Creating An Instruction Manual For Yourself

Do you know what makes you tick? Self reflection is key for improving working relationships

By Sharmadean Reid

7 January 2022

ne of my favourite bits in Elad Gil’s, High Growth Handbook is reading about Claire Hughes Johnson’s ‘Guide to Working with Claire’. It came at a time when we were hiring a lot of new people, with new personalities and although I felt that although each new hire had aligned goals, it occurred to me that we may be communicating them to each other differently. So using her guide as a template, I wrote my own.

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In order to make sure everyone in the business understood what drives me, what motivates me and how to get the best work out of me. When am I least productive, when am I most productive? Knowing when I’m least likely to make a good decision, or the type of environment that demotivates me, helps me know when my behaviour is a result of external forces or otherwise. Sometimes it’s as simple as the fact that I have to eat lunch around 12pm each day. When I’m hungry, my decision making is cloudy, so I don’t schedule meetings at this time.

Other things are more complex, like how I balance intuition and data. Although I’m a highly logical person, some things just feel… right. I needed to let the team know that I wasn’t making decisions on a whim, but instead, using years of experience to help form my intuition.

"Sometimes it’s as simple as the fact that I have to eat lunch around 12pm each day. When I’m hungry, my decision making is cloudy, so I don’t schedule meetings at this time"

Once I’d finished mine, quick as a flash, our then Head Data Scientist also did his. Unsurprising given his analytical mind.

The others needed a slight push so I created a template with some loose questions and also urged everyone to do the Myers Briggs test to use it as a benchmark/firestarter for their Guide. (I have a little Myers Briggs chart on my desk and tally new hires to see what we attract. We err on the side of ENTJs...)

Everyone in the team found the exercise difficult initially, citing that they had never stopped to think about themselves in the way. This is common, especially in us Brits. I find that most of my generation are self critical rather than self reflective, and I truly believe that you can only better yourself by knowing yourself. To stop and think about how you like to work is seen as a luxury. By the end, they found the exercise totally therapeutic.

Now it’s part of our Onboarding. Everyone in the Company has to write their personal Guide To Working With Me and drop it in a shared folder and when a new team member starts, they get sent their teammates Guides.

How do we use this information?

Each Friday we gather and spend 15–30 mins where someone presents their Guide. Some people have gone to town with fancy slideshows, the more introverted simply talk through their sheet. Once they’re done we all feedback as a team, citing similarities, differences and where we see gaps. One Guide unearthed that someone may be a better Mentor than a Manager, another Guide explained how someone's childhood really shapes how they like to be spoken to.

A Guide can also show how someone doesn’t fit into your team. If you’re shaping an attitude of intellectual curiosity, when someone doesn’t display those characteristics in their Guide, it can become clear that in the long run, that hire may not last.

Shaping company culture in the early days often comes in the form of a nice deck outlining your Vision, Mission and Values, but how you actually execute those values can be tough. Rather than try and tackle an endless array of things that may be deemed “Good Company Culture” I’ve chosen 3 things that I stick to, to keep a rhythm of awareness and understanding amongst the team. This simple exercise is one of them. So if you’re looking for a project for your team to kick off 2022, this may be a good one.

It’s become a way for me to fundamentally understand someone’s home truths. It’s a way of delivering a 360 in a more relaxed way. It’s where we all geek out on Behavioural Economics for the afternoon. It's now everyone's favorite part of the week.

On Sunday January 9th, I’m going to present you with my personal Guide to Working With Me. It may be quite surprising as my exterior personality sometimes doesn’t match the inner workings. Then, I will give templates for The Stack World Members to create their own. Whether you’re a Founder or Team Member, I truly believe everyone can benefit from this exercise to actually start designing your life for maximum productivity and enjoyment.

Find out more at

The Short Stack

Working relationships can be tricky, but creating a Guide to the way you work will help alleviate conflicts and friction.

By Sharmadean Reid

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