I work with People

For the past 20 years, I’ve said I work with people instead of people working for me. I’ve been a lead, manager, director, etc. and I’ve worked for my fair share of bosses. I’ve worked for small R&D teams, large contracts, startups, and large Fortune 50 firms. At any size, I believe that putting the emphasis on “with” versus “for” promotes a better philosophy about the way I want to work. Imagine meeting the kid of a colleague and saying the following statements:

“Your dad works for me.“

This implies:

  • I’m his boss
  • I supervise him and tell him what to work on
  • I determine what’s important
  • He needs my permission to work on things.
  • He needs me to determine the problems he can work on.

“I work with your mom.“

  • We are a team
  • We both have work to do to solve ourproblem.
  • She doesn’t need my permission to identify ourproblems.
  • She doesn’t need my permission to determine a solution.

The “with” statements are at the heart of sustainable teams that are based on respect — that’s where I want to work.