Leveraging when Your Boss is Fighting with His

February 6, 2017

Leveraging when Your Boss is Fighting with His

The previous post outlined a way that you might be able to appease your boss Trevor if his boss, Jennifer, starts assigning you work. As I mentioned, might work, might not. Depends on how good Trevor is at maneuvering to get what he wants.

A gutsy but risky way out was suggested by a friend[1]who is very politically astute.

You: Hi, Jennifer. Got a moment?
Jennifer: Matt! Ah, sure.
You: You know, I love the assignments you’re assigning me. They’re really challenging.
Jennifer: And you’re doing a great job.
You: It’s just—and of course Trevor hasn’t said anything—I get the impression he finds the situation a bit awkward.
Jennifer: Well, that’s too bad.
You: Look, I don’t want to cause any hard feelings, so I was wondering whether you would consider giving me a temporary assignment reporting to you. Just for the duration.
Jennifer: How would that help?
You: Well, it would regularize the situation for Trevor and allow me to focus on your work.
Jennifer: Hmm—not a bad idea.

The Pros and Cons

If things go well, you are in the money. But it might not be all roses.

Pros of this approach Cons
·     You get to work on more challenging stuff. ·     After the assignment, you might have to go back to Trevor, who might stilled be pissed at your end run.
·     You might be able to parlay this into a permanent assignment. ·     Jennifer might not like her underground behavior highlighted (i.e. assigning you work), and might refuse to admit there is an issue.
·     You get exposure to more senior thinking and tasks. ·     If it doesn’t work, you’ll probably be in the dog house with both Trevor and Jennifer.

If it works

Congratulations! You have made a strategic move which positions you well for future promotions.

I would do a little fence-mending with Trevor. You might even ask his advice on Jennifer’s assignments, because now you don’t have to take it if it’s not useful. But give him credit if you do use anything. It’s important to keep good relations as you’re moving up. You never know who you might need when, and it takes very little to allow Trevor his self-respect.

If it doesn’t work

Well, you tried. But you have blotted your copy book with Trevor for sure, and even with Jennifer if she took umbrage at you highlighting an issue she might not want to admit.

You might be able to mend fences with Trevor, but I doubt he will ever trust you again. Don’t be looking for coveted assignments any time soon. You can try apologizing and emphasizing that you were trying to make things easier for him. Might work, although I doubt I would buy it.

Frankly, if possible, I’d be putting out feelers for another job. That’s why it’s high risk.

[1] Thanks, Rod. Rod Brandvold was the VP Talent Management for the Canadian Blood Services

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