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Expectations of Team Members

Friends. I just had the realisation that what started out as me hosting a 45 minute discussion at an internal Leadership Unconference around the topic of “Expectations of Engineers”, subsequently became an internal blog post that I wrote (with the title “Expectations of Team Members”), which eventually became the foundation for how all employees in Tech (600+) can grow their career at Spotify, outside of the typical “become a manager” / ladder approach, not to mention the foundational behaviours we expect from everyone in Tech. I love working for a company where its possible to have such a huge impact, sometimes with something so little, like a conversation-starting blog post! I’ve had a few people ask me to share the original article, so here it is.

Expectations of Team Members

TL:DR – I think we should be aligned on core expectations for team members at Spotify. I have a list (at the bottom of the page) that we brainstormed at a recent leadership unconference, but I want to know what you think. My hope is we can agree on 3-4 values and hold each other accountable to them.


We are an “autonomous team” focused organisation at Spotify, we believe in the value that high performing teams bring to our business and subsequently have optimised our company structure (at least Tech as far as I know) around these teams. To achieve high performance, we need more than just a high level of technical competence, we need a group of people working together that value the success of their team.

I feel that values like “Play Fair” and “Give it all you(‘ve) got” aren’t very specific and are difficult to have a conversation around, so, at the recent leadership unconference, I held a discussion on what the expectations should be for team members at Spotify. My goal was to come up with a very small, simple, memorable set of expectations for team members at Spotify.

Why is this important you ask?

  • Interviewing, particularly cultural interviews, become much easier, as does 3/6 month reviews
  • Discussing expectations on core behaviors and evaluating them should be easy to do and in a concrete way.
  • It allows everyone to hold each other accountable for these behaviours, not just those “in the know”. (like Agile Coaches, for which there is not enough for all our teams in tech, let alone other parts of the business)
  • I feel that this is something we can be aligned on. If you asked 30 different chapter leads (managers) at the moment I think you’ll get many different answers. Behaviours should become objective, rather than subjective (according to the manager).
  • We have many first-time leaders, I feel like this would help them a lot.

The list we came up at the offsite were as follows:

  • Wants to be a part of a team and believes in it
  • Willing to sacrifice their own ego and interests for the greater good of the team and the company
  • Will speak up when seeing a problem and willing to be a part of the solution
  • Holds themselves and others accountable
  • Continuously improves
  • Open to feedback
  • Shares knowledge
  • Cares about impact and business value
  • Takes risks (varying degrees here)
  • Pragmatic

This list is too big. Ideally I’d like to condense this down to about 3-4 key values or behaviours that we can all follow (and remember!). To get the ball rolling, here’s mine:

  1. Values team success > individual success
  2. Continuously improves (self and team)
  3. Holds themselves and others accountable
  4. Will speak up when seeing a problem and willing to be a part of the solution

What do you think are the 3 – 4 key behaviours that we should all hold each other accountable for when working in a team? Is this a good idea to all agree upon? Please put your suggestions/feedback in the comments below.


</end of the Spotify blog post>

The resulting core values that we chose for ALL members of tech (not just engineers, but also including managers, coaches etc) were:

  1. Values team success > individual success
  2. Continuously improves (self and team)
  3. Holds themselves and others accountable
  4. Thinks about business impact

The final ‘factor’ in this being used as a career development tool, was of around “Mastery”, that is, your ability to improve in your role.