This is the final post in our series on Miter’s values. Today we are talking about the relationship we want Miter’s employees to have with each other—what we owe our fellow Miter colleagues both as coworkers and as people. Our answer is that we owe each other respect, and a shared environment where people listen to and understand each other.
It is easy for people with good intentions to have bad days or to misunderstand one another. We expect that those things will happen at Miter, too, and we expect there to be space for us to patch things up and move forward productively. More importantly, we want to avoid disrespectful or hostile behavior under the guise of striving towards excellence or authenticity. Those are great goals, but not an excuse for being our worst selves. Treating others well is not an impediment to success; it is a necessary precondition.
You and your team are whole people with emotions and lives. Be thoughtful about the things you ask of yourself and of others. We’re in this for the long haul. Conversely, urgency can be toxic and is often unnecessary. We care about velocity, but ongoing, day-to-day urgency breeds incrementalism, poor decision-making, and stress.
Strong teams require strong professional relationships. Whether it's team lunches, silly banter, icebreaker questions in a meeting, or taking the time to ask after a colleague's weekend, these things aren't merely formalities; they're essential. And beyond that, they make work more fun and rewarding. At Miter, we say meetings should have a purpose, and, "Get to know each other better," is a fine purpose.
A lot of that relationship-building will happen in person, especially during the first phase of our growth. And some tasks—especially creative, generative work—are often easier in person. As we grow, we’ll find ways to balance that with remote work because we know the best, most diverse people and perspectives aren’t always in the Bay Area. But in the short term, while our team is tiny and our product amorphous, we’ll favor in-person collaboration to help us get where we need to go as a team.
That said, we want you to balance the benefits of in-person work with the variety of work styles that a diverse team and a diverse set of tasks demand. We’re not opposed to work from home, we hold no notion of required hours in the office, and we don’t use presence or hours as a proxy for performance. We care that you’re doing great work, that you’re invested in it, and that you’re a contributing member of your team far more than when or where you do that work.
Choose the mode of work that’s effective for your team; compromise when that differs from person to person; and make sure you’re building real relationships with your colleagues.
Start by assuming good intentions. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, stop and ask yourself what your assumptions are, and whether they’re warranted. (As humans, we’re prone to misinterpret others’ motivations in a negative way.) Make it easy for your colleagues to reciprocate in kind: that is, act with good intentions yourself!
Assuming good intentions is a great start, but take it further: assume competence. Don’t write off others’ ideas or perspectives until you understand them. Listen first, and you might be surprised by what you hear. Our goal is to harness the collective power of our team to do great work, and we can only do that by taking the time to understand one another. It’s human to forget to do this, to jump to conclusions, to wrap ourselves in our own perspectives. So, repeat this to yourself. A lot.
At Miter, "you're a nice person" is a compliment, and “authenticity” is not an excuse to be an asshole.
It’s easy to get it right when there aren’t trade-offs. But often there are: multiple positions have merit, and the answers are murky and require discussion. We seek to do right, and we recognize that requires understanding, listening, and consideration of values and ethics.
Interested in making Miter the next stop on your career journey? Drop us a line.