208: The Personal Instruction Manual

Most people have a general idea about how their colleagues or team members work best. You may occasionally pick up a random fact about a person’s personality or work style, but it’s rare to have the full picture. The result: we are frustrated by our coworkers because we don’t understand them and they don’t understand us.

Today I talk about creating a Personal Instruction Manual, or PIM for short. A PIM is a resource that describes a person’s personality and working preferences, and its purpose is to help that person’s coworkers and manager better understand and work with them. Similar to an instruction manual that comes with a new piece of hardware or software, a PIM helps people understand how to engage with someone most effectively.

The full episode guide includes a template for creating a Personal Instruction Manual. You’ll find questions for each section to help the creator capture relevant insights about themselves. In addition, I’m offering an extra bonus this week. If you are interested in having me support your team to develop Personal Instruction Manuals, I will facilitate a team coaching program centered on PIMs at a 20% discount. Get these offers when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at www.themodernmanager.com/shop.

Get the free mini-guide at themodernmanager.com/miniguides.

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Read the related blog article: Optimize Your Working Relationships with the Personal Instruction Manual

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t waste time guessing what your teammates need. Craft and share Personal Instruction Manuals to explain how each person works most effectively.
  • Each person learns and shares their Myer Briggs profile so everyone can better understand different thinking styles and behaviors.
  • Explain what work environment you work best in: remote/office, quiet/noisy, deep work/meeting times, and most productive times of days.
  • Share what types of things stress you at work and what behaviors indicate that you’re feeling stressed. Explain how people can best support you at these times.
  • Describe your communication preferences: How do you like feedback? How do you deal with conflict and what makes you feel appreciated?
  • Include a “Surprise Section” for people to share any miscellaneous things others might need to know in order to work together effectively.
  • Before holding a PIM sharing meeting, collect and share everyone’s PIMs so people can review them beforehand.
  • When sharing, ask people to give real life examples where their personality/preference showed up in ways that worked or didn’t.
  • Update and share new PIMs annually to adjust to people/work situations changing and professional/personal growth.
  • Sharing PIMs is an excellent tool for onboarding new employees.

Additional Resources:


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