Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful team. Setting the tone for effective communication starts with onboarding. Managers often focus on the technical aspects of onboarding – what projects will new hires be working on? what are the company’s policies? It’s easy to overlook soft onboarding.

We define soft onboarding as the elements of onboarding that help you and your new hire get to know one another professionally and personally, setting everyone up for success. One of the best ways to do this is to implement a process for creating and sharing your "Guide to Working with Me." Claire Hughes Johnson, former COO of Stripe, famously created her guide – Working with Claire: an unauthorized guide – which was highlighted in Elad Gil’s High Growth Handbook.

These guides, created and shared amongst the team, serve as a roadmap for colleagues to grasp each other’s preferred work styles, communication styles, strengths and gaps, personalities and more. They help foster increased productivity and a harmonious work environment in a way that feels fun and organic while contributing to team and company culture.

In this blog, we’ll explore how to create these guides and share examples of what to include and what a successful guide looks like.

Creating your Guide to Working with Me

Introduction

Your name: Share your name and any nicknames or phonetic pronunciations of your name, if relevant. Hyperlink your LinkedIn or Candor profile.

A photo of yourself: Share a photo of yourself, either a professional headshot or a fun photo

Summary: Share a few bullet summary of the guide (written once you’ve completed the guide)

  • Highlight what you think is most important
  • Include a section for key information such as location, timezone, role, etc. This is especially important when onboarding for remote teams.

Working Style

My general working style: Share your general working style

  • Do you prefer a structured approach to projects or are you more open to adjusting priorities on the fly?
  • Are you someone who likes to complete tasks well in advance, or do you thrive under a bit of time pressure?
  • Are you a big-picture thinker or do you prefer diving into details?
  • Do you get energized by spending time with coworkers? Are you an introvert at heart? Do you love heads down time?

[for managers] My general management style: Share your management working style

  • Do you like direct reports to work autonomously?
  • Do you like to be kept in the loop more closely for certain projects vs. others?
  • Do you have a ramp period for new hires where you work more closely with them until they secure early wins?

Communication Syle

Sync vs. async communication preferences: Share when you like to communicate async vs. sync

  • Do you prefer to make decisions live?
  • Do you prefer to get pre-reads via slack and then discuss on a call?
  • Do you prefer to make all of a certain type of decision via slack and all of a different type of decision via email?

My preferred communication channels: Share the best ways to reach you for different kinds of communication mediums

  • Do you prefer to communicate via slack, email, or video call?
  • Do you prefer slack for certain communications and email for others?
  • When is it or isn’t it appropriate to text or call you?
  • What are your response time expectations by channel?

My communication style / tone: Share more about how you like to communicate in writing and verbally, so folks know how to interpret your tone

  • Are you blunt via slack?
  • Do you tend to over-explain to cover your bases?
  • Do you prefer video off vs. on for video calls?
  • How do you typically handle disagreement?

My general schedule: Share what folks need to know about your schedule

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  • Do you like to take a regular lunch at a specific time or a regular walk in the evenings?
  • What should folks do if they need to reach you on a weekend or off-hours?

[for managers] Meetings you’ll notice: Share the meetings you like to have with direct reports

[for managers] Calendar etiquette: Share how you like direct reports to schedule meetings

  • Do you have an open calendar culture?
  • Should direct reports check in with you before scheduling meetings at certain times?
  • How much lead time do you expect for a scheduled video call?
  • Do you have regular calendar holds that are sacred?

Decisions

Decision-making framework: Share the framework(s) you use for decision-making

  • Do you need data to make your decisions?
  • What amount is appropriate for which kinds of decisions?
  • When is it appropriate to use intuition to make decisions?
  • Who do you like to consult before making decisions?

Decision-making speed: Share the framework(s) you use for speed of decision-making

  • Do you like to make certain decisions quickly and others more thoughtfully – why?

Feedback

Giving me feedback: Share the way you like to receive feedback

  • Do you like to receive feedback verbally or in written form?
  • How often do you like to receive feedback?

[for managers] Giving others feedback: Share the way you typically deliver feedback

  • Do you adjust your feedback style based on the needs of your direct reports?
  • Do you tend to deliver feedback verbally or in written form?
  • Do you tend to give feedback often and sporadically or on a set schedule?

Strengths & Gaps

What I'm great at: Share your strengths

  • What are you particularly skilled at (soft and hard skills)?
  • What can you help others with?

What I’m working on: Share your gaps

  • What are your gaps or challenges?
  • What common feedback have you received from former colleagues in previous roles?
  • How do you work on these things? What do you currently do to fill these gaps?
  • How can others help you?

Personal

My ideal coworker relationship: Share how you’d like your relationships with coworkers to look like

  • Do you like to become friends with your coworkers?
  • Do you enjoy post-work happy hours?
  • Do you like to integrate your work and family life? Keep them separate?

My family / chosen family: Share only what you feel comfortable sharing about your family and chosen family

Add photos if you feel comfortable!

  • Share a few things about your spouse or kids (if relevant).
  • Share a few things about your pet(s) (if relevant).
  • Share a few things about your significant other (if relevant) or friends.
  • Share a few things about where you’re from and/or your family’s story.

My hobbies: Share only what you feel comfortable sharing about your hobbies outside of work

Add photos if you feel comfortable!

  • Do you love to read or write? Are you an animal lover? A surfer? An avid chess player? A world traveler?

Misc personal info: Share only what you feel comfortable sharing about any relevant personal info your team might want to know

  • Do you get frequent migraines that might cause you to go offline every once in a while?
  • Do you have a physical therapy appointment that you can’t miss every week?

