Back in 2017, I was a year into my second management job and didn’t feel like my onboarding practices were at their best. I’d introduce myself, have a little bit of time with the new person, and then I’d start them on their journey learning about the company, their team, and specific projects. They’d have lots of questions, but they might wait to ask me until our next regularly scheduled meeting. We could go weeks before I even heard some of their low-priority but high-impact questions — the things that are often observed over time, but benefit from explicit discussion. That category of question includes:
How soon can I take time off?
When should I start or end my workday?
How would you like me to communicate status about my projects?
I heard about this “Manager README” thing on the Rands Leadership Slack and thought it could be THE solution to this problem, but in hindsight I don’t think it ever was.
It’s been over a year since I wrote about my version of Manager READMEs and it’s been great to see READMEs and discussions about them crop up all over the internet. I shared some tips about successfully sharing information through documents on Twitter and here I’ll apply them to a Manager README to help you avoid some common pitfalls that can lead the document to hurt more than it helps.
As a reminder, my intent of a Manager README had two parts:
A year later, I think it’s better to focus on the recipient’s value of this document, hence this new and improved intent: