Finding a buddy when you’re a team of one

Originally posted Jul 11, 2023 • More resources on cross-functional relationships

I’ve been working with the rad team at for the past few months as a fractional VPE, mainly focusing on management-y and culture stuff as the team grows.

One of the things I really dig about’s company culture is how teammates use their internal forum for sharing questions about work, project progress updates, oncall recaps, and other stuff that I’ve traditionally seen live (and die) in email inboxes. I’m finding that the internal forum helps keep conversations going async (and out of Slack, which can be super lossy for folks in different timezones) and a little bit more evergreen.

I wrote a post on their internal forum last month about a topic that had been consistently coming up in 1:1s I had with folks: how lonely it can be if you’re working as a team of one. I realized that this post might be helpful to folks outside of, too, so with their permission, here’s a lightly edited version :)

tl;dr: if you are a “team of one” and ever feel stuck/isolated, it’s totally normal (and encouraged) to lean on other folks here for help!

I’ve been chatting with a few different people about what it feels like to be a “team of one” at A “team of one” can mean anything from “I’m working solo on a project,” or “I am the only person tasked with thinking about this entire product area,” or “I’m venturing into a new area of the business and am gonna test to see if we want to build a team around this thing.” For many folks, this level of autonomy is fun and interesting!

ALSO, despite it being fun and interesting, being a team of one can—at times—be lonely or hard.

I am all about leaning on different types of people at work (and outside of work) as you tackle challenges, grow your skills, etc. (Here’s a whole metaphor for building a “Voltron”/crew of support!) But sometimes it can feel really tricky to find those people—and even if you know you can lean on somebody, it’s hard to know how.

Examples of how to lean on/get support from other folks within the company

In case it’s helpful to have examples (or inspiration, ha!), here’s a non-exhaustive list of the different ways you might be able to lean on somebody else for support, when you’re a team of one:

Finding a buddy

Now, how do you find a buddy to help you with this stuff? Some brainstorm-y ideas:

If you’re wrestling with this feeling at work, I highly recommend you find a way to talk about it with your colleagues. Even just sharing this post could be helpful to kick off the conversation! I hope this can help you develop easier/more obvious support for folks who are feeling isolated with their work.

Lara Hogan

Author, public speaker, and coach for managers and leaders across the tech industry.

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