What if, on the first day of working with a new client or project team, they already knew how you prefer to work?
What if they knew that you don't work on Tuesdays, you prefer calls to emails, you like having written feedback, and need a very clear brief which includes the 'why' this project exists?
Introducing the Manual of Me - a really simple concept, which can help your new team get to know you quicker.
It's not much more than a piece of paper with a list of things you want others to know - you choose the questions, and write succinct answers - and then, at the start of a project, hand it over, and communicate how you want to work together.
For the self-employed, it's a super powerful tool to use as part of your kick-off, and even encourage your client or rest of the team to complete too - so you communicate early on ways of working.
What should it include?
It's entirely down you to, but some of the most useful questions are group in to four types:
Working Preferences - when and where do you work, what channels do you use, how do you need to connect, do you work in short bursts, prefer teams over individual working, types of work where you deliver the most value - the operational aspects of working with someone.
Motivations and Needs - what do you need to go good work, what keeps you excited, what's important to know to create a great outcome - the emotional aspects of working with someone.
Support and Feedback - how do you want support, what's the best way of checking in with you, what does stress look like for you, how do you want to hear input and feedback - the supportive aspects of working with someone.
Human - anything else which is useful or important to know about you as a person, perhaps you're crazy nerdy about something, or have a family around at home, perhaps you're struggling with an illness, or starting a business on the side - the more holistic aspects of knowing someone.
You can see an example of one here, from our Chief Freelance Officer Matthew Knight
But - it can be hard to know what to include, or even think about the answers.
Having an empty piece of paper can be daunting, and big statements like "What motivates you?" or "Where do you do your best work?" don't always have an easy to reach answer.
If you've been fortunate enough to have coaching, you might already have the answers - but most people have not. That's why we built Manual of Me - to both help you choose what you want to communicate, but also support you in finding the answers. It's not only the piece of paper, but also the tools and exercises to help you complete your manual.
Where did it come from?
We've traced the idea of a 'personal user manual' back to the early 2000s in this article by Ben Dattner, and if you have a google, you'll find lots of examples of people who are creating their own - many referencing Cassie Robinson's blogpost from 2017.
Increasing numbers of businesses are using this technique, asking their people to complete a template when they join a team, or as part of teaming exercises.
Our particular version of Manual of Me came out of working in an organisation where cross-functional teams where put together rapidly for short bursts of time - not unusual as businesses change how they work, use external contractors and freelancers, and more recently, adopt flexible, remote and diverse working patterns.
We wanted to find a way to help people start working together quickly - by getting to know the important things about each other quickly - communication preferences, work styles, times they'd be around or not around, passions outside of the office, and most importantly, how we could support them to work well.
Many of these things are hidden or unknown, until you come up against them. Manual of Me gives people an opportunity to share things they need to share, ask questions they want to know, and create more awareness and teams which inclusive by design, starting with communication.
Create your own Manual of Me
It's completely free to members of Leapers to create a Manual of Me - create yours at my.manualof.me
We've also built a version for teams, which allows you to create a project team, choose the questions you'd like to share, and invite your colleagues or clients, so you can create your manuals together. Check that out at manualof.me/create/my/team