April 21, 2020

Working with Me

I have seen the concept of personal user manuals” before, and have always found them interesting. While working remotely, I’ve found it more important than ever to have a deeper understanding of people’s preferred work styles. Here’s my first pass at my user manual.”

Management Style

Servant Leadership

I am a believer in servant leadership. This style of leadership starts with my natural need to serve others, and pairs with my aspirations to lead. It is good to note that leadership is secondary to serving in this style, and while I truly believe in this style of leadership it can also be problematic if I am put in a situation where my service creates tension with my leadership.

Mentorship, Coaching, and Transparency

I love teaching and coaching. The most fulfilling part of my work is watching members of the team break through into new stages of their career. I use transparency as my main tool for teaching and try to involve my direct reports in every team-level decision I make. This gives them the opportunity to be open with me about decisions I make, and also gives them the opportunity to observe how I make decisions. I also value this type of transparency with leadership because it helps me think strategically, and allows me the opportunity to get exposure to new types of business problems I might not have access to otherwise.

Process and Structure

I am a creature of habit, and try to build as much structure as possible into how I work. By being structured with how I get work done, I can clearly understand where progress is being made, and where things are getting stuck. I believe in continuous improvement and look for structures and frameworks that empower my team (and myself) to continuously improve.

Communication Style

Written Communication

I am a big fan of a well crafted memo. In most cases, I feel that written communication forces us to gather our thoughts before sharing them and forces us to edit things down to the essentials. (I am not the best editor, but strive to be.)

Meeting and Collaborating

I believe that meetings have their place in team culture and should be used for: making a decision, gathering input, collaborating, discussing a problem, or sharing information. I prefer meetings that have clear agendas and end with action items.

I also enjoy collaborating one-on-one when there is a clear problem we need to solve together. In these cases, things can (and probably should!) be more free-form.

Instant Communication

I am a deep worker. When I am locked-in on solving a problem I find it hard to shift gears into another task. For this reason, digital communication can be hard for me to manage. If I get a ping, I will most likely shift my attention to respond to it (servant mode) but I will be viewing it as a quick to-do that I need to relieve myself of before returning to deep work.

If there is something that requires deeper collaboration or shifting my attention to a task that will require me to context shift, I would prefer handling it after tending to deep work vs. during deep work.

Strengths and Quirks

Strategic Thinking

I would consider strategic thinking to be a strength of mine. It is really energizing for me to tackle complex strategic problems. Where this can become tricky is when I don’t feel like I have the context to tackle a problem strategically. In order for me to feel confident in the work I’m doing, I need to understand the why behind what I’m doing.

Systems Thinking

I am a big systems thinker. I love building complex systems and as a designer I am very energized by the types of problems that allow me to work within a system. I am challenged when I encounter problems and solutions that don’t fit into the larger whole.

Emotional Connection

I am an emotional person and I like to build deep emotional connections with those I work with. I believe it helps me understand my team at a more human level and allows us all to bring our full selves to work. I can speak emotionally, but it’s generally me working through a problem in real time and is signal that I feel very comfortable being vulnerable around you.

Let me know if you have used a user manual successfully before, or if you have any tips/tricks you would like to offer!


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