Q: Our head of department likes me and gives me assignments directly without going through my supervisor. As it stands, I have a full plate because my supervisor gives me assignments too. I am caught between them. What do I do?
This is very common in the corporate world. There are some managers who have this tendency, but most of them have no ill motive, they just want to shorten the process and avoid bureaucracy, therefore approaching you directly.
Take this as a statement of approval in you by both your head of department and your supervisor, however, you must also be aware that this might make your supervisor nervous, in fear that his role might be deemed redundant, or he might think that the head of department is undermining him.
This might spoil the otherwise good working relationship between you and your supervisor.
There are two ways you can approach this matter depending on the personality of the head of department.
Approach him and let him know that you are up to the task of delivering on the assignments, however you might miss the deadline since you also have assignments from your supervisor with similar deadlines. Request him to inform your supervisor when he gives you assignments directly.
Alternatively, inform your supervisor whenever you are given assignments by his boss. Before you submit them, always review them with your supervisor. This way, you win the confidence of your supervisor and remove any insecurities he might have.
Some advice - even though your boss’s supervisor is working directly with you, your boss is the one who will make or break your career.
He is responsible for your performance and might decide to ignore the other responsibilities you undertake and focus on what you deliver for him. He is also the one that will recommend you for professional training or any promotion opportunities in future.
Play your cards well, if you want to progress in your career, always support your boss to succeed and make him look good in front of his boss, peers and other colleagues, this way, you will earn his trust, which is very critical for your success in the organisation.
Treat him the way you would want to be treated in future when you are in a similar situation. Never undermine your boss in whatever circumstance.
Jane Muiruri - Senior HR ManagerNation Media Group,[email protected]
Q: I have been at my current job for two years. I like what I do and my company is a good employer. My boss moved to another role three months ago and I have found myself working with a new boss whose leadership style is very different. I am feeling micro-managed, less trusted and more scrutinised. I feel like he is looking for a way to kick me out. Could I be overreacting or should I read the writing on the wall and start searching for another job?
Give the guy a chance before you do anything drastic. It has just been three months, and though it is clear his style is different, this may not necessarily mean he is a bad boss. His need to be closer than necessary may be driven by his newness, especially considering he is new to your department, perhaps to the organisation. For him to understand his new team, how you work and relate to each other, a closer presence may not be about breathing down your neck but more driven by his desire to learn.
Before you jump to conclusions, you need to determine a few things, for instance, is yours a lone voice or are your colleagues getting the same vibe? If others are comfortable and excited about this new person, you could be the one who needs to check your attitude. Could it be that you had hoped to succeed your former boss and are feeling discouraged for not being considered? Turn the coin. Could your new boss be feeling threatened by your presence especially if you had been positioned as next in line? Whatever the answer, you need to reassure him that you are willing to submit to his authority. Do this by being polite in the way you relate with him, completing our tasks on a timely basis, seeking his guidance where necessary and showing initiative as you would have done with your previous leader. Being new to the department, there will be things and processes he may not be too familiar with, so take it upon yourself to show him what may be unique to the department or organisation that he needs to take note of.
Over and over again, research confirms that bad bosses are a key contributor to voluntary employee turnover, but many times, these leavers fail to see or embrace their responsibility to manage their bosses by understanding his/her style, and the things that are non-negotiable when it comes to work. Since you love your job, it would be such a pity if you left over a person you have just worked with for three months. You know yourself and understand best how you need to be managed to thrive, try and understand him and what matters to him, and if you meet that expectation, you will most likely see a different relationship start to emerge. If so, get ready to be coached to your next career move.
Mwikali Muthiani - Managing Partner, MillennialHR; @MwikaliN; [email protected]
Q: I am 27 years old with six years’ experience at my current job. I have a diploma and a degree and have been actively seeking career growth elsewhere that aligns with my recent skills and competences. I have attended several interviews but I tend to think I am not considered since I am short and look very young. Could this be having a negative implication to my chances since many people tend to associate young people with irresponsibility and unprofessionalism?
It can be dispiriting to repeatedly receive negative responses to the attempts you are making to find another job and grow in your career. It is the case however that most people will, in the course of their careers, fail in some of their attempts to find a job that they apply or interview for. Although one could be unsuccessful in an interview for various reasons, youthful appearance and abbreviated height would, for most jobs, be unusual grounds for disqualifying a candidate.
Based on your question, you seem keen to align your career growth with your skills. Are you looking to enslave your career aspirations to your skills or make your skills subservient to your career aspirations? Your skills and experience are part of the apparatus needed for hoisting you to the summit of your career and not the ultimate compasses to your destiny. You could be a custodian of great skills and yet not scale the heights of your dreams.
What are your career objectives? What beacons would signal to you that you are on your way to reaching your career aspirations? Is it clear to you what growth you need at a personal and professional level to facilitate your progress? Are you able to convincingly demonstrate your readiness for the positions you apply for during an interview setting? Assuming you have sought it, what have you done with the feedback that you have received from those who have interviewed you?
It is unlikely that you have been turned down for jobs owing to your youthful appearance or height as the two metrics should not, under normal circumstances, either confer competitive advantage or unduly undermine your suitability for a job. In any event, there is not always a linear relationship between age, the appearance of youth or maturity.
Rather than desire to be taller and older-looking, take greater interest in self-awareness, proactively seek candid feedback about your strengths and weaknesses, keep your eyes trained on your career objectives, and be prepared to experience the discomfort of growth. I bet there are many examples of short and youthful-looking successful people around you.
Fred Gituku - Human Resources Practitioner; [email protected]