It was around this time of year, almost 20 years ago, when I first learned that managers are human too.
I was fresh out of college and all of my management theory coursework stated that the boss was hardworking and fair. The boss was a mentor and a motivator. The boss assigned work based upon ability and provided training to shore up skills. The fact that bosses had human foibles and failings were simply not mentioned. So, it came as a big surprise when a boss approached me about an open job requisition I was sourcing. The hiring manager had whittled the candidates down to the top three and references were being sought.
The top candidate's boss came to my office to explain that while his subordinate was likely the most qualified for and deserving of the position, he would not provide a recommendation for her. Apparently she was the only person keeping his department together. Her organizational knowledge and positional expertise were unmatched. If she were to be promoted, he would need to hire two or three new employees to replace her. Even with training, it would take over a year before his department would run smoothly again. He simply could not afford to let her go.
The gravity and reality of the situation were eye-opening. I learned that day that bosses are human... just like the rest of us. Even with the most professional of managers, there are some conversations they would prefer to avoid. Listed are the top 10.
- Fashion Police. Bosses have enough on their plates already. They do not want to add evaluating your attire. Review the written dress code, and observe the unwritten dress code. Remember what grandmother said, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
The candidate's boss was looking out for his own best interests. Fortunately, the hiring manager was savvy. He was able to read between the lines of the weak recommendation. The candidate was offered the job and she took it. Hopefully your boss would not attempt to sabotage your opportunity for promotion. But chances are there is something your boss wishes you knew, but is hesitant to tell you. An honest self-evaluation, using these top 10 tips as a starting point, may prove to be enlightening.
I would like to thank the following managers who took the time to tell me the things they would prefer not tell their employees and consultants who enlighten managers on such delicate communications: Tom Armour, Chantay Bridges, Marlene Caroselli, Kathi Elster, Pamela Feld, Diane Gayeski, Neil Gussman, Antoine Lane, Holly Paul, Don Phin, Jack Signorelli, Patricia Sigmon, Leslie Singer, as well as many other HARO responders who opted not to be mentioned by name.
Jodi's latest book, "The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners" is now available. Chapters 10 - 14 cover professional protocol in detail.
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