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How to relate? Create CEO ‘user manual’

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management,Profiles in Leadership

Ivar Kroghrud sees himself as “chief ironing officer.” In his 13 years as CEO of QuestBack, he spent much of his time ironing out employees’ problems. He’s now lead strategist at the Oslo, Norway-based firm, which provides feedback management tools.

By helping people overcome obstacles and maximize their contribution, Kroghrud boosts their morale and productivity. As a result, they waste less time mired in distractions and irritants.

Kroghrud likes to approach employees and ask, “What’s preventing you from doing an even better job?” and “What are you spending time on that you don’t feel you should be spending time on?” Based on their answers, he teams with them to enhance their work environment and increase their effectiveness.

Kroghrud created a one-page “user manual” to strengthen his employee relationships. It explains his work habits, character traits and preferences for communicating with others.

His goal is to demystify his behavior so that employees know how to connect with him. For example, he describes himself as “patient, even-tempered and easy-going” and requests that people engage in “straight, direct communication” with him. He adds, “I welcome ideas at any time, but I appreciate that you have real ownership of your idea and that you have thought it through in terms of total business impact.”

Employees have responded favorably to Kroghrud’s “user manual.” He finds that they are more apt to level with him and initiate contact because they feel comfortable knowing his expectations. His document also shortens the learning curve for new hires; they know right away how to relate to their boss.

— Adapted from “Want to know me? Just read my user manual,” Adam Bryant, The New York Times.


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