A User Manual To Working With Me

A User Manual To Working With Me

Empathy, collaboration, creativity, leadership are future-proof skills everyone needs to have; which are in short supply. So, how do we embrace, develop and put these skills to work in a world where collaboration is an imperative?

We can begin by setting expectations about ourselves, clarifying our intentions and being accountable. How?

A few years ago I published a post about the NY Times The Corner Office author Adam Bryant where he shared a management technique known as the User Manual, a simple idea on how to work with you.

At the time, I had done something similar myself. But then I found Brad Feld’s post on a User Manual with more structure and decided to develop it from that template.

Why a user manual?

One of the main challenges in creating teams is a getting to know people before getting to work. Usually, people jump straight to work and deal with whatever personality clashes come up later on. A user manual creates needed transparency about work practices across a team – it also drives great accountability. Each individual defines how they work best – and the group can then hold that individual accountable to that specific set of criteria. Really helpful tool to create the right environment to drive upward feedback as well.

With that said, below is my user manual:

What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?

  • Long-term mission oriented. I operate on purpose and commit myself to long-term goals. The feeling of making a difference is a drug for me, I try to get that feeling daily.
  • Fearless, feel at home operating in controlled chaos and challenging the status quo.
  • High tolerance for stress, value diversity and perspective.
  • I appreciate direct and honest communication, say it like it is; don’t sugar coat it.
  • I’ve been called the Tony Robbins of innovation, I’m not and don’t try to be. I do like inspiring others, I don’t like seeing unrealized potential, and become quite passionate about it.
  • I’m brutally honest, people always know where they stand with me.
  • Critical thinker, not a negative attitude. I see problems everywhere, and tend to want to fix them all!
  • Impatient optimist. There is always a faster and better way, have and move with a sense of urgency.

What drives you nuts?

  • Entitlement, selfishness.
  • Flakiness, not following through, tardiness.
  • Making excuses.
  • Attention seeking.
  • Seeing problems that should have been addressed fester (passivity, confrontation avoidance, squishiness).

What are your quirks?

  • I speak fast because I think fast, some people adapt quickly while others get overwhelmed.
  • Most of the time I don’t take notes, most people assume I’m not paying attention or don’t care. I do care and pay attention, I just have very good memory and remember most everything.
  • I catch up very quickly, so I tune out when things become too repetitive.
  • When I don’t eat for a long while I usually get a headache and get grumpy.

How can people earn an extra gold star with you? What qualities do you particularly value in people who work with you?

  • I love learning. I love people who teach me something. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been blogging for 9 years. I LOVE Twitter because I’ve met interesting people from around the world to collaborate with, instead of people who I already know. Teach me something! I consume information best in video, text, images, preso, in person.
  • I love solving problems, so brainstorming with me is a HUGE way to get me excited.
  • I love it when things are well thought out. I pay attention to details, and respect people who are thoughtful about how they do things. Makes me want to understand their motivations, and learn from them.
  • I am hugely impressed when individuals stick their necks out and take responsibility for projects and are able to drive them through to completion; getting other people on board and methodically working through obstacles along the way. I have a lot of respect for the abilities this requires.
  • I love feedback. If I am missing something important, I need to know! It’s fine if it’s critical or thorny feedback. I’d much rather you tell me, than just assume I know what you are thinking. You can ALWAYS come up to me and ask for 10 minutes of time.

What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?

  • That I’m a work-workaholic. I’m a high performer. Two very different things. Workaholics need to be busy, high-performers seek out challenges and get laser focused on surmounting those challenges.
  • That I’m arrogant. I’m not, I’m just super confident and like sharing it with people so they can get their confidence level up. Remember, brilliant thinking is rare but courage is in shorter supply.

How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?

  • First of all, I like understanding people which is the beginning of influence. People need to feel understood, otherwise they won’t listen.
  • We are all a work in progress, never believe you’ve done enough; fail better. Prove yourself!
  • It is always in the company’s interest to give you as much responsibility as you can manage. Don’t wait around to be asked to take on responsibility.
  • Anyone can be a leader. Management is a vocation, but leadership is responsibility anyone and everyone can and should take on. You can lead by seeing a problem and solving it, architecting a solution for others, coming up with a new idea and selling it internally, finding someone who can help achieve our goals and recruiting them. We are all constantly surrounded by opportunities to lead.
  • If you want to progress your career fast (1) Take responsibility to manage your own career as nobody else will do it for you, (2) work very hard to put yourself in the right place at the right moment in time, and (3) seek the help of those who have done it before
  • If you are persistent and unfazed by some rejection, you can get just about anyone to go out to coffee with you and give you career advice. Do it! You have the most to learn from those who have already done what you want to do.
  • “If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough”. I get rejected all the time.

What’s the best way to communicate with you?

  • Just ask. Ping me via a message (slack, messenger, whatsapp, etc); I respond quickly!

What’s the best way to convince you to do something?

  • Show me, don’t tell me. Data from prototyping shows you’ve tried and gathered feedback.
  • Explain your reasoning. It’s not about being right or wrong, but thinking things through shows you’ve taken the time to consider both.
  • Get me excited! I’ve been pitched hundreds of ideas, if you don’t get me excited it’s hard for me to want to jump in and go.

How do you like to give feedback?

  • In person!

How do you like to get feedback?

  • In person is great. Just tell me “Jorge, I have some feedback for you”. I will listen closely. I love feedback!
  • Email is also great. Writing things down can help make thoughts clear.

So there you go. Let me know what you think about the User Manual idea, and share it with me if you develop one.

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