If you thought your boss was a micromanager when you were both at your normal locations, now that you’re working from home or on your own, the hovering boss may become more of a pest. The boss may feel they have lost proximity to the work and therefore less control of performance. Some may tend to increase the amount of contact with you to make sure the work is being done the “right way”. Some insecure bosses may want to check up on you every 15 minutes, thinking it will produce better results and a higher level of motivation. What do you do about it? Develop a strategy to keep the boss happy while keeping your sanity.
Plan ahead – Based on past experiences with your boss, how often does he/she ask for an update or a briefing on what’s going on? What are the usual questions that are asked? Figure out a timeline that you can:
- Initiate the contact first
- Provide the information that you believe the boss will want to know
By being the initiator, you not only provide the necessary information, but you calm down any concerns the boss may have about your ability to do the job while keeping him/her informed. Also, you may want to set a time-certain to communicate. One alternative is at the end of the week to report on results. Another is the beginning of the week to set expectations. Determine which works best for you, but hopefully not both.
Overcommunicate – The preferred communication method is by email. In this way, you control the right amount of information and timing. The telephone is the least preferred method as the length and depth of information is controlled by your boss, with questions that go beyond an update and moves into steps and methods. The frequency of communications is variable: More than you think necessary but at least what the boss needs to feel comfortable. Each boss is different. Your objective is to lower their anxiety as they’re not immediately on top of things. As time goes on, lengthen the time of contact.
Initiate an electronic meeting – Every once in a while, initiate a video conference call. This is not imperative, but it does increase the comfort level of the boss, especially when the boss is communicating with their boss by saying, “I’ve had both written and video meetings with my people and everything is OK”. It helps the boss with his/her boss. Also, to increase your “brownie points”, pose a question or two where you are soliciting the advice or alternatives to a question like, “What do you think about….”, or “What is the downside of….”. In this way the boss feels good about your engaging in problem solving or providing counsel, plus it increases the openness of your communications.
However, always contact the boss immediately when something goes wrong or a deadline won’t be met. If you wait too long, your credibility will be in jeopardy.
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