Monthly Archives: September 2019

“Working with me” / README template for individual contributors

I keep a living document for my coworkers that covers the basics about me. I started the document at a time when I realized that I’d be going through several manager transitions in a short period of time and I wanted some control over how I was going to come across and what I’d say to each of my managers. Now I maintain the document because it turned out my teammates liked reading it too.

In terms of overall principles, here’s what I think makes a good README for an individual contributor (someone who is not managing people):

  • Keep it brief. This isn’t your Myspace profile. With this type of document, I think it’s hard to toe the line between demonstrating self-awareness and… self-absorbed preening.
  • Values and philosophies are best discussed verbally and discovered over time. Treat the document as a conversation starter, not as a series of essays.
  • There’s a difference between what people can learn from working with you over time and what you can state in a document like this. Even if you say things like, “I have no ego, feel free to call me out whenever”, no one will believe that until they get to know you. There’s no shortcut for getting people to trust you faster, so I try to stick to topics that I feel need to be covered up-front without the need for that kind of trust. (This is difficult with topics like “how to give me feedback”, but it’s a best effort kind of thing.)

In the rest of this blog post, you’ll find an edited version of my document in case you want to start your own.

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