How to Work Your Boss

Four ways to out­smart the HBIC

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

1 ‘My boss has no time for me’

‘First, try to fig­ure out why ex­actly she is so busy,’ says Kim Scott, au­thor of Rad­i­cal Can­dor: Be A Kick-Ass Boss With­out Los­ing Your Hu­man­ity. ‘Then of­fer to tackle some of her work, which will also help you learn – it’s a win-win.’ When you do get a one-on-one meet­ing, cut to the chase – and be pre­pared. If, for ex­am­ple, you bring up a prob­lem, be ready with three pos­si­ble so­lu­tions. De­ploy the same ef­fi­ciency over e-mail, edit­ing them down to a sen­tence or two. ‘If your boss is read­ing long e-mails, she won’t have time to sit with you and talk about your ca­reer and goals,’ says Scott. ‘If you main­tain a pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship with her, she’s more likely to in­vest in you.’

2 ‘My boss plays favourites’

If your man­ager al­ways as­signs the most ex­cit­ing projects to other peo­ple, it’s nor­mal to feel un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated or left out – whether or not she’s do­ing it in­ten­tion­ally. Start by mak­ing sure she knows the value of your work. Crush your tasks, and don’t be shy about tout­ing your re­sults. Still stuck? Ask for ways you can im­prove or for her thoughts on your ef­forts. Say, ‘I’ve no­ticed that Beth gets great op­por­tu­ni­ties, and I’d love to un­der­stand how I can get sim­i­lar as­sign­ments.’ Invit­ing a per­for­mance re­view is really just an­other way of proac­tively ask­ing for help – and peo­ple typ­i­cally re­spond well to that, says Scott.

3 ‘My boss makes me run her per­sonal er­rands’

‘Some­times your boss is just des­per­ate – and it doesn’t hurt to help out,’ says Scott. But un­less your job ti­tle is ‘per­sonal as­sis­tant’, you need to set bound­aries. Next time she asks you to help with her kid’s school project, ‘Say, “Okay – but then [in­sert piv­otal task here] won’t get done,”’ sug­gests Scott. Em­pha­sis­ing your work pri­or­i­ties will re­mind her of your ac­tual du­ties. If she con­tin­ues to treat you like a jack of all slaves, it may be time to look for a new gig.

4 ‘My boss crit­i­cises me in front of my co-work­ers’

In the mo­ment, stay calm: don’t look scared or get de­fen­sive. Later, in­stead of shittalk­ing your boss, ask her to elab­o­rate (in pri­vate) on what was said. ‘Em­brace con­struc­tive crit­i­cism,’ says Scott. ‘If you treat it as a gift, you will grow and im­prove.’ Try to agree with at least one point – that will make your boss more amenable when you say, ‘This is so help­ful. Can we talk again the next time you have feed­back?’


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