A cheeky TechRepublic blog post, Is Your Boss an Idiot? reminded me again that communication — or lack there of — is one of the great pitfalls of going to work. More important, though, is that telepathy is neither a management tool or a career-management system, and managers and staff should stop trying to use it.
For the Boss
Unless someone has been trained to supervise, he may attempt to use telepathy to manage his staff, triangulating with one Trusted Lacky by muttering “Why don’t these idiots ever do X the way it should be done?”
Sadly, the Trusted Lacky is unlikely to ask pointedly: “Have you ever asked them to do it?” and “Have you ever explained how it should be done?” All too often, if the questions were asked, the answers would be “No.”
For the Employee
Perhaps because an employee has never worked in an office or perhaps because she mistakenly believes that everyone communicates exactly as she does with her friends, she has:
- Misread or ignored visible cues from a boss that might lead her to believe that her supervisor is concerned or upset with behavior or work product. This could be cured by looking up from a smartphone and engaging with the people in the office.
- Neglected to ask how her boss wants to learn about progress on projects. This could be cured by asking “How would you like to learn about my progress on projects? Would you like hard-copy memos, email memos, texts, phone calls or face-to-face meetings?” and “Would you like daily or weekly reports, or reports on some other schedule?
Ask for what you want. Be clear and unambiguous.