Some background hints and tips for anyone working with me. Feedback and observations on the content are most welcomed because I don’t know what I don’t know!
Conditions I like to work in
- For individual working (writing, jockeying spreadsheets, preparing presentations) I’m happiest in my home office.
- I find this sort of work hard in open-plan offices
- I also find taking calls in an open-plan office challenging (who doesn’t?)
- For small group work, I can work just about anywhere, online or in-person.
- I adore group facilitation work, and think I’ve got reasonably good at it over many years. I can scale from a handful of people to a room of 100. But give me time to properly prepare.
- I’m big into the idea that most sorts of work can work remotely – but you need to work out how. Merely transplanting in-person methods to a Zoom call often won’t work.
Times / hours I like to work
- As I get older I’m getting better at working in the mornings – other than a post-lunch slump, I’m pretty good throughout the day.
- I time-shift. If I need to be in town for a meeting in the middle of the day, I’d rather start work at home early, and then travel during “office hours”.
- I have two teenage kids, so seeing them off in the morning (around 7.45am) and being back to make them dinner (around 5pm) is important to me, particularly if my other half is away travelling for work.
- I don’t mind being at events into the evening, but can’t do it day after day.
Best ways to communicate with me
- Slack is probably the most direct way to get my attention at work
- WhatsApp or Signal are best routes if it’s out of working hours (UK 9-5)
- I’ve really got to appreciate video calls in the last few years
- I’ve never liked the telephone – no idea why but I find voice-only calls really hard work
How I best receive feedback
- I have a tendency to get defensive with critical feedback. That’s something I’ve been working to overcome for many years, but still I struggle with it.
- I would prefer to hear how something can be improved rather than just that something isn’t right.
- I’ll probably brush off positive feedback quite lightly. That’s a British thing, I think.
Things I need
- I need the space to be curious. It might look like I’m going off on tangents, but mostly that’s how I process the world.
- I also need to be able to write about things. Blogging in the last 15 years has been my way of processing the world around me and refining ideas.
- If you really need something from me, just make that explicit.
How I learn best
- Observe/Think/Write/Make probably sums it up best.
- I read a fair bit but will stop a book when I think I’ve got the core of the message. Most of my books are probably 30-50% read.
- Working out loud is also really important to my learning process. I want to hear what other people think about ideas.
- That’s a lot of why I use Twitter
Things I struggle with
- The lack of humanity in corporate processes – it’s why I left big orgs
- Being just one in the crowd. Which is maybe a bit odd for an introvert.
- Things without a sense of purpose. If there’s no reason why, why should people bother?
- Measurement for measurement’s sake. Qual is as important as Quant.
Things I love
- People building on one another’s ideas
- Being asked for help
- Introducing people to one another
- Building communities
- Making things
Other things to know about me
- I’m a proud sociologist who works in technology. My frame of reference starts with the people.
- My career goals are to find “stampable” projects – things that deliver meaningful change in the way in which people, communications and technology interact.
- I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I’m quite happy with that.
- Please don’t ask me to “reach out” to people.
If you fancy doing your own, I used the template provided by Atlassian… https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/my-user-manual
One thought on “My User Manual”
Great to see this Matt – something that I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time!