Based in Vancouver, Canada, this is a blog by Michael Argast. My areas of interest include travel, economics, technology, the environment, personal development and other eclectic topics.

Walk a mile... (career advice)

A few years ago, I had a colleague come to me asking for advice about how to deal with their boss. We all long for a boss who is supportive, understands the work we do and helps us achieve new heights.

This colleague was struggling with a boss who didn't see the value in the work they were conducting, and would often obstruct or direct the employee towards other tasks that they didn't see as high value. In their words, their boss "didn't get it".

How often have you heard these words? That upper management doesn't understand the problems, challenge, issues encountered at the field level.

After listening politely, I asked the colleague to relate to me what they knew of their bosses objectives and concerns. Unsurprisingly, they had no idea. The disconnect wasn't just boss to employee, but also employee to boss.

So, I said - walk a mile in their shoes. Take some time to understand the bosses day-to-day world, their objectives, their issues. Maybe they're having a hard time hitting their numbers. Maybe staff turnover is an issue. Perhaps they've got budget concerns and are worried about having to lay off personnel. 

One you understand what your boss is concerned with, I related, you could then take the step of trying to connect the work you see as so important with their objectives. And if you can't, I said, perhaps that is a sign you're focused on the wrong work. The colleague made the natural comment of "Isn't that their job - connecting my work with their objectives - rather than mine?". Perhaps it is, but for everyone, figuring out how to add value to your boss and your organization's achievements is a key career success strategy. Unwillingness or inability to do this is a career trap.

Science (fact)

Business design (book recommendations)