It’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged on the LexBlog. I wanted to post some general soft-knowledge lessons I’ve picked up with my time here about life at a small company. Many of these I’ve learned from others directly, but many of them are from my observations. They are also good little quips that seem to float around the office as a sense of daily culture.
Be proactive: If you see a problem, fix it or bring it to someone’s attention immediately. If you don’t, the problem will persist.
Research then ask questions: Everyone’s time is valuable. Before I ask someone a bunch of questions about an idea or ask them to explain a difficult topic, I see what I can find first. This helps me ask better questions and respect other’s time.
You have time: This one is new for me, but I’m trying to make sense of it. Really, I think the concept of “you have time” is one part making yourself available and one part prioritization. Though I have dozens of projects that I could, should, and will work on, I like to think that anyone can ask me for my thoughts and I can make their job a little easier. If I think of my position as, “making others job’s easier”, then I should always be available to do my job.
People see more than you think: Most of the tech small companies and we use is collaborative. I can see what emails the sales department is sending out. I can see the publishing team’s efforts with outreach. I can see everyone that has viewed, edited, or commented on a doc. It’s like a small town mentality, we’re in each other’s business, because that’s the business. If someone is not pulling their slack, others see it. If someone is going above and beyond, we see that too.
Be authentic: I talk to many of the same people every week, consistently. I’m in a department of one like many others. You can’t hide in a group or find comfort in large departments or hierarchies. These large business structures allow each person to develop and use different “faces”. People end up developing a face they use to talk to the sales people or a face they use to talk to management. At a small company, those two groups could be the same person. If you’re caught using a face with one person and another walks up to join the conversation, people will notice something wrong.
Stay/don’t-stay in your lane: Every so often, a problem arises or a project is suggested where a few people can raise their hand with the solution. While each person is eager to help and be an influencer, each of us take careful precautions not to step on each other’s toes. This is more about finding the right fit for a project or task and less about calling dibs. Each person needs enough restraint to allow the process of problem solving reach a natural conclusion, while also providing useful insight. If something is massively awry, then you should speak up, but be careful about other’s feelings.
Navigate politics wisely: There are several projects I would love to just dive in and get my hands dirty, but that would mean stepping on precious toes. What this really means, I need to think about an attack plan, something well thought out. Then, and only then, will I try to jump into those projects. Luckily enough for me, there’s more work than time in the universe and this gives me an opportunity to really think about my goals for the work. Honestly, the same can be said the other way. I can hear the pointed hesitation in meetings. Again, luckily everyone that works at LexBlog considers other’s thoughts and feelings. We all know that we work better as a family and less like a dog-eat-dog corporation.
My goal with this post was to explore some everyday culture points of LexBlog and to provide some advice that others might have noticed. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to learn and add on to this list.