What is User Manual? A user manual is a short document that should, at its minimum, describe your communication preferences, provide insights into your leadership and working style, as well as describe you as a person shortly and concisely. It intends to (a) make communication more effective and efficient (b) provide an entity point into your personality to allow the first contact based on shared topics.
Why to write a User Manual?I have identified the following reasons to write my own User Manual and proposed it to several companies as a tool facilitating the communication:
- It helps colleages to reach you by making it transparent how do you respond on which channels.
- There may be important insights into your working style that will help others to work with you more effectively.
- If a person hasn't yet have a chance to chat and learn about you as a person, they might find interesting information about your interests and hobbies.
So, here is my User Manual. Please fill free to use it as a template if your are excited about this communication tool.
Preferred Communication Channels
Urgent and/or short: Send a private message in Slack or drop by.
Your request will require time and effort to respond: Send per email
If I don't answer within 24h, please ping violently.
No SLA attached.
I will most likely miss mentioning me in one of 1000 Slack / Whatsapp channels.
Don't count with a response.
What I like and enjoy
- Learn new stuff and exchange the knowledge. If somebody shares with me anything new, important for them, interesting as a general knowledge or cool in any aspects, I feel thankful, grateful and inspired. In this case, I will love you even more and will try my best to share something valuable in return.
- I don't like to optimize - I love it! Productivity is one of my favorite topics! Be my guest at any point in time if you have an idea or a suggestion how and what to improve or optimize.
- Working together. I am most productive when I have colleagues to share my ideas with and get the feedback. Also, if I know that somebody helps pulling in the same direction, I deliver the double.
- Feedback. Both positive (to know what I have done well), as well as feedback for improvement. If you notice a pattern that I can improve in my communication (electronic, oral) or in the way I respond to requests or deliver results, please don't hesitate to just tell or write to me. I also like the concept of "tough love" (Ray Dalio) - love each other, but challenge constructively and be fair - I believe that in this way one can progress at best.
What I try to avoid
- Disrespectful behaviour - everyone deserves respect regardless of their role or position.
- Ego before the team - it is a poison, when people try to position themselves or secure their interests instead of getting things done relying on skills and the knowledge of the most knowledgable person (related concepts: empowerment, meritocracy).
- Being late to meetings - if I am late, I don't value your time. If you are late, you don't value my time.
- Emails like "see below" - when somebody doesn't take a minute to form their request and still expects me to take time to answer it.
- Meetings without an agenda and a preparation - they are a waste of time. The usual invitation text is "I want to discuss ..." - it means, the person did not spend enough brain cycles regarding what they want out of the meeting.
great books ◆ cool podcasts ◆ informative blogs ◆ "believable" people (see the book 'Principles' of Ray Dalio) to follow and learn from ◆ productivity and optimization ◆ meritocracy ◆ stoicism ◆ zen ◆ teaching, presentations and public speaking as a way to learn more and spread the knowledge ◆ wakeboarding ◆ video filming ◆ video cutting ◆ onewheel ◆ cuban salsa
My working style
- My working style in one sentence: "Get stuff done" - progress as fast as possible all together as a team. In order to achieve it, share the knowledge, exchange feedback, learn and optimize on the way.
- I prefer a Slack message or an Email to a meeting - at least for the first exchange round. If a meeting is "inevitable", I prefer actionable and prepared "get stuff done" meetings to the "inform and discuss" meetings. An actionable meeting usually has a pre-read / preparation material.
- I am a offline-thinking person - if you need the best result I can produce, explain or send me the task and give time to think in the background (and produce some draft results). Asking me to be very creative on the spot for new topics, where I don't have a prepared answer or substantial knowledge, would only give you a fraction of what I can normally deliver.
- I believe in meeting hygiene: I believe, an agenda and a preparation of a meeting is crucial (at least by the organiser, attendees must be briefed and do some pre-reading), as well as a tangible result and actions that are tracked and followed up.
- I prefer meetings for 30min. I believe that longer meetings should be an exception.
- I try my best to be on time and request others to respect my time as well. When people are (hopelessly regularly) late, the only message they transmit is "you are not important". I don't want to treat others like that and I hope people will not treat me like that as well. (The chapter "Die Sitzung" from the book "Führen, Leisten, Leben" by Malik is a great read on that as well as the chapter "One on Ones" of http://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics)
Regarding emails:One can save a lot of time by avoiding incomplete or unclear emails. I am a fan of Mindful Emails:
- Keep it short and sweet. Using fewer words usually leads to more clarity and greater impact. The message can easily get lost in the clutter if not kept simple.
- Using the Pyramid Principle helps a lot - the email begins with a one-sentence main message and then details follow.
- After finishing the email, one should spend one minute more to reflect before sending it out - is it possible to avoid at least one additional back-and-forth round by rephrasing a part of an email or adding/removing something? It is about thinking one step ahead of your opponent.
I am a Russian-Swiss, I speak German, Russian, English and am learning Spanish now. In Russia, I studied computer science with a focus on natural language processing. After that, I moved to Switzerland and obtained a second bachelor and master's degree in computer science at the ETH Zurich with the focus on distributed systems. During the past several years my focus has strongly shifted towards privacy, security and legal compliance. Given this shift of my working activities, I obtained a Master of Advanced Studies in Business Law. Besides these working topics, I am always happy to chat about wakeboarding, video filming, and video cutting, optimization (of any kind), good books & trips and Cuban salsa (the dancing thing, but salsa as a cooking topic is also a good one). While living in Russia, I did 2-3 kayak trips of 7-10 days each per summer in a wild Russian nature with the family and later with my university friends. In my free time right now, I sing in a choir and teach salsa at ETH Zurich.
LinksIn case you are interesting in exploring on the topic of User Manuals, here are some great links:
- Iskender Dirik's User Manual which was the main inspiration for me to write my own and push for User Manual at Starmind.
- Leaders need "User Manuals" – and what I learned by writing mine
- Completing this 30-minute exercise makes teams less anxious and more productive
- To Make Your Management Style Clear, Create a User's Manual
- Five Steps to Create a Personal User Manual