No True Communication from Boss

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about incompetence: said, “How can I correct or improve my job in your eyes?” My boss said, “If you don’t know, I am not going to tell you!”

When called into a meeting with boss and was told I am not making any progress on my job, I said, “How can I correct or improve my job in your eyes?” My boss said, “If you don’t know, I am not going to tell you!” I was not his choice for this position, but rather was his superior’s choice. I get compliments on my work from all other managers I work with.

Signed, Don’t Know

Dear┬áDon’t Know:

You asked the right question. Your boss gave you an arrogant answer. That’s not good boss-bossed communication. Now you can allow his response to fester and make your relationship adversarial. Avoid him and get your compliments elsewhere and hope for a transfer.

However, you also have several constructive options One is to review and think through your job. List what you are doing well and specific things that are complimented. Trace the processes that are involved for each task. Evaluate them for efficiency and effectiveness. Analyze your job in relation to your boss’ and other work groups. Are there ways you could cut wasted supplies, time, energy, and money? Almost every workplace has fat here and there. Think lean. What might improve quality, efficiency and effectiveness?

This is to suggest that once you do a self-review, you should be able to propose and plan; short term at least. Wouldn’t it be surprise your boss if you requested a meeting with him and in that meeting you thanked him, “Jan, I didn’t like your answer to my question the other day when your said, if you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you’ because you called because apparently I was doing that you didn’t like or not doing something you thought I should be doing. But you got me to thinking and examining what I do and how I might improve, or more importantly how what I do might better meet the needs of those with whom I work.”

I predict your boss, Jan or whatever is his/her name, will reply, “So?” And you can then present what you have come up with; ways to cut waste and improve. Moreover, you can suggest ways you want to better communicate, such as, “How and when do you want me to be available to talk about my job; once a week, just when something goes wrong, or only when you call me in? I don’t want or expect you to micromanage, but I want to make your bossing job easier.”

This question should open up your boss to talk about talk. Too often bosses follow the unspoken-exception rule; they only confront a subordinate when something is going wrong. They haven’t learned to manage proactively. Ideally a boss helps those she/he supervises to plan and prepare for what comes next; dreams with them, engages them in realistic preparation that makes them more valuable in their current positions and to what might be possible in the next few years. Do any of these ideas make sense?

You are at a point in which you can propose what you might do and your boss can agree or disagree. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. This isn’t a time to accuse your boss of poor bossing or allow resentment to grow. Rather you can think big; about the total operation and the good of your workplace. Feel free to tell me what you elect to do and how it goes these next few weeks.

William Gorden