Is The Boss Into Your Business? - April 3, 2017
My boss and I have worked together for several years. We both come from similar backgrounds in marketing. When she had an opportunity to move up to a C-level role, I was thrilled for her. The problem is that she's still trying to get into the details of my job. It's not that I'm not capable of doing a great job, she just can't let go of her former role.
Apparently, my problem is a common one in the workplace, according to Harvard Business Review author Ron Carucci. In his recent feature, "How To Tell Your Boss to Stop Doing Your Job," he states that the results of a 10-year study of 2,700 executive leaders show that 67 percent struggled to let go of previous roles. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Carucci's recommendations on how to manage your boss in a similar situation.
Align Expectations. Don't assume your boss is aware of how involved he or she is in your job. Carucci suggested getting aligned on expectations. Clarify with your boss what he or she expects of you, including defining your role and responsibilities. If the answer aligns with your views, then it's clear that your boss is unaware of being over-involved in your job. On the other hand, if his or her description of your role does not match your understanding, then you know there is misalignment between your expectations and the boss's expectations, and you can have a conversation to address this.
Provide Feedback. Your boss's over-involvement could be a sign of issues with your job performance. Ask your boss is there are any problem with how you manage your job and meet your goals. If you hear that you are doing a great job, then again, use this opportunity to give them some feedback as a leader, and provide specific examples of how their over-involvement is not necessary. On the other hand, if your boss indicates some specific issues with your job performance, then address those.
Point Out The Impact To The Team. As Carucci says, "Your boss's unwanted involvement has further-reaching consequences than they likely realize. It makes you both look bad." Share with your boss the impact of this behavior on the organization. For example, it causes confusion on who owns what responsibilities. It can force you to become over-involved in the job below you, which then has a cascading effect. It can appear as if the boss is not a qualified leader for his or her role. Provide this insight to your leader so he or she is aware of these unintended outcomes.
Create Solutions. Often, people are not taught or trained how to be leaders, and as they move up the ladder of an organization, they move further and further away from their comfort zone. By clarifying why your boss got involved, you are helping them to identify any issues they are having with their own role and understand why they are getting too involved in yours. By identifying these issues, you both can work together to re-define roles and establish the proper level of involvement your boss should have on you and all individuals he or she leads.
Carucci reminds us to have the conversation and take the time to help your boss get back into his or her own swim lane, allowing you to thrive within yours. Read HBR for Carucci's complete article.
Source: Ron Carucci is co-founder and managing partner at Navalent, working with CEOs and executives pursuing transformational change for their leaders, organizations and industries. He is the best-selling author of eight books, including the recent Amazon bestseller Rising to Power. Download Carucci's free e-book on Leading Transformation.