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Work Style

·1253 words

Version: 1.6 (March 11, 2024)

I was inspired by Isaac Hepworth having his own “Working with Isaac” document that I had to create my own. It’s a useful tool to set expectations with your coworkers and partners. This is in no way something that I am requiring others to read or try to enforce every single bullet point; it’s a document that provides context on how I personally operate - I do not expect anyone to adjust to my style, but rather consider it as they make their decisions.

Principles #

Humans come first #

Any team I’ve ever worked in delivers a product through collaboration with many people, both within the team and outside it. My goal is to empower these people to be productive and achieve their goals and get out of the way. Technology comes and goes but people remain at the core of everything that I do. I try not to lose sight of that.

Feedback helps everyone be better #

Without feedback it’s very easy to fall back into one’s comfort zone or be unaware of weaknesses or issues. I ask for performance feedback frequently and from different parts within an organization. Don’t be surprised if I ask you too at one point. I am also not stingy with providing feedback. If there is something that bothers me or has room for improvement, I will have that conversation.

Leadership and knowledge see no level boundaries #

Looking at titles to determine whether the person is knowledgeable or has the right perspectives is counterproductive. I treat everyone as someone who is extremely smart, passionate, knows more than I do, and is looking to make the products and experiences I work on better.

Bias for action #

I prefer us setting up an A/B test or look at data instead of endlessly debating what’s right in never-ending meeting. When there are resource constraints, I look at ways to get around those constraints by leveraging my skills and the skills of those around me. When there is no data, gut feel is fine. I’d rather learn by putting bits in front of customers than hypothesize with no end in sight about a perfect solution.

A great product is the goal #

I don’t believe in having separate “turfs” or “areas of influence” - we are all in this to build a great product. If I can help with an area outside my comfort zone, I will gladly do so - just ask. If I can help a partner be unblocked, I will do so to make sure that they can move forward, while also being cognizant of our product priorities and vision. There is no reason to be territorial or try to create spheres of influence for the sake of internal political gain.

Notes #

  • I generally work 8:30AM to 5PM PT. The time in between, as well as on weekends, is reserved for family and personal projects. I am usually not on company e-mail or IM during that time.
    • This is my own approach - you do you.
    • Mornings are for creative tasks that require thinking and ideation. Evenings are for structures, logical, but less demanding tasks. You’re more likely to receive answers to your emails to me in the afternoon.
  • I don’t answer e-mails after hours or on weekends, with a few and occasional exceptions, that are just that - exceptions.
    • If you receive an email from me that is late at night or during off hours, this is mostly because I am triaging my inbox and not because I expect an answer that moment.
    • If it would be urgent, I would reach out to you in a different way that is not e-mail.
  • I do not answer emails or attend meetings during vacation time. I strongly believe that this time is crucial to recharging and focusing on my family. I encourage my peers and direct reports to do the same.
    • The corollary to the statement above is that I don’t expect anyone to answer my emails or IMs when they are on vacation. It can be done once you’re back and refreshed.
  • I am mostly remote (with a few days on campus here and there). Documentation takes precedence over in-person communication. Let’s write things down and have a conversation in the document or work item before setting up meetings or starting another long email thread. If something is not documented, it might as well not exist.
  • Despite being remote, I strongly believe in the value of face-to-face communication. It’s important to regularly meet with the people I work with to discuss how I can help and plug in better into the existing projects.
    • If you see me on campus, I am always down for a conversation - stop by.
  • I write more than I talk. Writing allows me to flesh out my thoughts before sharing them broadly. Send me your comments in the document!
  • Email threads that need narrative or long explanations should be documents.
  • Instant messages that need long explanations should be documents.
  • I set up meetings to hash out ideas and build partnerships. I do not set up meetings for status updates, as that can be done asynchronously.
  • Before setting up a meeting, ask - “Can I write this down or will this be useful for others?
  • Most email is not urgent. If there is truly an urgent matter, please reach out to me during work hours or through other channels.
  • I am serious about having focus time. That’s when I get the most impactful work done. If I haven’t answered your email or IM I will do so within a reasonable time frame. I triage those requests in the afternoon or end of day, and tend to get to “Inbox Zero” weekly.
  • I have no issues with my work being seen by other partners or teams, unless absolutely necessary to keep things locked down (e.g., for security-related items). I am transparent about the documents and presentations I write. Want to know about something I work on? Ask and I will point you to the document or work item where that is outlined.
  • Instead of sending status emails, I update work items and have written, internally accessible artifacts that you can refer to for the latest update on a project.
  • Occasionally you will get emails from me that announce new features or capabilities. Those will be infrequent.
  • I like to stick to the top-right corner of the Impact/Effort matrix.
  • I value honesty, inclusiveness and directness. If you feel like I am missing the mark on anything, please call me out on it.
  • My door is always open. Blocked? Need clarification? Have a question? Ask me! I will always be happy to chat.
  • Time for self-development is critical. I book regular times to do it and encourage others to do the same.
  • I don’t micromanage. I trust that once you made a commitment, you will hold yourself accountable to it. If I see that trust relationship breaking, I will have an honest conversation about it and discuss what mechanisms we can put in place to track accountability.
  • As a product manager, I strongly believe in the importance of being an expert in customer problems and pain points. I expect other PMs to have a deep understanding of their customers and their product data. Without it, success is not possible.
  • It’s all about trade-offs. If we work together, I want to understand what trade-offs you’re making around your decisions, and what trade-offs you expect my team to make.