Working with Management: Delivery

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Mar 14

Yesterday, I wrote about the five characteristics of a Cubicle Warrior working with management, as our performance is one side of the management – employee equation. Today, when I looked over the post with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I thought that while the individual points were well thought out, the depth of the points could use some work.

This series of posts will take a look at each of the five characteristics of a Cubicle Warrior working with the management team and expanding what is meant by each of the areas.

The first area: Delivery Counts

Delivery, by an employee, is largely in the control of the employee — especially when the work is an individual contribution to the team and not involving other team members.

  • The end state in your performance, then, is simply this: provide to your management and team members what you say you will deliver when you promised to give it to them.
  • The end state of what you want your team members and management team to remember is simple: if I give this to Scot, I can count on it being done, done right, done on time – every time.

Piece of cake, right?

Of course not. But built into those two statements come all of the tactics and strategy you need to help those statements along about your work. Here are four tactics to help:

Define well what you are to deliver. This is one of the most common traps of delivery with a manager thinking they are being clear about what is needed and an employee thinking something totally different. It’s because of the context of the work, of course.

The way to ensure both you and your manager are on the same page is to repeat back in your own words what is expected, what the format of the deliverable will be, and when it is due. This alone will save countless hours of frustration for both you and your manager.

Work a prototype. I really dislike working three days on something, the manager comes in, takes one look at it, and then changes everything about the format of the work already done. (This is different then extending what is wanted, but similar. Extending what is wanted is a good thing — it means you are doing the right stuff).

A Cubicle Warrior would work something to a beta version of what would be delivered in the format to be delivered and would meet with the manager to discuss how the finished product would look. For many people, they can only get to what they want to have when they have something in front of them to criticize and change. That’s OK. Just do it early instead of later and save yourself a ton of work.

Communicate Often — but briefly. Usually there are 5-6 questions that will come up as the work is progressing. These 5-6 questions — if answered by you alone — are built in assumptions to the work you are doing and are very dangerous if different than the assumptions your manager has about what is to be done.

Much better to take 2-5 minutes and provide the manager a quick background on the issue and suggested approach for approval than let these things lie.

Note: there is a large difference between 2-5 minutes laying out the approach than that of 2-5 hours in a meeting hashing things through. Cubicle Warriors have skills, and one of them is communicating briefly to get the information needed and then going to do the work.

Communicate Status. If you start to run behind and don’t think you can make the deliverable date, the time to communicate that is early, not late. Managers make commitments to others based upon the work of their employees and you not telling your manager of issues early will cause your manager to blow their dates with others needing the information.

It is very easy to renegotiate early. It’s very hard to negotiate anything of consequence when something is due today. Make sure that you communicate issues of meeting the due date early on in the delivery time frame.

Note: some people only negotiate extending time frames and never get anything done. That is not what I mean here. What I mean is if there is an issue that you don’t think can be overcome, try and renegotiate the date. But, you can only go to the well once on this or you start blowing your credibility with the management team.

Following these principles will ensure that your delivery to the team is top notch and worth of a Cubicle Warrior status.

Are there others?