A brief…and, as yet unresolved…conversation with a former student reminded me of one of the key guidelines for getting ahead in your job… “Tell them what you’re thinking.”
I’m not pointing accusing fingers at anyone here. I’m as guilty of this “failure to communicate” as anyone. It’s not easy going up to your boss and saying “I’m not happy here and here’s why.” It should be easy. But it’s not.
The “trick” in this tap-dance is putting your feelings/observations into words that don’t immediately send the receiver into a blazing orbit of “How DARE you??”
As tempting as it might be to say, “Almighty one, this place sucks,” trust me…not advisable. The world in the 21st century is really, really, really small, and you don’t know when, how, or where your departure with guns blazing is going to sneak up and bite you in the tuchus.
I remember so fondly the greeting I got from my new supervisor-to-be when I finagled a reassignment from Clark Air Base in the Philippines to Langley Air Force Base, VA. His words…verbatim…were: “I heard you were coming. Don’t make waves.”
Now I wasn’t really unhappy at Clark, but a confluence of personal/family circumstances left me (in my mind) with no choice but to finagle an earlier-than-expected reassignment. Stepped on a few higher-ranking toes in the process.
Everything worked out okay, thank goodness. But I learned quickly (and painlessly) that telling your superiors what it is that you’re experiencing can really go a long way toward maintaining good relationships.
So here’s the deal…and here’s what I suggested to my friend.
- Plan your approach.
- Write out your statements, being careful that you’re putting things in a positive light.
- “Listen” to yourself as you make your case. Are you sounding positive? Whiny? Accusatory? If possible, get someone else (good friend?/professor?) to listen to you. What does he or she think?
- Adjust and make your case.
The main thing to remember here is that, as caring as I might be as your supervisor, I can’t know how you’re feeling about your current work situation unless you tell me. I can’t read your mind!