on negative maintenance
one question i get fairly often is how to “prime” your career for management, if you’re fairly certain that’s a path you’re interested in, but you’re not managing yet. my new favorite piece to point people to is this one (even though it’s an old piece, heh, and not really about management at all, per se).
in it, feld talks about how the opposite of being a high maintenance employee isn’t being “zero maintenance” — it’s being “negative maintenance”. as in, you aren’t simply someone who is… not difficult on a team — you are someone who is actively working on making things better. he puts it well:
Personally, when I find myself in a complicated mistake, I stop. I step back and pause and reflect. And then I try to figure out how I can change the dynamic into something positive, not continuing to build on my complicated mistake, but instead getting clarity on what the right thing is to do to get out of the ditch.
interesting, right? i find people who naturally gravitate towards this kind of shock-absorbent, brighten-the-room, make-a-problem-mine, make-this-a-better-place-to-work-for-everyone type work are the most prepared for this kind of transition down the line. their brain is already wired to think about roles outside of themselves. there is a selflessness to the way they show up to work, and most importantly, the way they think about their responsibility on a team.
i’ve been thinking about the concept of negative maintenance outside of this scope even more, though. i mean ideally, i’d be a negative maintenance sister, daughter, partner, friend, and citizen of this planet. i’m definitely trying to figure all of that out — especially that last one, phew — but framing it this way helps me think about it a bit more clearly.
will keep you posted on if it works at all 😅