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This article was first published 12 years ago

5 things your boss WILL NOT tell you

Last updated on: December 21, 2011 17:45 IST

Image: Cover of The Boss Is Not Your Friend by Vijay Nair

Sanket Dantara, an IIMA Alumnus and author of From Cubicles 2 Cabins: A survival guide to your first job lists out the things your boss won't tell you and expect you to know. Dantara offers the boss' perspective

In any organisation, there are many things, which are given and not openly stated.

The biggest challenge in being a good boss is trying to handle these difficult and sometimes awkward topics.

It is seldom worthwhile to put your boss in the hot seat and ask him about these, at least not without the risk of jeopardising your career.

So I have done this for you. Based on my conversations with seniors and peers, I have come up with the five things that your boss won't tell you.

Of course it goes without saying that these items are generic which would be applicable to most but not necessarily all bosses, and I'm sure you will recognise, if it is not meant for your boss.

Read it without getting emotional about it and I'm sure you will definitely get some tips to make your professional life easier.

Tags: Dantara , IIMA

Stick to your deadlines. For your own good

The next time your boss asks you to give him an estimate of how many hours a particular task will take, rest assured s/he know when and where you are adding a buffer.

S/he also knows if it is a cushion against unanticipated problems or just because you want to slack off.

Even if your boss doesn't know the exact quantum, s/he can guess pretty close.

The same applies to you having computer problems right before you miss a deadline and falling ill a few weeks before your exam. Your boss will ignore it and give you some leeway, but only if s/he has a buffer himself. But it definitely doesn't mean s/he doesn't know.

Do it too often and you are doing yourself a disservice and making your boss' task at appraisal time easier.


Help your boss to help you

It is not always possible for your boss to take each of your personal growth aspirations in to account, especially if it is a big team.

So speak up and tell your boss what you need to better your performance and succeed.

If it is training you need, or more time to do a task or a bigger team perhaps. Don't be shy.

Tell your boss else they won't know. Either way in most cases they are too busy to spend the effort to find out until it really starts affecting the big picture. 

If you deserve a promotion, ask for it and substantiate it with data.

Make your case for a promotion in a manner that your boss can use it to justify it to his/her boss too.


Do your homework

If you are being micromanaged, there is a small chance that there's a reason for that.

You have probably not given your boss enough comfort in terms of the quality of your work, for him/her to trust you to do it right without constant supervision.

In the same manner, each time you go to your bosses with problems, don't just expect them to give you a solution.

Spend some time thinking about it and come up with possible solutions. If they don't pick the solution, it may at least give them a starting point. If they do, that is a big plus for you. You just took your first step away from being micromanaged.


Your bosses have their own careers to manage too

If you have some bright idea which requires your boss to go out on a limb and back you, in all probability s/he won't, unless you give him/her failsafe data and convince him/her thoroughly.

This also doesn't mean that you and your boss have to agree on everything. There can be cases where they don't necessarily have the complete information. Educate them.

In the same manner, if you make them look good in front of people that matter, you will in all probability reap the rewards. 

Also your bosses wouldn't mind getting positive feedback for a change either, just as long as it is sincere.


Your bosses have their biases and favorites too

Your bosses are after all human. So it goes without saying they have their own set of biases and prejudices on how things should be done, on reading people and their skills etc.

The corollary of this is that they too will have our favourite employees. 

So even though you may be the best person in technical skills, if your attitude is not right, you are probably making things difficult for yourself.

If you are not sure about something, follow your boss' lead. Take cues from what s/he does. So if your boss sends you a work-related email, email him/her back instead of making a telephone call.
If your boss is an introvert prefers email, don't keep walking into his/her cabin asking for a face-to-face meeting.

Whether you like it or not, these biases will play a role when your bosses do your performance appraisal.

In a big team, we may not remember your individual contribution to the project but we will definitely remember if you were giving everyone a hard time, were not a team player and so on.

It will definitely not be held against you, if you have been keeping a track of your achievements and suitably documenting it so that you can present it to us at appraisal time to refresh your boss' memories.  So do it! Happy hunting and hope you find a good, fair, unbiased boss.

Sanket J Dantara is an IIMA Alumnus and author of 'From Cubicles 2 Cabins: A survival guide to your first job'. He blogs at and can be reached at

Tags: IIMA , J Dantara