Avoiding conflict with the boss

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In these uncertain times it’s even more important to get on with your manager than before and most essential is knowing what not to do



11 September 2009

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We might as well face it, gone are the days of the employee-centric workplace in Ireland.

As the country strives to become a more competitive environment, employees can look to ways to improve productivity to help gain competitiveness. Like the housing market in Ireland today, it is a buyer or employer’s market, and it goes without saying that it’s a good idea to remain on the boss’s good side.

Your relationship with your boss not only determines your day-to-day happiness within a role, but your boss can also be a powerful ally in your continued career success. A manager who is on your side will progress your career in the right direction, so the last thing you want to do is exhibit behavior that undermines this relationship. Unfortunately, your manager may not always tell you if your behavior is driving him or her nuts. The following are some expamples of what not to do.

1 Poor communication

It is imperative that you understand and support your superiors’ communication requests and style. If they look for an update on email, don’t leave one on voicemail. If they request progress reports then submit them, whether asked or not. If they don’t require detail, don’t give detail. It’s critical you understand your boss’s communication preferences and adjust your style accordingly to ensure the two of you remain on the same page.

2 Refusing additional responsibility

Your boss asks you to mentor a new member of the team, saying you would be ideal for the role and wants to know if you have the time to do this. You are available but not interested, so you decline the task. You are building a ‘can’t do’ reputation as opposed to ‘can do’ and will find that the more you decline additional responsibility, the less opportunities that will come your way. There is a reason your boss chose you for the task, probably because you are the best person suited to it. Extra work and extra responsibility are two different things. Identify and accommodate extra responsibility if you want to progress in your job.

3 Requiring constant feedback

Are you a ‘high maintenance’ employee? Do you require constant feedback to stay motivated? Do you require positive reinforcement to get the job done? Unfortunately with the game being raised considerably in today’s environment, managers don’t have the time to attend to this sort of employee and you may find that this sort of behavior alienates you from the team.

4 Not listening

In one ear and out the other. This is a a sure fire way to drive your boss crazy. When told a task, make sure you understand it, don’t pretend to and come back days later with the task incomplete or incorrectly completed. Get all the information you need there and then and don’t come back with 50 questions or repeat the same questions over and over because you don’t understand the answer. Take notes.

5 Refusing to admit your mistakes

Creating an excuse to justify poor performance is dishonest and unprofessional. Plus, chances are your ploy won’t stand the test of time. If you make a mistake, step up to the plate, then go further by devising a plan for both correcting and avoiding similar incidents in the future. Employees who accept ownership demonstrate professionalism, maturity and confidence.

6 Follow up

Management is very simple. It is about delegating a task and following it up to ensure it has been carried out. There is nothing more annoying for a manager than to manage people that fail to follow through. Pay attention to the detail if delegated a task, then carry it out to the best of your ability. And if something is barring your completion of the task then raise the issue.

7 Fueling negativity

Above all, managers seek employees with a positive outlook, especially given all of the negative news in the papers these days. Enthusiasm is contagious and these individuals are able to influence the attitudes of others. You don’t want to be the one at the water cooler who spreads gossip or complains.

8 Running for the lifeboat after the ship has sunk

You are asked to complete a specific task by the end of the week. By lunchtime on Friday you realise you can’t finish the task on time and that you don’t have the resources to complete it. This will make a manager furious. Most assignments will be at the request of their line manager and when you accepted it, they confirmed it would be done to their superiors. By coming back with feedback like this at this late stage, there is no way to rectify the situation. With advanced notice, your manager can often work with you to stave off disaster.



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