We cannot introduce a new culture without first considering how it will work for the people we have

“The giraffe is actually a cat.” by PaulS34

2020 has been an interesting year for many companies. And 2021 is shaping up to be much of the same.

Depending on where you are and what industry you are in, the impact on our work has ranged from losing jobs to working from home for long stretches. Redbubble was and is no different. To this day most of our employees work from home. Only in safe locations (like Australia), we see some people returning to the office.

But there are companies out there that have worked fully remote for a long time. They managed to spread employees across the…

Personal integrity and personal growth are not always aligned and you have to make choice

“Black elephant white elephant” by Alina-Corina

Most of us are striving for growth in our careers. We are keen to get that new title, gain new responsibilities, or feel more fulfilled. (There is a massive and interesting piece on Why we want that, but let us leave that aside for now).

Early on in our careers we are following existing rules and guidelines, trying to do a good job. Later on, that is not enough. We need to shift our focus to making things better.

Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.

It is one of those phrases that has been around for an eternity. Whether…

The wide-ranging impact of scrambling at work

“Everyday I’m Brusselin’” by Yipptee Shirts

A few years ago I had a young engineer working in my team.

He was bright, a quick learner, and made an impact. When an opportunity came up to work for a few weeks in our San Francisco office, we managed to secure a spot for him. So with another engineer, he packed his bags, and spend the next four weeks working on a short-duration, high-impact project.

And the results were great. Not only did they manage to deliver, but they also returned full of excitement and motivation.

Fast forward to this year, and we once again decided to scramble…

Change is hard and takes time

“Bonsai Thinking” by zomboy

We get wiser as we age, because we get different and more varied experiences. And one thing I thoroughly enjoy is that it allows me to crystallise things down to underlying principles.

Almost a year ago, I shared my first life principle: Everything requires a balance.

Because for every situation, there is always a choice. Not in the binary sense, but a lot of grey in between two extremes. And more often than not, the extreme ends of the scale are not the ideal approach.

That belief held true for me. And I have been able to apply it in…

Group influencing done right

“Japanese Red Crown Crane by Ogata Korin 1658–1716” by IslandArt

I love it when a single article ‘accidentally’ turns into a mini-series. And since three is a great number, let me add one more piece to the team health collection.

So far we have talked about indicators for team health, as well as an approach to influencing change.

This article is once again about influencing, but a different kind. Whereas part 2 focused on the individual, this time I will cover groups. The need for this distinction became clear to me the more I thought about this topic.

So the target audience is different, but most of the foundations remain…

Two dimensions of motivation and how they show up in people

“Hang In There” by AndyWestface

Living through a restructure is a fascinating time. Especially if you are into observing people and understanding what drives them.

One of the things that often happens in a restructure is the shuffling of folks. Some will end up in different roles. Some in new teams. A few will have more responsibilities. Others have to understand what their place is going forward.

This — of course — leads to a lot of emotions, ranging from excitement to frustration. It also gives an insight into the underlying motivation and satisfaction factors of individuals.

When we talk about motivation, two terms are…

Influencing done right

“Bubu the Guinea Pig, Knitting” by Miri-Noristudio

In the first part of this mini-series I shared some pitfalls we can encounter as managers — especially when joining a new team:

A lot is going on in a managerial role. More responsibilities. More things to keep an eye on. More context switching.

The first focus for new managers is usually delivery. How can I make sure my team is performing? We worry about delivery because we will be evaluated against it.

And that is understandable — it is a big part of leading a team. The question is how to achieve it.

I would argue that anyone can…

Health indicators when managing and leading a team

“Heartbeat Rowing” by melia321

A few weeks ago we underwent a significant restructure. We shuffled people around, merged teams, and — unfortunately — let some folks go.

But when some doors close, others open, and we were able to give a couple of people their first true management role. Starting in a new role is hard no matter what — being new to management, the domain, and the team. But it is especially tough in a global pandemic while working remotely.

To give them a head start we had to work through our approach to set up our newbies for success. How can we…

Change is not over after the first wave and adjustment

“Evolution — Go back we screwed up everything” by goodtogotees

Change is constant.

This year though (2020), it feels like it has been particularly intense. At least for folks living in the usually calm and stable ‘developed’ countries.

COVID happened, which forced us to change how we live and work. It meant kids had to stay home together with remote-working adults. Our social lives have been limited to Zoom and FaceTime. And a lot of people lost their jobs.

Lots of change, for a lot of people.

Change is constant. We cannot prevent it from happening, but we have to react to it. Work through it. …

Most of our behaviour is out of selfishness and it is not a bad thing

“selfish” by pirminio

This article covers a topic I have been thinking about for a long time — almost a year. It is also my first article that dives into this area which I am no expert in. Quite the opposite.

But I am keen to share my thinking because writing is a way for me to gain clarity. And I would love to hear from folks that have more experience on this topic and hear their thoughts.

Let us go straight to my hypothesis:

Most of our conscious, intentional behaviour is based on selfish reasons.

Now, before you write angry comments and…

Tom Sommer

Writing about Leadership and Personal Development. Director of Engineering @ Redbubble.

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