Kim Sluter
By Kim Sluter on March 28, 2018

Do YOU need a User Manual?


Do you need a personal user manual?

We all have our unique gifts.  We also have preferred settings that generate optimum productivity and flow.  Why not share our idiosyncrasies and preferred working environment with our employees, teams and colleagues, and develop a ‘user manual’ that captures our particular working style? Creating your own user manual can be a great exercise in self-reflection and when shared with others, this tool can be useful to highlight team dynamics and spark healthy dialogue around how to most effectively work with one another.

Several years ago Adam Bryant, Managing Director at Merryck & Co and Corner Office columnist in the NY Times wrote an intriguing piece on the professional value of a user manual. Last month I attended a networking lunch with 10 colleagues.  We were tasked with preparing our own personal user manual.  We took 90 minutes to focus on how business leaders can use this tool to foster better teamwork, increase productivity and ultimately improve management skills.  This working session had me consider the value of receiving a ‘user manual’ for each business client and furthermore what about creating a ‘user manual’ on what to expect when working with New England Construction?  We are currently underway with authoring The NEC Way for both clients and employees. 

Interested in drafting your own ‘user manual’?  There are ton of resources available. Our networking group worked off of Abby Falik’s introduction along with Imperative’s “How To” step by step instruction.   First take some time to consider the questions below, answering the 5-7 that jump out as most relevant to you. BE HONEST. This isn't about judging yourself or others, but identifying your personal and professional quirks so that people working with you can have a better sense of who you are and how to work with you.

  • What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?
  • What drives you nuts? What are your quirks?
  • How can people earn an extra gold star with you?
  • What qualities do you particularly value in people who work with you?
  • What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?
  • How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?
  • What's the best way to communicate with you?
  • What's the best way to convince you of something?
  • How do you like to give and get feedback?

Important things to remember include, do be specific.  Your ‘user manual’ should be unique to YOU.  Do be brutally honest because there's no reason not to be. Don't use your manual to enshrine good behavior and be sure to keep it relevant to work.


Some favorite statements that came out of my reflection are – Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. Don’t misinterpret my passion, confidence and direct communication style for a closed mind.  I’m open to new ideas.

Working on my manual not only empowered me to work on a clear statement of my work style and success but also gave me the opportunity to honestly explore how others can best work with me. Creating your manual isn’t about proving that your way is the best for everyone but is an effective tool for strategizing best practices in relation to building working relationships with you, those you work with, and the clients you serve. I hope you will see this as an opportunity for you to do the same.

Published by Kim Sluter March 28, 2018
Kim Sluter