Weeknotes #34: Jan 11–14, 2021

I’m falling out of my weeknotes habit a bit, writing more when the moment strikes. But I do want to tie this to a time in my public service career.

This one is a bit tough to write publicly, but I’m just going to freeform what’s in my mind to get it out of my head.

In my current project, I am working with a few others.

  • I set firm deadlines… that slipped by. I am trying really hard not to do everything myself, but then I feel like I’m being too much of a pushover.
  • I’m worried that if I give the other people I’m working with a list of everything I believe needs to be changed, I’ll frustrate them
  • But if I just change things, then things get out of sync/I may not be empowering them/they may be oblivious to things like inconsistent fonts, grammatical errors etc
  • I started off by listing out what I felt needed to be done. If people didn’t step up because they were working on other things, do I hound them or just let it go, as long as the work gets done?
  • If someone wants to work on something that isn’t of high value to me, do I tell them not to, or encourage them to do what they think is best?
  • What if I’m wrong and the scope, time, etc needs to change?
  • How can I be a joy to work with? Or at least, not make people dislike working with me because I have high expectations, like to meet deadlines, etc?

I had a good conversation with a colleague yesterday about leadership and our previous roles, which helped me reflect. I am used to standing up programs and initiatives. Often I’m a team of one, with no real feedback from others (nor working collaboratively with peers). So now having a manager who actually reviews what I do and gives feedback seems strange. It’s causing me to doubt myself a bit.

So I want to check in to make sure I’m on the right track, but at the same time I’ve had more autonomy in the past to just get things done, so perhaps I don’t need that ‘approval’ or perspective and should just be able to trust myself.

As well, I don’t quite understand how our ‘teams’ work together. It’s helping me really value the work Maddy Ewins put into making our fellowship trio a trusting, collaborative unit. As a project lead, I feel some ownership over the deliverables, but another member of the team expressed that he has a sense of pride and ownership over the specific deliverable he was working on. How do those align?

Specifically, I had taken a template, and made some edits (making font sizes across slides consistent). My teammate then redid the deck, reverting the font sizes. The explanation was that I’d deviated from the template so they just started again from scratch.

Not too long ago, there was a comment from Yesenia Perez-Cruz at Shopify (I believe) that a design system is a floor, not a ceiling. We shouldn’t see templates and patterns as fixed, but should be open to improvements. Obviously we don’t want to just let things be changed willy-nilly, otherwise what is the point of a template at all, but I don’t know how to learn what is fixed and what is flexible. I felt like as the project lead, I wanted my deck to have consistent fonts — but did the existence of an established template trump that?

Regardless, having the deck redone was frustrating and disheartening.

This is where the feelings come in, because isn’t that what I was doing? I took the deck I was given, and quietly went in and updated some grammatical errors, moved some content, etc. Is that any different?

I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t know the best way to work with others. I know that there is a factor of “deliverable- vs people-focused” at play here. But I feel like I should already know how to handle this, and I don’t.

It sorta terrifies me to admit it here, that my management will read this and say they made a mistake. But at the same time, I guess it’s liberating.. it’s recognizing that I know I’m not perfect, but I do want to learn how to work better with others… :small-smile:

Also.. it may be fair to recognize that it’s winter, so there may be some Seasonal Affective Disorder kicking in, as well as the fact I’m adjusting to a new move.. this post from a few years ago resonates a bit — https://afhill.medium.com/let-me-be-real-ddcdf5af521e

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