My User Manual 2021

As we leave lockdown and hopefully begin to put the pandemic behind us; I’ve realised that my job isn’t the only thing that’s changed; my working preferences have too. As we move forward into a more hybrid working world updating my user manual seems like a smart idea.

Here’s a link to the one I wrote back in 2019; if you’re curious about user manuals in general and want some tips on how to write one yourself, Christina Lai has a really good talk she does on this with accompanying slides she’s always happy to share.

This is 2021 me, with my new grey hair post lockdown.

Contacting me:

  • My hours: I predominantly work from home; as such my core hours are generally between 9 – 5:30pm; but I’m generally available and responding to messages between 8am to 7pm (GMT).
  • Best three means for contacting me: Text/WhatsApp; Teams/Slack; Email.
  • My response times: I respond best too quick and easy requests that I can deal with straight away. If it needs proper consideration it will probably have to wait until I have time set aside to be at my desk where I’m not in meetings. I try to set aside some time each day to respond to anything that needs more consideration. If I haven’t got back to you within a day, and you need a response; please send me a message to remind me.
  • If I don’t respond it’s best to: Text me or ring me.

My Preferred work approach:

  • Preferred type of work: I love coming up with ideas and solving problems; I love working with a team or one or two others to bounce ideas around; I love making a difference, and improving things for people; I love getting to know people, what their interests are, what makes them tick. I LOVE a good workshop!
  • Things that might affect my work: Constant interruptions or inability to approach tasks in a way the suits me. I don’t do well when I’m feeling stifled.
  • Open to colleagues approaching me with work questions: Always!
  • Preferred learning style: Interactive. I learn best by doing.
  • Specific skills: Problem solving. Delivering Products and Services that meet users needs, designing for vulnerable users and ensuring Products are accessible. Using data to drive improvements in performance deliverables to deliver the right outcomes. Developing innovative strategies and visions based on user needs. Mentoring, coaching, working in the open to show good leadership, sharing best practices and developing capability.
  • Work habits that assist me: Flexibility and collaboration. I work best when working with others.
  • People can assist me by: Helping me understand priorities so I can balance my work in order to get the right things done at the right time.
  • Preferred work environment: I have a high tolerance for background noise, but I don’t like harsh or unexpected noise; similarly with lighting, harsh lighting can give me migraines.
  • Travel: I’m happy to travel, and do over nights for work; but I prefer not to travel on Mondays and Fridays as my son goes to boarding school and I want to be able to do school drop offs and pick ups.

How to give me feedback:

  • Public praise: I admit this still makes me feel awkward, but I’m getting better at accepting it.
  • Timing for critical feedback: Ideally at the end of the day so I can reflect on it.
  • Delivery of critical feedback: Privately.
  • Framing of critical feedback: Constructive; help me understand what I can do better.

My Strengths:

  • Problem solving. Spotting gaps and reviewing processes to identify opportunities. I want to make things better.
  • I am adaptable and resilient, I will always try to keep going and be flexible in my approach in order to deliver the right thing. I’m good in challenging situations. I get things done. I’m best when I have a problem to fix.
  • I enjoy working in fast paced environments, I’m best when I’m busy and getting things done.
  • Developing relationships with teams, stakeholders and internal/external users; I’m a people person and I’m at my best when working with others.
  • Mentoring, coaching and up-skilling others; I actively enjoy helping others too succeed.
  • I am incredibly loyal, if we are friends/colleagues I will always have your back, if you need help I will always do my best for you.

My Weaknesses:

  • I’ve worked hard to improve my written and organisational skills, but I know they are not my greatest strengths. When asked for written briefs etc I do better when I’ve got the chance to run it past someone else before submitting. When it comes to organising things, I tend to surround myself with those who are better at it than me. I write EVERYTHING down to help me remember.
  • Linked to above; my memory isn’t great, and I’m usually balancing a lot of things, so if I forget something, do remind me; I won’t mind, it’ll help me.
  • I’m not always great with connecting names to faces, even of people I know, so please don’t be offended if I need a reminder.
  • Eye contact, it’s not you, it’s me. I am listening and I do care. The same with fiddling or doodling. It’s how my brain works, please don’t take it as a sign I’m not paying attention because I am.

Other things to know about me:

  • I am neurodivergent, I have ADHD, Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder; things like eye contact, doodling, memory etc are all part of this. But I’m good at thinking outside of the box and approaching things from a fresh angle.
  • I’m a mum to a neurodivergent child, I work hard to balance my work and home life, and talk openly about the challenges of that in order to support and encourage others to do the same.
  • I’m a ridiculous extravert and a massive geek, I recharge by spending time with my tribe.
  • People don’t always think I’m taking things seriously, but I’m very committed and passionate about what I do, I will take on the toughest situations, but I’ll do it with a smile.
  • I’m queer and I live in Manchester with my fiancée, my child and our two dogs.

Interesting fact:

In my down time I LARP; Live Action Role Play; it helps me unwind by going and being someone else for a day or a weekend; and solving fantastical problems in a fantasy world for a while.

Me at Empire LARP, with thanks to Oliver Facey for the photo.