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Designing Your Life: Crafting an Effective Personal User Manual

Dr. Desirée Schatzl
Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

Tomorrow University unveils how to optimize team collaboration with a personal user manual.

Google knew it, we know it: A personal user manual serves as a guide to understanding an individual's preferences, communication style, and unique characteristics. It acts as a tool for effective collaboration and interaction, providing insights into how best to engage with and support someone.

By documenting your preferred work methods, communication channels, and expectations, a personal user manual enables smoother teamwork and reduces misunderstandings. It promotes empathy and understanding, allowing others to tailor their approach and interactions to suit the individual's needs and preferences. Ultimately, a personal user manual fosters more productive relationships, both personally and professionally, by facilitating clear communication and promoting a greater understanding of one another.

A game-changer for team building

Working in a team or building one yourself is not always easy. Ever wished there was a foolproof guide to unlocking exceptional teamwork and seamless collaboration? Enter the Personal User Manual — your ultimate "how-to" for building powerful connections with your teammates. Think of it as a user manual, but instead of a product, it's designed exclusively for people. In this blog post, we'll take you on a journey to discover the Personal User Manual, a game-changing tool that will revolutionize how you collaborate and communicate with others.

From insights to effective team bonding

The Personal User Manual is your customized roadmap to successful collaboration. It's like having a personal guidebook that outlines how you like to work, communicate, and give and receive feedback. This unique tool offers a fun and insightful way to understand your own work style while enabling others to grasp what makes you tick, fostering strong and effective working relationships. User manuals are not static, they are living documents that describe your inner wiring and unique edge.

A must-have for every team

Imagine this: you're part of a buzzing workplace where managers encourage their teams to create something extraordinary — a "how to work with me guide." It's not just any document but a secret recipe for understanding, synergy, and building unbreakable trust. Companies like Google, GitLab, and inspiring startups have already hopped on this trend, with leaders like Sid Sijbrandij, Pete Vowles, and Ivar Kroghrud paving the way. At Tomorrow University, we believe that this game-changing tool is the key to unlocking successful collaborations. That's why personal user manuals are at the heart of our students' journey and an essential companion for all ToU collaborators. 

Trust through transparency: The benefits of personal user manuals

Creating a personal user manual requires honest self-reflection, but it is a valuable process for individuals to understand themselves better. The benefits are vast:

  1. Self-reflection: Gain deep insights into your own working preferences, strengths, and areas for growth through the creation of your Personal User Manual.
  2. Smooth onboarding: Share your User Manual with new team members to provide them with a head start in understanding your preferred collaboration methods and seamlessly integrate into the team.
  3. Cultivating psychological safety: Sharing your User Manual promotes an environment of trust and psychological safety, encouraging everyone to freely express their thoughts and ideas.
  4. Setting clear expectations: The User Manual establishes transparent guidelines, minimizing misunderstandings, and enhancing communication within the team.

Crafting your personal user manual

First, here's some advice for kicking off your process:

  • Thought-provoking insights: Reflect on your preferred communication methods, feedback preferences, and work patterns by answering a series of engaging questions.
  • Authenticity and brevity: Be open, honest, and concise in your responses to create an accurate representation of your work style and preferences.
  • Personal touch: Share relevant information about your interests and activities outside of work, providing valuable context for collaboration with others.
  • Seek input: Invite trusted colleagues to review and offer their perspectives, ensuring your User Manual truly captures your strengths and growth areas.

Second, personal user manuals are commonly structured into sections similar to these: 

  • I’d describe myself as: Here, it's all about the necessary background information you want to share (e.g. values, experience, professional life).
  • I do my very best work when: This is your opportunity to share how you work and how you would like to work with others.
  • My current working patterns are: Here, you can give insights on your availability and working preferences, among other things.
  • I prefer communicating in these ways: This section is all about how you like communicating, how you like being reached (e.g. through which medium), what you don't like in communication, etc.
  • When receiving feedback, it’s important that: This one is delicate but supremely helpful for your co-workers to know in advance. How should the hard facts be delivered to you?
  • When I’m stressed, the best way to support me is: Basically, this section is all about explaining how others can help you.
  • These are some things going on outside of work that are useful and helpful for you to know: Here, you can share details or fun facts about you as a person.
  • Others say that I’m: What are your unique characteristics?

Dr. Desirée Schatzl's Personal User Manual

Navigating the workspace like a pro

With your Personal User Manual in hand, you hold the key to unlocking exceptional collaboration and forging remarkable connections. By understanding yourself and effectively communicating your preferences, you create an environment where teamwork thrives. So, embark on this exciting journey today, create your Personal User Manual, and witness the transformative power of intentional collaboration.

Learn the tools you need to succeed at Tomorrow University

Developing and nurturing your Personal User Manual is an essential part of the "Building Your Dream Team" challenge, a pivotal component in the orientation phase of all Tomorrow University programs. By participating in this course, you'll develop vital competencies in the area of social intelligence, empowering you to turn your mission into reality through effective collaboration and inspirational leadership. At ToU we equip our students with the tools necessary to tackle complex challenges and drive meaningful change in their respective fields.  

A vibrant conversation about Building Your Dream Team in our community Slack.

Learn more about this online Master's Degree program and how you can become a part of it.

Remember, at Tomorrow University, you can create value and shape a better tomorrow.

Dr. Desirée Schatzl
Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship
Dr. Desirée Schatzl
Professor of Sustainability & Entrepreneurship

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