This page summarizes four of the qualities Open Phil values most in employees across all roles: ownership, openness, calibration, and inclusiveness.
Ownership means taking responsibility, holistically and personally, for our work.
At some companies, the ideal employee executes the instructions their manager gives them, exactly as specified. At Open Phil, by contrast, the ideal employee seeks to understand the reasoning behind an assignment and how it fits into Open Phil’s mission as a whole, then does a better version of the assignment than what the manager had in mind.
Employees at all levels of the organization are very often in a position to notice that a project can be done better or faster in both big and small ways – or, perhaps, that the project is ill-conceived and shouldn’t be done at all.
- Asking questions: doing your best to understand the full context of your work, to the point where you actively believe in what you’re working on, rather than simply doing it because you were asked.
- Upward feedback: making sure your manager knows where you are and aren’t bought in on the work you’ve been asked to do. Managers, in turn, are expected to value and reward upward feedback, rather than expecting agreement.
- Pride in your work: aiming for outcomes and work products that are excellent and pride-worthy according to your own judgment, not just outcomes and work products that conform to the specific instructions you were given. Even better than asking yourself, “does this answer seem right?” is asking yourself, “is this answer the one that I would generate from scratch if I were thinking this all through myself?” If you don’t feel you’re on track to do this, you should let your manager know and make changes to the project and/or your role as needed.
- Valuing your time: constantly asking whether there’s a less time-consuming way to get the desired outcome. In our view, working more hours rarely can increase productivity by more than 25-50% (and even this is rarely sustainable), whereas making good decisions about what steps are essential to complete and which can be skipped, approximated or shortcutted can often result in several-fold (or better) improvements in productivity.
- Focus on the mission of improving the world as much as possible. The best employees consider the mission more important than Open Phil the organization, and more important than their standing within Open Phil.