Working with management can seem like a dark science filled with conspiracy theories. Cubicle Warriors simplify the management relationship by following a few simple tips to keep working with management in perspective.
1. Deliver your work on time
When I changed from being an individual contributor to a manager, I was stunned at how often people committed to delivering work by a certain day…and then never hitting the day. Like managers forget when stuff is due.
The first objective a person has with their manager is to deliver what they say they are going to deliver when they committed to doing it.
2. Use your business judgment to help solve problems
We all have a brain — we need to use it. Usually the best person to solve a problem is the person closest to the problem. That’s us. But rather than using our business judgment to clearly identify a problem and propose solutions to solving them, we sit on our hands and wait for management to magically solve our problems for us.
We get paid for our business judgment as well as our work.
3. Prototype your work
One of the biggest disconnects between your manager and you is different perceptions of what your deliverable is to the manager. You think it is a PowerPoint with three pages of bullet points to talk to your manager about when the task is due. Your manager thinks it is a Word document that provides statistical research that he can use to justify a position he is taking with higher management.
You deliver your work on time…and it is all wrong.
Now, your manager, perhaps, didn’t really know what he wanted. But you’ll be the person who didn’t get it right on the review.
Prototyping your work means you complete 10-25% of it with plenty of time for changes and then review it with your manager. Right format? Right level of detail? Right audience? Any other changes? Seeing something partially completed gives each of you something tangible to evaluate, not theoretical deliverables.
You look proactive — because you are — and you more closely deliver what the manager wants.
4. Dig up your own mud
I had a manager who wanted all the bad things happening in the department revealed. He called it “digging up your own mud.” Find out the problems — so you can start working on the solutions. That way, when his manager came asking about the problem he already knew about the problem — and was already working on the solutions.
Too many people hide their mud from their manager and pay for it. They don’t communicate they are having problems so they won’t make the due date — and they miss it, killing their performance.
They discover problems, but don’t bring them up or worry about trying to solve them.
Clearly, some managers don’t want to hear about your problems getting your work done. But good managers, combined with your business judgment, want to know about the problems out there so they can get to work solving them.
5. Don’t whine
You know this person — everything is always wrong, there’s never any right answer and they blame everything on circumstances out of their control.
Sorry, we work because there are problems to solve and whining about problems doesn’t cut it. We’re supposed to fix stuff that isn’t working; it is how we make the department better. We use our business judgment to help get to solutions and make recommendations.
Cubicle Warriors know that not every manager will appreciate the effort; some managers aren’t that good. But most managers will appreciate the professional work that is shown through implementing these five tips into your work.
What other ways have you earned respect from your manager?