A “Bill of Rights” for My New Reports

Starting a new job can be both exhilarating and nerve-racking. As a manager at Plastiq, I view it as one of my most important responsibilities to – with the help of our excellent talent team – onboard new reports in a manner that instills within them the context and confidence to do a good job, as well as set the tone and pace for our on-going working relationship.

To facilitate this onboarding, I thought it’d be valuable to compile a “Bill of Rights” that all my new reports can read, refer back to, and – most importantly – hold me accountable for during their tenure at Plastiq. It is my hope that these guidelines will provide a welcome centering influence as our work and roles continue to evolve over time.

So without further ado, here is my “Bill of Rights for New Reports“:

  • We will touch base at least once weekly, and I will keep you informed on how you are performing relative to my expectations and our needs. I will reference specific examples of your work and provide thoughts on next steps for continued improvement. If I have no specific examples to reference from the past week, I will reserve any judgement for another time when there is evidence that can be provided to support it.
  • Both positive and negative feedback will be provided in as real-time as possible. Positive feedback will be given in both public and private settings, while negative feedback will be reserved for one-on-one chats.
  • Negative feedback will always be focused on your future growth rather than past shortcomings. From the moment you join my team, I believe we are partners in your professional development (both for Plastiq and beyond).
  • I am always interested in talking about your feelings. I don’t believe that most professional environments put enough emphasis on how folks are feeling, potentially out of some misguided belief that how someone is personally feeling should be irrelevant to their performance. But it all matters. I want to hear how you are doing (even if you think it’s no big deal) and I will never dismiss any of your feelings as unimportant.
  • No one else’s performance will be used as a comparison by which to judge your performance. So don’t worry about what other people are doing. Focus on your own work and trust that it will be evaluated on its own merit.
  • More will absolutely be given to you if you do a good job with what I’ve given you. As a corollary, the quickest way to leave a poor impression with me is to ask for more responsibility when you’ve not yet adequately covered all of the tasks I’ve already assigned.
  • I will refuse to take on any new reports if I feel that doing so would compromise my ability to support and manage my existing team. Incidentally, I feel that the highest number of direct reports that one can effectively manage is around seven, depending on circumstances.
  • I am always willing to change my mind about anything, but it’ll require either new information or a better interpretation of existing information.
  • After the success of the company, your success (personally and professionally) is my number one goal.

In return, I ask for the following four things from you:

  • Be Meticulous – Dig deep, become an expert on your subject matter, ask questions, and double check all your work. For my own part, I will also ask you many questions and (as time permits) will double check your work. Not because I don’t believe you can do it well, but because we all miss things once in a while, and egos aside it’s better to catch something than to let a mistake happen.
  • Be Fearless – Try to leave your insecurities at the door, because they just get in the way of making magic happen. There is nothing wrong with being wrong about something; in fact, it’s the best way to learn! This is why there is almost no quicker way to gain my gratitude and respect than to appropriately correct me when I’ve made a mistake. So take charge, put yourself out there, try things you’ve never done before, and don’t be afraid to ask for help (and receive appropriate constructive criticism) when you’ve hit a wall.
  • Be Prolific – Babe Ruth used to be known as the “King of Strikeouts”, yet he also (after 83 years) still holds the record for “batting productivity of a hitter”.1 Accept the fact that a lot – in some cases the majority – of new ideas you want to pursue will not be prioritized.2 The best way to make a tangible impact at this company over the long term is to constantly be conceiving of and developing new ideas and projects, presenting the ones that are mature enough for review, and accepting whatever direction the company eventually takes.
  • Be Yourself – You are a valuable addition to this company, not only for the work you accomplish, but for the person you are. Your interests, your idiosyncrasies, your foibles – all the things that make you not an automaton give this company its soul, and we need them desperately. So be yourself!

Always remember, you are here because I believe in you and your ability to succeed in your role. I have high and uncompromising standards, but also don’t believe in sacrificing so much that we have nothing left after accomplishing what we’ve set out to do. Any questions? Just ask.

Looking forward to working with you!

  1. This is known as the “slugging percentage” (SLG).
  2. Even as the co-founder of this company, the same is true for me, and that’s because we always need to take a pragmatic and unbiased view of what’s best for the business.