Bonus questions: Share fun, bonus information about yourself. Get creative! Here are some ideas:

  • What drives you nuts? irritates you?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are your top three values in life?
  • What's your guilty pleasure song, movie, or TV show?
  • Describe yourself using only three emojis.

Example: Guide to Working with Ele

Hi, I’m Eleonora, but everyone calls me Ele (pronounced eh-leh) 👋

This is my headshot from 3 years ago (I’ve recently gone blonde) 👱♀️

📍Location: New York City (Brooklyn, go Nets!)

🌍 Timezone: ET

💼 Role: Sr. Backend Engineer

TL;DR

  • I’m pretty balanced when it comes to structure vs. flexibility and collaboration vs. heads down time.
  • When it comes to – speed of work I lean “move fast, break things”, thinking style I lean “detail oriented”, sync vs. async I lean “async”, communication channels I lean “slack”, communication style I lean “blunt”, feedback style I lean “often.”
  • I love my spending time with my husband and cat, painting, traveling and running.

Working Style

  • Approach to Projects: I like a mix of plans and flexibility—kind of like having a recipe but being cool with adding a pinch of improv. Typically I’ll start with structure but if something comes up I like to be able to adjust my plans.
  • Task Timeframe: I work really well under pressure, so I tend to set my own deadlines aggressively and aim to hit them. I work best when everyone around me is doing the same. This only works if scope creep doesn’t impact the work as I go. Speaking of, I hate scope creep 🙈
  • Thinking Style: I’m very detail-oriented, almost to a fault. It’s helpful when my team helps me prioritize whether something needs to be close to perfect or whether we can skip the details and go for “good enough.”
  • Team Dynamics: Team energy pumps me up, but I’m an introvert at heart. I need to have ample heads down time.

Communication Style

  • Sync vs. Async: I tend to push for async communication when possible so I can maximize heads down time. But if you feel like a meeting is important, don’t be afraid to ping me on slack and hop on a call ad hoc or use my open calendar to schedule a call.
  • Channels: Quick chats on Slack, detailed emails for important decisions, project kickoffs or external communication, and video calls when async won't cut it. I tend to communicate often via slack and rarely via email. If you post something in a team channel, I might read it. If you tag me, I’ll definitely read it. Tag accordingly.
  • Style / Tone: I keep it straightforward and to the point. I can sometimes come across short via slack since I aim for quick communication. Please let me know if it ever comes across poorly and/or you need me to elaborate. I also tend to gloss over technical details for non technical team members. Please let me know if you want the technical run down. My tendency is to push, ask questions, and poke holes often! Please don’t take this personally; I’m just curious and want to push for the best results possible.
  • My Schedule: I’m a night owl, so if possible I like to keep meetings light in the mornings. If we do have morning meetings, I prefer to be video off.
  • Getting Outside: I take an evening stroll about an hour before it gets dark. I love to walk on the West Side Highway and catch the beautiful sunset.

Decisions

  • Framework: I like to make data-driven decisions whenever possible. I’ll poke holes in things until I fully understand the decision and have buy-in from the rest of the team.
  • Speed: I like to make decisions that are reversible quickly and decisions that are irreversible more thoughtfully. At a startup like ours, most decisions will be reversible.

Feedback

  • Receiving Feedback: Tell me straight up, in words or writing. I’m cool either way. I prefer feedback in the moment, like right after a presentation or launch. Weekly during 1:1s is great too. I don’t love receiving feedback in bulk once a quarter when examples are hard to remember.
  • Giving Feedback: However you like it, I'm good. By default I tend to give feedback like I like to receive it – straight up and often. This applies to both positive and constructive feedback.

Strengths & Gaps

  • Strengths: I strive at technical backend work. I’m great at implementing feedback and love a good team brainstorm. I’m also great an long-form writing, which is how I tend to express my project plans, strategy, etc. (P.S. Don’t feel obligated to read every word I write! Skimming is fine)
  • Gaps: I’m not a designer, so often need a nudge when it comes to the design of the products I’m building. I also often get bogged down in the details and love receiving support with prioritizing whether we need to think in details or bigger picture for any given project.

Personal

  • Coworker Relationships: I love forming strong relationships with my coworkers. I even had several past coworkers at my wedding a few years ago! A great way to do this is post-work happy hours or offsites.
  • Family: I've got an incredible Husband, Eric and a fluffy cat named Klaus. Eric and I got married a few years ago in Colombia. He comes from a huge family, while my family is pretty small (but tight knit). We had over 300 people at our wedding. We were both raised Catholic but don’t really practice much. We celebrate Christmas and Easter with our families.Here’s a photo from our wedding:
  • Hobbies: I love painting (mostly nature stuff 🌸). I’m a sucker for a teen drama TV shows (my favorite is Gossip Girl 💅). I’ve played a bunch of random sports over the years—soccer, basketball, golf, volleyball and long distance running — I even ran the New York marathon last year. Once upon a time when I lived in Hawaii I was an avid surfer. Eric and I love traveling the world and hanging out with our cat Klaus. Here’s a photo of a painting I recently worked on:
  • Misc Personal Info: I unfortunately get migraines every once in a while. They happen about once a month and I’m typically out for a few hours. I’ll ping the team if and when it happens.

Bonus:

  • Pet Peeves: Traffic, interrupting conversations, noisy eaters
  • Top Values: Honesty, loyalty, curiosity
  • Describe me in three emojis: 🤓😹🦋

That’s a Wrap!

As your team embraces soft onboarding by integrating "Guides to Working with Me," you’ll quickly see culture improvement. These guides serve as a bridge between team members, fostering understanding, empathy, and a shared sense of purpose.

Want us to guide you through the “Guide to Working with Me?” We make it easy with Candor.

A Candor profile showcasing highlights from the “Guide to Working with Me”