Summary: Ask a Manager By Alison Green
Summary: Ask a Manager By Alison Green

Summary: Ask a Manager By Alison Green

Your boss seems unhappy with your work

“I’m getting the sense that you’re concerned about how I’m handling X and Y. If so, I’d really like to talk it through with you and get your feedback.”

“I might be misreading, but you seemed disappointed with how project X went. Could we talk about how you think it went?”


The job isn’t what you agreed to

“Since I started a month ago, I’ve been spending most of my time on database maintenance. Could we talk about the plan for getting the accounting work transferred over to me? I was happy to help out with the database because I know we were in a pinch with Niles being out, but I’d really like to focus on the accounting work I was hired for.”


You have concerns about a colleague’s work

“I wanted to mention to you that the last few times we’ve had proposal deadlines, I’ve had to work late to get everything done at the last minute because Oswald’s portions keep coming to me late. I’ve asked him to get his work to me earlier, but that hasn’t resolved it. Could you nudge him to hit our internal deadlines more reliably?”


Your boss expects you to answer emails and phone calls at night and over the weekend

“I’m assuming that it’s fine for me to wait to reply to emails sent at night or over the weekend until I’m back at work, unless something is obviously urgent. Let me know if that’s not the case!”


You don’t have enough work

“I wanted to talk with you about my workload. I’m finding that I’m able to finish everything on my plate fairly quickly, and I’d love to take on more. Are there other projects that I could work on?”


You believe you have unreasonable deadlines

“I can have a full mock-up in three days, but I won’t have time to fully test it by then. I could finish the testing by Monday, though. Would that work?”

“To get this done by Thursday, I’d need to push everything else back, which means that I wouldn’t finish up X and Y until next week. Would that be okay?”


Your workload is too heavy

“I can do A and B, but not C. Or, if C is really important, I could move A off my plate to make room for it. Or I could act as an adviser to Lavinia if she took on C, but I can’t do C myself if I’m also doing A and B. ”

“I’m finding that I’ve taken on way too much, and the stress of trying to juggle it all is exhausting me. I’m worried it will impact my work at some point. Can we take a look at my workload and figure out how to make it more manageable?”


You disagree with your manager’s feedback

“I definitely see what you’re saying. I was thinking that I should always prioritize calls from customers over anything else, and sometimes that means a delay in responding internally. Is that not the right way to approach it?”


Your manager is a bottleneck in your work

I know that you get a ton of work coming at you for review. Is there anything I can do differently that would help you get back to me more quickly? I’ve almost missed a few deadlines recently because things got held up in editing and approval. Would it be easier on your end if I brought printouts to our meetings so you could look at them on the spot? Or are there things I could just move forward with on my own?”


Your manager yells at you

“I really like my job here and I generally enjoy working for you. But I have a lot of trouble hearing your feedback when you yell at me. It’s not that I don’t want feedback on my work—I do, and I value it. But I don’t want to be yelled at.”


Your boss micromanages you

“I’ve built up a good track record of managing routine problems that arise with the classes I’m teaching. Could we say I’ll move forward on those without checking in with you, unless something unusual arises or there’s something a student is especially concerned about?”


You need more training

“I’m finding that I don’t have as strong a background in X as I think I need in order to do Y successfully. Would you be open to sending me to this course I’ve found that looks like it will cover all the fundamentals?”


Your manager doesn’t lay out clear expectations

“To make sure I go in the right direction with this, could we talk about how you’re envisioning the final product? Are there particular elements that I should make sure to include, or any background I should know? And how should I prioritize this relative to other projects?”


Your boss contradicts himself on priorities or work instructions

“Things are moving along with the X project. I’m still working under the assumption that we should be doing Y and Z with it. Does that still sound right, or should I make any adjustments?”


Your boss wants to be your friend, but you want to preserve professional boundaries

“If we didn’t work together, I’d love to take you up on your Renaissance Fair invitation. But I have a terrible pattern of becoming friends with my managers, and I’ve vowed to have better boundaries, so I am going to say no. Thanks for offering, though!”

“You’re so easy to talk to, and I’ve realized we keep getting drawn into personal conversations. I have a terrible pattern of becoming friends with my managers, and I’ve vowed to be better about professional boundaries—so I’m going to try heading those situations off and just wanted to explain, so that you didn’t wonder why.”


You want a raise

“I was hoping that we could talk about my salary. It’s been a year since my last raise, and I’ve taken on quite a few new responsibilities since then. I’ve taken over game testing and the intern program, and you’ve given me great feedback on how both of those have been going. I’ve been able to resolve the problems we were having with IT not prioritizing our requests, and I spent quite a few nights and weekends over the summer making sure that our campaign launch went successfully. I’m hoping that we might be able to talk about increasing my salary to recognize the additional work I’ve been doing.”


You’re going through a hard time in your personal life

“I want to let you know that I’m dealing with some difficult things in my personal life right now. I’m doing my best to keep it from affecting my work, but I wanted you to know what’s going on in case you notice I seem a little off.”


You want to work from home

“I find that it’s tough to concentrate on work that requires deep focus when I’m in the office. Would it be okay if I worked from home a few times a month when I have something that requires more uninterrupted concentration? It would have been really helpful to be able to do that last month when I was writing the pitch to the watermelon growers’ association, for instance.” (Note that you’re specifying frequency here. That’s because you want to make sure that you’re both envisioning the same thing in that regard, and that she doesn’t think she’s okaying telecommuting once a month while you’re picturing doing it twice a week.”


You’re resigning

“I’ve really enjoyed my time working here. But after a lot of thought, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on, and my last day will be _____.”