- Before presenting a lot of information, share the two or three things that you really want me to know once we get to the end of our conversation.
- Volunteer to help a member of the team who is struggling.
- Create a crisp, concise, and well written explanation of something the team needs to understand.
- Crack a funny joke when things get tense.
I’m Motivated by (aka You Can Bribe Me with…)
Bring me a Big Idea with enough supporting evidence to justify your assumptions and an explanation of how it will benefit others, and I will be heavily incentivized to support it. Tell me how you plan to start, and any residual resistance I had to your idea will probably dissipate. I’m basically motivated by the Beckhard-Harris Change Model.
I prefer to Give Feedback by
As an introvert who prefers concrete thinking over abstract thinking, I prefer to give feedback one-on-one and in writing.
I like to Receive Feedback by
As an introvert who prefers concrete thinking over abstract thinking, I prefer to receive feedback one-on-one and in writing. This also does nice things to my Love Language of Words of Affirmation.
Don’t be Offended if I…
- Say, “Hey, this all sounds great, but what exactly is the point here?”
- A big part of my role is facilitating meetings, and I have to sometimes end discussions for the sake of achieving the goal of the meeting. I’ll do my best to get back to your point at the end of the meeting (if we have time) or in some other forum.
- If you and I have a conflict in the presence of others, I will probably seek to end the conversation and resume it when we can talk privately.
Ten Things about Me That May Seem Weird to You
I’m not a fan of small talk, but I have learned to engage in it.
I’m not against hugs, but I will very rarely initiate one. However, I will always happily accept one.
I need “processing time” to accept new ideas which some may view as rejection.
I can think ahead several steps, but I sometimes forget to catch others up to where I’m at in my thought processes.
When it comes to projects, I can easily see where one that has started needs improvement and how to overcome obstacles to success. However, I sometimes struggle with starting projects and occasionally need help to know where to begin.
Despite being an introvert, if I’m excited about a subject or know a lot about it, I will talk AT LENGTH about it and probably make it difficult for others to get a word in edgewise. If my wife is present, she will usually walk up to me and put a sympathetic hand on my arm and smile.
I know I’m an introvert so I sometimes over-compensate by being “ON” in social settings. This may come across as me being VERY earnest and excited to be talking with you. I may have also had too much coffee.
If you encounter me after I’ve engaged in a lot of social interaction I will probably be drained and very tired. I’m always happy to chat, but I may struggle due to fatigue.
I may . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pause . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . for a very long time before answering your question. I like giving a thoughtful response, and it can take me some time to put one together.
(super vulnerable time here, ok, deep breath, ok, I can do it, deep deep breath…) I have a slight stutter that I’ve managed since childhood. It’s (I hope) nearly imperceptible, but I can sometimes stumble over my words or have moments of disfluency. I may also start saying one word, realize I’ll stutter if I say it, and then quickly switch to another word. My desire to not be shackled by my fear of stuttering in front of people is a big reason I became a public speaker.