Especially weirdly invoking unhelpful & simplistic racial stereotypes like "I am that archetype of the 'high expectations Asian parent'"
A lot of people criticized Richard Stallman's "rider"  for the same reason, but at least there I can understand you're hiring someone you don't know personally for one engagement where you also have to get them room and board. Employer-employee is much simpler.
Self-describing like that says a lot about a person. How is that unhelpful? What's the problem with simplicity? It was an opening statement for a long description about her personality, how could it have been more nuanced?
Generally, when someone says “he/she comes with a manual” that is not a compliment.
Rather than a long essay with a self-absorbed worldview, what might be helpful is a guide written by other people who have to accommodate this person. Just kidding, nobody should be thinking about accommodating anyone in this way or to this degree.
All those statements in the essay should be private guides to the author’s own personal development. For example, “I am frequently late to meetings,” should be taken as evidence of self absorption, poor time management, and a lack of respect for coworkers. The author needs to learn how not to be late.
Or maybe we should all learn to be a little more empathetic and how best to work with our co-workers.
If you are going to invest 12+ months to working closely with someone, maybe you could spend 3 minutes reading how to best to work with them.
With all of this said, usually these are better bottom-up then top-down (a manager having reports answer a few questions so the manager can adapt their workflow)
Some people are making valid points (the documents tend to be managers selling themselves, or making excuses for themselves), but teams need to know how each other work. Assuming “being easy to work with” means being easy to work the way you want is even more self-centered!
This has been my experience. I've received phrasing similar to "After we learned to work together, we've got a pretty good canter going".
> usually these are better bottom-up then top-down
... which is what I suspect is a source of objection around the comments here. I have never received or been pointed to a document akin to a "manual for this person". It's all been direct person-to-person, hearsay, and a combination of both ["I heard Jimmy is always $This_Particular_Way, I took note but reserved judgement, and after I interacted with Jimmy enough times I figured that I personally find Jimmy to be $XYZ"].
Actually receiving a "Manual For Jimmy", especially from Jimmy directly, is an indicator of something other or more than simply "how to interact with Jimmy".
One of the best pieces of advice I received in an otherwise pretty uneventful undergraduate degree in technical theater/stagecraft was during a management course. A general manager of a small regional theater came to speak, and talk about "leadership". Generic stuff.
But he said that he has two questions he always asks direct reports. "How do you like to receive praise, and how to do you like to criticism?" I've adopted these as good questions during interviews (no matter what side of the table you're on), when meeting a new team, or even a few releases into a team forming at a retro.
They're simple questions, and folks don't always have their answer off the top of their head. But knowing who prefers that big group shout out and who prefers a quiet thank you email to them and their manager can make a huge difference.
The reason it didn't work at said company was because nobody actually read them. They were kept in a random Google Doc that you only ever saw during your onboarding.
The problem is that managers write their READMEs according to how they want to be viewed by others, so they tend to be more aspirational than realistic.
These might actually be useful if the employees could write the README for their manager and the manager could never read the document or otherwise retaliate for what the employees write about their manager. That's the only way you'd get an accurate document, but obviously it's not realistic.
I think it's better to simply write these documents as a "How to guide for team members" outlining the expectations for performance, communication, how and when their performance reviews will happen, and so on.
Better to remove the manager's ego from the equation as much as possible rather than making it the unspoken centerpiece of the document.
> I started writing a “How to work with Julie” guide for my team
So your team tells you they don't feel cared for by you and your reaction is to write a guide for them on how to work with you? Talk about not getting the message.
I do think it's very important to have good communication, introspection and awareness of others as well as the way they work. But writing a guide about yourself and expecting others to follow it is not the best way to achieve that.
Maybe do write the guide, but keep it to yourself then use it as a way to get to know yourself better and see how you can improve your way of working with others.
In terms of building rapport in a safe environment, my preferred approach is to have standup-style meetings in which everyone in the team gets a turn to speak and they have an opportunity and space to open up and be vulnerable. This is usually lead by a manager that shows vulnerability first as a way to let the rest feel more at ease with sharing. You can do these weekly and they can last 15-30min. Over time they are very powerful and help tremendously in improving the way people treat each other, as well as detecting potential issues.
Edit: PS: Innerspace has some amazing free workshops about team building, communication at work and related topics/practices, mostly targeted towards startup founders. Highly recommend them - https://www.helloinnerspace.org
I found that resolved quite well under "Things I do that may annoy you." She knows she doesn't seem caring and explains why.
They start with good intentions (informing the team about what's expected of them and how to work efficiently with the team) but they usually devolve into justifying the manager's bad behaviors and telling the team to deal with it.
