George and Joan Think Out Loud About Bosses

I was looking at my Google Reader feed and noticed George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud About Bosses” podcast and decided to give it a listen.  I really like Joan Frye Williams, as I’ve gushed about here before.


  • Both often hear gripes like, “If only THAT person would do what I want them to do, all would be well…but since they don’t do their work (the way I think they should), then I can’t do MY work.”
    • Joan feels that is abdicating responsibility (and I agree).
  • Be honest and Behave Professionally!  It’s fine to:
    • Ask why a certain decision was made
    • Ask about the decision making process, so you can participate and give future input
    • Ask so that you understand  – don’t ask the Boss to justify his/her decision
    • Asking about the process shows empathy as an employee and helps clarify the reasons and forces working behind the scenes
  • Bosses need to know and SHARE their criteria for making decisions – “Upfront Disclosure” says Joan.  The answer may be, “I don’t know” because the decision had to be made without all of the facts or information.
  • Regardless, the goal of the employee is “How can I improve my work?
  • George quoted his father, “Your job is to make your boss look good to his/her boss.”
  • Sometimes employees need to take the role of Courageous Follower, rather than leader.  (Willingness to speak up and be an effective partner, according to Ira’s Web site.)
  • Employees need to be aware that they sometimes have their own version of micro-managing – being overly precise or obstructionist – this is just as unhelpful as a boss being too involved in your work.
  • If an Employee is at odds with the directiontheir boss is going:
    • because what the Boss is doing is unethical, then blow the whistle or leave
    • because you can’t get behind the priorities of the organization (the mission, vision or values), then figure out how to work from within and pull your weight or leave
    • Joan feels it is equally unethical to take a paycheck for not doing work, using the excuse that you don’t agree with the direction
    • Take one for the team or find another team.
    • If you stay, work up to your capacity or work to improve the situation.
  • Bosses and Decision makers need to BE UP FRONT – transparent.  Don’t be a ‘gotcha’ boss.
  • Take opportunities to make your staff’s day BETTER not WORSE…”Not to make them happy, but to make an environment where everyone can do their best work.”

That was 20 minutes well-spent.