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.“
- 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.