Working with Management: Five characteristics of a Cubicle Warrior

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Mar 13

See that poll there on the upper left right under my picture? Of the few votes so far, the largest request for writing is “How to get along with Managers.”

UPDATE: I took this poll down. The largest response was “How to get along with Managers” being the top requested topic to write about here on the blog right now.

It’s a good subject and one that is critical to becoming a Cubicle Warrior.

There is a saying out there that you are only as good as your manager. There is a lot of truth to that. A good manager can help your career and a bad manager can undermine it faster than you can blink.

Most books, articles and rants blame the manager for bad things happening. But employees have a lot to do with it as well. Any relationship is a two-way street and the manager-individual contributor relationship is no different.

So let’s start with what is in our control: what you can contribute to the relationship to help your career and work well with your manager.

In my humble opinion, there are five characteristics of an employee that will continuously provide good views from the management team — about you:

  1. Delivery Counts. When I took my first manager’s position many years ago, I was dumbfounded at how many employees said they were going to do something and then never did. This was my first revelation that I was different than most employees — when I said I was going to do something, I did it and did it when I said I was going to do it. The very first thing a manager looks for in a skilled employee is this: can I count on this person to get this done? Answering “yes” is a big differentiator to everyone else.
  2. Solve the Problem. There are a whole bunch of people out there that simply complain. Or whine. You know who they are; you see them around you every day. There is much truth to the saying “without problems, there are no profits.” Business is all about solving problems and figuring out how to make things better. Cubicle Warriors focus on solving the problem. Not the politics. Not the whining. Not the difficulty. But, solving the problem.
  3. Proactive communications. No news is NOT good news. No news is not letting your manager know what is going on. Cubicle Warriors take it upon themselves to proactively tell management the good news and also give the earliest possible heads-up of potential problems. Bad news early (and perhaps often) is a necessary skill for the excellent employee.
  4. Be the Trusted Adviser. This is an exceptionally delicate skill to develop, but one that will offer good rewards. A trusted advisor is one to whom a person (manager) can go to in order to receive good, candid, and confidential advice. The Cubicle Warrior Rule is this: I’ll tell you the good and the bad and argue my position to the best of my ability to find the right answer. Then, when the decision is made, we’re in the foxhole together, no matter what comes along.
  5. Honor Confidentiality. It is exceptionally hard for people to keep their mouths shut when given confidential information. A Cubicle Warrior must do so. There are lots of ways of doing so, but the confidences of the management team given to you must be maintained. You can do all of the above…then utterly fail all of them by not following this rule.

There is more to be written on this subject. The creative juices are going. More to follow — but these principles will help.


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.