You can choose your job, but you can’t choose your co-workers. What’s worse is if you end up with a boss whose managerial capabilities you don’t particularly like. But the thing to remember is that you can only change your actions, not theirs. That’s when it’s time to have the talk with your boss as a last-ditch effort to manage up. Here are three points to address during “the talk” on ways you can change in order to rectify your working relationship.
Ask for Your Manager’s Priority List
This request isn’t so that you can find inefficiencies or disorganization in your boss’s time management as the root of the problem (though that would be amazing). It’s so that you can ask him/her to tell you exactly what’s on your to-do list that is important to him or her. This will eliminate much of the frustration between you two since most of the agitation stems from miscommunication.
Ask them to rank the importance of the types of tasks assigned to you, along with time limits associated with them if you are in an agency setting. Is it research? Is it meeting a quota on new client leads? Now is your chance to find out once and for all what they value so that you no longer find yourself spinning your wheels on projects your boss doesn’t consider crucial.
Ask How He/She Prefers to Communicate
Maybe part of the problem the two of you are facing is the mismatch of preferred mediums. Remember, you can’t change what your boss does, so you must adapt your actions to meet his or her requests. So, ask: Do you prefer my questions written out? Do you prefer my responses via phone?
This way, you’ll find out how he/she needs to receive messages from you and why, based on whether it’s a comprehension preference or solely based on time restraints. (Personally, it helps me to know why so that I can tailor the rest of my work style to my manager’s needs.)
Discuss All Your Responsibilities
This is how the two of you can cross-reference your lists and discover any discrepancies. For example, another possible problem might be that he or she thinks you’re missing the mark on something you didn’t even realize you were responsible for. Finding this out means the problem is solved. Now your boss will know that it’s not a competency issue, but it’s simply that you had no clue that particular task was part of your scope of work.
By identifying these holes in your working relationship, you’ll show your boss your ability to lead, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as a team, and provide solutions to improve them. This will illustrate your ability to do more than just your current job, which makes a stronger case for that promotion you’re vying for.
With these three non-aggressive, straight-to-the-point talking points, you’ll show your boss that you’re not giving up easily when it comes to getting the job done. He/she should appreciate the time you took to not only clearly identify existing issues, but also in the professional way you chose to solve each problem. If you find your efforts aren’t being received well by your boss…well, that sounds like a personal problem on their part to me. Plan B? It may be time to speak to HR (and that’s a whole other article).
Megan Broussard is the creator of the career-lifestyle site ProfessionGal, based in NYC. It’s your treat for the workweek if you’re a young female professional or entrepreneur with a craving to get ahead- and you have sweet spot for office style! Connect with Megan through her email newsletter or on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora and Google+.