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.