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Posts Tagged ‘savvy’

Your Boss is Not Your Friend

No matter how much you like and get along with your boss, your boss is not your friend.  Nor is your boss your confidant or venting buddy.

Unless your boss follows you around all day, every day, she is not aware of all the things you do at work. And if she does follow you around, she probably needs more to do, which I doubt.

Given that your boss often doesn’t see you work, the only exposure you may have to each other is during one-on-one and group meetings. So be careful how you behave during these meetings.

I’ve made lots of career mistakes . . . once. Here’s a mistake I made before launching Candid Culture.  I’m hoping you won’t replicate it.

In my last job, I was lucky enough to have a great boss. He was a good coach and mentor. He supported me, gave me exposure throughout the company, and always had my back. We didn’t cross paths much at work, except during our regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings.

I’m what some might call passionate. I have a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. And I can be critical of those who I think don’t do the right things.

I would often share my frustrations with my boss. The head of that department didn’t do this. This person made a bad call. So and so was making my employees’ lives hard. I wasn’t complaining, well I kind of was, but not without a purpose.

One day my boss called me out on my passionate (and at times critical) style. He said that if I was so impassioned during meetings with him, he assumed I was equally vocal in meetings with other people and departments.

This wasn’t the case. I was very careful in how I managed myself with other people in our company. I understood the importance of good business relationships and knew that people work with the people they want to work with and around the people they don’t.

But my boss didn’t get to see any of those interactions. For the most part all he saw was how I interacted with him during our meetings. With no other point of reference he was left to assume that if I vented with him, I did this with other people. If I got a little too soapboxish about an issue with him, I must do the same in other meetings.  I didn’t do those things with other people, but he had no way to know that.

My boss and I had a good relationship and I felt comfortable with him, probably too comfortable. I was politically savvy with everyone but him.

Your boss is an appropriate person with whom to express frustration, but manage how you do it. Don’t vent to vent. Every topic you raise should be with the aim of problem solving. Keep things honest but positive. Vent and complain at home, or with someone who doesn’t know the people you work with. Or better yet, spare your friends and family, and take your frustration to the gym, or the shoe department, whatever your preferred form of therapy.

Assuming you have limited exposure to your boss, make the time you have with her count. Put in front of your boss only what you want her to see. I’m not saying to be disingenuous or brush problems under the rug. Speak candidly, but manage yourself with your boss as you would with any internal or external customer.

If you stayed out until two in the morning and you’re dragging the next day, your boss doesn’t need to know that. She will assume you’re not on your game that day and that will be a check mark in the negative category for lacking good judgment and commitment to your job and the company. If you had a bad date, your boss doesn’t need or even want to know. If you think someone you work with is a dolt, ask for help in how to work well with him, and keep your opinion of his acumen to yourself.

Your boss has limited time and exposure to you. Manage yourself by showing him your polished and professional self.


How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work – Be Careful

Most managers and career coaches will tell you that if you want to position yourself for advancement in your organization, you should ask for more –more work, more responsibility, and more exposure. And that’s true –sometimes.

Yes, if you want to develop new skills, learn, grow, and be seen in your company as someone who wants to and is capable of doing more, you should ask for more responsibility.

How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work

Before launching my business, I was a national director at a company headquarters. I led a department with 21 locations and 200 people. I had a big job. One of my peers who had an equally big job leading a different department left the company. He was not replaced. After several months of his role sitting vacant, it was clear that his job was not going to be filled.

I thought the department was important to the company’s success and needed a strong leader, so I offered to run it. I already had a big, time consuming job, and now I had another one that I had volunteered for.

There was lots of opportunity to make improvements in the department I was now leading. The department needed an overhaul – different jobs, different staff, different processes and procedures. And type-A, workaholic girl was just the person for the job.

I spent six months revamping every process, procedure, and job description and trying to get my recommended changes approved. After six months of trying to make change happen, I realized that my boss wasn’t going to support my recommended changes. He blocked everything I wanted to do because changes can cost money. And he didn’t want to spend money on this department. Let me clarify, the company didn’t want to spend money on the department. The company’s most senior leaders didn’t see the department as integral to the company’s financial performance, and thus the department was not important.

I should have realized that our senior leaders didn’t see the department as important BEFORE I asked to run it. A large job, led by a senior person, is not replaced, when there is no hiring freeze in place. When a company is creating new jobs and filling vacant jobs, but chooses not to backfill a senior leader, it’s because the job wasn’t seen as necessary.  I thought it was necessary. My boss and his boss disagreed. And I couldn’t get them to think otherwise.

I am a change agent. If you want to keep your status quo, I am not the person to bring in. We will both be frustrated. My old boss did not want me to make changes to the department I took on. He didn’t think the department was important. And I didn’t see it until after I’d invested six months of my time, passion, and energy.

How to Ask For More Responsibility at Work

Every company has non-strategic and not-so-interesting work. To some extent, all employees ‘wash windows’. But don’t ask to wash windows when you can put your energy into an area that is seen as integral to the success of the business.

Ask questions and be knowledgeable of your organization’s short and long term goals. Look around for juicy work that moves the company closer to those goals. Don’t take work that the people at the top don’t think is important. You’ll be tired and frustrated.

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