A user manual for me V2

Emily Bazalgette
4 min readJul 6, 2023
The user manual for my boiler. A complicated machine, very unlike a complex human.

This is my updated user manual, my V1 from 2020 is here. It’s been interesting to see what’s changed in three years. I can see a lot of progress, which is encouraging. For example, in 2023, I do not identify as having imposter syndrome or perfectionism anymore, and I don’t really struggle with direct communication these days.

User manuals are really useful for developing your team culture and ways of working. Sharing your user manual doesn’t mean that you can expect all of your individual needs and preferences to be met, but they’re a great starting point for discussing shared ways of working in a team.

Read more about the origin of user manuals here, see an example here from @jukesie. Hat tip to NOBL and Hello Brave for some of the question prompts below.

Conditions I like to work in

  • Remotely! Covid isn’t over. There are currently 2 million people in the UK with Long Covid, which affects approximately 10% of people infected and your risk increases with every infection, even if you recovered after previous infections
  • Sometimes I’m happy to meet during the summer in well-ventilated spaces if I trust the group will disclose any symptoms beforehand. You won’t catch me maskless in a busy indoor space during the winter…

The times/ hours I like to work

  • For consulting projects, 9.30am — 3pm, Monday to Thursday. I am offline on Fridays
  • For coaching and advisory clients, 2–5pm, Monday — Thursday
  • For synchronous work, I’m better in the morning.

The best ways to communicate with me

  • Slack for bigger group projects, WhatsApp for small, quick projects with fewer than five people
  • Email or Whatsapp for general getting in touch. I rarely check LinkedIn
  • Call if it’s urgent, voicenotes are great. I will never listen to a voicemail
  • All my notifications are turned off and I don’t have Slack on my phone.

The ways I like to receive feedback

  • I will always ask for your permission to give you feedback. If we don’t know each other that well, I prefer if you ask my consent before giving me feedback. If we have a strong, trusting relationship, dive right in!
  • For feedback on work and performance, I like real-time feedback (e.g. straight after a workshop)
  • For feedback on anything relational, I prefer a scheduled meeting.

Things I need

  • Accountability. I need to know when we’re going to speak next, so I have a deadline to work to and someone to avoid disappointing
  • Intentionality about asynchronous versus synchronous work. For example, for deeper design and content creation, I like to create a v1 and then come together as a group to iterate towards v2, rather than trying to create synchronously from scratch.

Things I love

  • Connecting people to each other
  • Reading and sharing useful stuff
  • Amplifying great work, giving credit and attribution where it’s due
  • Coaching and mentoring people to help them accomplish the things that matter to them
  • Working in the open.

When working in a team, my real strengths are

  • Holding people through the uncertainty of a change or transformation process
  • Holding team members accountable to their intentions and the people they serve, challenging with respect and care
  • I can simultaneously hold the short and the long-term, the tactical and the strategic, connecting everything to a team’s vision
  • Translation. I am good at helping people from different disciplines and worldviews to connect and collaborate.

Things I struggle with

  • Waffle. Especially if I’m in delivery-mode, I find it excruciating when people don’t get to the point. I need to work on this

Things I’m trying to get better at

Other things to know about me

  • I am chronically ill, which mean I have to manage my energy carefully and design how I work. I have strong boundaries and I will protect them, even over pleasing others. You can read more about my health here
  • I am very interested in grief, how it connects with health and how grief shows up in organisational culture. I am trained in grief-tending and write GriefSick to explore and bear witness to chronic illness grief
  • I get upset if I perceive that the people I’m working with don’t prioritise the people they serve and their employees, and aren’t trying to understand how societal dynamics show up in organisations (for example, ableism, heteronormativity, patriarchy and white supremacy)
  • My values are Care, Growth, Freedom, Courage, Purpose, Justice, Belonging, Flair.
  • My strengths are: resilience, independence, curiosity, creativity, empathy, loyalty, focus, analysis.

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Emily Bazalgette

Regenerative organisational desiger. Coach. Grief tender. Writer. Creator of GriefSick: https://griefsick.substack.com/. Website: https://www.emrosebaz.com/