How to Work Your Boss
Four ways to outsmart the HBIC
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?’
VEEP’S SELINA MEYER IS THE ULTIMATE BOSS FROM HELL