Working with Management: Be the Trusted Adviser

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Mar 21

In Working with Management: Five Characteristics of the Cubicle Warrior, I described five items that would go a long way in what you can control in working with management. On review, however, I thought that each of the points, while good, could use some expansion. I’ve done that with other characteristics and today I’d like to expand on Being the Trusted Adviser.

In the original post, I noted this:

Be the Trusted Adviser. This is an exceptionally delicate skill to develop, but one that will offer good rewards. A trusted adviser 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.

Reasons to be a trusted adviser.

There are reasons for being a trusted adviser. Here are a few:

  • Being a trusted adviser already says that your relationship with your manager is strong.
  • Being a trusted adviser means that you are given the most difficult questions and issues to advise or resolve. This means you have a high level of skill in your position
  • Being a trusted adviser means that your manager has a place to go to in order to get a clear opinion about a particular subject.

How to become a trusted adviser

The real issue is how to become a trusted adviser to your manager. There are several walls that need to be climbed in order to have this status:

  • Have a well-thought out opinion on a variety of issues that allows you to offer logical feedback to questions from your manager.
  • Have a range of possible solutions or causes to an issue so that you are viewed as seeing many viewpoints.
  • Position your views as options and not necessarily your viewpoint. Having the same viewpoint on every issue limits your value as a trusted adviser…”let’s go to Scot and get the ‘never outsource’ viewpoint” is not the position you want to be in.
  • You must perform in your position. Managers don’t go to people for opinions unless the work being done by them is lots of value to them.
  • You must maintain confidentiality. If you truly become a trusted adviser, you will be asked opinions about things that are going on that other people do not know. Blabbing this to the world does not a trusted advisor make.
  • Have no ego in your advice. Sometimes a trusted adviser has the advice taken by the manager. Sometimes not. The value in the trusted adviser role is that options that a manager could not think of are offered by you, the trusted adviser. The role ensures that most all options are thought through before an answer is given. The role is not about taking your favorite option or only implementing what you think is the right solution.

You can tell that these skills are hard to develop and take a lot of time. Being a trusted adviser helps in dealing with management. How many people do you know just whine? How many have a singular point of view? How many options do you hear from your teammates on an issue or problem? How valuable do all of those traits make someone to management trying to solve a problem or move an issue forward?

Be different. Be the trusted adviser.

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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.