Boss-iness

16 May

Letterbalm The BossDear LetterBalm: I sold my company several years ago when the economy tanked, even though it was a difficult thing to do. I loved running my own business – I was good at it, and I liked working for myself, managing teams and developing people. Now, I find myself having to work for others, and I hate it. I find today’s workplaces inefficient, inhumane and unproductive. Supervisors are interested only in the bottom line (to be fair, it’s the same up the entire management chain) and really don’t want to grow talent and foster innovation. My problem is keeping my opinion to myself. I’ve been able to do it so far, but it’s tough. How can I suggest some new ways of looking at/doing things on the job without angering my bosses?

–Just a Peon

The key here is tact, tact, tact. And giving lots of credit for every itty-bitty accomplishment to your supervisors so they look good to their supervisors. Ms. L.B. knows all this faux-diplomacy can make your teeth hurt because your instinct is to be honest. But unless you’re looking to start another business and be your own boss, you have to behave and not appear to be telling your bosses what to do. (If you have another good idea for a business, do pursue it because in your heart of hearts, you know it’s what you really want.) Meanwhile, here are some thoughtful ways to propose ideas to your bosses and some words to make them look good:

  • Joe/Mr. Smith, that was a good idea for team productivity you came up with last month. I have an idea for the Acme project that I think you’ll find useful – something you can apply to other projects. Can I take a few minutes to outline it for you?
  • I’ve got something that’s been kicking around in my mind for the last few weeks. It’s an idea for a new way to handle customer complaints, something you might be able to take to the higher-ups. I know complaints have been a big problem for us, and something management pays attention to.
  • You’re always receptive to ideas from the floor, so I’ve got one I think you’ll find useful and one that might save our team some money. I don’t know if it will work out, but if it does, you can bring it up to management.
  • That was a really good idea of yours to correct mistakes on the production floor. I thought of another way to add to that. Can I talk about it with you? It won’t take a minute, and I think it will save us some money and increase productivity.
  • Your team productivity is always high. I thought of something that might make it even better. Can I tell you about it?
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