How to work with Emma: a colleague’s manual

I was recently inspired by a blog post I saw from Roman of Splento and various articles I’ve read around writing “how to work with me” manuals, so I decided to write my own and put it out into the universe.

After all, being self-employed I’m lead to work with many different companies and people. And should I join them for an extended period of time, wouldn’t it make sense for them to know who I am and how to work with me? So without further ado, here it is.

What type of a colleague am I?

To start with, I would urge you to read some of the LinkedIn recommendations I got as they have been written by people who actually worked with me. However, I will also attempt to describe myself.

I am an enthusiastic and dedicated person. I am quite passionate and excitable and like to throw myself all in to projects. Most people who know me well, be it colleagues or friends, will also tell you that I’m pretty organized so I may as well put it out there now. 😅 It’s true, I do love a good process and a spreadsheet and you will notice that early on.

I’m also pretty creative, I love dreaming big and coming up with exciting new ideas and ways of doing things no matter how hair brained. Sometimes I’m reserved and sit back and watch, and other times I’m pretty outspoken and don’t hesitate to share what’s on my mind.

On a day to day basis

Working hours

I usually like to work between 08:30am and 6pm depending on how far of a commute I have to do. This is so that I can “get ahead” in the mornings and feel like I’m done by the time I have to leave to evening activities, from dance to Dutch class.

I like to do “brain work” in the morning and sit in a bubble, which means that I don’t really feel like chatting much. It’s not personal, it’s just that I need this time to focus on tasks that require brain power. Did you know that after waking up is the perfect time for our brains to focus on these tasks? That’s because they are fully restored by our REM sleep.

This also means that I’m not a huge fan of morning meetings.

Meeting preferences

Meetings are necessary but we often spend a lot of time in unnecessary ones. That’s why I prefer meetings that are short (30 mins), have an agenda and are to the point. If we are finished discussing the topic? Awesome! Let’s leave the meeting early and get back to work. 🤓

I also usually like to try to keep one or two days a week meeting free so I can power through tasks and not feel like I’m running from one thing to the next like a mad person. And generally, I’d love to keep my Monday mornings meeting free.

Communication style

And “how to get hold of me”. Having worked in high pressure environments and suffered from an always-on culture, I try not to be reactive. That means I don’t always reply instantly to emails, text messages phone calls etc. If I’m in the flow of work I try to not let myself get distracted and only answer immediately if I see there’s an emergency. I try to turn notifications off so I won’t see what’s flying into my inbox, which means you might not always get an instant response. That being said, I do respond in a timely manner, usually within 24h so don’t worry.

If it’s important: I prefer to receive your message via email with a clear deadline and request of what you need from me. Slack or other instant messenger tools I see more as a chat function to ask people questions, and often find it hard to keep up with messages in there. If you’ve not heard back from me after emailing and it’s important then either come by my desk or give me a call.

“Drive-by” conversations at a desk? I’m not a fan. I am very sociable and enjoy a good chat but if I’m trying to concentrate I’d rather you sent me an instant message and later grabbed me for a coffee and walking meeting (which I love).

Feedback

I’m a big believer in feedback. A colleague of mine used to say “feedback is a gift” and I generally think it’s true. I also used to work for Impraise which promotes a culture of feedback so it’s pretty ingrained in me.

  • I like to give feedback in different ways. Positive or constructive feedback sometimes works in writing or another indirect channel. However I think it’s important to follow up, or sometimes start with a conversation face to face. 
  • I like open and honest conversations so I’m happy to have those face to face.
  • I very much welcome constructive feedback and positive feedback. I am open to receiving suggestions on things I can improve or ways to do things differently. I am happy to receive this in writing or in person. If it’s something important i.e. you feel we are not aligned or you were not happy with how something went, I think it’s better for both parties to discuss face to face. You can be open with me about these things, I very rarely take things personally if they are phrased properly, work is work.
  • If you have constructive feedback, I prefer it when people bring solutions or new ways of thinking that I hadn’t considered. Complaining doesn’t count as feedback whereas actionable points or examples to help me understand what I can change or a point of view I hadn’t considered are helpful.

Work ethic

  • I am open to being challenged, I am interested in other people’s opinions and a point of view I may not have considered.
  • When I am leading a project, I do my best to make decisions based on the knowledge available to me and give direction. I try to avoid decisions by committee because I find they usually make doubt creep into the process and can slow it down quite a lot.
  • I am a committed person: if you ask me to do something and I say yes, you can rely on the fact that I will get it done. Of course like everyone I can sometimes forget, I’m only human and that’s the reassuring part. 🙃 But usually I keep my word.
  • I like to be trusted with my work and/or assignments and be given autonomy. While I know it takes time to build trust, I also believe the benefit of the doubt is important.  
  • I like (a degree of) structure and clarity: I like to know what is expected of me in terms of deliverables, by when things are needed, and expectations for the outcome. If you want to hand over a portion of a project to me, it helps me if that is explicit and it clearly becomes my responsibility.
    • Similarly, I do my best to provide clear instructions for others when I’m asking for something to be done. 
  • I don’t mind being asked questions for clarification – I find it’s better to do that upfront than end up with something that’s not aligned.

Other things you should know

  • I ask a lot of questions. For some people this is overwhelming but this is just because I like to understand things. For more information about why I do this, watch this video.
  • I am super passionate about dancing and it drives a lot of my extra-curricular activities. Not only do I take dance classes but I also like to travel to dance festivals, and other events. It feeds my creativity and is a place where I can express myself freely. Want to start a conversation? Ask me a question about dance.
  • I’m also super passionate about mental health in the workplace and I run a website dedicated to that. If you want to talk about mental health you’ve find the right person. I’m also quite open about my personal experiences so feel free to ask.

So if all of the above hasn’t scared you off the idea of working together, I’m looking forward to collaborating on one (or a few more) projects.

Published by emmacdo

Currently working in marketing and comms in Amsterdam. Passionate about all things digital, writing, dancing, travelling and much more. Mental health blogger and advocate.

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