Professional user manuals

David Politis’s LinkedIn post on creating a “professional user manual” caught my attention somehow recently, and I thought the basic concept for a public and transparent personal “user manual” was interesting and worth considering.

You write out short answers to a set of key questions that give anyone who has to work with you insight into how that relationship might work successfully or what parts of your personality might be a strength/weakness in any given situation. The basic rubric suggested:

The first set of questions were focused on us:

  • What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?
  • What drives you nuts?
  • What are your quirks?
  • How can people earn an extra gold star with you?
  • What qualities do you particularly value in people who work with you?
  • What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?

The next set of questions were more focused on how we interact with others:

  • How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?
  • What’s the best way to communicate with you?
  • What’s the best way to convince you to do something?
  • How do you like to give feedback?
  • How do you like to get feedback?

David Politis’s examples include:

  • I like people to be straightforward and give me feedback directly. I’m not easily offended. I know that I don’t know how to do everything and can’t see everything that is happening in the company or market, so feedback is always welcome.
  • Unfortunately I’m late to a lot of meetings, but I’ve tried to get better at being on time. It’s said that people who are late to meetings are very selfish and aren’t thinking of others, but my meetings often run long because I’m very present in meetings and don’t pay much attention to time.
  • If I ask someone to do something and they acknowledge they are going to do it, I expect it to be done and not to have to ask about it again in the future. This is my biggest pet peeve, and it frustrates me if I have to be the one to remind you to do it.

I haven’t created one of these yet, but I’m thinking about it.

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