My operating manual as a manager

May 21, 2022

I took an online course on how to be a Complete Manager. One of the lessons I learned was to write an operating manual such that it is explicitly for others to learn about the best way to work with me. I create and use the operational manuals to accelerate relationship-building with my teammates. The real value of an operating manual is sharing it with each of my teammates through one-on-one conversation. This tool reinforces the resiliency of my relationships so that I can repair trust if a conflict arises.

Ways of working - Communication

Preference to receive feedback

  • Be honest and assume the best intentions.
  • No surprise. Communicate early and often so that the issues are visible. I could not fix it if I did not know it was an issue.
  • Be specific with examples instead of vague arguments. Be explicit if you got any assumptions about me.

Preference to share feedback

  • 1:1 private meeting instead of a group setting
  • Based on facts instead of subjective bias. Be rational instead of emotional in the discussion.
  • Be constructive with suggestions.

Forms of communication

  • Slack for internal team messages. Always respond as soon as possible. If I have a quick question, I will shoot a slack message.
  • Email for external clients. Google Meet for a more extended discussion. Appreciate to let me know about the notice period in advance to prepare.
  • In-person for social activities and team building. And I would not WhatsApp my team during non-office hours. Open to any social activities from running, bouldering or axe-throwing.

Ways of working - Time management

Time of day that I focus best independently: Morning. Focus best on independent work, such as programming software and writing documents. However, feel free to interrupt me for anything urgent.

The time of day that I collaborate best with others is the Afternoon: team meetings and casual catch-up for team building activities. Ping me anytime if you need help to solve a technical problem or just for a chat.

My approach to scheduling time on the calendar

  • Send an invite on Google Calendar. Please click accept or reject. Please propose a new time if you prefer to reschedule.
  • Reject the meeting invite if you can’t attend. Reject the invite in advance instead of doing it at the last minute. Reject the invite with a note on a brief reason.
  • I would be mostly on time for the meeting. If I were late, I would message you on slack.

Ways of working - Information

Preference to digest information

  • I prefer reading over listening. I can read much faster than I listen.
  • Asynchronously if you need a detailed answer and require analysis. Give me enough context and help me understand the background.
  • Synchronously if you need a quick answer with my best guess, it may not be the correct answer, so please double-check for an immediate response.

Things that make a meeting successful I prefer to limit to less than nine people in the group. It would be the maximum number of people for a meaningful conversation. Too many people would inhabit people to express. Keep it short within 1 hour. It is unnecessary to go through details on a status update—interactions over processes and tools. Longer meetings would be lost of focus with more distractions. Be open-minded and pivot when necessary, instead of being stubborn and not listening to others.

Ways of working - Getting it right

People get right about me:

  • I am an introvert. Networking events drain my energy levels quickly.
  • I am a keen learner with two master’s degrees (master’s in computer science and MBA) and many certificates in IT technologies. I read books and take online courses in my spare time.
  • I am more efficient at working in an office instead of working from home.

People underappreciate or underestimate me:

  • I can speak three languages, which can be useful for sales presentations in APAC.
  • My sense of humour. I am a quiet introvert, but I could crack a joke in public speaking. I like to keep the team happy and laugh together. I am good at self-deprecating.
  • My ambition. It is Asian wisdom to stay low profile and humble, but I am determined and competitive by heart. I work hard to achieve my goals.

Ways of working - Things I value most

Three essential things about me:

  • Continuous improvement. I am a quick learner and can pick up new knowledge within a relatively short amount of time. It is particularly important when working as an IT consultant in a face pace environment. Being competent is the foundation of a good manager. Grow opportunities are required to keep me excited. Challenge me to be a better person.
  • Servant leader. I put public interest before personal interest. I cannot succeed without team success. Being a manager is my responsibility to serve the team instead of taking advantage for individual benefit. Happy to contribute and do hands-on tasks if required. Not to delegate because of being lazy.
  • Agile mindset. Responding to change over following a plan. Flexible work arrangements as long as the project is delivered. Raise any issues as early as possible so that we can collaborate and find a solution. Feel comfortable making mistakes, and we can learn from our failures. Thrive in a dynamic work environment.

Ways of working - Relationship

At a relationship’s best,

  • Diverse skill sets with clear roles and responsibilities. Everyone is collaborating, and no free rider.
  • Democracy over dictatorship. Let everyone voice their opinions and give the freedom for people to collaborate independently. Use consensus to handle conflicts instead of forcing by authority.
  • Transparent about any issues or concerns. No office politics. No backstabbing. Build trust and harmony atmosphere. Be kind.

At a relationship’s most frustrating, show empathy. It’s not our intention to be stuck in this unfortunate situation. It is a virtuous cycle, and nobody wins from playing the blame game.

At a relationship’s most stressful, do not annoy me with high-frequency status updates when focused on work, such as programming. It creates more distractions and slows down the progress. Leave me alone to resolve it if it’s a blocker on a technical challenge.

Overall, my operating manual is a reflection and attempt to apply the learnings to my business. If you have anything you want to discuss with me, let me know, and I would be happy to work with you.


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Experience in software development, application architecture, and deploying cloud solutions for enterprise customers. Strong hands-on skills with a Master's degree in Computer Science and business acumen with a master of business administration (MBA) in Finance. Certified in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes (CKA, CKAD, CKS, KCNA) and Scrum (PSM, PSPO) with experience in building banking products from scratch. Connect on Linkedin

© 2022, @victorleungtw