Is it Your Boss, Or is it You?

Is it Your Boss, Or is it You?

When to admit you're in the wrong at work, and how you can learn from it
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We’ve all had a nightmare boss (or two, or five…), and it can be a great release to gossip about how outrageous his latest request was, or how she made you stay for the 10th time this month.  Sometimes, though, we really ARE in the wrong.  Here are 5 examples of common work complaints that actually reflect misperceptions about the work environment or your own capabilities or actions, as well as tips on how to avoid making the same mistake twice.

1) Your private life should stay private, even at work
Yes, it’s annoying to turn around and find your boss eyeballing your screen (you were only on Facebook for a second!), but the reality is that what happens at work – all of it – IS your boss’ business.  Anything that’s on your desk, in your workspace, on your computer or email, or simply overheard is fair game for supervisors to monitor. While you’re at work, refrain from personal social networking, job hunting, web surfing, and taking too many personal calls.

2) You can’t believe your luck – how do you keep ending up with micro-managing bosses?
It’s certainly true that there are bosses who don’t delegate well, and who manage down to the smallest detail. However, when boss after boss manages you this way, it’s time to assess whether your work is actually giving them reason to do so.  Are you missing deadlines, submitting work with careless errors, or failing to follow up?  Even if you’re a flawless project manager, make sure that you’re letting your boss see this by “managing up” – let the boss see that you’re on top of every detail with weekly status meetings or lists, and keep them informed on key project details.

3) Your boss doesn’t understand any of your recommendations
It could be a case of incompetence on your manager’s part, but far more likely, it’s because you’re not conveying your ideas expressively or convincingly. Before you present any recommendation, make sure you’re backing your ideas up with solid logic and data, and frame your argument in a way that’s clear and easy to follow.  

4) Your boss is too sensitive, always getting defensive when you challenge them
If you’re frequently challenging your boss in public forums – hallways, meeting rooms – then consider that their reaction might be a lot different if confronted in a more private setting.  Schedule a meeting with your boss to voice your concerns.

5) Your team is incompetent
Finger pointing is not a positive trait in any setting, especially in the workplace.  If mistakes have been made, by you or by anyone on your team, refrain from playing the blame game and instead work towards finding a solution together. Similarly, if you’re constantly refusing to do things with the excuse that “that’s not your job”, reassess whether a more collaborative attitude could win you more allies, both in terms of superiors and cross-functional peers.

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