In practice, most manager READMEs I've seen have been more aspirational than realistic. That is, managers describing themselves in the best possible way, or describing the type of manager they want to be.
I think it's much better to write an "Employee how-to manual" that describes what's expected of the employees, how employees can accomplish things, and so on. Delivering information to the employees from a purely manager-centric document sends a message that the manager is the star of the show and the employees are just the supporting cast who need to deal with the manager's quirks.
But that is also the default mode. It is not the best way of doing things, but most employees do have to deal with managerial quirks.
If I will be having to deal with those quirks anyway, then the guide is helpful. Otherwise I am learning via trial and error. Sure, ideally the quirks would be fixed, but that is not a likely event.
That assumes that the guide is frank and truthful. Unfortunately this is, in my experience, rarely the case. There is strong incentive to use this as a PR exercise (or "aspirational" to put it mildly) given that it is being published and visible to many people, especially above you.
So you are going to have to try to match reality against that document anyway.
Then she goes on to explain that it’s easy for people to miscommunicate, even when they have all the right intentions. She tries to avoid these misses by understanding, for each of her reports, what made that person feel cared for.
Then she explains that this can help in the reverse, too: creating a “how to work with me” guide helps reduce the miscommunication from above. She didn’t “immediately react” to her team’s feedback by creating the guide, but built up to this over time.
Getting to know people, as well as getting to know yourself and how you behave/work with those people in particular, is a process, it is not something static that you can just put in a document and expect others to read, understand and act accordingly.
In the standups the manager could very well share anything they want, they just can't expect everyone else to know it ahead of time and to just adapt to him/her.
Relationships are two way streets, there's tug and pull, there's adaptation, there's context, there are events and situations, there is change and growth, none of these are properly captured in a document that just one person writes at one point in time.
> In the standups the manager could very well share anything they want, they just can't expect everyone else to know it ahead of time and to just adapt to him/her.
They can share what they want, they just can't expect others to blindly accept it and conform to it.
And what does “ahead of time” mean? Ahead of what time? If she says some of this at a standup why is it somehow not as oppressive as if she sent it in an email? What’s the difference?
It came across to me as a pretty good idea. To write this well requires a certain degree of introspection, and it allows co-workers to gain an understanding of how you work.
Coincidentally, that's also the reason I feel the piece was so interesting, when I'm normally more drawn to technical articles.
https://medium.com/better-programming/personal-user-manuals-... <- scroll down for the pitch/anti-pitch :)
Still, it's probably better to be upfront about this stuff than wait and hope other people will make the right assumptions.
Some of that is probably my age perspective though. I'm only in my mid-thirties, so most offices I've worked in have had anti-bullying policies that swung to the draconian side.
If you just tell people what your love language is, but don't learn to show love in their love language, they still won't feel cared for. You may even be reinforcing the message that you don't care enough to adapt to them.
If you tell people to call you out on being late, but are still routinely late, it will feel like an empty apology.
We all have flaws and have to deal with each others'; for all I know this person is a fantastic manager. But I'm skeptical that this kind of document is a good way to start a working relationship. It's very personal to the author but impersonal to the recipient, giving the impression that all responsibility lies on the recipient to deal with the author's issues. I know the document tries to emphasize that that's not the case, but until you have a real relationship with the person you don't know which parts of that to trust. (Most people see themselves as being open to honest feedback, but that doesn't mean they actually are.)
This kind of document is all about validating inputs instead of reflecting on output. It's 'how can you help me?' as opposed to 'how can I help you?', and if you need this kind of document in a leadership position I think you've already failed.
Set boundaries and stuff by all means, but don't delegate that responsibility to a document that nobody will read and/or remember, and then making other people responsible for your own abject laziness.
I wonder if it raised the grade on the next survey though :D
The best managers I've had, which I've tried to emulate, have been exactly the opposite.
Good managers know enough about their team to create their own "How to work with $coworker" guide for each and every direct report!
People vary (1) in how they best receive feedback, (2) in how much freedom and ambiguity they prefer in projects they're given, (3) in how often they want to meet, so on and so forth.
If you aren't able to adjust your communication and management style to fit the needs of your team members, in most cases you aren't cut out to manage — it'll only become worse as your team grows and becomes more diverse.
Disclaimer: this only applies to smaller companies (<100 employees). The author worked at a very large company, where employees are content to read the manager's 'user guide' to understand them better and try and thrive under them.
And: you should have a power on/off button.
My concern with this approach is that it relies on us to be self-aware of our idiosyncrasies and limitations. There are aspects of myself that I do think I understand well and could be well communicated with the tool like this, but I suspect that I might be blind to the more problematic aspects of my own personality, and that this lack of self-awareness exacerbates or is that the root of the problem.
Why not just have the required adaptations laid out for easy understanding?