Thursday, February 03, 2011

Minor triumphs

I've been sluggish since getting back from my last trip. Until the last day or two I felt like I was still recovering from Hawaii. (Maybe I was?) Today I managed some amazing feats:
  1. Arrive at work on time
  2. Talk to boss about "things"
Unfortunately, the second accomplishment was diminished by my impatience with my supervisor's style. She doesn't think I communicate well. I can't stand talking to her, which probably accounts for that perception. She is wrong, of course, about my communication skills and many other things. She is desperate to have regular face time with me. To have me bounce things off her. I just...it's almost a complete waste of my time. I bounce things off people all the time--just not her. With her, it's not worth the trouble to get to the occasional nugget of insight. She keeps saying how she likes to work collaboratively with the implication that I don't. I do--just not with her. I told her that our meetings exhausted me. She kept saying it was important to keep her apprised of "decision points." I said that I thought she did. She confirmed that I did, but wouldn't it be good if we had a regular, monthly meeting? Would I schedule it? I said, "If you want to have a meeting with me, schedule a meeting." I then asked for examples of "decision points." She said she was looking to the future, not the past. I said, what about a future example? Nothing came to mind.

People. I know I'm being difficult. And I'm damn good at it. I can be as obstinate as a mule. But if you have an obstinate mule working for you, who is pulling more than her weight, who regularly loops you in with emails and the occasional face-to-face conversation, who is making good decisions and managing things well, why wouldn't you just leave her alone for a while and see if she can get over her obstinate-ness. I know I'm not helping the situation. But what she wants--a friendly rapport, an easy chat about the details of my projects--I can't give to her. She has more than enough information to know exactly what I'm up to. Her monitoring level is fully satisfied. And it is her fault that she's so hard to talk to. She fixates on trivial things. She repeats the same questions over and over--not just in a particular meeting, but often over the life of a project. What you tell her, she doesn't remember. When you ask her to review things, she doesn't meet your deadlines. When you give her final products that she's reviewed up to five times, she'll often still have comments--as though she didn't pay close attention the first time she read something. It's beyond frustrating to deal with her, which is why I don't like doing it. It's not merely that I'm obstinate. It's that she's demanding and what she demands is silly and trivial yet often time-consuming and difficult to provide.

Sigh.
Anyway, at least I'm more awake today!

Grateful for: being back in the same time zone.

5 comments:

  1. oy, your boss totally reminds me of my old boss, who thought he was a great communicator because he talked so much and so often, and thought the more meetings, the better.

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  2. my boss and your boss: separated at birth.

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  3. I empathize, as I've had bosses in the past whose idea of communication was one-way. I do urge you to pay the tax of having brief once a month meetings, and also to make sure that you've documented each answer to her repeated questions. She could use your obstinacy as a reason to mark you down in a performance review, regardless of your excellent performance on the tasks. I have a coworker, currently working for a bad boss whom I escaped several years ago, who is suffering for supposedly not following procedures, though her work is good. (Fortunately, she's leaving for another, better-run part of the organization).

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  4. jcd--I hear you. We just did my performance review for the year past and it was fine. Her main critique of me is about my communication skills. It's a bizarre and incorrect critique--one that completely misses the point-- but I have no interest in arguing it with her. I just have to start finding a way to zone out but still give reasonable answers to her questions during our in-person meetings. I try to do most of my communicating with her via email, so I have ample documentation of answering every question she's ever asked.

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  5. From what you say your boss seems to be somebody who needs to be reassured constantly by feeling others agree with her and support her.

    From my experience people like that don't achieve much and the more they talk the less they do.

    Personally in a case like this I would give her a minimum of what she wants, meetings once in a while, let her talk, tell her what she wants to hear and try to keep the meetings to a minimum....

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