Once I was three weeks into a job and found myself wondering why my new boss hadn’t asked me anything about what I needed from him. So at our next one-on-one, I took the initiative. I told him how I liked to work and what I expected of him.
I remember the incredulous look on his face, but other than that it seemed like he was trying to hear what I had to say. Since it was his job to figure out how to get the best out of me, I figured I was doing him a favor.
Create a user manual for your employees
Today I found out my idea wasn’t so strange after all. I read a short article about how bosses can create user manuals for their employees. Pretty much the same idea, except it was written by the boss.
If you’re a boss, your employees want to do things in a way that will keep you happy. The problem is that for some of them, you are a mystery. They waste energy and time attempting to figure you out.
Instead of making them guess what you expect, tell them. Lay it all out: Likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and anything else that makes you a little weird. That information will help you work together.
By the way, don’t email the document. Use it to have a conversation.
Ask employees to create a user manual for you
I think the boss ought to do this, but each employee should write one for the boss as well. That way it doesn’t sound so dictatorial. When you do it as the boss, the employee might hear the message as My way or the highway. Can’t imagine that will inspire anyone or create better working relationships.
Tell your employees what this document is and how it will help. Ask them to prepare one and schedule a time to discuss it. They may be a little freaked out, so ease their concerns by telling them there is no one right way to do it. Also thank them for sharing it and show them through your actions that what you learned made a difference.
A step further
Want to expand on the idea even more? Do a team building session and use this as a framework to help employees learn more about their coworkers. Most teamwork problems are tied to unclear expectations. This tool clears that up.
The environment needs to be right for this kind of exercise to work. A facilitator can make sure you do it right. I’d be happy to help you create a way to use this concept in your group. Just give me shout.
Image credit: Victor1558