Monday, March 21, 2011

Inescapable Teams

Last week, one of my managers requested a self-assessment of my performance for the quarter. He also asked whether I had any suggestions for the next quarter. In my reply, I suggested that it would be nice to discuss his thoughts about the possibility of me telecommuting at some point.

I was pleasantly surprised when he responded to my email. My other manager simply ignores me whenever I bring up the topic of telecommuting. Here's the response that I received:

What is your motivation for telecommuting? I try to be very accommodating of work/life balance as I believe it leads to long term satisfaction as well as productivity. The new offices are not far away and I believe you have the shortest commute of anybody. So I really don't understand the motivation. I am a firm believer that small development teams working closely together is the best option for productive development as well as personal development. I don't like the pattern we are using of one big scrum team without much intra-team communication... While we are a pretty quiet team, I feel like having you sit with the team has been beneficial toward promoting conversation.

As a whole, it's a reasonable response and I appreciate at least being able to have a discussion about the topic. But it was clear from his response that he wouldn't understand my motivation. He firmly believes, after all, that a small development team working closely together is best -- not only for productive development, but also for personal growth. But how would he know what environment is best for my productivity? I'm fairly certain he doesn't know what's best for my personal growth.

My motivation for telecommuting isn't entirely about my introversion -- in fact, it's not even mostly about it -- but it still irks me whenever the idea of the individual loses out to that of the team. If my personal growth depends on working closely with a team, then let me be stunted. As an introvert, I feel like I've spent most of my life adapting to a social world. I've grown, yes, and I've learned how to get by in that world; meanwhile, I've neglected another kind of growth, the kind that involves just being myself. I'd like to grow in the way that I see fit, not only in the way that's best for the team.

Also, I don't see why I need to sit next to the team in order to effectively communicate with them. It's silly to think so, especially for a technology team.

In any case, I wrote a long email about my motivation for telecommuting and I tried to be clear and reasonable in return. I'm not expecting much to come from it, but at least I had a chance to plead my case. I do hope that my manager will see that there are other perspectives, though.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not Cowed With Fear

To no one in particular:

You may think that I'm weak because I'm so often voiceless; or that I cower when I fail to make myself known; or that I'm timid while you wait for me to choose my words; or that I lack confidence because I keep to myself.

But it's not fear that holds me back. It's not fear that often keeps me away from you and others. And it's not fear that makes me the way that I am. I'm not afraid to be more like you; I simply have no desire to be something that I'm not.

I don't need to learn to be more loud, or more outspoken, or more visible. I don't need to become more sure of myself. What I need, if anything, is to stop allowing my personality to be questioned so much. I need, perhaps, to be more proud of who I am.

I'm not afraid to be myself, and I don't need to change. It's not fear that you see in me. It's just me.

This is how I am.

Get used to it.