How To Get Your Boss Off Your Back
October 7, 2014

How To Get Your Boss Off Your Back

by Keith Brown

Your inbox is full. Before you are able to respond to the first request from your boss, you already have another four of them. And by the time you get back to her on the first question, she has already found the answer herself and replies with an email that just says, “Never mind. I found it.” Sigh.

She is a micro-manager. He is overwhelming. She plays favorites. If you have had a few bosses during your career, at least one of them was so all over you, that your stomach still churns when you think about it.

We have all been in situations where we felt like we are constantly being monitored. This leads to caution and reluctance leads to getting behind. And before you know it, you are spending more time replying to emails about the status of your projects than making progress on them.

Why do many managers feel like they need to constantly harass their employees about their work? Are they micro-managers, or is it something else? Maybe both.

If you are feeling a bit buried by your boss, or if you feel like you are spending more time reacting than acting, this post is for you. It is time to go on the offensive and start being more proactive with your manager. And it is time to make a difference. She does not know what you are doing unless you tell her and it is your responsibility to be great and keep her informed.

You do not need to change your personality or start the greatest corporate brown-nosing campaign in history to make a change. You can stay true to yourself and still make it work. Here are a few easy steps to get out in front and get your boss to stop breathing down your neck. It might not bring you pure job bliss, but you do have a chance to gain a little space and be a bit happier.

Align on goals The best way to start being proactive is to establish a clear set of goals and priorities. Without a clear vision, you might be moving ahead but going nowhere. You must establish a “goal first” approach and a true north for where you are headed. Reaffirm your priorities with your manager every week and tweak them as a necessary, but stay grounded in what you are trying to achieve. This will allow you to stay focused and on track.

Review your progress If you do not have a regular one-on-one with your boss, schedule one today. In fast-moving companies, it is not unusual to meet twice per week — even if it is only for 30 minutes to go through your priorities, progress, and any problems that are hindering you from meeting your goals. Remember that your one-on-one is your time to get what you need from your manager and also make sure that the two of you are in alignment on your priorities and goals.

Communicate Your boss does not know what you are thinking unless you tell her. It is true — she does not read minds (even if she thinks she does). This includes insights, new ideas, opportunities to move the team forward and even recommendations for things you should stop doing. Your boss hired you for a reason, so it is time to remind her why. She wants to know what you are thinking. So do not think you are bothering her by sending her recommendations and information that can be useful to her and the team. You are not only helping her but helping yourself.

Make a difference Too often we are focused on getting our job done and sacrifice making a real difference to the business. It is time to move beyond “meeting expectations” or thinking that you can get an “A” for effort. You need to add value that is different and noteworthy — work that makes you and your boss proud.

If you work long enough, you will have an unbearable boss. And you might not be able to carry their weight or threat of their weight behind you. But in most situations, if you take the right steps you can create a little healthy distance between you and your boss.

If you think about it, the best bosses are the ones who give us a little push and then the space to work our own way. They applaud both our effort and the outcomes and help us along the way. We both want to identify bosses with these qualities and prove that we deserve the freedom to be our best. We can do that by aligning on goals and keeping them in the loop.

How do you keep your boss informed and off your back? Tell us on Hacker News.

Keith Brown

Keith Brown

Keith was a vice president of marketing at Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software.

Build what matters. Try Aha! free for 30 days.

Follow Aha!

Related articles

The Best Cover Letters That CEOs Love to Read
April 13, 2017
The Best Cover Letters That CEOs Love to Read

A well-crafted cover letter is a great way to get noticed. Find out what to include in your cover letter to catch the attention of a CEO.

New Marketing Managers — Do These 8 Things in the First 30 Days
January 28, 2019
New Marketing Managers — Do These 8 Things in the First 30 Days

Are you a new marketing manager? Check out these suggestions from eight marketing experts on how to show your true value in your first 30 days.