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Compiled and edited by Julie Tereshchuk

ask a mentor boss is bad communicator

Dear Mentors,

I work at a small firm but internal communication is a constant challenge. And it comes from the top. There are only 10 of us, but the boss constantly leaves me/us in the dark. And it happens across the board — about new prospects, about potential new hires, about process changes. I really like her as a person but it is frustrating to work with her.

Tips?

Yours,

Mentee

 

Dear Mentee,

This is a great question about a common problem.

It seems that you’ve already determined you’re not alone in being left in the dark. So, the boss’ behavior is not about you personally. That should help keep the issue out of the personal realm so it can be addressed professionally.

The best way to improve communication is to, well, communicate but not in an accusatory or unpleasant way. I would recommend a one-on-one conversation with the boss, perhaps about a project you’ve been assigned.

 You can express a desire to do good work and ask for guidance in how you can best deliver what the boss wants. You may express a need for clarity to make sure you understand what she wants by restating what you’ve heard and asking her if that’s correct.  Requesting a weekly 15-minute check-in may help keep the ball rolling so that you can use them to discuss current projects but also to ask about policy changes, prospects and other important issues.

Even though she’s the boss, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be the one to initiate more and better communication. Once it’s safe pandemic-wise, you might see if she has time for lunch.

Yours,

Mary Ann Roser

 

Dear Mentee,

Sometimes with a team that small, it’s hard to keep everyone informed when you’re wearing too many hats and spread too thin as a business owner, or when there is more bad news to express than good. As an entrepreneur myself, I get overwhelmed at times and my communication suffers. 

But that’s no excuse, no matter how much you like her as a person. If there is not a company-wide communication platform being used, I’ve found greater luck telling all team members something instead of individually. Some use Slack, we use Trello, but email is an outdated way to communicate with teams. If that’s not in use, recommending researched tools could help, but if it IS already in use? Shame on your jefe. 

I recommend researching books on “managing up,” a theory that is typically best suited for employees at large corporations, but some useful tidbits can be gleaned, particularly wording you can use to help encourage (aka squeeze out) proper communication. 

Good luck!

Lani Rosales