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How to handle your boss
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February 26, 2007

What do you do when you're new to an organisation and want to impress the boss?

Should you go ahead and 'project' yourself or keep a low profile?

According to Get Ahead columnist Seema Goswami and author of  Woman On Top: How to Get Ahead At Work, it all depends on your personality and that of your boss.

'If he is the type who appreciates initiative, then of course, you should step forward and show it. But if his attitude is that juniors should be seen and not heard, then wait a while,' she cautions.

More such questions were answered by the author during a chat on February 21.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's the transcript.

Seema Goswami says, Hi, this is Seema. I am ready to take your questions now.


Maddy asked, Hello ma'am, What are the best ways to keep your boss satisfied especially when you are new in the organisation? Is it better to make yourself be noticed in the organisation or to maintain a low profile?
Seema Goswami answers,  When you join a new organisation, you should spend some time trying to familiarise yourself with your new environment. See how your co-workers are, what the work culture is like, and most important of all, what your boss is like. Only once you have processed this information can you begin to address the question of how to behave.

Should you maintain a low profile or project yourself forward? In the end, it depends on both your personality and that of your boss. If he is the type who appreciates initiative, then of course, you should step forward and show it. But if his attitude is that juniors should be seen and not heard, then wait awhile. It's also a function of how comfortable you are with being outgoing and visible. If that requires too much of an effort, then it might not be worth straining yourself just yet. But if you are the bubbly, extroverted type, then keeping your personality under wraps may be a strain. So, do whatever works for you -- and what you think may work for your boss.



TechnicalMan asked, Hi can we give correct information to boss, or does it sounds like being an informer?
Seema Goswami answers, I think it is imperative that you always give correct information to your boss. But if you mean whether you should tattle on your co-workers if they have been lying to him, then that's a dangerous road to go down. There's always a chance that you will be found out (even the boss may give you away) and then you will be in big trouble. Even if you don't get caught, your boss will always tend to look on you with suspicion. After all, if you could sell out your colleagues to benefit yourself, what would prevent you from stabbing him in the back?


Fool asked, My boss discriminates me. He doesn't assign me to work in challenging projects. He gives only negative comments in my performance review. He is processing visas for everyone in the team except me. I am the 3rd senior most person in team in terms of experience as well in the same company. How to deal with such a boss?
Seema Goswami answers, Before you get all worked up, stop for a moment and examine the situation dispassionately. Are you really being discriminated against or are you simply failing to pull your own weight in the organisation? There may be a good reason why you are getting negative comments. Maybe you deserve them. If you don't, then raise the matter with your boss and present your case in a dispassionate way. If you feel you have been wronged, then the logical course is to take remedial action rather than sitting back and complaining. Clearly, you have not always been discriminated against, or you would not be the third senior most person in the organisation. So, if things have changed, you need to figure out what you are doing different, and try and remedy matters accordingly. As for your boss not giving you challenging assignments, well, every assignment is only as challenging as you make it. Try and excel at what you do, push yourself to exceed the best, and those negative comments will be a thing of the past.



Rajan asked, How to handle a boss with ego or who has a wrong opinion about me, since in both the way we are affected?
Seema Goswami answers, These questions have been dealt with at length in my book, Woman on Top. Perhaps you can take some time out and read it. But to answer your question as briefly as possible, you have to make your peace with the boss with an ego. He is in charge and you are not. He is not going to change, so you will have to. You are the one who will have to make allowances for his egotistical behaviour if you want to get ahead at your workplace. If your boss has the wrong impression of you, then the only way you can correct it is by improving the quality of your work. Concentrate on getting better at what you do and force him to admit that he was wrong about you all along.

Shiv asked, I'm working with an egotistic boss and is not relieving me. I have another offer what to do? Please help
Seema Goswami answers, If the other offer is a better one, and you feel that you will be happier working for someone else, then by all means take the plunge and change jobs. I hope it all works out for you.



Sachin asked, hello ma'am, I need some guidance. I have been working in small company since last 2 years with very less pay. I am very much confident of getting new job with at least 50 to 60% hike. I am working in present company just because of technical exposure I was getting. Now I think it is time to move ahead. I am very emotional person. I don't know how to leave this company with good note. Please guide me how to overcome personal relations with professional approach?
Seema Goswami answers, I am glad that you are looking to improve your professional prospects. But you're right, it is equally important not to spoil your personal relationships at your current workplace in the process. I think the best thing is to be completely honest about your motivations. Explain that you are leaving because a) you are getting a better deal and b) you have grown as much as you possibly can in the present organisation. Tell your co-workers and superiors how much you have enjoyed your time with them. But now it is time to move on, and make something of yourself. I'm sure they will appreciate your honesty and let you go with goodwill and affection.


Smita asked, My boss is not satisfied with my working style and performance and attitude also even I think that I am doing well always. Please tell me how to improve myself as he required.
Seema Goswami answers, Well, you're already half-way to improving yourself, now that you have admitted to yourself that you have a problem. Once you have realised what you are doing wrong, it is that much easier to correct yourself. You say that your boss is not satisfied with your working style. Perhaps you need to have an honest conversation with him in which he explains where you are going wrong and where, and how you can improve. This will have the additional advantage of proving to him that you really do want to improve. One other way of tackling this situation would be to observe the people in your office who appear to be doing well and are in the boss's good books. Try and see how you can emulate their working styles so as to improve your own.



Tomorrow: Part II of the transcript

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