One of the first things that slapped me in the face when I started working at Shopify was how bad I am at collaborating with other people.
I tried to complete tasks independently without asking for help or any additional information. Reaching out to team mates for advice or asking them to pair was not on my mind at all. I’m still pretty bad at asking for help and reaching out to team mates, but at least now I’m aware I suck at it.
Unfortunately, I’ve realized it’s probably only going to get harder from here. Competence has diminishing returns and social skills have exponential returns. The behaviours and disposition that allowed me to rapidly gain technical skills are now slowing me down.
Thinking primarily about how to help my team rather than doing something myself is not my natural mode of thinking. It doesn’t feel impactful. I like going deep on something independently and making sure the finished product is very high quality. Working with other people feels slow and frustrating when they’re not like me.
And yet, I know that’s wrong. I know I need to collaborate with other people to build great things. I know most people are not like me, but they still need to enjoy working with me. I know I need to get better at collaborating if I want people to trust me, if I want to lead people, if I want to start a company.
It’s hard. Don’t underestimate the social side of work.