Whether you’re coming into an existing structure, starting with yourself as the first person in the group, or something else altogether — there are a number of ways to get yourself, your team, and your organization all on the happy path.
A panel proposal for SXSW 2021 with Meghan Byrnes-Borderan, Ivis Mas, Jackie Velasquez-Ross, and myself.
Vote by 20 Nov to make this panel a reality: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/111591
How to Join a
Meghan Byrnes-Borderan — Head of Design for CapCo
Ivis Mas — Head of Design for OnDeck
Jackie Velasquez-Ross — Senior Recruiter for InVision
Skipper Chong Warson — Design Director for Shep and
Host of How This Works
17 Oct 2020
SXSW panel proposal 2021
We are in the midst of a huge change and shift in terms of
how we live and we work. What’s going to happen on the
other end, we have no idea. For many of us, it’s a kind of
alien landscape for those of us who are lucky enough to
have work. In the next room, we might have kids doing
“remote” school. It might even be the same room. Work is
happening in our home space, home is happening in our
work space. Days are full of video meetings and emails/
messages at all hours.
How do we help support our coworkers, teams, and
ourselves to do our best work?
Whether you’re coming into
an existing structure, starting
with yourself as the first
person in the group, or
something else altogether —
there are a number of ways
to get yourself, your team,
and your organization all on
the same foot.
Start with values
Every group has their own system of values —
whether they’re published or not. How does gravity
work in this world? Does it make doing our jobs
easier or harder?
Is there a set of shared values for the group you’re
in? Is there a set of values for the larger
organization? Do they jive with each other?
Each person who works there has their own
founded experiences that are valid and real. How
do people feel about the group values? Are these
values for which everyone subscribes? If not, what
are the right agreements for the group?
If you’re starting from scratch, it goes differently
but keeps a lot of the same things in mind.
Align to those values
What good is it to have values if they’re just empty
words written on the wall in the lobby?
Values are not black and white. They’re not simple.
They are nuanced, subtle, and relative.
Value trade-offs happen in the context of our
relationships and often as we navigate our shared
work. It’s true that values are emotionally driven.
And therefore, when people in your organization
are not aligned in their core values, things can
Be patient and iterate. Keep moving.
Invite people in
How you hire and grow a team is like having good
ingredients to start a recipe. And middling apples
will never make an apple pie the way your uncle
Kim used to make it.
People are created equal, but we’re not the same.
For example, let’s take one of your coworkers
who’s a parent — that’s part of who they are. And
that person should be held to the same standards
as everyone else on the team while also making it
clear that they can leave early to pick their child up.
That part of who they are shouldn’t hold them back
from opportunities at work.
Is there also a way to not penalize someone who is
not a family person if they need to leave for
personal reasons? Is there a larger conversation
about seeing each other as humans first and
therefore having needs as a result?
Meet them where they are
Start fun, start light, but start somewhere. Getting to know
a new group of people is always awkward and you don't
need to lock yourself in with your coworkers in a panic
room to build camaraderie either. It doesn't happen all at
Take it slowly, anything worth building takes time and
care. If they love Simpsons’ personality quizzes, start
there. If they're super into problem solving exercises, go
there with them.
Each person’s race, sexual orientation, gender identity,
culture, physical ability, and religious practices affords
them different levels of access and privilege. They are a
whole person. You are a whole person. So meet them
where they’re at.
Sit in the tension
Understanding is the first step. And this only
happens when you listen and empathize. Spend
time asking about what's working and what isn't.
Come up with a plan of action together. Be
comfortable being uncomfortable. The goal is to
have a clear, honest, and transparent view of what
working at the organization is like from those on
the ground — positive, negative, or indifferent.
So when listening, really listen. And listen hard.
Superficial listening is a sign that you don't care
and that your company doesn't care about their
Be the keystone
A rising tide might raise all ships but a sinking wave
also lowers the ships too. What do people want to
learn? Where do they see themselves in two years?
Rise an individual’s goals up along where the
organization or group expects them to be to meet
somewhere in the middle. This won’t be a straight
line but it will be a collaboration of interests.
As leaders, we are the bottom of the pyramid,
supporting our team, not the other way around.
+1 646 504 1384
Thanks for your time
Please be safe.