Solution Saturday: My Boss is up in my Business
I had a paranoid boss who only showed up when things might go wrong or projects had high visibility. (Bosses should show up during those times.) But, when things didn’t matter to her, it felt like I didn’t either.
I interpreted my boss’s questions as doubt in my ability. That’s about me.
To make matters worse, I’m independent and resist being told what to do. I’ll figure it out and get it done myself. I’m like the two year old who said, “I’m sitting on the outside. But, I’m standing on the inside.”
Curiosity inspires. Nosy is self-protective self-interest.
4 ways to deal with a nosy boss:
- Ask them what they need to know. The next time your nosy boss asks a question, kindly ask, “What do you need to know about that?”
- Ask them what’s important.
- Take the bull by the nose. Tell them what they need to know before they ask. Send a weekly update email. Report on progress, new initiatives, and what you’re currently working on. At the end, invite their input.
- Ask them for advice. Nosy bosses want to feel respected and involved.
5 positive behaviors for nosy leaders:
- Explain what matters most to you. It may be specific aspects of the business that others don’t appreciate. You may care about relationships between certain people.
- Show up when things are going well. Ask, “What’s working?” If they hate to see you coming, it’s because you’re a dark cloud.
- Practice mutual accountability; let go of controlling. People resist controlling leaders. Explain the topics and questions you’ll ask about at your next meeting. Stop blindsiding people.
- Teach people what matters by asking the same questions over and over. Others know how to prepare, when you ask the same questions.
- Monitor the impact of your presence. Your job is to inspire, not stress out.
What strategies for dealing with nosy bosses might you suggest?
How might leaders deal with being nosy?
Insecure nosy bosses are first to know, not last, or worst case, they discover it!
Inform nosy bosses of things you observe in your peripheral vision.. “I see our delivery time as an impediment to sales growth, can we talk about this? “
Thanks Ken. “Or worst case, they discover it!” Absolutely.
Good advice, except my boss says “yes, lets talk” and then doesn’t show!
Wow, Dan. What a very sad state of affairs when a leader is perceived as “nosy,” or worse, “paranoid,”—and staff members don’t want him or her around. I’d like to add to one of your common truisms—“people don’t leave companies, they leave managers”—I think it is also true that staff members “in the workplace” are not as forgiving of managers as are the general public of others. When a manager commits “people” errors over and over, I’m afraid to say there’s a graveyard full of ex-managers.
However, there is also hope, second chances, fixing bad habits, our nature of “light,” and unlearning. And I believe utilizing all of these–a downtrodden manager can have one last ditch effort to literally erase the past and begin anew.
Unlearning is as important as learning. In fact, unlearning is learning. Considering that our habits create the better part of our life, personally and professionally, there is arguably no single skill that is more important for us to learn and master than controlling our habits. We must identify, implement, and maintain the habits necessary for creating the positive results we want in our life, while unlearning the negative habits that are holding us back from fulfillment and achievement.
Now, we’ve all experienced dark journeys of the night. When dark and light are placed in the same room, light always wins. And because our nature is light, we triumph over every bad habit or any other limit we’ve learned. And not only does light “win” over dark, it “dispels” past darkness—meaning it ousts and chases it away. And as long as the light is on, that old dark will never be seen again. It’s erased!
Moreover, it is a mistake for anyone to believe we have lived too long in our old, unsatisfactory ways to make a great change. If we switch on the light in a dark room, it makes no difference how long it was dark because the light will still shine. Be aware and be teachable. That is the whole secret.
Mediocrity is self-inflicted via our bad habits, while genius is self-bestowed by our self-awareness. Face bad habits and fears head on, flip on the light switch and let’s act like the leaders we are.
Thanks Books. I enjoy reading your insights. The thing that hits me hardest is the idea that employees aren’t as forgiving as the could be.
This speaks to the issue of higher standards and expectations. Those who lead are held to higher standards and we expect more from them. Having said that, it still may be a bitter pill to swallow.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
I’d suggest that the employee has some changes to make as well. Not being open to others’ (including the nosy boss’) suggestions is rude for sure and likely impacting your and the organization’s effectiveness.
The saying – “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while” – reminds us the great, key suggestions can come from anyone!!!
No matter how capable a person is, the boss is also accountable for delivery. “My people screwed that up” doesn’t work. Respect their concern, they’ll appreciate you even more.
I think a key issue missing in this conversation is trust. Speaking from experience on the receiving end, bosses can be nosy because there have been situations (justified or not) where they feel they can’t trust the employee to get the job done. What happened after that is that we went to the extreme – I would consult or copy him on every communication (he is remote from me), just to make sure my side of the story was make clear.
What I did is take step #2 and #3 to another level and have an honest conversation about what my boss’ hot buttons are, and what type of communication he wanted to receive. We also used that to talk about my perception of him only showing up when things went wrong did not inspire trust on my side as well.
It opened up communication on both sides and went a long way towards repairing our relationship, as well as realizing how empowered I am. If your boss is “in your business” then there are bigger issues at hand.
No. 5: Thank the boss for his or her interest/concern/question, etc. Then, suggest that the two of you take a snack-break together.