Home > Career Advancement, Communication, Discover People, Networking, Self-Improvement > 10 Things I Learned about Managing Work Relationships (and Yourself)

10 Things I Learned about Managing Work Relationships (and Yourself)

Let’s get started, and if you miss anything else on my blog, this is a MUST READ for 2011!

1. Success is a by-product.

Very few people start off their career knowing what they really want to do. But those who eventually become wildly successful are usually the ones who started off “having fun” with what they do. Having a genuine interest to “play with it” makes it so much easier for you to put passion and efforts into it, and gradually you build up your expertise along the way and naturally you become successful in due time.


2. It’s all about reactions.

Sometimes it may have to do with luck, but it’s very rare and almost impossible that luck is always on your side. I know it’s been several years, but Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Steve Jobs is a must read. You don’t need to get cancer yourself to realize what’s important in life.


3. Good judgment can be trained.

In tough times and difficult situations, there are unfavorable messages you may need to deliver. A lot of times, it’s not about WHAT you are going to say but HOW you should say it. Even if it’s a simple click of sending an email, think about how your client, your manager, or your subordinate would feel when reading it. Are you embarrassing them in front of all the others CC’ed? Are you irritating, frustrating, or discouraging them? Are you making sense?


4. Make it easier for your boss.

Bottom line of everything about work: your job is to make it easier for your boss to report to his/her boss. It’s not about hierarchy. It’s not about kissing someone’s ass. It’s about your common sense in a corporate setting. If your boss happens to be an a**hole, either you escape or you deal with it. At the end of the day, it’s that simple.


5. Offer to help.

You don’t know how important your reputation is until you lose it. And the most important reputation you want to have in Corporate America is “be reliable”, and after that, “be helpful”. Be helpful to your subordinates, to your peers, and especially to those who are more senior than you. They might never seem to need your help. Still offer. And if you ever schedule to have a coffee chat with them, buy them coffee!


6. Ask for a sample.

You spend most of your time adjusting spreadsheets and presentation slides from version 1 to version 2, 3, 4, 5 based on your manager’s comments every freaking time. The single most effective and ridiculously simple strategy to save your time is to ask your boss to give you a sample of the deliverable/output before even digging in. So you don’t need to spend hours and days “guessing” what he really wants.


7. Don’t complain.

It’s okay to say the F word at work for whatever reason. It’s okay to cry at work (IN THE BATHROOM) for whatever reason. It’s okay to leave a client meeting for 5 minutes (if your colleagues are there too and you do come back) for whatever reason. But it’s NOT okay to fall asleep in a client meeting, and NEVER complain. It NEVER looks good on you.


8. Play ahead of the curve.

I once asked an HR manager who has years of experience in recruiting how could she tell if a person is really smart in an interview, and the answer I got was: she knows how to deliver the whole story. She knows what I am really asking without me getting into too much detail. When talking about her experience, she explains to me her team, her role, the situation/project, the problem, and how she fixed it. She’s always ONE STEP AHEAD, and that’s exactly what we are looking for.


9. Always take a seat at the table.

You can talk to your male manager about football; you can talk to your female manager about raising dogs. But you can also simply do a good job, ask good questions, embrace the business of your organization wholeheartedly, and ALWAYS ALWAYS have something smart to say when people go around the table.


10. Driving, not managing.

For those who are really passionate about what they do, there is no such thing as managing up, or managing down. They take ownership , responsibilities, and initiatives, and they don’t only make sure they follow through the entire process themselves, but more importantly, they have the sense of urgency to motivate other people (peers and colleagues) to get their job done. The best employees you can ever have is NOT a person who is driven, but a person who knows how to be a cheerleader for OTHERS, and thus as a team, they thrive to drive the business.


Know these 10 things, and work on these 10 things. If you do, I would be very surprised if you don’t get to the top of your league in due time.


  1. February 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Excellent advice. I will push back on two points: it really is never alright to use the f-word at work, no matter how many of your colleagues use it and cause you to feel it would not be unusual for YOU to chime in. It tells a good number of people who don’t resort to using it that you can’t think of higher level thinking words with which to communicate. AND . . . I agree with you about always taking a seat at the table. The problem is vast numbers of people cannot figure out something smart to say. (Which is why they will drop the f-bomb.) So, as I always say, there’s help for that. Find a course or a workshop or a coach who can help you with the confidence issue.

    Perhaps small points, but I know a CEO who finds the f-bomb not simply offensive, but Neanderthal. As our mothers used to say, “Would you jump off a bridge just because everyone is doing it?” It’s too easy.

    • February 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      how’s it going Sue, you’re lovely. I know it’s probably a case by case, but for me personally, and probably for finance as an industry, it seems it’s okay to say it, not frequently but it’s okay to use it once in a while. As a matter of fact, the first time I ever used the f word at work was when I finally finished my call with someone (I can’t even remember, back office department probably), and after I hang up my phone, I said it, I just said it. I mean it was a long call, a lot of talking a lot of explanations and a lot of patience.

      And then I heard this from the head of the team sitting right behind me: welcome to the team!

      I am not sure how this happens, but probably because I am female, and I am Asian, it’s almost funny when I say it…so for me personally it’s not a problem. But i agree with you in some other cases people should be much more mindful with their word choice, and it never never hurts to respect others at the workplace.

  1. February 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm

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