The Dangers of Being Too Competent at Your Job

The Dangers of Being Too Competent at Your Job Some people have the charming but erroneous belief that all they need to do to get ahead is be really competent at their jobs. I have discussed this in other posts, but I want to focus on a particular subset—when it can actually be bad for your career to be good. And you are left out in the cold. You note the boss did this by both flattering you and subtly implying you’re not a team player if you don’t endorse letting Jamie have the project. When being really competent is bad A couple of things have to kick in for this to happen but they are not that uncommon. Your boss sees you as instrumental to his success First, of course, you have to be good at your job. And often be the only one in your area who can do whatever you do as well as you do it (did that sentence make sense? I think it did—anyhow, you are very, very good). Because of this, you’re instrumental in your boss reaching his goals, so he needs your work even if he never admits it. But he knows. He…

When Your Boss is in a Fight with His

When Your Boss is in a Fight with His In the previous post, your boss’ boss, Jennifer, was assigning work directly to you, skipping your boss (Trevor). On the one hand, this gives you great profile. On the other, it can get you into hot water with Trevor. Look at it from Trevor’s point of view. Jennifer is signaling she doesn’t consider him value-added. No matter how true, it would be hard not to resent that. In fact, the more true, the more it will be resented. Trevor can’t pick a fight with Jennifer (well, not if he has any political savvy), but he can take it out on you. Two things which bear repeating This is Jennifer’s problem which she is handling inappropriately. If you have a very collegial environment or a good boss, none of this may apply. But don’t assume that too quickly. Undercurrents are undercurrents because they’re hard to spot. If you’re not sure, I’d assume it is an issue. Okay, three. Trevor can hurt you and your career. Your concern is to avoid being the inadvertent instrument of humiliating Trevor. What to do when your boss is in a fight with his Well, obviously, it’s…

Caught in the Middle when My Boss’ Boss Asks My Opinion

Caught in the Middle when My Boss’ Boss Asks My Opinion In the last post, we covered what can happen if your boss’ boss asks you for work when your boss is out of the office. As we saw, if your boss (Trevor) is in dinosaur training school, he won’t be pleased. But it can get worse. You could be caught in the middle. What if Trevor’s boss (Jennifer) starts sending work directly, without going through Trevor at all? About a week after the last incident, an e-mail from Jennifer. You look at the top line. No c.c. to Trevor. “Matt, I really liked your work and want your thoughts on the attached document. How feasible is the proposal?”   Would that happen? Absolutely. Especially in smaller companies where there aren’t that many levels of management. And often, nobody gets their knickers in a knot about it, particularly if it is a very collegial environment. If your work place has that quality, you can skip this post. If you’re not sure, keep reading. Nope, I’m talking about when your boss Trevor does get his knickers in a K. And by the by, just because he doesn’t say anything, doesn’t mean…

Making Yourself Less Threatening to the Boss

Making Yourself Less Threatening to the Boss In the previous post, I suggested ways to lower your boss’ threat level. In this, you need to recognize work really is different from home. At work, there is a hierarchy of more power and less. You have less. Your boss has more. Therefore, what he wants will often take precedence over your wishes. I’m not saying it’s fair; it just is. This post is about making yourself less threatening to your boss. What if the ideas don’t work? Be sure you consistently use the ideas in the previous post before you decide they’re not working. However, sometimes it doesn’t solve the problem. Why can’t your boss get over herself and quit being a jerk? Uh-huh—a question for the ages. I can’t know what drives or haunts your particular boss, but a boss can be threatened which have nothing to do with you.  She might be: Worried she’s reached her level of incompetence Afraid she will be replaced by some young whippersnapper Carrying around the burden of past failures Try to imagine how you would feel if these were your concerns. It’s probably a scary and kind of helpless place. You might even…

How Not to Annoy or Pose a Threat to Your Boss

How Not to Annoy or Pose a Threat to Your Boss In the previous post, we identified how you might inadvertently convert a personal attribute into a threat to your boss. I’ll take each attribute and suggest how you might lower the threat level if you think it exists. You are: So you: Smarter Correct your boss frequently (or infrequently), especially in front of others In front of others, in a meeting—not good venues. If the correction must come, it should be in private. Now, I’m not talking “No, the bathrooms are on the left.” There are corrections of minor facts which should not raise the threat level. But if you are correcting on logic, strategy, policy, tactic or opinion, these are ones which might drop you into trouble. Rather than correct your boss in the meeting, do it in private. But even in private, NOT “You were wrong/misguided/mistaken…” INSTEAD “I was a little confused in the meeting. My understanding was that [insert your correct information], but in the meeting, it seemed that it was more [insert error]. Did I miss something?” Also, think whether the issue is important enough to raise at all. If it will prevent your unit…