This article was part of The Rising Dev newsletter issue #6, published on Apr 12, 2021.
Whether you know it or not, you have a ‘style’ of working, an optimal mode of operating.
Most of you are unaware of your style or mode of operating. You go through your workday energized or drained, happy or unhappy, never quite sure of the reasons why you feel the way you do. If you’re not working within your style, you’re not doing your best work.
If you are aware of your working style, do you know the current stage of your company?
Companies come in all shapes and sizes, and they vary in maturity. Each shape, size, and level of maturity is compatible or incompatible with certain working styles. Energy and happiness often depend on how well aligned your style is with the stage and maturity of a company.
Let’s explore working styles and company stages a bit further.
The best way to jump into this is to share a bit about my own style, my optimal way of operating.
- I enjoy the unknowns, where there is ambiguity and roadmaps can only be partially mapped out. A large part of my energy and happiness comes from helping people and teams find clarity and direction.
- I enjoy a variety of different work and pivoting to other areas as the needs arise. This helps me connect with more people and find the work that will produce the most significant returns.
- I prefer smaller teams to larger ones. This allows me the opportunity to scale teams and find the processes and structure for people to best collaborate with each other and do their best work.
The opposite of the above includes structure and clarity. It includes well-defined work and roadmaps based on what is already working. It also includes larger, well-established teams that have found a rhythm. This might be a dream job for many, but it’s not for me.
What makes you the happiest, what gives you energy?
Think about the situations where you’ve done your best work and the conditions that have excited you most, then consider the diagram above. Where would you place yourself?
You can slice a company in many different ways, and within the same stage, no two companies are exactly alike.
Through one lens, companies launch, grow, and mature. Through another lens, companies start pre-seed, then seed, then grow with venture capital money, maybe get acquired, and eventually IPO. Some companies have internal startups or subsidiaries in various stages of development.
There are acronyms to consider; STARS stands for Startup, Transition, Accelerated Growth, Recovery/Realignment, and Sustained success—all are stages you might encounter in your career.
Feeling energized and happy with your job depends a lot on how well your style aligns with the company’s stage.
Finding alignment isn’t that straightforward. As the diagrams imply, there are varying degrees between stages, and it’s a moving target.
While your style is the easier of the two to figure out, you can’t do it by hanging out at the same company or kinds of companies for too long; you need range.
Maybe you got lucky and hit it on the first try. More likely, you need to have conversations with leaders in your company to understand better the stage the company is in and where it might be going. Most companies are constantly moving from one stage to the next.
There are tradeoffs. A little discomfort due to your style and stage of the company can yield valuable insight and experience, but you need to observe how style and stage are aligned or misaligned.
Be honest with yourself. Are you at the right company?
If you enjoyed this article and want all the latest posts, tips, and resources for rising as a software developer delivered straight to your inbox - Subscribe Here.