In yesterday’s Co-Worker Conundrum, we examined a common complaint in the office. We’ll call it the “I’ll just take care of it myself” situation. Plenty of employees get frustrated because they would like to help their boss or their team, but no one takes the time to discuss what’s needed. There’s a lack of trust between the employee and their supervisors and it creates a ton of office tension.
Personally, I advocated that an employee should try to find one task of medium-level importance and focus on doing that task extremely well. Then they can continue to add jobs in this matter and gain responsibility. Don’t go after the jobs that are the most fun or that will earn the most praise. Just aim to demonstrate your capability. Then, you can start working on team projects and continue to build a reputation for dependability. Basically, work your tail off to earn your boss’s trust.
One manager says that while my advice made sense and could be helpful, I may have jumped the gun. A reader of The Grindstone wrote me an email with the subject line, “This Is Why Your Boss Doesn’t Trust You.” Well, not me personally, but the general working “you” out there.
This small business owner says that instead of immediately assuming that the boss is simply mean or micromanaging, employees need to look at their own actions and figure out why a supervisor might not be giving them more work.
“Listen, most managers are happy to have someone take responsibility for a project. We would gladly delegate the work and focus on other important jobs. So if your manager isn’t giving you anything to do, you probably need to take a look at yourself and figure out why.
Do you already have tasks that you’re ignoring because they aren’t fun or exciting? Have you completed all the training necessary to do the jobs? Have you offended a customer or co-worker who now doesn’t want to work with you? There’s almost always a reason that we aren’t asking you to do more. There’s a reason that your manager doesn’t trust you. And you should probably figure out what it is before you go on this mission to ‘prove yourself.’
I get really tired of employees complaining that they want more responsibility when they haven’t completed something I gave them weeks ago. And if your last two projects were handed in late or are running behind schedule, of course I’m not going to give you any more to do. A good manager utilizes their resources. I promise there’s a reason that someone isn’t giving you anything to do.”
Our reader brings up a really good point that plenty of us don’t like to admit. Sure, not every manager is the best, most logical person on the face of the earth. But most of them have goals to meet and are will use the tools in front of them to do so. If your boss doesn’t see you as a tool, you need to figure out why.
It is possible that you simply haven’t had time to prove yourself in a new position. Anytime you have a new supervisor, there’s going to be a learning curve. And you shouldn’t walk in to a new department expecting to get the same amount of work as everyone else. Your bosses are still trying to gage your abilities.
Also, if you haven’t completed previous assignments in a timely and satisfactory manner, no boss in their right mind wants to trust you with more. They want you to focus on the small things until they’re perfect before they more on to bigger tasks.
The most important lesson we might have learned here is that you really need to look at the situation from both sides to see the actual solution. You need to look at how an employee deals with a certain treatment, but you also need to consider why the manager chooses to act the way they do. The best tip might be to put yourself in the boss’s shoes and ask what your motivations would be. At the end of the day, an employee’s job is to make their boss’s job easier. If you aren’t serving that function, you might find yourself a whole lot more bored. Because you might be out of a job.