Do you ever wish there was a shortcut to better understand everyone you’ve worked with? I definitely have.
At Buffer, we’ve had several documents to communicate job preferences over the years. Some people have released specific documents called operational manuals or leadership plans. However, we have never had anything centralized or standardized, which can be a superpower for this type of internal communication and collaboration, especially as a totally remote team.
Earlier this year, we decided it was time to make a simple template that any teammate could copy and reference in one place with work plans. In this post, I will share more information about our work plans, our exact template, and how we use them; let’s go inside.
What is a work project?
A work plan is our turn on what many in technology call user manuals, one-page sources of information about work preferences. We consider it a shortcut for colleagues to collaborate more efficiently in getting to know each other better. The plan aims to shorten the learning curve to understand how to work with another person on your team, be it a teammate, a direct report, or a manager.
We changed the user manual name to work project because the first one felt a little too robotic for our team and in the end the work plan has been just as sticky and self-explanatory.
How we configure them internally
We now host these plans in Notion. We have a place where all of Buffer’s colleagues show up along with their team and now their work project is also included.
Here’s what I look like:
In this way, everyone within Buffer has access to all work plans, and they are accessible in a centralized place and already maintained and organized.
Our work plan template in Buffer
We created a template to make it lighter for anyone on the team. The template has specific directions that we encourage everyone to use. Several optional indications are also included; everyone is welcome to make them as unique and personalized as they want.
We have three types of applications in this template:
- Sections that we encourage all colleagues to include
- Specific sections for people managers
- Inspiration to add sections that are not needed
Here is our exact work project template:
About you: (Anything you want to include on the personal side of things)Social links (and home page): Current location: Enneagram and / or Myers Briggs: Languages spoken: Any funny facts: (Favorite books, favorite pastry, pets, prizes, little-known facts.)
- When you communicate: Be direct | to be ______
- I prefer comments: Written | Written and then a video call Video call
- I prefer to carry out a short-term daily communication (not related to the project) via [Slack | Threads | Zoom | Paper | Notion | Loom]
- When I come up with a new idea, I prefer to come up with it [Slack | Threads | Paper | Notion | Loom]. When I get to the collaboration stage, I prefer to work on it [Slack | Threads | Paper | Notion | Loom].
- I prefer [all | most] of my synchronous communication via Zoom. I would too [love to try | am open to trying | am not a fan of] chatting on the phone.
- I plan in advance I get it as I go
- Words of encouragement are important to me I prefer ___ to words of encouragement
- In terms of work schedule, I prefer to be consistent with my schedules prefers to work in a more flexible way.
- What makes 1: 1 more valuable to you?
Directions for people managers
We’ve added additional questions for people managers and leaders who can share more information about their overall leadership approach. Here they are:
- What is your leadership style?
- Need some inspiration? Here are thoughts of Indeed i Monster
- What should teammates expect in 1: 1?
- How do you want your teammates to approach you for feedback?
Other indications and ideas for work plans
The above shares some basic information about someone’s style, but there’s so much more that teammates would like to know. Here are some ideas we share as inspiration to further customize the work plan:
- I am: An early bird A night owl | Neither early riser nor night owl
- I identify with Ask culture | Guess the culture (Here is a article ia Video from the main developer explaining these two options)
- One of my strengths in Buffer is: __
- My days at work are always the best when ____ happens.
- Not a big day for me when ____.
- One of my favorite buffer values is ____.
- The tool I use to plan my day is: ____
- My favorite quote is _____.
- What do you need or expect from your manager? direct reports?
- What do you need or expect from your peers?
- What makes you feel moody or stressed?
- How will others know when you are moody or stressed?
With these three sections, teammates are able to quickly develop a work plan that can give a clear picture of their work preferences, routines, and perhaps even some things that their teammates would not have known about. them otherwise.
How do we use work plans in Buffer?
The start of the work plan project arose from wanting teammates to easily share their work preferences in a simple place and for us to have a centralized location for this information internally.
When Darcy Peters, a senior Buffer client advocacy manager, and I started this project, Darcy presented three very clear use cases for work plans:
- As a team member, I was able to read my manager’s working paper and comment on some aspects of it;
- As a manager, I filled it out myself and created a space for my team members to ask me questions about it;
- I also encouraged my team members to fill it out so I could understand them better. They turned out to be great convos!
However, use cases can be summarized as:
- A team member can read that of their manager
- A manager can read that of his team members
- The partners of the mind can read each other
- Project partners may also want to read to each other
Here are some more details on how we use the plans:
As individuals, we use them to collaborate better across the company.
Sometimes you have a preference that you haven’t written at all. Maybe you hate phone calls and it wasn’t until you were asked that you realized you’d rather see people’s faces if you go on a call. Work plans can provide a shortcut to collaboration and to sharing personal preferences in this way.
They are an excellent resource for people managers.
For people managers, work plans can be fantastic resources for referencing 1: 1 with teammates and on the other hand for these managers to share more about their leadership style and communication with their immediate team.
They are especially beneficial for younger peers.
In the marketing team where I work, we are a mostly new team, with most of the team that has joined in the last year. With that in mind, these work plans have acted as shortcuts to feel that we can get to know each other better and start working together more effectively sooner.
There are many different names for what is ultimately a one page page that can help people who collaborate work together more efficiently. So no matter how you say it, what would you add to the work project we’ve created? And what’s the best example of this kind of work project you’ve seen? Send us a tweet to share!