Trouble in the office? The Grindstone is here to help. Write in with your workplace drama and we’ll try to help you sort through the office politics and keep moving up the corporate ladder.
So, I recently started a new job within my company. I transferred to another division and I’m working with all new people, including a couple new supervisors. I was really excited to get the opportunity, but I was sad to leave my old bosses, who I had a great relationship with.
In my new position, no one seems to want to teach me what I’m actually doing. The supervisors seem like they can’t let go of any projects or assignments. Instead of showing me what they want from me, they just brush me off and say, “Don’t worry, I can take care of it.” They just want to handle everything themselves, then they complain about how busy they are.
I’m actually bored because no one will communicate with me or show me what I need to do. And they’re stressed and frazzled because they don’t have time. How do I get them to show me what they want?
This is an age-old complaint of assistants everywhere – how do you help a boss who won’t trust you with anything? Obviously, you aren’t an assistant. You just got a promotion, which means you’ve proven that you’re a good employee. But the problem you’re having is one that seems extremely common in the administrative world.
Realistically, we all know that your bosses are being unfair. They’re cutting you instead of utilizing your talents. It makes them pretty poor managers. The problem is that knowing you’re in the right isn’t going to help you much. You still need to find a way to gain their trust and become a productive member of the team. So here are a couple things to try.
- Ask for one specific assignment. Find one task of medium-level importance that most people don’t really want to deal with. Ask to handle that all on your own. Don’t try to take away anyone’s pet project. Don’t try to take the most fun assignment. Find something that needs to be done and ask to be in charge of it. By taking on one project, you can focus and begin to prove your dependability. Don’t be vague in your request and simply offer “to help,” have something in mind so that your supervisors have to give you a yes or no answer.
- Team up with someone else in your department. If your supervisors aren’t going to assign something to you directly, start cozying up to your co-workers. Find someone who has plenty of work to go around and simply offer them a hand. They’ll be happy for the extra set of hands and you’ll get some experience within your new position. Not to mention, having an ally in the office never hurt anyone.
- Do NOT start whining to your old boss. You got along really well with your old boss, so the immediate inclination is to go ask for their advice. But if you talk about the situation with anyone else, it could reinforce your bosses’ image of you as not being part of their team. They could see it as “tattling.” If you and your new supervisors are suffering from a trust issue, getting someone else involved might be the worst move you can make.
- Ask HR for copies of the training that would be given to new hires in this department. Since you’ve been working within the company, it’s possible that your supervisors just expect you to know what’s going on. Or at least, they expect you to be able to pick it up on your own. Either way, you should be able to ask human resources for the material that would be given to train a new hire in this department. They should have reading material and possibly online courses to introduce you to the basics. Then, you can surprise your bosses with your newfound knowledge.