Have you ever sat in a room full of colleagues and listened to the Big Boss give out accolades to everyone on your team but you? Never mind the fact that it was you, and no one else, who brought the project home for everyone else. Sure, it can make you mad as hell. Then after you simmer a bit, ask yourself, what was my role in all of this? Your most important role in communicating your wins, losses and daily progress is to speak up whether it’s via email, on the phone or in person. Why? Because only you can tell your story. Below are a few mistakes that we make when miscommunicating with our bosses and how to avoid them:
We talk to everyone but the boss. Running around the office telling your cube buddies your side of the story may get you a few allies, but it’s futile in terms of communicating with your boss. Once cooler heads prevail, go speak to your higher ups to clarify any confusion, present a brief summary of how things are going and mention next steps. Believe, they will respect you in the morning for this one move. Even if you mucked up the situation.
We give up our ideas too soon. It’s great to share the next big idea with the boss, but if you’re not attached to it, that’s a faux pas. The next time you see your boss in the elevator, go ahead and pitch that fantastic project, but be sure to say I would love to work on this with you. Follow-up the same day with a quick recap and find out what they need from you to get the ball rolling. Don’t just give up your thoughts and expect nothing in return. It sets people up to use you.
We don’t involve the boss in problem-solving. This is huge because as Black women, we think we can handle EVERYTHING. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Going to the boss before the crisis hits is not only smart, but also necessary. It shows initiative in managing a situation and that you’re not so arrogant or afraid to ask questions and ask for help. By all means, come with action-oriented solutions, but go to your boss before the situation gets totally out of hand so that they can offer some perspective.
We assume the boss doesn’t care. Remember the old saying about assuming? Well… you know the rest. As bosses, we are always focused on the big picture, the strategic plan and what makes our bosses happy. We are also concerned about how our big players are faring in the workplace. Just because we are not checking in with you daily doesn’t mean we don’t care, it means we may have our eye on a bigger prize for the betterment of everyone on the team. My best advice is to check-in often, bring exciting ideas and don’t take up too much of our time. Because, believe me, we’re busy.