How to instantly get to know how your people work

New technology always comes with a user manual, yet we never stop to think about user manuals for the people we work with. Everyone has different styles, pet peeves, and ways of thinking that can take us weeks, months, or even years to truly understand. Creating a One Page Operating Manual (OPOM) shortens this learning curve.

Aim

To speed up the process of understanding how someone works and to develop a shared understanding amongst team members.

Resources

  • The One Page Operating Manual (OPOM) template (here)
  • 2x30min blocks of time per person to complete

Method

  1. Each person in a team should create an OPOM by answering the About You questions in the OPOM template.
  2. To make your OPOM even better, send an email to 5-10 people who you have worked closely with and ask them to answer these questions:
    1. What brings out the best in me?
    2. What brings out the worst in me?
    3. What are my blind spots?
    4. What do you wish you had known about me when we started working together?
  3. Use this input from others to further refine your OPOM.
  4. Next, answer the Your Role questions in the OPOM template. (Note: this section of your OPOM will be fluid, depending on your role at the time).
  5. Share your OPOM with your teammates and give people a chance to ask questions.
  6. Store the OPOMs in a central location so team members can revisit them at any time.
  7. OPTIONAL: At Inventium, we include creating and sharing an OPOM as part of the onboarding process. It helps new team members reflect on their working style, while fast-tracking existing team members’ learning about the styles of their new teammates. Giving new team members an opportunity to share also facilitates the formation of new connections.

Outcome

Teams coordinate their activities more effectively and achieve better overall performance when members have a shared understanding and take into account each others’ intentions, beliefs, goals, and specific roles in the team. This is particularly important for remote teams. This shared understanding also helps create high team cohesion, another important factor closely linked to performance. Creating an OPOM will help speed up the process of getting to know one another, and go a long way in helping teams develop a shared understanding and, ultimately, improve performance.