Manager README

Written on November 23, 2019

This is my Manager README, a user guide that helps introduce you to my management style and philosophies. My intent with this document is to hopefully accelerate building our working relationship and is by no means meant as a replacement for actually getting to know each other. This is a work in progress that I revisit from time to time as I grow.

My primarily goals as your manager are to:

  • provide you with the necessary context to understand your priorities and focus,
  • empower you to figure out what you need to do, how to do it and to get it done,
  • engage and grow you into an even more awesome professional and leader,
  • contribute to your happiness and set you up for success.

To accomplish my goals, I’ll need to provide you with feedback. I believe candid and compassionate feedback is central to a cohesive and high-functioning team. Therefore, I’ll always try to provide timely feedback in a way that is helpful and makes clear that I care about you.

You can expect clear and honest communication from me. I promise not to leave you guessing what I “really” think, or expect you to read between the lines of what I’m saying. If it’s not clear, and you have a nagging feeling, please let me know so I can fix it! It’s not intentional.

If you have any feedback for me, please give it. It could be something you liked and would like to see more of, something you thought I could do better, something you thought I totally screwed up, or something that doesn’t fit in any of these categories. Your feedback helps me to grow and is always appreciated.

I prefer getting feedback in-person, but if it’s easier for you, feel free to kick off a discussion with an email or a message. If you’re not comfortable giving me this feedback yourself, I’d love for you to give it to someone else so they can anonymously relay it to me and I can work on it [1].

My calendar can be full of meetings and it may be intimidating to schedule something with me, but I’m here for you. If you see an available time on my calendar, please just schedule it. You don’t need to ask first. If there’s urgency and you can’t seem to get a meeting with me, send me a message and I’ll make time.

I sometimes work late hours and a bit on the weekends. This is my choice and I absolutely do not expect that you do the same. I might send you messages outside your working hours, but unless it says URGENT ⁠— this will be rare ⁠— it can always wait until work begins for you. Feel free to message me 24/7. If I’m around I usually respond quickly, just don’t expect it. My devices are set to “do not disturb” from 10pm to 7am CET.

We’ll have a 1:1 every week for at least 25 minutes.

I believe that these meetings are for you to set the agenda. What would you like to talk about? What is going well? What is bugging you? These meetings should not be about work updates. If there are things that I want to ask you, I will, but this is first and foremost your time. As part of this, I’ll do my best to provide a safe space for you and to get to know you as a person.

We’ll have a private Slack channel for us to capture future topics for our 1:1s as well as provide a handy historic record of what we’ve discussed. When you or I think of a topic, we dump it in that channel.

1:1s are of course not the only time you can talk to me. If there is ever something on your mind, please just reach out and I will make time for you!

For managers, you can also expect periodic “skip level” 1:1s where I’ll chat with your direct reports.

I follow a green, yellow, red performance assessment and communication model. My goal for you is to always know where you are on the spectrum. If you ever feel you don’t know, just ask.

  • Green - there might be things you want to improve, there might be things I want you to improve, or there might not. Nothing needs to change, it’s all good.
  • Yellow - there are one or more behaviors that, if left unchecked in the long term, will not be sustainable. You'll need to change something.
  • Red - there is a significant problem, with a timebox, and we have had an explicit conversation around what's wrong and what the timeline for fixing it is.

Going yellow can sound scary, but don’t worry. It is absolutely recoverable! Even going red is recoverable. Recovering builds trust and proves that you can accept feedback, acknowledge your role in the situation, and are willing and capable of changing, growing, and improving.

  1. You can also give me anonymous feedback via this form or our company's employee engagement software.

Martin Buberl

Purveyor of Internet duct tape.
If you'd like to get in touch, feel free to shout @martinbuberl.