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Where’s Your Operating Manual?

OperatingI have a drawer full of operating manuals. In fact, the folder for them got so big I had to segregate the small appliances from the large ones. I have them for my toaster, microwave and other kitchen appliances, and even my lawnmowers.

Yet, some of the most complex entities on the planet come without operating manuals. Those complex entities? People. And, while I hate to compare humans to appliances (I realize this is a banal comparison–we are far more complex as humans than toasters or can openers), I will for the point of this article, which is this: do we clearly communicate with each other on how we best operate? If not, should we?

Kyle Westaway made me re-think about this concept of an operating manual for us as individuals this weekend in his newsletter, which I recommend.

I’m also a big fan of getting to know yourself via the Know Thyself Kit I’ve shared in the past – but by sharing your results on you, you do in a sense create a better path for people to communicate and work with you, which in turn gets you to a better, higher quality version of your very own life. So below, after doing some research around the internet, I’ve gathered a few questions that you may want to ask yourself, then share with your co-workers, family and friends on how to best work with you – because, frankly, most of us are not part of the psychic friends’ network.

Questions for a User Manual On…You:

  1. What is your favorite method of communication? (I’m an e-mailer, and I don’t like the phone. The best thing the invention of the phone ever did for me was grant me access to the internet.)
  2. What does it take for you to say yes to working on someone else’s project? (For me, care about what you’re trying to convince me to do. If you don’t care, why should I?)
  3. How does someone win a gold star with you? (For me, don’t waste my time. Gold star level happens when you ask for my time AND plan an agenda around the time, rather than just ‘picking my brain.’ Follow up also wins gold stars. I also like Jenny Blake’s idea of a 30:30 or 15:15 – where you each share something you’re working on or baffled by, and the other suggests ways to solve/improve or make better the issue, then trade and split the time.)
  4. What drives you crazy? (Again, for me – wasting my time. Or, going back and forth on an idea if you want me to execute on that idea, especially if you give me no wiggle room to invent. Or, noise. I’m not into noise when I’m trying to pound out my work.)
  5. When do you best operate – do you work best in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings? (I’m a night owl. Writing is starting to creep in to my mornings too.)
  6. How do you give and like to receive feedback? (In writing, please.)
  7. What’s the best way to show gratitude with me? (A hand written thank you note. It endures longer than the text, email or phone call. See the theme here? In. Writing.)
  8. What type of projects I love to work on include: (For me, studying the future of healthcare or many industries, entrepreneurship and women, gender parity, STEM and girls, and research around any of these areas. I also love outlets for sharing these ideas too – like podcasts, books, talks, etc. If I have some room for creativity here, even better!)
  9. How do you best like to make decisions or draw conclusions? I’m going to do a lot of research on something before I drive a stake into the ground. So bring me some real numbers and don’t bring a bunch of puffery. Opposite, don’t be wishy washy with your own opinions – either state you don’t know yet, or state your opinion. Be clear. Don’t go back and forth, because that lands me right back in question 4 above.
  10. Include me in and opt me out of…: (Include me anything new, exciting, and different where you need someone who is creative and/or can get me around other thought leaders in creativity. Opt me out of…purely social invitations. I don’t like parties, showers or weddings. Not my jam.)
  11. What do I value? (My time, working on the frontiers of knowledge, creativity, and honesty/integrity.)
  12. What’s your One Thing? (This is the question on what you’d give up last in all that you do or what matters most, from the book with the same title. For me, that’s easy…writing.)
  13. What gives you satisfaction – what’s ‘winning’ for you? (Getting things done, checking off my list, and creating new things that never existed before that in turn hopefully make the world a better, or at least more educated/edutaining, place.)
  14. How do I best like to be rewarded? (Hands down: give me my time back. If you can end a meeting early, or give me the day off to go speak, or give me vacation, I’m going to love it. I love income, true, but time is the one thing we never get back.)
  15. Strengths/weaknesses? (Futuristic, maximizer, intellection, ideation and input – pretty much anything to do with ideas, I’m totally in–writing, speaking, planning, executing. My weaknesses include: idle chit chat, social stuff, and sales.)
  16. What’s your best working climate? (Quiet, flexible, autonomous, can work from anywhere, and a ROWE environment for me, please.)
  17. What’s your tennis ball? Go read the book Known by Mark Schaefer to learn about this test and others for perseverance and sustainable interests.

Consider answering these questions on yourself, then take a brave step and share. I’ll even go so far as to state that LinkedIn should have a section in our profiles that allows us to share our User Manual-ness if we opted to.

Again, it would be really great if we could all share our best states of operation in the workplace, and in life – for all the reasons above, and one more: maybe, just maybe, it will get us to a happier place. No more guessing on how we best work together – we’ll know! And, if you do share, THANK YOU in advance for sharing for those of us who aren’t psychic. No more guessing – yay!

Sources I used for this article: 

  • Feld Thoughts, https://feld.com/archives/2016/04/user-manual-working.html
  • Aaron Hurst, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130128234025-201849-do-you-have-a-user-manual
  • Kyle Westaway’s newsletter – from 7/29/17
  • The One Thing book
  • Known

 

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