The People Make the Work

The most important part of work isn’t the work itself.

It’s the people.

Learning and autonomy are the two components of work I value most.

But the experience of work itself is determined by the people around you.

I’ve worked in a lot of different environments: Coast Guard, small startups, medium-size startups, accelerators.

There were high-performers in each. Some were already extremely successful, by any measure.

There is a stereotype that exists in the world of money and high-pressure environments. 

The stereotype of the hard-driving, arrogant boss, who works people hard and pushes them to their limits. 

Their abuse and criticism is tolerated because they get results, and because employees believe it makes them better.

That stereotype still exists in some circles, but it’s fading. 

But I’ve seen enough high-performers to know that this kind of behaviour isn’t necessary.

Do high-performers have high expectations? Of course. 

Do they often give blunt feedback? Certainly. Feedback like that is a gift, as it gets you closer to the truth.

But being a high-performer doesn’t require treating people poorly. 

Good criticism is about the work, or the skill, and not the person. 

High-performers are often very good at one thing, and bad at many others. The best are aware of their limitations. 

So I have little tolerance for working with bad people, or those that treat others poorly.

If you work with good people, almost any work can be enjoyable. 

The reverse is true as well: if you work with bad people, prepare to hate your work.