Niklaus Gerber README
Welcome to my README. This document is a user guide on me and how I work. It captures my guiding values and how I work as a human. It will hopefully help you understand me better and allow us to work together in a more meaningful way. This is a living document. It is incomplete and will undoubtedly continue to grow and change as I grow and change.
Why am I here?
I am here to help you and support you. My job is to provide the necessary context on what you are working on. I also represent you and the team to the rest of the company. My goal is for our team to be successful and happy.
You’re very good at your job: You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. If you feel like I’m asking you too many questions, it is because I want to have a better understanding of the overall context.
I’m not very good at your job: You’re the expert. My job is to provide you with the necessary context, ask questions, and help you achieve better results. It’s not about overruling you.
You let me know if you can’t do your job: One of my primary responsibilities is to make sure you are successful. It may very well be that I am not 100% there for you. Please let me know if you feel that you will need more support from me.
You feel safe when you discuss with me: Ideas usually get better when you look at them from all angles. Even though I sometimes will give you the feeling that I know everything better, it is generally more about working with you to find the best possible solution.
Trust is the default mode of working: Trust in a relationship is the foundation for that relationship’s success. Without trust between individuals or on a team, mediocrity and failure are the most likely results. I believe that we will not be able to succeed if we can’t trust each other. My default mode of working will always be that I trust you and that you trust me.
I start with an assumption of positive intent for everyone involved: So far, this worked well for me.
I have high expectations for you and my team. However, you can demand those things from me as well.
These points are essential to me:
- We all have a high degree of personal responsibility.
- We are honest and open with each other.
- We challenge and support each other.
- We hold each other accountable.
- We strive for excellence in our work and our collaboration.
- We are continually learning new things, improving our skills and the way we work.
- We have fun at work.
What I also appreciate
Critical thinking: Nothing is sacred, and “Because we’ve always done it this way” is not a work culture.
Self-reflection: Self-reflection is an essential part of our development. Without it, you miss many opportunities. If you still have little experience with self-reflection, I will be happy to improve your skills in this area.
Empathy: Understanding our customers is incredibly important for developing the best products and services. Compassion for our colleagues is helping us to be a strong team.
I’ll always give you feedback on your performance in our One-On-Ones. If I’m worried about your performance, I’ll let you know. If you are concerned about your performance, please let me know.
How can you help me?
Do a great job: That’s the expectation. Please let me know immediately if anything prevents you from achieving your goals.
Don’t always agree with me: The best solutions come from a healthy discussion. We need to be able to separate our ideas from our egos. I will challenge your ideas with the goal of finding the best possible solution. I hope that you also challenge my ideas.
Please communicate with me: One of my tasks is to provide context. Is there a lack of context? Let me know, and I will give you the necessary context. If this is not possible, I will try to find the required information.
How to efficiently work and communicate with me
Please don’t hold back: Challenge my ideas and opinions. Direct, candid feedback, ideally in the moment or directly after you have seen something you did not appreciate. Even better if you provide a suggestion on how I could improve. I appreciate positive feedback - if there is a valid reason for it.
Ask me anything: I am as transparent as possible. Please understand that I might not be able to share personnel-related and confidential information.
No politics: No cc-ing of me to put pressure on the person you are writing to. Only escalate a conflict once you failed to resolve it yourself.
Work in iterations: If you want my input rather ask me several times in the process instead of coming with the final end product. E.g., start with an outline of your idea, then bring it to 60%, then finalize it - and do problem-solving with me at these stages.
Act like an owner: Do your job. Don’t try to put your monkeys on my shoulder. If you need support or want your ideas challenged, I am always there to help.
Disciplined meeting management: I expect an “Intention” and “Desired Outcome” in the meeting invite; something like the IDOARRT approach might help. When I feel that I cannot contribute to a meeting or that the meeting is poorly prepared, I will mention this to the moderator and ask the person whether I am required, and then I will leave.
Very few things are more important to me than having a conversation with you. If you want to talk, let’s talk. Have you heard a rumour? Do you need more clarification? Is something blocking your work? I prefer to know about these things sooner rather than later. Come by my place or write me a message. There is no reason to wait for the next One-On-One. You can also book an appointment on my calendar at any time. I have a demanding job, and my calendar tends to fill up quickly. I can only think of a few things that might be more important than being there for you if you need me. So please don't be shy and let me know if you need my help. I promise you that I will take time for you whenever possible.
Our One-On-One is your space where you can talk about anything you want. The meetings are primarily for you. Let me know how you feel, what you need, and other essential wishes. Share your thoughts about the team or your teammates and what your goals are. For me, One-On-Ones are not status meetings unless you want to talk about the status of a project.
I will reserve some time each week for you to meet in person. If you need additional time, let me know, and I will adapt to your wishes. From experience, it makes sense to note down a few things you want to talk about in advance.
I always want to give you clear and timely feedback and hope that you do the same to me. If you have feedback for me, please share it with me. It could be something you liked and want to see more of. It could also be something you thought I could do better. Maybe I screwed up. In any case, I want to learn more from you. If you have the feeling that I would rather not hear something, then I would like to know why you think so. If we give each other feedback, those three points should be kept in mind:
- You are safe. Please don’t be afraid of reprisals.
- The amount of work required to provide feedback should be low.
- The benefits should be high - positive results.
I prefer a personal conversation. Should it happen that you would like to start a discussion over e-mail or any other channel, I prefer that rather than not bringing it up.
I firmly believe in a healthy work-life balance. You arrive later at the office because you have had a bad night’s sleep or already leave at 16:30 because you want to pick up your children from the daycare centre. Maybe you need some time off for an important family occasion. Let me know about it, and we will find a solution. Unless there is an emergency, I don’t expect you to be available outside office hours. I also don’t expect you to work on e-mails or messages outside your working hours.
Please let me know what is important to you. It would be best if you didn’t do unnecessary overtime - especially at the expense of your health or family. If you are unhappy with a situation, talk to me.