was threatening to quit. When asked why, he said, “It’s my boss – the CEO/founder. He’s all over the place, shifting from one vision to the next. He’s unfocused, unclear, unrealistic, and, most disturbingly, he’s burning bridges with potential investors as well as colleagues. He even reneged on a commitment he made to me, which I had already extended to other people. He’s hurting the business and I’m worried about my reputation by affiliation.”
When running my management seminars, I get this same common objection: “It’s not me, that’s the main problem, it’s my boss”.
This issue is so common issue that I am actually developing a seminar called “Managing Upwards” that I will be running in the second half of 2014.
In Peter’s blog, he talks about the courage to confront the issue, rather than walking away. Clear, direct communication is key! Generally the problem stems from each party looking at the same facts from two different perspectives. Many assumptions are made on both sides, often without anyone confronting the real issue. In my coaching role, when I talk to bosses, they complain that their issues are not being prioritized - yet seldom do bosses get to the bottom of why this is so. Unless there is a genuine performance issue, the probability is that the team member genuinely believes that what they are working on, is a higher priority, and that they are working for the good of the business, rather than their boss. In this management era where empowerment is encouraged, clarifying why something is important, is the best way to get true commitment to the requested deliverable. But bosses are human, and don’t always get it right. Where we may have misaligned priorities or feel that the bosses behaviours or demands are impeding progress for the business, we should have the courage to confront the issue, respectfully and openly.
Actively managing your boss and talking openly will at least bring the issues out into the open, and highlight the assumptions made by each party. It is only in extreme cases, that the alignment of purpose is structurally misaligned, in which case its better for both parties to depart company.
In case you are wondering, the case mentioned in the opening section of this blog had a positive outcome after Paul had an open and frank conversation with the CEO…
The Managing Upwards seminar will be run at Wisconsin University (Madison, US) in November 2014.