Okay, so maybe you don't share your darkest secrets with your higher-ups. (No, I don't plan telling anyone I work with, much less my boss, about the time I sang A Thousand Miles at a bat mitzvah in 2010. Wait...) But trust, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on the employee experience.
This week, Jon Young ruminates on how trust has influenced his unorthodox career path and how it helps him stay connected to his coworkers—even from 10,000 miles away.
My official title—yes, the one on my contract—is Jon of All Trades. It's unusual, but it's also entirely accurate. Since I left a Bay-Area-based startup and joined Job Portraits in late 2017, I've had a hand in everything from web design and BizOps to sales, marketing, and the overall alignment of our company. A fluid role isn't unheard of, to be sure, but at Job Portraits I'm able to be both a Jon of All Trades and a master of my life, thanks to one key asset: trust.
Wearing a lot of hats and feeling ownership over your work can be two completely different things. In previous jobs, I also collaborated across teams and held varying roles within different projects, but my decision-making power within those companies was actually pretty low. I didn't feel like I could ever disagree with my bosses, and some of them even led with fear.
At Job Portraits, on the other hand, Miki and Jackson lead with trust. They have encouraged me not only to contribute to projects across the company but also to try new things. For the first time, I feel free to experiment and iterate, to work solo or collaborate, to succeed or fail.
Our culture of radical trust has benefitted my personal life, too. I am a wanderer at heart, infinitely happier when I'm exploring someplace new, and I've been based in different U.S. cities, Latin America, and, now, Asia since joining this team. At some companies, a lifestyle like mine might lead to suspicion about how much I'm really working. But our remote-first environment, heavy on video calls and collaboration, keeps us all accountable.
Even knowing that, I was initially nervous about how the team might respond to my temporary move to Asia—especially given the time difference. But everyone was supportive and excited for me, and two months into this adventure, they're still cheering me on. I don't see my coworkers much in person, but I still spend a lot of time with them and consider them some of my best friends. We know about each other's lives, not just our work, and I feel very connected to them despite before halfway around the world.
I don't think I could find another company that allows its employees this level of ownership and autonomy unless I started my own; that's an incredibly rare position to be in. When I left my engineering job in 2017 and joined this tiny branding agency that was still finding its footing, I didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I did know Miki and Jackson. I trusted them, and they trusted me. And that was enough.
—Jon Young, Jon of All Trades
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