• Monday, July 22, 2024
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How to respond when your leader is frustrating you on the job (2)

How to respond when your leader is frustrating you on the job (2)

This article is part two of a response to the questions and email by one of the readers of this column. The article is exploring a sophisticated approach on how subordinates can communicate their challenges to their direct boss without rocking the boat. This week, we continue from where we stopped last week.

Please be mindful of the fact that leaders like your boss expect that others are like them; fuelled by lots of activity. It might be helpful to talk about the difference in your work styles and how she expects you to navigate those differences.

Some leaders supervising a team or individuals fail to communicate their expectations very clearly and they are too impatient to reiterate them either. In my consulting role, most leaders I have worked with think their implicit expectations are obvious to everyone in the team, so when these unrealistic expectations aren’t met, they throw tantrums and yell at everyone for being shoddy or incompetent. Such leaders fail to realise that the things they expect to be obvious to everyone simply are not.

Discussing the psychological and emotional impact of her actions will not work very well as a conversation starter. It may blow up in your face and the system can be manipulated against you

They also fail to take cognizance of the fact that most team members or employees come from homes, cultures, educational systems, and generations that are different from everyone else. Because of this deficiency in leadership communication, most leaders assume certain things are obvious and they believe their people should know them.

I often tell my clients during our leadership coaching sessions that unless they tell people, what matters most to them, their team members will waste executive time trying to figure out what’s on their mind and they will get it wrong. You simply cannot expect people to read your mind.

Hence, it is imperative for leaders to make their standards clear by putting these factors into consideration to create a psychologically safe workspace for team members or employees.

It does appear like your boss’s heart is in the right place and that she is probably unaware of the impact she is having on you. Her attitude does signal that she expects you to be able to handle her weaknesses and cover for her excesses. So, one thing you can do when she comes at you is just breathe and listen.

When she asks questions that she doesn’t give you time to respond to, it probably means she doesn’t need you to answer but is just thinking out loud. That’s okay. It isn’t personal. Just breathe, listen, take notes if she says something truly brilliant, and let the rest go.

Depending on the workplace culture at your office, I will encourage you to remain professional, have that conversation and steer away from blame games or judgment. Discussing the psychological and emotional impact of her actions will not work very well as a conversation starter. It may blow up in your face and the system can be manipulated against you.

I will advise you to keep the big picture in focus, which is your career and your future. You must focus on having a thriving career beyond your current employment status.

When having that difficult conversation with your boss, build on the foundation of the gifts and graces of working with her and don’t try to guilt trip her into admitting her shortcomings. They are blind spots, and she will never see it your way because of the existing hierarchical and power distance between you two.

Read also: How to respond when your leader is frustrating you on the job

You can start by asking her for a crystal-clear direction about what the job is, the exact tasks she expects you to perform, the best way to perform them, and the timeline associated with each task. You can ask her to help you understand her work styles and that you would like to find a happy medium where you both get what you need to be productive.

You both need to create some rules of the road together and let everything else roll off your back so you can simply focus. Leaders like your boss depend on their direct reports to transform great ideas and creativity into executable actions, and she probably knows that about you.

Without wanting to diminish your pain, permit me to say that in my years of experience working with great leaders, a lot of very successful people with a genius level intelligence behave the way your boss behaves. It is often not an unusual experience, but you can learn to navigate it as long as you don’t expect her to change overnight. She may never change but you would have to change how you feel about her. Take responsibility for your own response and actions, and more importantly don’t take anything personally.

I will strongly advise that you learn how to harness your sense of humour, keep being good at what you do, and protect that focused work time so you can keep your head on straight while you develop an exit strategy for yourself. However, there are no guarantees that your next boss or employer will be a better person or place to work.

Cheering you on