Get to Know Your Team at Lightning Speed Via Manuals

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By Bianca Vranceanu

Communication and collaboration are two attributes that are at the heart of successful working relationships. To successfully and efficiently work with your colleagues, you need to know them. While it is imperative to understand their working style, it takes time to get to know  know someone. However, there is a fast-track solution for shortening the learning curve. The solution is simple: create a personal User Manual. This foreign concept may seem strange to the naked eye, but as you continue to read, you too will see the benefit of incorporating a User Manual into your practice.

What is a User Manual?

A User Manual is a document that describes your work style, preferences, and quirks. It gives your colleagues a clear idea of how you operate and prevents moments of miscommunication.

Why should I create a User Manual?

The purpose of a User Manual is to inform your team about the best ways to work with you. It allows you to be transparent and straightforward about your work style with a straightforward approach which diminishes the lag time of adjusting to working with someone new. It takes away the learning period and lessens the chance of tension or conflicting workflows.

The User Manual can be viewed as a communication tool for your team. By laying out your preferences, you give your team a better understanding of yourself and how they can efficiently work with you.

Beyond benefiting your colleagues, a User Manual can also be an excellent method of self-reflection. By understanding specific aspects and characteristics of your unique working style, you gain deeper self-awareness. While we all know how we work, our strengths, weaknesses, and values, we rarely assess them all together and see their connections and influences in our work life. By understanding how you work, you can advocate for the type of working space you want to create and become more confident in speaking about yourself in moments of public appearance. We’ve all encountered the “so, tell me about yourself” part of an interview, and sometimes it is hard to articulate a satisfying response. A User Manual is a great starting point for answering that question clearly and coherently.

Many companies have also adapted to remote work from home. This can be frustrating when a new team member is hired, and there is a barrier of technology that interferes with them quickly adapting to your working style. By having a User Manual, you can share it with new team members and even encourage them to make their own!

How do I make a User Manual?

Creating a User Manual may seem daunting at first; it is a new style that may be unfamiliar, especially for personal use. Here are some tools that have helped other business leaders successfully create their User Manual.

The first recommended step is looking at others’ personal User Manuals. As you look at Falik, Hurst, and Desai User Manuals, consider what it tells you about them. Take inspiration from their words when things feel relatable and when they do not consider how you are different. It helps to jot down notes as you read  begin to cultivate information you want to include in your User Manual. When observing the User Manuals, consider their format and replicate a similar structure when you build your own!

After you acquired a deeper understanding of what other business leader’s User Manuals look like. Start asking yourself questions regarding how you work and your values. You can extrapolate on ideas you noted previously. Adam Grant poses several questions to help him create his User Manual (scroll down to Question #3 located under May 2018). Hurst also offers several questions that help him create a User Manual.

Once you have answered the questions, format them into the first draft of a User Manual. Show the document to colleagues you have worked with and whom you feel know you and ask if the User Manual is an accurate representation of yourself. Make edits accordingly.

Finally, share the document with your co-workers and have an open discussion about its contents. By doing this, you will establish an excellent method of communication from now on!

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